TOJam12 - Retrospective Day 1


Now that the dust has settled and the Bird With Toes team has had a chance to catch up on sleep it's time for a little retrospective on how things went during our time at TOJam 12: What TWELVEs below. I personally think it went extremely well and am happy with the result, bugs and all. There's always room for improvement; but that will be for another entry. Let's start with a little recap first!

This year is our third at the jam and our second with the Bird With Toes moniker on our titles. Foremost on our minds for this year was to not repeat mistakes that we made in TOJam 11. I'll be revisiting these points on the final retrospective devlog.

  • Avoid having too many variables to tweak for game balance
  • Have library components built and tested for all the generic bits in advance
  • Create only the bare minimum number of mechanics needed for the game concept
  • Know exactly what to create on each day
  • Stay chill

With this in mind we created one todo list for what we needed to build on each day.

day 1 todo list scanned

I've always preferred to do these lists on paper since adding items is fast and it's easy to see how far along we are at a glance. As each item is done we cross them off. It's worked quite well for every jam after our first. The main pitfall is to make sure every item on the list is specific enough that it only gets crossed off when it is well and truly done and doesn't need to be touched again.


Since staying in downtown Toronto is expensive and neither of us wanted to sleep on the floor both Tofski and myself commute into and out of the city each day. This means traveling Highway 401 followed by a couple more highways to downtown. Friday's drive was fairly meh with moderate traffic for most of it. Instead of arriving shortly after 10:00AM as I had hoped I arrived closer to 11:00.

The only real negative of being late was that I really needed to pee by the time I got to the last highway exit. The rainy weather when walking to George Brown College did not help that feeling in the least.

I had a traveling companion for Friday, Adrian. He's another Kitchener-Waterloo area developer and was also at the jam. It's pretty good with some neat claymation. :) At the time of writing I couldn't find a link to it though. :( Edit: Here it is! Jelly-Jelly


The morning was dominated by whiteboxing the first levels and setting up the title screen animations. Whiteboxing is designing your game's levels using the bare minimum of graphics. Your game is literally white boxes. I can't overemphasize how important it is to get your gameplay working as fast as possible when jamming. By whiteboxing you have your game environment playable in hours instead of days.

design sketches vs in engine mockups

Tofski did the majority of the whiteboxing work while I did the title screen. Here's a timelapse of some of the work I was doing.

title screen creation timelapse


At this point Tofski got started producing music for the game while I started coding up the titular suicide feature of Kill Yourself.

coding timelapse

For the most part this stage of development went uneventfully with everything coming together quickly and easily. The main goal for the day was to get the barest skeleton of the game done. By about 7:00PM it was possible to start at the title screen, load level 1, beat it, load level 2, and beat that. The remaining levels had more work to do. Since Tofski has the majority of his audio equipment in Kitchener he headed home at around this time. I needed break and watched the opening speeches at 7:30PM



Started work on Day 2 items; WE ARE OFFICIALLY AHEAD OF SCHEDULE W00T!!! Day 2 items are all about interactive level elements. The most critical is the button. On an object entering its hitbox the button gets depressed and sends a message to another level element which it controls. Once all objects have left the button's hitbox it gets released and sends another message to the element it controls.

dropgate creation timelapse

This is the birth of the dropgate. Pushing the button causes it to drop. Releasing the button causes it to rise. Simple and perfect for the first puzzle with a button.

Aside from some polishing of the title screen this pretty much wraps up Day 1 of TOJam.

Files 22 MB
May 09, 2017

Get Kill Yourself - TOJam12

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