This is Fine
Submitted for Brackeys Game Jam 2021.2August 29, 2021Ranked #31 / 1,754 Overall
With the theme of the jam being Chaos, we wanted to really lean into the idea for this jam. The vision was a game where you're on a rickety ship, constantly on the verge of breaking down, and you must keep your ship stations repaired and functioning. We created five different interactable stations, as well as a ladder & elevator, which you can help delay your inevitable demise. I feel that our biggest strength during this jam was our polish, as the implementation of the art and sound came together to create a very immersive, chaotic, experience. Lights flashing, alarms blaring, crashes happening - you would have to make sense of it all to stay alive.
Key things I learned
The ship's design went through several iterations as we explored new ideas for mechanics and stations to use in the game. At first, we envisioned three floors to the ship, and we'd have a single elevator, but it couldn't break down. After playtesting however, we realized that only one means of transportation, especially one that can be rendered useless, was annoying. How we aimed to combat this was having ship navigation be more strategic.
Reducing the amount of floors to two, and giving a ladder that couldn't break down, made your route take a little more thinking. The elevator was much faster, but still broke after several uses - although still able to be repaired. Taking the ladder was a safer, albeit slower route. You could now choose to save the elevator for emergency situations, or take the risk and repair it when possible. Because you can't call the elevator either, we wanted this to add another thing players had to factor when assessing the situation (the theme was chaos after all).
Overall, it was a lot of fun to get to design the ship, and I think the polish from the visual and audio assets from my teammates gave it arguably the some of the most polish out of all the games I had yet worked on.
Tutorials / Diegetic Design
One of the things I ended up running out of time for, and in turn got some rightful criticism for, was the lack of a tutorial. Initially, what we had worked towards was making the game explain itself, through various audio/visual cues. For instance, the power generator would cause the lights to slowly fade as it started to run out of power. The pilot station would no longer warn you about incoming collisions if the radar station stopped, which would stop its periodic pinging when that itself was out of power. The goal was to give a small learning curve, but try to quickly teach players the ebb and flow of the game.
While I was happy with how the overall end-product came out, players were rightfully frustrated at the start when they have very little information to start with. It was a sobering lesson to try and give better priority to making at least a base level of understanding from the start.