Note: given this game jam is mainly focused in Latin American game devs, I also posted this article in Spanish. For the Spanish version please check here.
Nota: dado que esta game jam está enfocada principalmente a desarrolladora latinoamericanas, escribí la versión en Español de este artículo. Pueden encontrarla aquí.
Last week I had the chance to participate in the Women Game Jam 2020. I joined the Chilean chapter but, given the global health circumstances, the Jam itself was online so we had the chance to be part of an international experience.
Creating more games to gain more experience and polish my game design skills is one of my main goals for the coming months. In that spirit, participating in Jams has become a strong topic of interest lately. I had never participated in one before, so this was my first experience! And a very atypical one as well.
Part of the challenge I set to myself on this quest was to make the game on my own as a solo developer, using assets from the Unity Asset Store to fill the art and sound gaps my 1-person-team had.
The Jam started the same day I was celebrating my birthday, so I attended the inauguration events but couldn’t really stay to breath the excitement of the first day. I got to hear the jam theme, however, and my family joined me in a little brainstorm session while celebrating my birthday 🙂
The theme: together even apart
Luckily, the theme allowed me to explore a topic I had had in mind for some time prior and although I got very fun ideas from the brainstorming, the concept naturally filled my mind so I had to do it!
That’s how Inner Colors was born, although it didn’t have that name at the beginning. In this game I explored the concept of reuniting with your inner child, that may seem distant (in time) but is actually always there if you really want to reach it.
My view on the theme and how I tackled it
As an aspiring game designer and developer, I’ve come to understand how important creativity is. As a software engineer, I constantly feel that my creativity has fallen asleep in order to let the logical and analytical side of my brain dominate. So in my journey to reconnect with my creativity, I’ve come to appreciate the crazy and even ridiculous worlds that I, as a child, created and enjoyed. There are very few moments in life where you can be more creative than as a child. Children know no boundaries, enjoy the simplest things and are able to create complete worlds from a simple teddy bear o Barbie doll.
I’ve remembered this lately watching my niece play and invent stories. I, of course, was like that as well as everyone probably was. That creativity and freedom to think of ideas and don’t criticize them the second they are born is a child’s trait that I consider fundamental to develop a creative career as an adult.
It is a much deeper topic, but I thought of a simple way of expressing it in a short game. Inner Colors features Kira, an adult woman whose life has become very monotonous and gray until one day something clicks inside of her, her health doesn’t allow her to continue working as hard as she is used to and she has some kind of burnout event.
She decides (or is advised) to go visit her grandmother where she will be able to rest and enjoy nature. She used to visit her grandma when she was a child and spend the summer there, playing and inventing magical stories in the fields.
That’s kind of the half-untold prologue. The rest of the game is about the journey, a slightly magical one, Kira will experience remembering her childhood stories, repairing some important landmarks and reconnecting with her inner child.
This is spiced with some visual mechanics such as a “child lenses view” that becomes available once she embraces the magical nature of her experience. This skill drastically changes the colors and music to emulate the way the child version of Kira would see the world. Also, the game main mechanic is collecting some items in order to repair some buildings.
How did it go…
The final result is far from perfect, of course, as any jam game is. However, I’m very proud of it for several reasons. First and foremost, I dared to enter a jam and was able to successfully complete it and deliver my game to it.
Second, I could create a complete experience from scratch. Starting from a concept and transforming it into an interactive story. To me, this is a big step! Specially considering that my main interest is in creating narrative games that deliver a deep memorable message.
And lastly, I was able to put my technical skills to test and successfully passed that test. I decided to try new tools such as FMod for music and Yarn Spinner for dialogues and could create something really robust with them in very short time. I was also able to see how much of Unity game dev I’ve learnt up to this point, something that wasn’t so clear while working on the same game for a long time. This time, I could start a project from zero and deliver a PC game in less than a week 😀
And… what’s next?
I’m still excited for all the things I could accomplish and the things I think I will be able to accomplish in the future or in future game jams. However, I’m working hard not to leave Jumpy Paws development behind as a milestone is coming to me very quickly!
I might also post some dev blogs on more of the technical stuff I learnt later 😉
Thanks for reading and please check Inner Colors at itch.io. The English translation will be available soon 🙂Inner Colors by raincupgames