Game design and game development rush.
Previously, I talked about my first takeaway from ludum dare. This time, I would love to explain a bit more how the game development experience happened.
The first step was to discuss what to do. At first, it was not all that clear what we wanted to do. The only thing we knew was that, Michael – my Ludum Dare partner in crime, was doing the programming leg of work, and I would take care of the artwork. Luckily, Michael is an experienced game designer and he had a better picture of how to put things together.
Defining the idea of the game was easy at first. Michael runs Silverware Games, and one of his upcoming games is called Matchy Star. This is a game we both have been working on this year, and we really like it! I asked if we could use that IP for the LDJAM, and he was ok with the idea. When thinking of business development, whenever you work up a pipeline to expand intellectual property, there is something known as brand extension. This is building upon what you already have to make that brand world grow; as a result, you create more from the same idea. The goal is to generate more data on top of the content you already have, meaning you widen your opportunities – either grow your network, or grow your sales. So I figured, this can only benefit the studio in the long run. It is meant to be a free game after all.
We defined a concept that would suit the theme, which this time around was “The more you have, the worst it gets”. I made a comment about how cute it would be to see Matchy Star interacting with the little stars he picks up in the game, worked it all from there. Matchy’s Kooky Cookies resulted in this crazy cute clicker game, you must help Matchy protect his stash of cookies from the cookie banditos. In theory, something short, fun and cute.
Personally, I love the work Jim did on Matchy Star, so I decided to reuse some of the original assets of the game – the characters only. While Michael challenge was to build up a clicker on the idea, my challenge was to build up around a game that we wanted to reference with new take on it somehow. I thought it would be simple, but it sort of became a tad more complicated than I had expected.
I get started on defining perspective and colors. One thing I wanted from the get-go was to make
Matchy’s Kooky Cookies
a complementary experience. I love Matchy Star, so I did not want to redo the most important assets, and I did not want this game to compete with the original vibrant look of the original game. Getting a cute mute like palette was not easy, I can do the job of a technical artist, but colors are always a challenge for me.
Once finished, the kitchen felt empty. That’s why I decided to include details from the Silverware Games world: a mug with ‘Composition J’ art, a cereal box inspired in ‘Don’t Shoot Yourself’ called Shootios, and ‘Matchy Star’ fridge magnets. I figured not many would get the references, but I still wanted to include them. Also, last but not least, the new company logo as cabinet lettering! Because apparently that’s a kitchen decoration thing – the more you know.
Afterwards, designing the transitions screens was easier. Already had a palette in place, and we had no time, it resulted in minimal effort as default. I ended up including few: tutorial, rounds, score and credits. Tutorial was a challenge, what seemed simple for us did not for others, and we were so very lucky to receive as much feedback on the process to make it better understood.
Once everything was assembled, we experienced people experiencing problems here and there, we tweaked until build felt much more enjoyable. We also took in a lot of great ideas for future builds, including future games. Game jams provide experiential learning that, unlike any textbook, this is something you would rarely ever forget. You learn from what you do, and what you get to see others do, a fantastic experience I recommend anyone that works in the game industry to do.
Personal note here, thanks to Michael for having infinite patience to my relentless and sometimes irrational perfectionism. Game development is not about making things perfect, but making things work as you want them to, and you build up on that one fix at a time. It is good enough not when there is more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away – rude awakening to take from game development. I need to become more comfortable with troubleshooting design dilemmas, understanding simplicity and focus in design.
I was not expecting to end this blog with a life lesson, but there you go. Matchy’s Kooky Cookies is free to play, so you can go ahead and check it out right here. Comments and votes are welcome!
Categorised in: Matchy's Kooky Cookies