Adventure Jam 2023 Retrospective

In case you missed it, I recently took part in Adventure Jam 2023. In the following video, I discuss my experiences, strategies, and my thoughts on what went well and what I could have improved.

Watch my Adventure Jam Retrospective video on YouTube.

If you’re not a video fan, here it is for you to have a read of instead!

⚠️ Spoiler Alert ⚠️

This blog post contains major spoilers for my game, The Alignment Paradox. I encourage you to experience the game before proceeding. It will take about half an hour to play through unless you find yourself caught on that one notorious puzzle! Once done, feel free to return and read the rest.

What is Adventure Jam?

For those unfamiliar, Adventure Jam is an annual game jam where developers create an adventure game within two weeks. The games are then played and rated by the participants. As you may know, making a complete game in such a short time is quite a challenge, especially when juggling other commitments such as full-time jobs.

My Process

Writing

Before the jam commenced, I took advantage of the rule that allows for story and dialogue writing in advance. My initial plan was to complete all writing before the jam started, but it didn’t go as planned. So I spent the initial days of the jam writing and constructing a puzzle dependency chart to understand how the game elements would interconnect.

Scripting

Once satisfied with the writing, I moved on to building the game using Unity and a tool called PowerQuest, developed by Dave from Powerhoof. This tool streamlines the making of point & click adventure games, simplifying scripting with its easy-to-use interface.

Dialogue and Voice Acting

The dialogue was also handled during the first week to ensure my voice actors had sufficient time to record their lines. This allowed me to send the script off to the voice actors by the end of the first week. I was privileged to work with Rich Keeble and Naomi Miller who made the voiceover process completely stress-free.

Artwork

In the second week, I started working on the artwork. This was my first foray into pixel art, which proved a significant learning curve. But with the help of Aseprite and beginner tutorials, I was able to navigate through it.

Iterate

The final stage involved continuous testing, fixing, and tweaking. I also added music, sound effects, voiceover audio, and developed the title screen, credits, and itch.io page.

Reflections

What Could Have Gone Better

  • Writing: While the storyline of The Alignment Paradox was well received, it had its share of plot holes due to the time constraint.
  • Artwork: My initial experimentation with pixel art was obvious in some places, something I improved post-jam.
  • Audio: Audio balancing was a minor issue, with voices drowned out by the music at times. This has been corrected in the updated version.
  • Video Cutscene: The lab security video scene required more logic than anticipated due to the interactive nature of the rooms. Looking back, a simple video recording could have sufficed.

What Went Well

  • Voice Acting: Working with professional voice actors was an absolute pleasure.
  • Puzzles: Most of the puzzles were fair and logical. Feedback received suggested they were challenging yet satisfying to solve.
  • Achievement: My game finished in 3rd place among 332 entries. A truly incredible achievement for me considering this was my first Adventure Jam and I’ve only been making games for a few months.

In conclusion, Adventure Jam 2023 was an incredible learning journey. A big thank you to everyone who played, rated, and provided valuable feedback. A special shout out to Dave from Powerhoof and my fellow PowerQuesters. Your support and encouragement were very much appreciated during the Jam.

Until next time, happy gaming!


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2 responses to “Adventure Jam 2023 Retrospective”

  1. Michael Lückgen Avatar

    Hi Dan,

    I just played your game The Alignment Paradox on itch.io and loved it, so I had to reach out to you! I really like the art style and atmosphere of your game. Also the puzzles were cleverly designed and made a lot of fun to me. I like the puzzles where you have to type in a password or number code and get the information from your surroundings.

    My name is Michael, and I’m a composer who is passionate about creating music for video games, especially point & click adventure games.
    I would love to collaborate with you sometime. I am always looking for nice and interesting people to work with and create great narrative games.
    You can find some of my songs and contact info on my website:
    https://michael-lueckgen.com/
    There are only orchestral pieces but I am also capable of writing in any style.

    If you’re interested, I would be happy to have a chat with you.
    I also have a background in programming and released my own adventure game a few years ago, so it could be fun to just nerd out about adventure games and stuff. 🙂

    Take care,
    Michael Lückgen

    1. Dan Avatar

      Hi Michael. Thanks for playing and commenting! Glad you liked the game. I’m not actually working on anything at the moment, just exploring ideas for a new game, but I’ll keep you in mind for future music needs!

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