On the first day, our team hopped into Miro to begin brainstorming ideas. I suggested we do a time-boxed affinity mapping session: putting every wild idea down in post-its, then organizing the notes by theme. This helped us vote on which concept to move forward with.
After deciding on a concept and assigning roles and tasks, we went over the plan for our agile process, prepared our project board in GitHub, and established our Unity-GitHub production cycle.
Designing the HUD
To understand the art direction for the game, I stayed in tune with the team's work over Discord and drew inspiration from the visual assets the 2D and 3D team members created.
I incorporated their work into my process whenever possible, like using 3D renders of the game environment in my mockups for the HUD (Heads Up Display).
Previewing the HUD
Above: Artboard in Adobe XD showing the final HUD mockup.
Below: Previewing the UI elements imported into Unity.
Below: A peek at my Adobe XD file. I always keep things organized while working through design iterations.
Art & Branding
Illustrations & Icons
I used Illustrator to create graphics like the game controls and the game launch icon.
Dialogue & Game Art
While working on the UI design of the dialogue boxes, I discovered our team needed help finalizing some background art for a cutscene.
I took a character illustration created earlier by our 2D artist and gave it some cell shading in Photoshop.
Then I vectorized a stock photo in Illustrator and painted details in Photoshop to create a background image.
I then exported the assets out, imported them into Unity, and helped implement them.
Branding & Itch.io
I extended the art style of the game into the Itch.io page design to give it a cohesive and polished look.
A peek at the gameplay:
What Went Right
Design wins: It was an honor to see that the user interface was scored a #2 overall by the community voting on the game jam submission page (along with so much awesome feedback!) Throughout the process, I received compliments from the team on the speed and quality of my design work (and also on how eager I was to help with any part of the project I could, haha!) I recall our 3D artist saying, "I've never had such a polished Itch.io page for a game jam before!"
Collaboration: I enjoyed sharing my work in progress and giving and receiving feedback from the team via Discord. It was a natural process for me, as I firmly believe in the idea that "we design better together."
A new experience gained: This was the first game jam I've ever participated in, so the frantic pace (and really, the whole process) was new to me. I found myself focusing on just getting tasks done as best as I could. Next time, there are a few things I would do differently:
Identify UX Opportunities: I noticed an important criticism in the community comments: several players couldn't tell whether their actions in-game were working or not. This is critical feedback. The right kind of feedback at the right time greatly enhances user experience. In future game jams, I would work closer with the game designers/developers as the advocate for UX; helping determine the game vision, how to communicate with players, and testing and iterating as leanly as possible.
Active Tutorial/FTUE: Instead of making the player read a tutorial, I would work closely with the developers from the beginning to design a proper FTUE that teaches the player in an actively engaging way. I think nailing the FTUE is important, no matter how brief a game jam is.
Set an Art Style: Although our team did a great job with the visuals overall, I think we would have benefitted from a Style Guide to inform our work. Next time, I would have the team spend 30-60 minutes collaboratively sourcing inspiration for the UI, 2D, and 3D aesthetics, culminating in a Style Guide everyone could refer to.
*Note: sketches in the "Takeaways" section are by our 2D artist, Caednis (aka Julia Mirae Nin.)