Genre : Puzzle
Features : Asynchronous online multiplayer, Randomly generated puzzles
- Project started on : March 25th
- Project completed on : March 27th
- Approximate time spent on project : 23 hours (Multiplied by four people)
3010 : An Office Space Odyssey is my first 'real' GameJam project where I went somewhere physically to only work on a game for two days straight. Furthermore, it was my first personal project where I worked with multiple people on a game, and it shows in the feature set and the scope we were able to attain in such a short time. I also had the chance to work with a 3D artist for the first time, leaving to them the task of producing art assets.
The core concept of the game, in a reductive way, is "Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes" meets "The Martian". One player plays an astronaut crashed on a mysterious planet, the other plays an office worker seemingly worlds away. The astronaut only has five minutes to live and the planet contains puzzles to solve. By itself, the astronaut can't solve them, because only the office worker has the solutions, so they must cooperate and exchange information - verbally, so this game requires both players to be physically nearby - to obtain victory.
About The Game
After crashing on the planet, the astronaut has five minutes before it dies from suffocation. It must find five terminals with puzzles on a small-ish planet and then enter a mysterious locked door. The office worker has no stress at all and helps the astronaut because only of some sense that he should do so. Indeed, the opportunity for this unrelated bystander to just mess around with his papers and play with his rubber ducky is present, even in the face of deadly odds for his crashed compatriot.
The minigames that must be solved include:
- A color venn diagram: The astronaut sees an X somewhere in the circles, touching one or more colors, and a keypad below allows a number to be entered. The office worker has a sheet of paper with colors and numbers and must add them up together to make up the answer.
- A grid of shapes with colors: The astronaut has a 4x4 grid of different shapes with colors. The office worker sees hints scattered on many sheets, one will tell it if the shape has three or four sides, another says if there's a right angle in the shape, the last hint tells of the position relatively to a specific color, with these three hints, a solution is possible.
- A button (locked for the office worker until two other games are completed) : Both the astronaut and the office worker must push the button at the same time.
- A series of letters that must be connected : The astronaut has 8 letters that he must pair up together, the office worker has a maze of circuits split on four sheets of paper that he must reassemble to find the solution.
- A mastermind-like password (locked for the office worker until the letter circuit game is completed) : The astronaut sees a screen, the office worker must enter passwords in his computer, showing them to the astronaut with appropriate colors (green = ok, yellow = in the word but not at the right spot, red = not in the word at all)
The Game Jam started on friday at 6 PM, it is at that moment that we got our theme 'Alone In The World' and the gears in our four minds started working. I immediately went to a grid-based puzzle game where you would click characters to try and clear the board of all but one of them. Compromises were quickly made as ideas flew and we arrived after a while at the following ideas: The game should be asynchronous, both players should have different information, it should be online - as to be able to create more complex puzzles - and it should be replayable. Our core idea was "Papers Please + The Martian + Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes"
Our work was separated and I started working on the astronaut moving around a spherical planet. This took me all of the first day and I wasn't having fun at all doing it. It got me really frustrated and even if I request helped from my teammates, I still only managed to get it working right on the morning of the second day.
On day two, I implemented most of the minigames while my teammates were working on their separate bits of the game, network functionality, the office worker space and the 3d modeling of all we wanted. It was clear by day two that our scope was okay, but that we wouldn't be able to have as many minigames as we wanted. From the ten or so we listed off when we started, we decided that five was an okay number. We also got our two additional challenges on day two, the first one was "upside down" which we implemented by flipping the camera around and the second one was "duck quack" which was fulfilled by adding a few squeaky duckies on the office worker's desk.
Day three was all about polish, adding audio and such and for me to create the cutscene that plays when you finish the game from the astronaut side. Again I think that our work was well split between the different aspects of the games we were making. The ending on the office worker side came along at the end and we spend the last hour or so playtesting the game and making sure that you could complete it, and that was a wrap!
While I enjoyed that project, there are many things that we could've done better and/or would've fixed if we were to expand this into a bigger game.
- Both the astronaut and the office worker are maybe too lacking in information. It's fun to search around for clues, but I've shown the game to other people and they were really confused by our puzzle - even if we know all about them, they're not as self-explanatory as we thought. Maybe we could've added numbers to all papers and puzzles so you could match them (i.e., the papers with a 3 on them would be the solution for puzzle 3)
- In the same vein, some puzzles are just too hard, especially the password game. We know all about them, but other people will not, and they're not that self-explanatory. The time pressure does not make for great explaining either.
- The astronaut has too tough of a time finding the minigame terminals, either the planet should've been smaller, or there should've been a minimap on the office worker side, something like that.
- The office worker has no stress of its own. Our core idea had "papers please" as its gameplay for the office worker. Maybe he should've had to fill forms or do actual work while helping the astronaut only to help itself keep doing its work?
But all and all, I'm super happy of the result, since we hit our goal and made a functional game with only minimal mental breakdowns over the weekend ;)