So this past weekend I participated in the Global Game Jam. It was actually my first time doing a game-jam, even though I have wanted to do them many times before. It was also right in the thick of my current game project for school, and my professor warned us not to work on a new game because it would "burn us out".
As I so often do, I ignored that advice.
The theme was ritual, and my team of 5 was composed of myself, another artist, two programmers, and my friend who had never touched Maya or made a game in Unity before in his life. We quickly started brainstorming, and it became clear very quickly that this was not going to be a serious game. We came up with a game idea that involved a man getting up in the morning and completing his "Daily Ritual", which involved a series of several mini-games, before he could walk out the door. We decided the game would be first-person, and we immediately started modeling all the props for his house. I, however, started modeling an arm, and it soon became canon that, although the character would live in a cartoon house, his arm would have stunning detail (and, apparently, always be visible outstretched on screen.)
From there the game spiraled even deeper into the "meme" realm. Family photos for the walls were photoshopped to contain the heads of every group member. To create windows, we just had flat planes that reflected the skybox, even though our skybox was just the same picture 6 times and you could see the corners of it out the window. The visuals of the mini-games didn't make sense, and often featured toilets coming out of the sink or arms falling from the sky. The arm became an even bigger meme and led us to the name "Too Many Arms" for a game that actually had nothing to do with the player's arm. We also had a custom music track that was incredibly annoying and repetitive, and even broke Unity in the sense that it would play even when the game wasn't running. Although we didn't have time to implement it, we really wanted to spam-place an explosion effect we had found in Unity's standard assets in places it didn't belong (hitting the alarm clock, making a sandwich, etc.).
To say the least, our game was a pretty terrible game, but a really great meme.
However, I would not call this game a failure in any way. In fact, I would call it a stunning success. Our goal was to make a ridiculous, derpy game that we would have a ton of fun with. We had an incredible amount of fun making the game, and everyone in the presentation seemed to enjoy the abomination we had created. Our goal wasn't to make a great game, but rather to have a great time making games.
I think sometimes that aspect of game-development gets lost.
Everyone wants their games to be good. That's why we all work so hard. We want our games to be fun for the user, so we put in the work to make it happen. There is plenty of fun to be had from that, but it's the different kind of fun - it's the satisfaction you get from bringing something awesome into the world. At least for me, that feeling is incredible and empowering, and I strive for it in everything I do. But in the case of the Game Jam, we didn't bring something awesome into the world. To be fair, the world is probably much better off WITHOUT our game. Instead we made whatever came to mind.
We had a blank slate, and almost no restrictions. We made whatever we felt like without worrying about "Will this affect our grade?" or "Does this fit with our theme?" or "Will this make sense to the user?".
We just created. Sometimes, when you're so focused on the strict aspects of polish in game design, you forget how fun designing games is. And while creating great things is sometimes one of the greatest feelings in the world, creating whatever you want brings about its own joys.
(If for some reason you want to play this game, look no further than here:)