.            ★.        . blessfrey.me ..          ☆        .

#WeeklyGameJam Post-mortem - My First Game Jam

WeeklyGameJam (now defunct) was a theme-based game jam hosted through itch.io each week. It was fairly laid-back for a jam, giving devs a full week's time, allowing for premade assets and code, and accepting late submissions. The host, Joshua Mclean played and critiqued the submissions on Twitch while developers hang out in the chatroom.

Small Thing That Makes Things

My entry for Week 85 was an adventure platformer, Small Thing That Makes Things, inspired by the theme "offspring." You can play it on the games tab.

(image: Key art of Elwell and Small Thing, buried in dogs)

You play as Hamish T. Elwell, the hero accountant of an overcrowded animal shelter, investigating the recent explosion of the local stray population. You can walk, jump on platforms, collect items, and chat with NPCs. There's multiple endings, depending on your choices.


For a week-made game, I think STTMT is pretty cute.

I've never finished anything before that wasn't for a high school assignment. The game jam's deadline forced me to make final decisions, complete features, and move on. To actually finish a game and watch someone play it on a stream is really cool.

The short time-frame also dragged me through every aspect of game development, many of which I had never done before. I had to learn fast to export the Godot project, host the HTML5 game to itch, and test that the exported game was complete and playable. Lots of the features were first-times, too. I had never written platformer movements, moving cameras, nor branching and conditional dialog working in Godot before, and was immediately able to apply my new skills to Blessfrey.


I recolored OPP's pixel art to complement my character design and absent-mindedly ruined the contrast of the rock ledges. Now they blend into the rocky background, so it's no longer obvious that you can jump on them. I was blind to my mistake until the host pointed this out during his stream. Having more eyes on your game is so important.

Honestly, the level design is just not interesting. I spent my week on the adventure game aspects, while the platforming was an extreme afterthought. I don't have a natural flair for level design, especially side-scrollers, so it's an area I'm forever dissecting in games and reading about in dev diaries.

Finally, I took the easy way out with animation. I might have learned more working from scratch, but modifying OPP's sprites to suit my character designs was way faster when I was already struggling to finish on time. I try animating my own sprites now and then, but it's still a very weak area for me.

Screenshots + Progression

The idea of a small thing that makes things is one of many silly, random ideas I have for making comic strips or telling jokes to my husband. The Offspring theme immediately brought it back to mind.

(image: Elwell and Small Thing in a jumble of dogs)

In the earliest version, Small Thing's summoning mechanic is the focus. Back then, the characters are just blocks with collision that can scoot around the flat, empty world with WASD.

(gif: Elwell rides a broken-physics dog across the valley)

Once Small Thing could make things, I started experimenting with the platforming mechanics. The dog spawning physics was (and still is) really broken, so dogs fly off the screen pretty frequently. The jank was reliable enough in this version to be used as a moving platform. Maybe building a game off of flying dogs would have been sillier.

(image: Elwell watches the rainfall of dogs from his window)

In the finished version, dogs rain down upon Elwell's animal shelter to direct his attention upward, where he will meet the source of the dogs.

(image: Dialog)

Here's an example of some dialog between Elwell and his boss. For my first serious attempt at dialog, it came out smooth enough.

Game jams are worth your time!

If you're looking for a jam to jump into, something like WeeklyGameJam is a cute one to try. You weren't too rushed, you got to watch people play your game, you got useful criticism, and the community was pretty chill. The themes were always inspiring, too. WeeklyGameJam may be defunct, but Mclean now runs 8 Bits to Infinity. It seems very similar to WeeklyGameJam, so I'm sure it's just as good.

Of course, itch.io has infinite jams popping off all the time, so there's always something out there for you to try. Next time you have a free weekend, why not add a new game to your portfolio and learn how to ship? If you have trouble finishing games, I highly suggest it!

Good luck to you and bye!^^

SMMT Credits