Global Game Jam, 2018 - 2019 (Ongoing project)
“Where Galaga meets colour theory!” -- A 2D, colour-focused, Galaga-inspired arcade shooter for PC developed solo in 48 hours at GGJ2018 using GameMaker Studio.
I am currently developing this project, following my goal of developing my design skills. I regularly present this game to gain insight into the design challenges which I face in developing this indie game. You can read about the problems I encountered and what my solutions were below
Galour was the game I made participating in my first-ever game jam. I made it during the Global Game Jam at UBC in 2018. Since it was my first jam, I wanted to focus on just making a game by myself so I could get the experience of game jams. It was a fun experience, and I definitely want to go again! The game I made turned out really well, and I'm very proud of it.
I went back to developing more for the game after the jam, and I learned some valuable lessons along the way.
Development Time: 48 hours
Team Size: Solo
Platforms: Windows PC
Tools Used: GameMaker Studio, Adobe Illustrator, bfxr.net
Transmission, and the thoughts behind the game
The theme of the 2018 Global Game Jam was "Transmision", so I thought about all the different meanings transmission could have. Car transmission, sending information, or transmitting diseases, these were interesting ideas, but in the end "colour transmission" sounded like the coolest idea to me, and I already had an idea for it: Galaga meets colour! You shoot enemies to "transmit" the colour of your shots onto them, and to kill enemies you must shoot them with the 3 basic additive colours: Red, Green, and Blue. This was the core idea for the game and what I decided to work with.
I first started off by getting the basic mechanics working to get the idea proven -- The player, movement, shooting, basic enemies and the colour changing mechanic. I also added a basic attack path for the enemy to follow, and some initial feedback on moving, shots hitting and killing enemies. This was the first version of the game, the least fun but the most important!
Win/lose state and Variety
After the basics were done, I moved on to adding player health, enemy bullets, and more enemy types. I completed the health and bullets first, so that there was a win and lose state for the game. After that I wanted to add some more variety to the game with enemies, so I settled on 3 enemy types, each having their own unique behaviour. The 3 types I made were Melee types, Shooter types, and armored types. Melee enemies would shoot less bullets, but try and ram their ship into you, while shooter types would do the opposite -- and dive at you less. The armored enemy is different than the previous two in that it has an extra layer of health, needing to be turned white twice to die.
The final Product
At this point it was getting near the end of the jam, I decided on adding some final touches to the game. First, I added a combo system, which increased when you hit enemies with a colour successfully, and reset when you miss or hit an enemy with a wrong colour. This combo score saved the highest value between games, so it gave a higher objective and improvement for players.
I added some artwork on the sides, for player health, and added info on the mechanics of the game for a tutorial so players could get an understanding of the idea without having to explain it to them.
Once the jam was over, I decided I liked the game so much that I would polish it up a bit more, adding a score system and some cool sound effects that sounds like it came straight out of Galaga! Take a listen for yourself! The score system was unique in that your successful shot combo would multiply the enemy's score value on death, creating wicked skill-based score-reaping dynamics.
I had made Galour into a game I really liked, and since the time after the jam I had come up with new ideas on what I could do with the game. Art style, presentation, accessibility, and new mechanics were some of the things I had invested a lot of time and effort into when thinking where this game could go. A remake of the game jam game "Galour".
A new logo focused on recognizable shapes
My first big idea for the game was to add an easily recognizable shape for players to see for each colour, to make it easier to play and to add accessibility to the game. I went through a lot of iteration on 3 recognizable shapes that could be easily distinguished from each other at a glance. I wanted a way to represent these shapes on all enemies and the player so it was easy to tell what colour anything was, so I tried coming up with ideas on that too.
I picked three shapes that I recognized the most, and that were easily distinguishable from each other: A Triangle, Cross, and Spiral. I found I could connect these shapes together to create a "brand" to make a logo that would be used for the game, and a sort of "motif" for the art style.
Through more iteration, I found a satisfying way of drawing the brand -- using a single stroke of the pen. This was when I knew I had found the perfect logo. A simple enough shape that it can be easily recognizable and be drawn in a satisfying way.
What is "Galour"?
I had a lot of ideas for Galour, and wanted to do all of them. I thought "What is the best version of this game? What is the core of this game?" and came up with ideas and a new design for the entire game. What I didn't realize in redesigning the whole game with new mechanics, features, and ultimately a new concept, was that it was no longer "Galour", it was a completely different game. I had lost the vision of the original game and went in a completely new direction.
My great "idea" for the redesign was to first have a revolving level around a planet, but with the classic Galaga-style gameplay. My next idea, was to focus more on the colour interactions and giving those reactions a meaning, so I designed new mechanics based around this in free space, something more like the game Bosconian. It was at this point I realized, that this wasn't Galour anymore.
This was a very important lesson, because it taught me that I should show more restraint when it comes to designing new mechanics and "redesigning" old ones. I now ask myself when designing, "Is this a new feature?".
I had a lot of good ideas thinking about where I could take this game, and I definitely will use some of them. The rest of the ideas I will put in a "parking lot" where they can stay, and I will go back to what Galour really was, where GALAGA meets colour!
Colour Readability and Reducing overhead thinking
Further on in development, one problem players encountered constantly was that players weren't very fluent in colour theory, and so they had a hard time figuring out what contrasting colour they need to shoot onto the enemy. This was impacting the experience players were having, because this was requiring them to think while staying inside the action of the game (in contrast to a turn-based game, where players are given the time to think safely!), thus causing them to pause and panic, not knowing what to do.
To solve this, I added a piece of feedback to enemies and objects that appears when the player switches colours to show what is 'weak' to that colour, directing their focus and teaching them the mechanics all at once. I also added illustrated tutorials to the game to better describe the mechanics. I showcased the newest build including these additions, and the feedback I received from players was that it definitely helped them to understand what they needed to do.