The Last Dodo (Playable Game)

“The Last Dodo” was a game made for the 48-hour GMTK Jam. This year’s theme was “Only One”. But not only did I use this year’s constraints, but I also aimed to fulfill the constraints for the previous 2 years. Those themes were “Dual Purpose” and “Genre Without Mechanic.” You can play the game on itch.io here!

Here are some post-mortem thoughts I tweeted out the following day:

1) I lost about 5 hours of time on another prototype. I had another idea that involved a cat saving a girl from all sorts of dangers. But the first idea was super content-heavy and needed a lot more art assets. So I had to switch to a mechanics-driven design versus story-driven.

2) A week prior to the jam, I had already resolved to taking the constraints from the previous 2 jams and do them all together. Often, time constraints inspire MORE creativity not less. The worst part of any creative endeavor is “staring at infinity” or a “blank page.”

3) The first major obstacle I had was starting. Even though I had made a game before in Godot Engine I felt intimidated when I first booted it up. But it’s like any other blank page or drawing. It feels better when you make a mess and are already going and have momentum.

4) When I started making art for the game, I was at first trying to get it “pixel perfect.” After an hour, I stopped doing that and started slapping color on the screen as fast as I could. With such a time constraint “good enough” suddenly became my goal.

5) Sound can make a game “feel good.” As soon as I started putting sound into the game, suddenly bullets had “impact” and you felt rewarded for performing action. Sound makes a huge difference in interactivity. And much kudos to “Hakushaku” for doing the music. It sets the mood!

6) The idea for a 1-button twin-stick shooter came from another old NewGrounds game called “1-Button RPG” – an entire RPG that uses 1 button. The game spawned an epic review which was then voiced (with spelling errors) and made into an animation.

7) Programming game mechanics is like mixing paints from scratch. Level designers are the painters who use those mechanics to evoke emotion. That’s the level I aim for. This GMTKJam, I focused only on mechanics and hoped randomization could make up for level design.

8) I had prepared for emotional rollercoastering. At the halfway point, I got hit with despair and even tweeted about it, but it wasn’t wholly unexpected. I handled it with ice cream and other treats. Self-care is super important with any creative endeavor.

9) Set small goal posts. I kept a whiteboard next to me to outline the next babystep to achieve and once I got 5 of them, I wiped the board and started the next set. This is good for even big scale projects that span months. It’s called “sprint planning.”

10) Lastly, “published” is better than “perfect.” The last two GameJams have a ton of flaws under the surface, but once I stopped worrying about programming it “right” versus working “well enough” did things get done. Truth be told, I need more of this in my life.

11) But more than anything… THANK YOU everyone who tweeted at me and got me to laugh over that 48 hours. Even the little bit of cheering even from total strangers made a huge difference. Like a marathon, the cheers from bystanders make a difference!

Judging Results:

CriteriaRankScore*Raw Score
Adherence to the Theme#274.7004.700
Overall#744.3114.311
Design#2154.0004.000
Originality#2174.2334.233

Ranked fromĀ 30 ratings. Score is adjusted from raw score by the median number of ratings per game in the jam.