Logo of the game "Wandering stars"

Global Game Jam 2021 Postmortem

Making a game controlled by discord chat. A Game Jam Postmortem

screencapture of a discord call featuring spreadable fruit during the jam.

GGJ21 was the fifth time I joined the global game jam. However, it is the first time I am writing a postmortem about it!
Since the GGJ in 2016 I have participated as part of Spreadable Fruit: A game jam team that grew up to be an actual studio. Go check them out, they are doing cool stuff!

This Game jam, like so much, was quite different than last year. Our team was working from 4 different locations instead of one. This means we were very closely bound to the #GGJNL discord server. (A discord server jam site set up for all jammers in the Netherlands)

The fact that everyone was bound to discord made us think about how we could make a game that would take full advantage of this, instead of being impaired by it. (We love to make local co-op games)

Another inspiration for the game came from the Starlight Diversifier:

Starlight – Your game world is inspired by stars and constellations.

GGJ website

This mostly manifested in a bunch of cute avatars for the game based on the 12 zodiac constellations.

All the Zodiac Player avatars. Adorable Art by the talented @Yinukume

By the end of friday we had our design and plan: We were going to make a party game where player avatars move autonomously (and predictably) through a maze with rotating pieces. The players can rotate the maze tiles by entering commands in a discord chat. At this point there were a few hours left on friday night so I went off to have a date with my neglected synthesizer to make MUSIC happen.

Music production was a very fun gamejam-thing for me to focus on. Because I was planning to get back into game audio production later for SnailBall and this was a nice way to dip my toes in again. I ended up surprising myself with the quality of the final product when I finished it on Saturday.

An earlier version of the theme that was rejected for being too dark. Still kinda fire tho.

The early attempts ended up sounding too sinister for the feel of the game. It was a good practise run to learn about Audacity and FL Studio though. The cable I had to transfer audio from my Juno-G synth to the computer was not great so I had to do a lot of noise removal in Audacity.

Final version of Wandering Stars background music loop

At the end of Friday I was excited to share my progress and came back to frustrated teammates that had underestimated the difficulty of getting the discord integration part of the game working. We continued to google into the night and stumbled upon this blog post which ended up being a true life saver. Someone had made a godot-engine godot bot prototype with all the code on git for us to dissect! Armed with this information we were confident we could pull this off.

On the early evening of Saturday we were playtesting! A Spreadable fruit first. (We usually have the first playable build on sunday) From here on out it was quite smooth sailing… Until…

When we added our bot to the (very large) GGJNL discord server with every Dutch Jammer in it everything broke! Discord stopped replying to all instances of the bot in every server 🙁
We ended up stressing about this on sunday (bloody sunday!) for a few hours until we decided to just install the bot in our own server. This ended up working out, but we still wonder what caused these issues 🤔