All through the month of June, my partner and I are creating a dating sim for the International Love Ultimatum Gamejam (#ilujam on Twitter and Tumblr). I’ll be posting weekly updates in a structured development blog here. Schreier writes: In the world of video games, many producers and directors see mandatory overtime not as a contingency plan but as a natural part of game development, to be regularly used as a way to cut costs and make the most ambitious games on the shortest schedules. As a game producer for a small game company called Date Nighto, making sure my creative and technical teams are happy and healthy are my top priorities. And for the next month, we’ll be exploring why, as my partner Conrad Kreyling and I make a short dating sim called Beach Island.
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While #ilujam’s rules state that the game you make does not need a visual element, our game company prides itself on quality visual novels, so we’re staying in our wheelhouse.
However, this means we’re depending on our limited artistic abilities for the art assets of the game: I’m designing and drawing sprites, and Conrad is making backgrounds and designing the user interface (UI).
The UI for a visual novel seems simple, but is actually a negotiation between game and player: how can the game makers display information in a way that players feel comfortable with?
The biggest and most obvious limitation is time, but I also have a full-time job to contend with, and Conrad is often overtasked with the day-to-day pressures of running a game company.
A one-month deadline is not the most grueling pace; oftentimes, you’ll see gamejams run for one weekend only, on-site, where groups of game developers work nonstop to push as complete a game as possible.
That’s the beauty of a gamejam, though: an imposed limitation puts normal game development on a smaller scale, and forces the processes—coding, writing, art—to become more streamlined and more raw.
To see how these games usually turn out, check out some entries from the recently-ended Ludum Dare Game Jam, whose theme was “An Unconventional Weapon.” Conrad is a programmer. If you’ll note, neither of us is an artist, and we’re making a dating sim.
From the outside, it may seem like the coding bits, which you need a lot of training for.
Then again, art and technical art (the act of integrating art with code) is time-consuming as well!