4 - Game Jam Post-Mortem: Zoolich


A powerful lich, defeated and disgraced has been reduced to a slime in his defeat. With the power of death, and the ability to transform into the creatures that defeat him, the lich must traverse a series of his own mazes to make it back to his throne to recover his original, and far more powerful body.

If you would like to try it out here is the link: https://prophecytoad.itch.io/zoolich  

Earlier this year as a part of Brackey’s Game Jam, myself and a few of my talented friends took on the task of creating a game in 48 hours. Now, you might be thinking, “That’s not a lot of time!” and you’d be right! But there in lays the fun. These game jams are about inspiring new ideas, pushing your skillset, and honing your abilities, and the time pressure makes it easier to really analyse yourself and where your skillset could improve. With that in mind, this post will about what I specifically managed to achieve, and what I could’ve done better.

What went right

I put a monster amount of energy into this game jam. Being the most available team member with the most rounded skillset (I do design, programming, and art), I filled a lot of shoes.

I started off the game jam by ideating with my team on how we wanted to tackle the theme, which was “The end is a new beginning”. We decided pretty quickly that we didn’t want to do any version of a rouge-like because that seemed like the obvious choice, and would be a lot of work to achieve in 48 hours. We eventually decided we would take a light narrative approach where our main character was what remained of a powerful lich. The player’s task as the lich would be to solve puzzles to get back to their original and ultra-powerful lich body. The problem though, is that whenever the lich dies (by colliding with an enemy) they would become the form of the creature that killed them and inherit their abilities. So our justification then would be that when the lich “died” (the end) they would get a new form (new beginning). We were very happy with this and set off to work.

I began this jam by whipping up some design documentation for my team members to work with. Necessary art assets, game objects and behaviours, interactions, level designs, etc. As fast as I could I laid the groundwork for my team members and organised tasks by priority so that even if we missed the deadline, we would have all of the core pieces in place for the submission.

Over the 48 hour period, I helped with concept art, gameplay programming, UI programming, level implementation, and sound curation and implementation. I was BUSY. But at the end of the jam when we submitted, I was proud of what my team and I had created.

To sum up what I am most happy with about this jam, was that I showed to myself that I had learned enough about game development over the last two years that I could make any small game that I could think of, and that I should focus on more complicated games to learn more skills (Looking at you Lumayn).

What I could’ve done better

I’m not perfect (unfortunately). Due to my intense scrambling to fill so many shoes, I inevitably made some mistakes, which we found out after submission because we didn’t have much time in the 48 hours for in-depth testing. Sometime in the final hours before submission, I changed some physics values while bugfixing. The problem here, is that I was so focused on fixing the bug so I could move on to the next task that I didn’t realise I had broken the interactions with obstacles, and now the player could just walk through them. The most annoying part is that the fix would take seconds, but you are not allowed to make any updates to the submission after the jam is over until the jam results were in otherwise you could be disqualified. What I learned from this, is that no matter how pressured for time I am, I should make sure to test properly after making a change.

Canvas scaling sucks, either that or I’m terrible at it… It’s probably just me. I’ve never really sat down and worked out canvas scaling so that the UI can fit multiple resolutions. I understand the concept of it, but UI tends to be something I implement later as I’m not a UI designer (shout out to all the talented graphic designers out there). With some experimenting I can get it to work, but I should have a better understanding of it so that I can implement it quicker. Before the next jam, I’d like to fill this skill gap once and for all and become a titan of UI implementation.

In Conclusion

I think my team and I did an incredible job in such a short amount of time. I think the current skills gaps I have can be easily fixed, and I look forward to pushing myself towards new skills in future!

Some art from the jam

Concept art

Game art

Frog Time!

This time on Frog TV: The Purple Harlequin Toad!