Global Game Jam: Jan 2020

I think that with Dreams' launch, it meant that Media Molecule's staff were relatively busy so I didn't join another game jam until a full year later. This one I was just getting over the flu with, so I joined a team but, to be honest, I wasn't a huge amount of help to them. In retrospect, the thing I probably most contributed were the ideas - mainly by adding "... in space" to everything until something stuck.

This one was held in WarGaming's Guildford office, which is again a lovely game jam space - airy with a balcony which was great for getting fresh air despite some dreary weather.

I was glad to be part of a team with the event. It was made of people I'd never met before and others I'd seen in numerous game jams before which lead to a nice mix. We had a very odd occurrence I'd not seen before where we had a team member join us for the Friday evening planning, disappear for all Saturday, and came back on the Sunday to demo an entirely different solo game. Impressive work, but odd.

The theme


The plan

The person that disappeared worked with disabled children and wanted to create a game that they could enjoy. We decided to keep the controls to a single button and allow time to be other control mechanism. With a repair theme, we went with a local co-op game where you had 2 robots trying to repair a broken space station.

The story initially ended with the 2 robots fixing the space station just to find all the humans died out many, many years ago and they were essentially doing it all for nothing, but I think the ending ended up happier. I would check now, but I can't beat the game any more.

These robots were tethered together with a constantly rotating direction indicator. Pressing and holding the button allows you to control how much force will be used to shove your little robot in the direction it's facing. You have to explore the environment and collect the various tools required for the space station.

The result

A playable game with some really chilled out background music that makes it so much better (check the credits for names). It's playable on

We had a lot of issues with the bungee rope holding the two robots together and even in the hosted version it's still a little janky. I spent most of my time on the player movement controls and UI, and on making the camera zoom in and out to always show the robots. This was after my attempt at Dungeon Golf so I knew how to do the UI.

Overall, a good experience with the team and something that while we overscoped it, was at least fun to play, mainly because physics-based game jams do tend to play well for the minute or two you need to demo it.

The learnings

This is the first one I can properly critique as a game. I'd say we achieved our aim of creating a one-button game. It's definitely a game of some description.

As far as things I'd change, one would be to never use rope physics in a game jam without having practised them before as that was awful - 100 different ways to achieve the same dodgy-feeling rope. This game could seriously benefit from a minimap - perhaps one that slowly revealed where things were the longer you went on, and also from a more zoomed-out camera when up close. It's really hard to get your bearings.