Programming Tools: MS Visual Studio
Role: Team Leader, Art Coordinator & Level Designer
Team size: 2
Development Time: >48 hours
"No Time To Die" is a 2D puzzle-platformer completed with a friend from my cohort as part of, what might be, our final game jam together! The theme for this jam was "Back To The Future 2.0" and won the prize "Best Game", which also translates into 1st place!
Presented the game to judges and fellow jammers
Led brainstorming session
Kept morale high with teammate
Found suitable art assets which fit the game theme
Set art assets up in Unity
Fixed issues arising from sprites not working correctly with the built-in sprite tools
Drafted future and past designs for all levels
Built test levels within Unity before making completed versions
Built completed levels, including making backgrounds behave appropriately in both timelines
Tested and made changes to levels accordingly based on feedback from my teammate and Ubisoft FGOL members who joined as virtual helpers
Originally, we were meant to have 3 people in our team, but lost our third member shortly after the theme was announced, forcing us to change tactics. My teammate and I brainstormed ideas together, using my idea of going into the past to change the future as the basis of the game. This was combined with my teammate's idea of there being some sort of puzzle or stealth element that gets changed between timelines. This eventually led to our main gameplay element where you needed to kill yourself in the past in order to make a pathway for yourself in the future.
During the jam, my teammate and I were on calls via Discord for much of the event to ensure we were working in perfect sync with each other. Maintaining communication would be key, particularly since we were a man down. This helped us avoid running into problems whenever we were pushing or pulling the work we had both done, and helped us keep our morale high with memes and jokes!
Towards the end of the jam, we started discussing how best to present our work. We agreed on having me talk about everything we did whilst my teammate displayed the game and demonstrated features as I called them out. We could then answer any questions at the end depending on who it was more appropriate for, but since I covered everything there weren't any questions from any of the judges!
Normally, I would try to make custom artwork, but due to the unexpected loss of our third member, I focused more on finding assets which would work for our idea. I found a pair of assets which I felt could work together: one as the hollow cavern for the past, and one as an underwater cavern for the future. Each timeline is made up of different features, including different gravity strengths, so having assets that could work together was crucial.
Since we also decided to challenge ourselves by trying to learn something new in this jam, I looked into how Unity's sprite tools can accommodate creating a pixel art game. In the past, I never really touched on these tools, so setting up the imported assets required some trial and error to ensure the appearance of the assets worked nicely. The main issues came from the different aspect ratios that both assets were created at, so some tweaking in the sprite editor was needed to ensure that both assets "felt" the same during a playthrough.
With the assets ready, I began sketching out level designs in a notepad under the premise that it would be mainly a platformer game. At this point, our dying mechanic was more of an extra little feature rather than a core gameplay component. We got some feedback half-way through the jam from members of the Ubisoft FGOL team who wanted to see more use of our dying mechanic, which forced me to completely redo some of the levels!
Due to our limited manpower, we decided it would be best to focus on making a handful of very nice levels instead of creating lots of half-baked ones. We made a plan to create 4 or 5 levels in total: one tutorial level, and a few levels that would increase slowly in difficulty and complexity.
Designs for the tutorial and initial levels focused on a very straightforward level layout between both timelines. In the images below, there would only be a couple of ways that the player could die, indicated by the red X. Hazards would force the player to switch timelines, revealing a new path for them to take safely. Once near the end, they would need to travel back to the future to escape from the level. This style continues, with new hazards being presented which would challenge the player to navigate past them safely.
Early levels would be crafted in the traditional horizontal style, and later change to include vertical designs to encourage using gravity changes. Final levels would compile everything into a larger level where the player must use all they have learned to reach the end. Most of these designs were created under the assumption the game would be a platformer-focused game, but these eventually were changed or scrapped to focus on using the dying mechanic instead.
Below, you can see the feedback and comments we had from the judges on a jamboard. This should give some insight into why we were able to win the prize!