Tim Paisley
NUMBER STATION
Global Game Jam 2018
View on GlobalGameJam.org

NUMBER STATION is a game made by Micheal Baron, David Boxall, and myself over the course of a weekend for Global Game Jam 2018. We made everything ourselves - Michael made the 3D models to fill out the room in which the game takes place, David composed the music that you can hear on the radio, and I did the coding.

NUMBER STATION is about problem solving and careful attention to detail. The player finds themselves at a desk with a number of items laid out in front of them, and will need to explore the objects at their disposal to undercover three hidden frequencies, which in turn will uncover three secret messages that can be decoded and entered into the terminal to finish the game.

If I get the time, I'll record a quick playthrough to show off NUMBER STATION and embed it here.

Something that I've learned from the game jams I've participated in - probably one of the biggest lesson to be learned in jams - is scope. Ambition is so important in life, but in a situation with a small, fixed timeframe, it suddenly becomes your biggest enemy. So often I've found myself getting carried away with my ideas. What if this was an asymetric multiplayer party game? What if we include a turn-based battle system? What if we- Stop. You shouldn't be aiming to create a fully-featured, groundbreaking, AAA game. You're here to create a short, sharp experience. The resulting game will be far better if you compromise in your design.

NB: Asymetric multiplayer or turn-based battle systems aren't necessarily off-limits in a game jam, so long as you're sensible about it. Games that are built as a way to demonstrate your grand plans can be awesome, but make sure you choose a vertical slice that shows off the best parts and doesn't require a team of sixty.

Of all the games I've made in game jams, NUMBER STATION is my favourite as a result of our careful scoping. In the first hour of the jam we sat down together and worked out what kind of game we wanted to build, and a few things we wanted to explore. We took a bit of time to have a play around using our different expertises, then made a list of things we wanted to complete before the end of the jam, in order of importance. We made a single level in our game and made sure to polish it to the level we wanted before even thinking about the next level - which ended up paying off as we wouldn't have had enough time to make another anyway.

At the end of the weekend, we'd put together a well-rounded, well-polished, and almost-fully-featured experience that we were all incredibly proud of. There were a lot of things that didn't make the cut, plenty of additional features, assets, story elements and songs that didn't make it in to NUMBER STATION, but that didn't take away from what was there. After submitting our game, we had around 20 - 30 other jammers play it with an ambundance of thinking, laughing and head-bobbing goodness.

We were so happy with NUMBER STATION that I went back to the code a few days later and fixed a game breaking bug that we discovered while playtesting - and if that's not a sure sign of a job well done, then I don't what is.