I’m continuing my recap of GGJ 2020 today since this week is GGJ 2021. We pick up with my having arrived home tired at 2:00 AM after a whole lot of highway driving and train riding.
I actually got eight hours of sleep that night. I ended up back at the jam around 3:00, if I recall correctly. Dan and I were building an audio design spreadsheet that I contributed to while I rode the train into the city, going off of his notes of what was discussed after I left.
A little about audio design docs at a game jam: they’re useful in setting up things and marking what’s been done for your teammates. I usually find that I reach a point where if I’m working in middleware, the project outgrows the document, and for game jams especially, the game changes too fast.
On getting there I found out one if the teams we had planned on working with us, um, wasn’t. That was an unfortunate surprise. One of the other teams had already been unclear about whether they’d want additional sound design, so we weren’t too surprised about that team not returning.
That left us with one remaining team, which was the team working on Space Trash, which fortunately was where we were already planning on focusing most of our energy.
Quick summary of the game: the player character’s ship has crashed on a planet. To repair it well enough to leave, the player needs to collect the junk orbiting around the planet. At the end of every day, the ship runs out of fuel and crashes back to the surface.
I decided to take on the audio implementation using FMOD Studio and Dan would do most of the sound design with me handling the rest. Music would be a collaboration between Andrew Davis, who was working using LSDJ and a Game Boy (or maybe a Game Boy Advance), and Zach Tridico.
Dan and I set up a repo for the FMOD project. I would be the designated audio person to have access to the Unity project, which Mark set up using Unity Collab as source control.
I can’t speak much about the game design part of the project. I trusted the rest of the team to get that, especially with their focus on getting a game loop running. (Side note, I’m very grateful that they focused on having a working game loop. It’s good practice. In a game jam having a working game is the only way the sound, art, et cetera is going to be seen, after all.) This is especially important since I pretty much put on my headphones and worked on sound through a decent amount of development.
The implementation is something of a blur so I’m gonna talk about it like it happened all at once. It’s the part where I sat and stared at my laptop for hours ignoring everything around me.
I had the opportunity to become more acquainted with FMOD’s Unity integration after basically spending a year without doing the scripting part myself. Mark and especially Phil were extremely helpful with any issues I had. They were pretty great with commenting their code for where I might need to put sounds too (saving me a lot of unnecessary work when time was at a premium. Thanks!), and helping me with how they were using scriptable objects (which I’ll admit I wasn’t quite comfortable with at first; I was definitely out of practice). Most of that happened on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
At some point on Saturday, Dan and I picked up some work on one of the other games, Øa-sys. Dan provided music and I was able to get them some extra sound effects. The last build of the game I saw didn’t have them implemented, but as I’ve said before, that’s the risk of not implementing them on my own.
Sound recording on-site was fun as always. Since we needed to record junk, I needed to acquire some junk to record. I’d already had the foresight on Saturday to bring some pie tins that I’d collected. But, it wasn’t enough junk. So I decided to, uh, crowdsource that.
Being a sound recordist takes a certain kind of shamelessness. I don’t always have it but I definitely did when going around to each team and asking them for their trash so I could record it. Dan and I then went about looking for a place to record.
Since it was held at a college, there were actual music studios a couple of floors up. Of course, they required booking significantly in advance by actual students at the university, so that didn’t happen.
We had by then been joined by a couple of students there who were working on music and sound for Devil’s Desktop: I.T. Hell. We were all able to use one of the practice rooms to start recording. We recorded a bunch of pie plates at first. After that, Dan and I left them to record their own music. My memory of the order of events is a little unclear at this point. I remember pizza was delivered, Dan left for the night and I did some more recording, this time on my own.
I kinda live for that kind of prop recording; just me, a mic, some junk, and my recorder. That junk yielded a huge amount of content in this case.
When recording and pizza had ended, I settled into the work of roughly editing the junk recordings and implementing them, both into FMOD events and into Unity. I filled out the sounds that Dan couldn’t get to with some of my own. As I said, it’s a bit of a blur. I worked until 5:00, maybe, then eventually found a comfy chair to fall asleep in.