Tumbleweed Express: A Tale of 54 Game Jams
Matthew Louis Mauriello
Project Manager (@mattm401)
IGDA DC Chapter Meeting
Jun...
INTRODUCTION
Human
Computer
Interaction
Laboratory
makeability lab
Matthew Louis Mauriello
PhD Student, Comp Sci. (HCI)
De...
This is a story about how a bunch of strangers
got together and made a game about a train
by working ~(once a month) over ...
Deceptive Driving (2010)
Deceptive Driving (2010)
As indie game developers you may have
been involved in a number of projects that
implode or becom...
Backstory
Backstory
Backstory
After Global Game Jam 2010,
IGDA DC heard from many of its
members that they did not know
how to fully participa...
Deceptive Driving (2010)
Beans vs. Waffles (2011)
Based on the positive reception of this first
game jam, we decided to hold a second.
What happened next was the genesis of...
Backstory
TIMELINE
TUMBLEWEED EXPRESS: 1 – 54 GAME JAMS
TIMELINE
Year 1:
Design &
Prototype
(2011 - 2012)
TUMBLEWEED EXPRESS: 1 – 54 GAME JAMS
IGDADC
(VERSION 0.0)
INTRODUCTION
TIMsELINE
Year 2 :
Development &
LLC Formation
(2013)
MAGFest
Year 3:
Development
& Iteration
(2014)
Year 4:
IGF, Kickstar...
(VERSION 1.0)
INTRODUCTION
TIMsELINE
Year 2 :
Development &
LLC Formation
(2013)
MAGFest
Year 3:
Development
& Iteration
(2014)
Year 4:
IGF, Kickstar...
TIMELINE
Year 2 :
Development &
LLC Formation
(2013)
MAGFest
Year 3:
Development
& Iteration
(2014)
Year 4:
IGF, Kickstart...
(VERSION 0.0)
YEAR 1: GAME JAM 1
(1) Pitch Projects
Quick Sketches
(2) Present Ideas
Group Discussion
(3) Ideate
Prioritiz...
(VERSION 0.0)
YEAR 1: GAME JAM 1
(1) Pitch Projects
Quick Sketches
(2) Present Ideas
Group Discussion
(3) Ideate
Prioritiz...
(VERSION 0.0)
YEAR 1: GAME JAM 1
GOALS: EXPECTED PROJECT OUTCOMES
1. Make a fun, 3D game about a train in
approximately 3 years time.
2. Submit a build to ...
(VERSION 0.1)
YEAR 1: CREATE GAME DESIGN DOCUMENT
(VERSION 0.2)
YEAR 1: GAME JAM 8
Continue Game Jams
One Weekend A Month
Prototype, Evaluate, Iterate
Incremental Progress
(VERSION 0.2)
YEAR 1: GAME JAM 8
Continue Game Jams
One Weekend A Month
Prototype, Evaluate, Iterate
Incremental Progress
(VERSION 0.3)
YEAR 1: GAME JAM 8
YEAR 1: MAGFEST SUBMISSION
(VERSION 0.3)
YEAR 1: MAGFEST RESPONSE
“Hi & good day to you!
I’m proud to announce that you have been selected to be a
part of the new ...
Year 2 :
Development &
LLC Formation
(2013)
MAGFest
Year 3:
Development
& Iteration
(2014)
Year 4:
IGF, Kickstarter, &
Ste...
Year 2 :
Development &
LLC Formation
(2013)
MAGFest
Year 3:
Development
& Iteration
(2014)
Year 4:
IGF, Kickstarter, &
Ste...
YEARS 2 – 3: 1ST OF MANY CRUNCHES
To start, the team prepared for MAGFest 11.
Team members worked constantly over the
wint...
(VERSION 0.4)
YEAR 2 - 3: GAME JAM 13
VIDEO AVAILABLE AT: HTTPS://WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/WATCH?V=49_QUD93U20
REFLECTIONS: THINGS LEARNED
1. External deadlines are great for productivity.
REFLECTIONS: THINGS LEARNED
(VERSION 0.4)
YEAR 2 - 3: MAGFEST 11
(VERSION 0.4)
YEAR 2 - 3: COLLECTING FEEDBACK
(VERSION 0.4)
YEAR 2 - 3: BUILDING INTEREST
YEAR 2 - 3: MARKETING
“Are you guys on Twitter?”
(VERSION 0.4)
YEAR 2 - 3: MARKETING
“Are you guys on Twitter?”
No. Oops!
(VERSION 0.4)
1. External deadlines are great for productivity.
REFLECTIONS: THINGS LEARNED
1. External deadlines are great for productivity.
2. It is never too early to start marketing.
REFLECTIONS: THINGS LEARNED
YEARS 2 -3: AFTER MAGFEST
1. LLC Creation & Work Agreements
2. Process MAGFEST Feedback
3. Update Game Design Document
4. ...
YEAR 2 - 3: MAGFEST MOST REQUESTED
Attendees of MAGFest played 196 games of Tumbleweed
Express and generated 259 unique ti...
(VERSION 0.5 – 0.7)
YEAR 2 - 3: THEN AND NOW
VIDEO AVAILABLE AT: HTTPS://WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/WATCH?V=HFBR2-WYYBI
(VERSION 0.5X)
YEAR 2 - 3: EXPERIMENT
VIDEO AVAILABLE AT: HTTPS://WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/WATCH?V=8VMDLYWGOPA
1. Make a fun, 3D game about a train in
approximately 3 years time.
2. Submit a build to the Independent
Games Festival (I...
1. Make a fun, 3D game about a train in
approximately 3 years time.
2. Submit a build to the Independent
Games Festival (I...
Year 2 :
Development &
LLC Formation
(2013)
MAGFest
Year 3:
Development
& Iteration
(2014)
Year 4:
IGF, Kickstarter, &
Ste...
Year 2 :
Development &
LLC Formation
(2013)
MAGFest
Year 3:
Development
& Iteration
(2014)
Year 4:
IGF, Kickstarter, &
Ste...
(THOUGH UNSUCCESSFUL, IT WAS GOOD FOR PRODUCTIVITY TO HAVE THIS AS GOAL)
YEAR 4 – 4.5: SUBMIT TO IGF
(HELPED US MOVE TOWARDS RELEASE AND EXPAND THE COMMUNITY)
YEAR 4 – 4.5: SETUP STEAM GREENLIGHT
(ATTEMPTED TO ACQUIRE FUNDING AND INCREASE MOMENTUM)
YEAR 4 – 4.5: RUN A KICKSTARTER
Oculus Rift
Support
Co-Op
Support
1. External deadlines are great for productivity.
2. It is never too early to start marketing.
REFLECTIONS: THINGS LEARNED
1. External deadlines are great for productivity.
2. It is never too early to start marketing.
3. Developing a project tak...
YEAR 4 – 4.5: SCOPING BACK
Having an unsuccessful Kickstarter was still
valuable because the project’s audience
expanded a...
YEAR 4 – 4.5: PRESSING ON
Thanks to the project’s expanding community
and the team’s continual updating of the
project, so...
1. External deadlines are great for productivity.
2. It is never too early to start marketing.
3. Developing a project tak...
1. External deadlines are great for productivity.
2. It is never too early to start marketing.
3. Developing a project tak...
(VERSION 1.0)
YEAR 4 – 4.5: REMOTE JAMS BEGIN
(VERSION 1.0)
YEAR 4 – 4.5: DATA DRIVEN TIMELINES
1. Make a fun, 3D game about a train in
approximately 3 years time.
2. Submit a build to the Independent
Games Festival (I...
(TEAM AND FRIENDS)
RELEASE DINNER: MAY 31ST, 2016
CONCLUSION: WHAT I LEARNED
Am·a·tuer (noun): The English word amateur
came from a French word which in turn came
from a La...
Year 2 :
Development &
LLC Formation
(2013)
MAGFest
Year 3:
Development
& Iteration
(2014)
Year 4:
IGF, Kickstarter, &
Ste...
Year 2 :
Development &
LLC Formation
(2013)
MAGFest
Year 3:
Development
& Iteration
(2014)
Year 4:
IGF, Kickstarter, &
Ste...
YEAR 4.5: IGDA DC PANEL DISCUSSION
(VERSION 1.0)
Matthew Louis Mauriello
Project Manager
Jacob Clayman
Lead Designer
David...
Tumbleweed Express: A Tale of 54 Game Jams
Matthew Louis Mauriello
Project Manager (@mattm401)
IGDA DC Chapter Meeting
Jun...
Tumbleweed Express: A Tale of 54 Game Jams
Tumbleweed Express: A Tale of 54 Game Jams
Tumbleweed Express: A Tale of 54 Game Jams
Tumbleweed Express: A Tale of 54 Game Jams
Tumbleweed Express: A Tale of 54 Game Jams
Tumbleweed Express: A Tale of 54 Game Jams
Tumbleweed Express: A Tale of 54 Game Jams
Tumbleweed Express: A Tale of 54 Game Jams
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Tumbleweed Express: A Tale of 54 Game Jams

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Tumbleweed Express is a tower defense game that takes place on a moving train set in an alternate history of the American West. Advance through 12 levels across 3 different acts as you shoot down attacking airships and other obstacles while delivering supplies and collecting mail. Complete voluntary contracts to get extra funds to use for weapon and armor upgrades, which help you make it through each level in one piece!

Tumbleweed Express originated from the team’s participation in a game jam held by the DC Chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) in November 2011. Since that initial game jam, the team has dedicated one weekend a month to completing the project. In 2012 these talented developers formed an independent game studio, The Dirigiballers, LLC, that has now brought the Tumbleweed Express to life on Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux.

This talk was presented at the IGDA DC monthly chapter meeting at Bravo! Bravo! on June 28th and mainly focused on the team's development process and history as a primer for a panel discussion that followed.

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Tumbleweed Express: A Tale of 54 Game Jams

  1. 1. Tumbleweed Express: A Tale of 54 Game Jams Matthew Louis Mauriello Project Manager (@mattm401) IGDA DC Chapter Meeting June 28th, 2016 (@IGDA_DC)
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION Human Computer Interaction Laboratory makeability lab Matthew Louis Mauriello PhD Student, Comp Sci. (HCI) Design Thinking Process Image by Stanford d.School Aspiring Indie Dev. (2003) Deceptive Driving (2010) Beans vs. Waffles (2011)
  3. 3. This is a story about how a bunch of strangers got together and made a game about a train by working ~(once a month) over 4.5 years. …it’s also a story about how I learned what it means to be an amateur. INTRODUCTION: OUR STORY
  4. 4. Deceptive Driving (2010)
  5. 5. Deceptive Driving (2010) As indie game developers you may have been involved in a number of projects that implode or become inactive; for many reasons, this is a common experience within our community. This certainly happened to me right before my transition from IGDA Albany to IGDA DC.
  6. 6. Backstory
  7. 7. Backstory
  8. 8. Backstory After Global Game Jam 2010, IGDA DC heard from many of its members that they did not know how to fully participate in a large game jam. To address this issue, the chapter decided to organize a few small game jams leading up to the next Global Game Jam. This was my first project with the chapter, which lead to a short tablet game being published on the App Store.
  9. 9. Deceptive Driving (2010) Beans vs. Waffles (2011)
  10. 10. Based on the positive reception of this first game jam, we decided to hold a second. What happened next was the genesis of the project Tumbleweed Express and the founding of The Dirigiballers, LLC. INTRODUCTION: GENESIS
  11. 11. Backstory
  12. 12. TIMELINE TUMBLEWEED EXPRESS: 1 – 54 GAME JAMS
  13. 13. TIMELINE Year 1: Design & Prototype (2011 - 2012) TUMBLEWEED EXPRESS: 1 – 54 GAME JAMS IGDADC
  14. 14. (VERSION 0.0) INTRODUCTION
  15. 15. TIMsELINE Year 2 : Development & LLC Formation (2013) MAGFest Year 3: Development & Iteration (2014) Year 4: IGF, Kickstarter, & Steam Greenlight (2015) Year 4.5: Steam Release (2016) Year 1: Design & Prototype (2011 - 2012) TUMBLEWEED EXPRESS: 1 – 54 GAME JAMS IGDADC IGDABalt. Gamescape VGU IGDADC Gamescape BFIG TMG MAGFest
  16. 16. (VERSION 1.0) INTRODUCTION
  17. 17. TIMsELINE Year 2 : Development & LLC Formation (2013) MAGFest Year 3: Development & Iteration (2014) Year 4: IGF, Kickstarter, & Steam Greenlight (2015) Year 4.5: Steam Release (2016) Year 1: Design & Prototype (2011 - 2012) TUMBLEWEED EXPRESS: 1 – 54 GAME JAMS IGDADC IGDABalt. Gamescape VGU IGDADC Gamescape BFIG TMG MAGFest
  18. 18. TIMELINE Year 2 : Development & LLC Formation (2013) MAGFest Year 3: Development & Iteration (2014) Year 4: IGF, Kickstarter, & Steam Greenlight (2015) Year 4.5: Steam Release (2016) Year 1: Design & Prototype (2011 - 2012) TUMBLEWEED EXPRESS: 1 – 54 GAME JAMS IGDADC IGDABalt. Gamescape VGU IGDADC Gamescape BFIG TMG MAGFest
  19. 19. (VERSION 0.0) YEAR 1: GAME JAM 1 (1) Pitch Projects Quick Sketches (2) Present Ideas Group Discussion (3) Ideate Prioritize Features (4) Build Rapidly Prototype
  20. 20. (VERSION 0.0) YEAR 1: GAME JAM 1 (1) Pitch Projects Quick Sketches (2) Present Ideas Group Discussion (3) Ideate Prioritize Features (4) Build Rapidly Prototype
  21. 21. (VERSION 0.0) YEAR 1: GAME JAM 1
  22. 22. GOALS: EXPECTED PROJECT OUTCOMES 1. Make a fun, 3D game about a train in approximately 3 years time. 2. Submit a build to the Independent Games Festival (IGF). 3. Complete the project with support for Windows, Mac, and Linux. 4. Release the game on Steam.
  23. 23. (VERSION 0.1) YEAR 1: CREATE GAME DESIGN DOCUMENT
  24. 24. (VERSION 0.2) YEAR 1: GAME JAM 8 Continue Game Jams One Weekend A Month Prototype, Evaluate, Iterate Incremental Progress
  25. 25. (VERSION 0.2) YEAR 1: GAME JAM 8 Continue Game Jams One Weekend A Month Prototype, Evaluate, Iterate Incremental Progress
  26. 26. (VERSION 0.3) YEAR 1: GAME JAM 8
  27. 27. YEAR 1: MAGFEST SUBMISSION (VERSION 0.3)
  28. 28. YEAR 1: MAGFEST RESPONSE “Hi & good day to you! I’m proud to announce that you have been selected to be a part of the new Indie Game Showcase for Magfest 11! If there are any questions prior to the start of Magfest 11, please don’t hesitate to email me directly. Thank you for your time and congratulations!!! Cheers, Gabriel G. Indie Game Showcase.” (VERSION 0.3)
  29. 29. Year 2 : Development & LLC Formation (2013) MAGFest Year 3: Development & Iteration (2014) Year 4: IGF, Kickstarter, & Steam Greenlight (2015) Year 4.5: Steam Release (2016) Year 1: Design & Prototype (2011 - 2012) TUMBLEWEED EXPRESS: 1 – 54 GAME JAMS IGDADC IGDABalt. Gamescape VGU IGDADC Gamescape BFIG TMG MAGFest
  30. 30. Year 2 : Development & LLC Formation (2013) MAGFest Year 3: Development & Iteration (2014) Year 4: IGF, Kickstarter, & Steam Greenlight (2015) Year 4.5: Steam Release (2016) Year 1: Design & Prototype (2011 - 2012) TUMBLEWEED EXPRESS: 1 – 54 GAME JAMS IGDADC IGDABalt. Gamescape VGU IGDADC Gamescape BFIG TMG MAGFest
  31. 31. YEARS 2 – 3: 1ST OF MANY CRUNCHES To start, the team prepared for MAGFest 11. Team members worked constantly over the winter holiday period to complete the first full demo of Tumbleweed Express. (This was the 1st of many crunches that preceded our deadlines.)
  32. 32. (VERSION 0.4) YEAR 2 - 3: GAME JAM 13 VIDEO AVAILABLE AT: HTTPS://WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/WATCH?V=49_QUD93U20
  33. 33. REFLECTIONS: THINGS LEARNED
  34. 34. 1. External deadlines are great for productivity. REFLECTIONS: THINGS LEARNED
  35. 35. (VERSION 0.4) YEAR 2 - 3: MAGFEST 11
  36. 36. (VERSION 0.4) YEAR 2 - 3: COLLECTING FEEDBACK
  37. 37. (VERSION 0.4) YEAR 2 - 3: BUILDING INTEREST
  38. 38. YEAR 2 - 3: MARKETING “Are you guys on Twitter?” (VERSION 0.4)
  39. 39. YEAR 2 - 3: MARKETING “Are you guys on Twitter?” No. Oops! (VERSION 0.4)
  40. 40. 1. External deadlines are great for productivity. REFLECTIONS: THINGS LEARNED
  41. 41. 1. External deadlines are great for productivity. 2. It is never too early to start marketing. REFLECTIONS: THINGS LEARNED
  42. 42. YEARS 2 -3: AFTER MAGFEST 1. LLC Creation & Work Agreements 2. Process MAGFEST Feedback 3. Update Game Design Document 4. Join Social Media 5. Migrate to BitButcket & Utilize Ticketing 6. Roster Changes & Hiring Developers
  43. 43. YEAR 2 - 3: MAGFEST MOST REQUESTED Attendees of MAGFest played 196 games of Tumbleweed Express and generated 259 unique tickets that included: feedback, feature requests, bugs, and user experience issues. After cataloging these issues, the top items included: Add Radar; could be a purchasable option (14 Requests) Boss needs indicators for where to shoot and colliders (8) Destructible spawners (8) Mouse sensitivity needs to be adjustable (7) Iterate on design of battle menu; it's confusing (6) Weapon switching is slow and cumbersome (5) Put on Steam with achievements (4) Drillcars are very aggressive (4) Track switching and destination control (4) … (VERSION 0.4)
  44. 44. (VERSION 0.5 – 0.7) YEAR 2 - 3: THEN AND NOW VIDEO AVAILABLE AT: HTTPS://WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/WATCH?V=HFBR2-WYYBI
  45. 45. (VERSION 0.5X) YEAR 2 - 3: EXPERIMENT VIDEO AVAILABLE AT: HTTPS://WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/WATCH?V=8VMDLYWGOPA
  46. 46. 1. Make a fun, 3D game about a train in approximately 3 years time. 2. Submit a build to the Independent Games Festival (IGF). 3. Complete the project with support for Windows, Mac, and Linux. 4. Release the game on Steam. GOALS: EXPECTED PROJECT OUTCOMES
  47. 47. 1. Make a fun, 3D game about a train in approximately 3 years time. 2. Submit a build to the Independent Games Festival (IGF). 3. Complete the project with support for Windows, Mac, and Linux. 4. Release the game on Steam. GOALS: EXPECTED PROJECT OUTCOMES
  48. 48. Year 2 : Development & LLC Formation (2013) MAGFest Year 3: Development & Iteration (2014) Year 4: IGF, Kickstarter, & Steam Greenlight (2015) Year 4.5: Steam Release (2016) Year 1: Design & Prototype (2011 - 2012) TUMBLEWEED EXPRESS: 1 – 54 GAME JAMS IGDADC IGDABalt. Gamescape VGU IGDADC Gamescape BFIG TMG MAGFest
  49. 49. Year 2 : Development & LLC Formation (2013) MAGFest Year 3: Development & Iteration (2014) Year 4: IGF, Kickstarter, & Steam Greenlight (2015) Year 4.5: Steam Release (2016) Year 1: Design & Prototype (2011 - 2012) TUMBLEWEED EXPRESS: 1 – 54 GAME JAMS IGDADC IGDABalt. Gamescape VGU IGDADC Gamescape BFIG TMG MAGFest
  50. 50. (THOUGH UNSUCCESSFUL, IT WAS GOOD FOR PRODUCTIVITY TO HAVE THIS AS GOAL) YEAR 4 – 4.5: SUBMIT TO IGF
  51. 51. (HELPED US MOVE TOWARDS RELEASE AND EXPAND THE COMMUNITY) YEAR 4 – 4.5: SETUP STEAM GREENLIGHT
  52. 52. (ATTEMPTED TO ACQUIRE FUNDING AND INCREASE MOMENTUM) YEAR 4 – 4.5: RUN A KICKSTARTER
  53. 53. Oculus Rift Support Co-Op Support
  54. 54. 1. External deadlines are great for productivity. 2. It is never too early to start marketing. REFLECTIONS: THINGS LEARNED
  55. 55. 1. External deadlines are great for productivity. 2. It is never too early to start marketing. 3. Developing a project takes more than having the code, art, and audio. REFLECTIONS: THINGS LEARNED
  56. 56. YEAR 4 – 4.5: SCOPING BACK Having an unsuccessful Kickstarter was still valuable because the project’s audience expanded and the team better understood what fans wanted. However, it was time to return to the game design document and scope back (e.g., by removing experimental features like VR and Co-Op).
  57. 57. YEAR 4 – 4.5: PRESSING ON Thanks to the project’s expanding community and the team’s continual updating of the project, social media, Steam Greenlight, etc…
  58. 58. 1. External deadlines are great for productivity. 2. It is never too early to start marketing. 3. Developing a project takes more than having the code, art, and audio. REFLECTIONS: THINGS LEARNED
  59. 59. 1. External deadlines are great for productivity. 2. It is never too early to start marketing. 3. Developing a project takes more than having the code, art, and audio. 4. Persistence is important. REFLECTIONS: THINGS LEARNED
  60. 60. (VERSION 1.0) YEAR 4 – 4.5: REMOTE JAMS BEGIN
  61. 61. (VERSION 1.0) YEAR 4 – 4.5: DATA DRIVEN TIMELINES
  62. 62. 1. Make a fun, 3D game about a train in approximately 3 years time. 2. Submit a build to the Independent Games Festival (IGF). 3. Complete the project with support for Windows, Mac, and Linux. 4. Release the game on Steam. GOALS: EXPECTED PROJECT OUTCOMES
  63. 63. (TEAM AND FRIENDS) RELEASE DINNER: MAY 31ST, 2016
  64. 64. CONCLUSION: WHAT I LEARNED Am·a·tuer (noun): The English word amateur came from a French word which in turn came from a Latin word that meant “lover.” In English, amateurs are so called because they do something for the love of doing it and not for pay. (Merriam-Webster)
  65. 65. Year 2 : Development & LLC Formation (2013) MAGFest Year 3: Development & Iteration (2014) Year 4: IGF, Kickstarter, & Steam Greenlight (2015) Year 4.5: Steam Release (2016) Year 1: Design & Prototype (2011 - 2012) TUMBLEWEED EXPRESS: 1 – 54 GAME JAMS IGDADC IGDABalt. Gamescape VGU IGDADC Gamescape BFIG TMG MAGFest
  66. 66. Year 2 : Development & LLC Formation (2013) MAGFest Year 3: Development & Iteration (2014) Year 4: IGF, Kickstarter, & Steam Greenlight (2015) Year 4.5: Steam Release (2016) Year 1: Design & Prototype (2011 - 2012) TUMBLEWEED EXPRESS: 1 – 54 GAME JAMS IGDADC IGDABalt. Gamescape VGU IGDADC Gamescape BFIG TMG MAGFest
  67. 67. YEAR 4.5: IGDA DC PANEL DISCUSSION (VERSION 1.0) Matthew Louis Mauriello Project Manager Jacob Clayman Lead Designer David To Programmer Thanks for Listening! Questions? David Weiss Level Designer
  68. 68. Tumbleweed Express: A Tale of 54 Game Jams Matthew Louis Mauriello Project Manager (@mattm401) IGDA DC Chapter Meeting June 28th, 2016 (@IGDA_DC)

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