On the Précipice

Précipice is as much a game as "what do we do now?" is a theme.

We've been reasonably successful at past game jams. We actually met each other at the 2011 Global Game Jam--this year marks our fourth jammiversary--and began making games together soon after. We're especially proud of Molydeuxsa, made for the 2012 MolyJam.

Though in the past taking a break from the big game we're developing was super enticing, we feel somewhat guilty about abandoning Fantastic Jack, even if only for one weekend.

Game jams are unpredictable by design, so it's not easy to follow up on a success. Milo(deux) had glitchy walking animations. And we didn't even manage to finish our game for last year's Global Game Jam, Aspen. This year, we're already making a lot more progress, although there have been plenty of distractions.

Ashley actually helped organize the event at USC for the past two years, and--just like last year--spent most of the first evening making sure that everything was going smoothly. And, of course, we wanted to catch up with all of our friends who showed up and make friends with the other cool people at the event. John waited patiently while Ashley ran around troubleshooting some issues and talking with everyone.

Though Ashley had an idea for a game right away, by the time we managed to talk to each other about it, it was late and we had run out of energy. We're getting old and need to sleep! After a slow morning, however, we made it back to the jam site and finally had a chance to get to work.

We wanted an "impressionist" style, which we think is turning out well as a game jam style. We usually use pixel art, but we wanted to try something new after concentrating on Fantastic Jack. Pixel art is often used for game jams because the style is amenable to working under time constraints, but we're finding that a somewhat fuzzy, painterly style is also surprisingly easy to pull off quickly, and it offers a fresh look that we think is pretty.

In fact, maybe we had a little too much fun with the art, spending a majority on our day establishing our look. So we only started to implement gameplay features this evening. However, this year's theme did little to help us refine our idea of what the gameplay really is. Open-ended prompts make it easy to let scope get out of control. Molydeuxsa was designed around a tweet that was very specific, constraining both the mechanic and the aesthetic of the game, which meant that we could narrow down our design quickly. Our current theme, on the other hand, leaves everything open to interpretation. We wanted to place ourselves in a situation where they would ask the thematic question, "what do we do now?" but the possible paths to get to and go from there are endless. With so much intimidating decision-making to do, we're still deciding the details of the gameplay as we go.

It's definitely going to involve backpacks.

John and Ashley

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