The making of "Letters of War" - BenBonk Jam 2021

This year, me and my friend Liam decided to enter BenBonk Jam 2021. Ben what what now? BenBonk Jam. BenBonk is a popular game dev youtuber, who's currently working on a game called Slimekeep, you should check it out, it's pretty cool! Here's a link to his YouTube.

So, now we know who BenBonk is, but what's a jam? Well, you know, strawberry, raspberry - okay, not that jam... A game jam is a small competition where developers are given a theme and a time limit to create a game from scratch, and when they're done, they're pitted against one another, typically for no prize!

This jam's theme was "two sides", and we had just 72 hours to complete a game (3 days).

Day One

On the first day, the theme was announced at 8pm BST, and we had to start brainstorming an idea! After a few hours, we came up with the idea to create a game about war. We eventually decided to create a story-driven game, where you work as a mailman during World War I, censoring letters from the soldiers so they could be sent home. How does this fit the theme? The key aspect of the game was to have these paintings in the back of the hall, where the one on the right would depict how tragic the war was being, and the one on the left depicting how people back home thought it was. We also decided who would do what: I would write the letters, and do all the art, and he would put everything together in Godot, his engine of choice. With that done, we slept on the idea, and woke up tomorrow...

Day Two

This day was started off with a nice call between us, where he began work on player movement and some other small bits of code, and I started work on the player model, the paintings, and the scene. We settled on an art style of 2D half-top-down pixel art, which has turned many games into instant classics, for example, The Escapists (2). Here's the player that I created, along with their 4 animations (moving down, up, left, and right):

I also created most of the paintings, and the background art. Here's the background:

Day Three

The final day! This began with a long call in which we completed the movement, and censoring of letters, and I finished off the paintings. There's quite a few, so here's a gif out of all of them!

As you can see, the same landscape is pictured deteriorating. Here's the timescale of this painting:

  1. A British zeppelin is flying in the sky
  2. The zeppelin is shot down
  3. The trees all burn into stumps
  4. Artillery pieces appear
  5. The grass turns to mud
  6. Trenches appear
  7. Planes appear
  8. Tanks appear

So, yeah. We sped towards the end as fast as we could, then, near the end, Liam fell ill, and he couldn't finish the game as well as he wanted to. Despite this, we tried to slap everything together, and create a finished game - I made sound effects and helped him a lot with the code, but unfortunately, upon the deadline, the game was still ridden with bugs, which unfortunately scaled up to worse things upon build of the game...

Without further ado, here is the link of the game, if you wish to play it - it runs in the browser. It most certainly, and I think I speak for Liam too, isn't our proudest work, but it is the product of a very short time scale.

Most definitely it was a fun challenge, but one I don't think I'll be doing again any time soon, with the nearing release of Pygrr!

Isaac, over and out...

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