Beginner lessons learned from the 38th GM48 Game Jam - un-made game

Submitted by charm on Tue, 04/20/2021 - 11:33
GM48 - 48 hour GameMaker game jam results

About the 38th GM48 game jam

The 38th GM48 game jam is the 38th 48 hour game jam put on for developers who use the GameMaker game engine. Developers have 48 hours to create a game. Before the 48 hour jam starts participants up and down vote topics. The topic chosen for the 38th GM48 game jam was "Sixty seconds."

Time confusion, exhausted the first day

I was under the impression the jam started Friday at midnight (Saturday technically), but the jam seemed to end 8pm Sunday (44 hours?). I stayed up Friday night turning over in my mind the topics that might be chosen and how I might approach them. When midnight finally came around the topic was revealed I was disappointed, sixty seconds was one of the topics I down-voted. Still, I decided I was going to try to push out a game. I decided sleep was better than trying to get a start a midnight. Unfortunately sleep didn't come easy and I kept  trying to figure out what kind of game I might make.

I was also disappointed to see that no one seemed to be talking on any of the venues I looked to Discord/Twitter. I posted something on the gm48 discord and got a 1 letter response from someone else during the jam, not very encouraging.

One thing this late start helped me get clear in my mind, is I don't like game jams that start at midnight. I probably won't participate in another jam if it starts so late. I get more work done in the morning, and agonizing the night before over something makes me less productive.

The 7:15 a.m. fresh start

At 7:15 a.m. Saturday morning I was raring to go despite a very bad sleep (after 3am). Within 20 minutes I had a pretty fleshed out design document and knew the kind of "sixty second" game I wanted to make. I spent the next few hours working on artwork.

The scope was too much for my skills

While I limited my game to a fairly simple idea I realized after a few hours how much I'd forgotten. It's been at least six months since I've done anything with GameMaker and longer since I've worked with Aseprite. GIMP came through for me in a big way, I did a lot of the artwork using a combination of GIMP and RawTherapee. RawTherapee was needed because I took some photographs and forgot that my camera was storing images as .CR2 (Canon RAW format). Rather than trying to get my model to retake the photographs I opted to install RawTherapee and do the conversion to GIMP. Unfortunately things were not working out well with GIMP and RawTherapee in Windows, so I switched to Linux for the import, then used Google Drive to upload the assets.

Probably my largest mistake was making a game for which I really didn't have a good code reference. I decided to make a game where the player drops down from the top of the screen and the camera follows him through several screens. My only other GameMaker game didn't use viewports, or scrolling, so I had zero experience coding such a game.

Mutliple workstations

In the morning I worked in the kitchen on my laptop. I used Git to upload my progress to bitbucket. By the afternoon I'd shifted working to my dual-monitor desktop workstation. I pulled the progress from bitbucket. This process worked pretty well, though some of my assets were pretty large, so it took some time to upload.


I bookmarked a number of videos on how to do certain topics.

Coding time

By the time I started looking at any code it was 7pm Saturday evening. I skirted some family obligations in order to work on my GM48 game, these caught up with me Sunday when I needed to do a lot more work at home. All in all I spent more time watching videos, than I actually did coding.

The result

When the Sunday 8pm deadline rolled around I had a background that was 3 screens tall, a viewport that was 480x270, and a sprite that started just above the middle of the top viewport and fell off the screen. The thing that probably made me the happiest was the character sprite. The character sprite turned out pretty good despite the fact that I spent a lot less time on it than I did the background, or the atrocious wall sprite I tried to make later.

The character can move left or right, but since it just falls off the screen that movement is really limited. Although I started working on some sprites for the sixty second numbering, I never completed the sprites. The following is a short animated gif image. The image really isn't exactly what I had in mind, but it's a start.

My attempt at the 38th GM48 GameJam jam
This is all I got finished before the 38th #gm48 game jam.

At the end of the jam it looks like there were a total of 52 game submitted between 76 participants. I thought I saw something like 4,000+ participants, but I must have been mistaken.

It's a start

The net positive gain of GM48 is I now have a new game idea that I like. I know it's a bit too much for me at the moment, but I have a very clear idea of what I want to implement. The scope has creeped a tiny bit, but not so much that it's going to make the game impossible to make. On the Fasteroids web site I mentioned that I'm re-making the game from scratch. As I work through other examples this should help familiarize me enough with GameMaker again so that I can continue with this project. I'm not posting pictures of the work here yet as I feel there's a lot I still want to do with it before I reveal the game.