I did another game jam game for the Unreal Engine Summer 2017 game jam.
A considerably longer jam period this time for a total of 5 days, so I decided to try to make something to challenge myself with. The theme was “Blessing in disguise”, so I decided to make a game where you play as an evil character, trying to do something horrible, which turns out to not be actually bad in the end. So the eponymous Pie-man goes around throwing pastries at people and in the end he accidentally saves the town from a food shortage.
I went for a turn based tactical strategy game, because I thought that would be rather hard to do. And I was right, creating all the systems necessary takes a fair bit of planning and unlike last time with my snowball strategy game, I wanted to create everything with expandability in mind, so I could add more to it later if I so desired. So I created proper systems for turn management, skill and movement point usage, easily adjustable AI and Player character skills, AI decision making and even level selection.
The hardest part was probably creating the AI decision making system in a way that it makes “intelligent” decisions based on their situation. Taking into account whether they’re injured or too far from the player or how much movement points they have or what skills they can use and which ones to prioritise. And I wanted them to be able to make multiple decisions per turn if they had the available resources for them, so it wasn’t easy knowing when their turn was over, because you don’t always want them to spend all their movement and they’d get stuck in a loop making the decision to not do anything over and over. So as the only sort of hacky solution to it, I added a turn time limit for the AI’s, so it wouldn’t break the game. Just too many situations and choices to test out.
The art side of things didn’t go overly smoothly either. I left myself slightly too little time for doing all of the art things, so I rushed through a lot of it and had so many things in my 3-d programs crash and not work. It almost felt like those programs weren’t meant for creating a huge amount of shoddy assets in a tiny amount of time. I imagined a far more impressive looking game in my head before I started working on the models, but game jams timers tend to crush any overly ambitious plans.
Also, was excited to use the new clothing tools in a project, a massive improvement to any workflows I had available before. Wiggling that cape was fun every time I tried testing something.
Short final thoughts… Creating a bunch of solid mechanics at the start seems like a good idea. Putting together levels and gameplay content is fast if you’ve got mechanics down well. Doing art is a very slow process that sometimes cannot be rushed. Doing music and sound is easier early on when you’re not super tired and sick from too much coffee. A little effort on the UI makes the overall game look less like the terrible unpolished mess that it is.