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I took part in the Godot Wild Jam 57 even though I knew I wasn't going to have a ton of time to complete due to travel plans I had. I'm glad I did though, as I really enjoyed my experience. Not only did I enjoy the theme and the process itself, but I got to experience using Godot in a different setting. I used my MacBook Air M1 while on an airplane, at coffee shops, and in a small AirBnB.
I was reserved going into it, but was I plently surprised. The experience of using Godot on the go was far more pleasant than I expected. Coming from a home desktop with 3 Monitors and all the horsepower I could ask for, I was expecting to hate using my laptop, being isolated to a single screen, and a touchpad.
The process of using a single screen, though it had it's difficulties, did improve my workflow as it did help eliminate any distractions that my home setup would constantly provide. I was able to stick to a single task at a time, and the burden of switching to other apps, served as more of a discipline than a hurdle.
So, even though my experience was more pleasant than I expected, I still struggled this jam mainly due to time. I was really feeling that extra wild card: "Under Pressure". I kept telling myself "I wish I had more time." but I knew that I wouldn't. So I tried my best to stave off the old feature creep that tends to come for us all. At the end of the jam, minutes before I boarded my flight home, I submitted my rushed, incomplete, yet fruitful project to Itch.io and did a quick test for some main aspects to ensure it wasn't fully broken. I boarded my flight and took a deep sigh of relief and frustration.
As I mentioned in my intro, I really enjoyed the experience using Godot while on the go. It really lends promise to the idea that you can build games anywhere. I had no internet for most of the jam, and was still able to feel like I was making progress in big strides. Godot's offline documentation baked into the editor (online can be found here ), along with a simple lightweight engine, I really felt like there was nothing slowing me down, in spite of my lack of experience using a Mac as a main development machine (I'm a Windows main user for decades now.).
I also feel like the jam's theme was really coherent and allowed me to be more generic with some ideas and reach into some well known themes and ideas. I didn't have to come up with anything super creative, and ideas were popping up in moments after reading the theme. This can also be a struggle when trying to prevent feature creep as you have so many potentially great ideas, but ultimately I knew what I should strive for to keep my scope small and the game on theme.
Time was my greatest enemy, and it shows in my art, the game's lack of polish, and very incomplete overal submission. I already knew how limited my time was going to be when I started, and likely could have opted out instead of stressing the clock, but I always look at a jam as an opportunity to do something new, and using Godot while traveling was a goal of mine.
I really struggled switching over to a Mac as a main development machine, and kept missing keystrokes, shortcuts, and weird trackpad behaviour. This all really slowed me down and got me frustrated, but wasn't an issue of anything other than my delay in commiting to a Mac for more than quick XCode deployment use.
My game was lacking any kind of audio, which tends to be an area I need to improve on in game jams. I either need to add it as part of my jam process, or carve actual time to complete some sort of audio before submitting. I know the polish of the game would greatly improve if I spent the time adding even little bits of audio.
I also had no time for menu's or extra artwork. I tend to like making custom artwork, logos, icons, banners, screenshots; all to improve the overall quality of my submission. Sadly time being what it was, I couldn't pull that off either.
Overall the experience went well, with the good and bad weighed out. The big takeaways for me are:
- Spend time during or at the end implementing Audio to help polish a jam.
- Continue focusing on the idea and planning for scope creep to prevent losing precious time.
- Commit more time to being familiar with the Mac landscape and be willing to do more on the go development.
- Have fun!
I had a good time with this jam, the game idea was fun to implement, and the experience of doing it while traveling really opened the door for my ability to spend time making games, regardless of my physical location. I will certainly be spending more time making things and being creative, even if it's just me and this lightweight laptop (I'm writing this post mortem on it currently!).
If you haven't already, please check out my game jam submission on Itch.io and leave me some feedback and let me know your thoughts.
If you've been thinking of participating in a game jam, Godot is a great engine and works even in the least ideal circumstances. Head over to Godot's website and get started!