Space Junk - Background Information

As mentioned in my previous post, I have just recently completed a program called Immersion through a local organization, GLITCH. Because most of the people that I assume would read this are likely already familiar with GLITCH I won't get into their mission or what they do, but Immersion is a program they run that puts small cohorts of about 15 people through a series of after-hour and weekend lectures, workshops, and a couple of industry visits all about the games industry. In it we learned the development process, a crash course in programming with emphasis on Unity scripting, game art, game design, writing and narrative design, project management with Agile, and marketing. I believe, from my experience, that the primary goal of these courses was to open doors and show us all the things that are available and necessary in the industry. We learned that there is much to learn. This is something I think think I knew but I have a better handle now on which things that I don't know, and that is valuable.

This program ended with a capstone project that took the form of a sort of game jam. There were some key differences between this project and other game jams, which I will detail in this post before doing an actual Post Mortem in the next. The three key differences were the pitching process and team formation, the market and competitive analysis requirement, and presentations.

The pitch process was just slightly different from what I was used to, but was good in what it accomplished. We were given the theme, Voyage, and broke off into groups to discuss possible concepts based on that theme. We were then given 15 minutes alone to draft a pitch and another 15 minutes to give those pitches. Everyone was expected to pitch. The twist to this is that the two heads of the program, Evva and Nic, then went into a meeting room and decided which three pitches would be made into prototypes. We were not privy to the selection process, but my first guess would be they wanted to make sure that the three projects selected would be feasible in the 43 hours we would have to complete it.

Ultimately the three projects chosen were Dungeon Mapper - a game where a pacifist player character enters a dungeon to draw the map for future adventurers; Mountaineer - a claustrophobic mountain climbing simulator starring a person with two broken legs; and the project I worked on, Space Junk - a cooperative adventure starring two raccoons building a spaceship out of garbage.

Part of the rubric we were given for the project contained a market and competitive analysis component. As a part of our development, it was expected that we would also determine how to sell our game. This isn't usually a consideration for a game jam so it struck me as odd, but ultimately I would say that this is a vital part of the project and it gave practical experience on this kind of research that first-time developers might overlook. I believe all of this was handled for our project by my teammate, Erica Lee, who did a great job. I enjoyed going over her findings.

The last difference was in the presentations at the end of the project, which took place just a few hours after the submission deadline. We traveled to an off-site location, Twin Cities Public Television in downtown St. Paul, and gave presentations on the stage there with slides that needed to be also made during the project timeline. Our presentation was mostly put together by Erica and another teammate, Jessica Dungca, though all of us spoke on the stage to different aspects of the project. The turnout was unfortunately low, probably due to the snowstorm that was going on at the same time, but plenty of people showed up and my team did an excellent job of presenting and then demoing Space Junk.

Alright, I think that's enough background information. A Post Mortem of the project itself will be up later today and I will also fill in more information on the game page.