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Michael Primo
Michael Primo

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I did the JS13KGames jam: here is what I learned. 😉

How it began

It was June. I needed a way to create projects and networking, and overcome certain fears I have. As a developer, I have many of them and one was creating a canvas and creating something with it.
Developing something with an HTML5 Canvas was always overwhelming for me. Too much possibilities, many differences between making a website and developing something for this little component.
I made games for my website in DOM and everytime people played that, they had problems. Sometimes were broken, sometimes are not playable because of older browsers, sometimes responsive and browser issues happens and I don't have access on all of them.
So, learning how to use Canvas was a way to make my games more professional and responsive.

But there is more! Why I decide to partecipate to the competition?

I like puzzles, using logic and computer science. Since I am more the "show, don't tell" guy and want to make a good portfolio with real proof of my experience, I decided to partecipate to the 2021 edition of JS13K, but... I knew anything about Canvas. How can I make a good game then?

I needed to level up somehow...and JS1024 was near!

And so I partecipated to JS1024, a jam which you had to make a project with 1024 bytes or Javascript. It was a good start for making something simple.
Then on the js13k slack channel I found out about the Lospec Jam and partecipated and there I found about LOWREZJAM and I started the JS13K competition three days after.

The making of Wonder Wanderer 3

I had one month, so the first plan was:

  • one week of planning and making the core;
  • one week for preparing the music;
  • one week for learning vectorial graphics;
  • the rest for finishing the game.

For three weeks, I had lots of problems. First of all, I had two ideas:

  • A Rhythm game where BPMs are important and you need to fight your way with an another enemy for every stage;
  • A managerial strategic game where you have your space and village and you need to expand while defending it.

The strategic game got unluckily scrapped because on paper seemed unfunny and I made the Rhythm game, but every version I made, it seemed off and I made like 10 versions of the game on this month.

At first I wanted a game about having a gun and pressing buttons for shooting music bullets, reloading, stopping enemy attacks and then incrementing the speed of the music, but the idea got scrapped because it was too complex, and so... I did a mix of everything in the final game.

The last days

I struggled making updates because I was continuing changing the game and I made random music (literally, the music is generated random...badly) and web monetization part the last minute when I made the art (first pixel art and then vectorial art with native functions on the Canvas) during the game.

And so...the game shipped, but...it was bad. What I learned about this?

  • If you have x time, try to make the game in at least half the time and use the rest for correcting bugs, issues, and problems you encountered and improve it;
  • If you can, prototype the game and see if the idea you had in mind was really good or not;
  • It's better making one good level than five bad ones;
  • Your game rarely gets finished. Again, better one good minute of playing than five bad ones;
  • Your game doesn't need to be complicated to be good;
  • Focus on all the things of the game and calculate accurately the time needed for everything.

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