Wendy Baker — Indie Game Developer based in Seattle, WA
Unity 2D – PC/WebGL/Androidmintyfreshdev.itch.io/frientomology
The short version is: I did all of the Unity work for this game, which is playable in-browser if you click the above button, at a 72-hour game jam that happened on a train.
If you'd like to know more, please bear with me for the long version…developing this game was a great experience, and it is a personal project that I hold near and dear, so I have lots to say about it that can't exactly be summarized into bullet points.
Train Jam is an event that happens every year before GDC – an entire Amtrak train is rented out by game developers, and a game jam happens on the 52 hour journey between Chicago and San Francisco.
Due to various delays, Train Jam 2019 lasted 72 hours. It was the most fun I've ever had experiencing travel delays.
My good friend Laura, a talented illustrator who I met during my time as a summer camp counselor for Girls Make Games, convinced me to do Train Jam with her. We discussed the idea of making a cutesy, educational game about bug collecting (because we had recently bonded over our love of Animal Crossing).
About a month before the Train Jam, I suggested we do a visual novel/dating sim. I knew that was something I could put together if I ended up as a solo programmer on our team (I do lots of UI programming in Unity, and also I worked on a small team that successfully completed a dating sim at my first ever game jam). I toyed with the idea of combining the bug game idea with the dating sim format…
At the start of the jam, we were joined by Kells, another very talented illustrator friend of mine, and Sarah, a writer who was looking for a team and happened to be Laura's assigned sleeper roommate. Everyone was into my bug-collecting dating sim idea, and the theme of the jam was revealed to be "circuitous" – we agreed that trying to court the insects instead of catching them with a net would be a good reflection of the theme. As I had expected, all the Unity work was left up to me, but I was ready for the challenge.
During the jam, I noticed myself feeling proud of my ability to script quickly while still keeping things organized and designer-friendly (I kept things looking clean in the Inspector, even though I was the only one using it…a part of me hopes to see this project go further in the future, and it never hurts to be prepared). I utilized ScriptableObjects and an Asset Store plugin called Odin Inspector to make plugging in lines of dialogue super simple. You can see a screenshot of what one of the dialogue objects looks like in the Inspector below (with the screenshots).
Around hour 60, I was bored and decided to see if the game would port to Android easily. It did (took me about 3 clicks). You can also see a picture of this below. It's not available on the Google Play Store just yet, but if we decide to take development on this project any further, I will definitely be designing with both PC and Mobile in mind.
Train Jam was a great time, and probably my favorite part of my GDC trip this year. I plan on doing it again in 2020.ForTrain Jam, March 2019 RoleProgrammer