A week of complete indecision brought me to...

 

Slidey Maze

 

Slidey Maze is a game that turns a typical slide puzzle into a maze, challenging the player to navigate through a maze by moving around the pieces of the maze

Click here to play Slidey Maze

 

 

The Good

I spent the entire week having no idea what to work on, and as the days slipped by, I finally decided on Saturday that, in the spirit of the global game jam, I'd give my self a 4-hour window to make the most complete game I could. Having a game where the goal is to move to the exit even kinda-sorta fit the global game jam theme of 'transmission', although I did not intend to follow that theme.

What went right is my experience has made me very good at getting a lot of stuff done in a very short amount of time. I had the core of the game completed in less than 2 hours, took a 30-minute break to eat, and then spent the rest of the time polishing by adding a main menu, high score, music and sound effects, and a functional UI with a help screen. It's all ugly and just screams "I'M MADE IN UNITY!", but for 4-hours, I put a lot in there.

The Bad

I started this week with a stack of game ideas, or so I thought, but already a month in and I've gone through all the stuff I wanted to make, or have reasons to hold off on other ideas (access to playtesters being the main reason to wait on certain multiplayer games). This left me decidedly uninspired for this week. I didn't even want to make a video game, since I still have pen and paper on my mind. In fact I was much more preoccupied this week with starting up a D&D group, so the game got pushed way back.

That lack of inspiration is evident in the game itself, as Slidey Maze is essentially a redo of one of my earliest games I ever made back in college. However that game had a ton more content, to the tune of about a dozen or so levels and various enemy types. This game has a single, static, slapped-together maze with no other mechanics. However, while that the previous project took a month, I only spent 4 hours on this one, and ended up with roughly the same result. I could actually have added more content and it would still have been in the 1-week window, but once I committed to the 4-hour thing, I was pretty much done. I considered randomizing the level, but ran out of time, opting for sounds and a high score counter, otherwise it would have been even uglier. Guess I shouldn't have stopped for lunch.

The most difficult thing was forcing myself to get something, ANYTHING, done. By Wednesday I was tepid about my lack of starting, and by Friday I was almost in crisis mode, wondering if I should just make a card-game variant or something that I didn't need to playtest much. But not even that happened. Once I decided I'd do a 4-hour jam on Sunday, that freed me up to not really care about getting somebody to playtest, or making something really polished. I made a 4-hour game and what I got done is what I got done. I'm not particularly proud of the result, but there is a base there that I could work further on. The problem is that this slide puzzle-maze just isn't that engaging: I didn't get much out of it in terms of interesting game mechanics back in college, and I certainly didn't get anything interesting out of it here either.

The Lesson

Lack of inspiration is a real thing that needs to be overcome, not waited out. Had I sat myself down and forced myself to plow through for an hour or so every day, instead of waiting until Sunday to see if something interested would come to me, I'd probably have made something significantly more interesting and complete. Also, D&D is rad, and I much prefer DM'ing to just playing a character.