NeverJam: the game jam jam game
Our January project was ambitious: a 2D puzzle game, a-la lemmings with a twist, with big and numerous levels. And of course, all using our homegrown tools, from the compiler to the level editor to the UI system and game framework.
However, January ended too soon, and, sleepless nights notwithstanding, I had to resolve to publish something completely different. It was a good occasion to get to know Twine.
NeverJam is the stereotypical game jam experience, condensed in a simple but addictive text adventure. It's 5000 words long, with over 100 different passages and over 80 choices that you can make.
Of the three endings possible, only one can be called 'success'. Will you be cunning enough to defeat the obstacles on your way? There's only one way to find out.
Go on, play it now! I'll wait.
Even though I didn't successfully complete my planned entry for January, I'm still happy with the result.
First, it allowed me to try someone else's tool. Dogfooding (using your own tools) is great because it forces you to make them work really well - and if you're detail-oriented, it motivates you to keep them really clean.
However, using only your own tools is a bad idea in the long term. Checking out something completely different is good to get inspiration, or simply for a breath of fresh air. I had a good experience with Twine, except for a few bugs that got annoying as the story got pretty large: Twine looks like a mind-mapping application, but when you let it position new passages, they spawn way to the bottom-right of your current passages, which is a pain to scroll and re-adjust to the correct position.
Second, it allowed me to let off some steam. I was getting very stressed with the deadline approaching (even though there is no hard deadline on OneGameAMonth, I had still set the objective for myself, and was growing increasingly worried as time passed by).
Writing about game jams, the good and the bad sides, was a liberating experience, and I'm glad I did it. I hope you like it too!