Game Dev Challenge 2020

This year, I thought I would try and design one game a month. Unfortunately, I decided this on January 29th, so I only had a couple of days to complete my first game.


Despite the tight timeline, I managed to crack out a small asymmetric card game for two players using a standard deck of cards. See Defending Da'Bu Deeps for more info.


This month, I participated in the 9 Day Jam #7 - Global Game Jam Edition. This Jam had 'Repair' as its theme.

I spent the first few days learning some new technologies to build with.

With some help from Anna, my wife, I built a 2D space defense game called Shoot! Repair! Survive!.


The focus for March was learning and executing on level building with a strong focus on the Portal 2 workshop.

Here are the levels I published this month:

  1. Hold That Portal! A hopefully short and sweet puzzle about tertiary portal mechanics.
  2. Fling 'em Turrets A short PSA about flinging and turrents.

Before getting started building puzzle levels in Portal 2, I felt the need to learn more about what makes satisfying puzzle levels and some theories of how to construct such a level. Here are some resources I used for this purpose:

My landmark design goals were:

  1. Chamber success state should be obvious
  2. Complications should be added to prevent the solution from being obvious
  3. Keep the test chamber simple
  4. Prime the player for the solution
  5. Playtest and iterate based on feedback

April – June

I lost steam during these months and during late June started to get excited for the planned GMTK Game Jam 2020 in early July.


This month was focused on gearing up for and then recovering from the GMTK Game Jam 2020. This Jam ran for 48 hours in early July and had a theme of 'Out of Control'.

Once again I chose to use the Godot game engine since it worked well for the basic sort of game I was creating for these Jams this year, and I was getting somewhat familiar with it. Most gameplay coding ended up being pretty simple to pull off, but due to the even tighter timeline this Jam I ended up having to throw away ideated features left and right. Scope estimation is hard.

The hardest feature in this game for me to get working was the 'ground pound' attack. Unfortunately, I never quite got it working reliably. Thinking back I definitely needed more time to find an alternative way to implement it. Alas, the Jam only had 48 hours in it and some of that time had to go into coordinating the art assets.

I planned on soloing this Jam using art and sound assets I had recently acquired or created myself. Unfortunately, none of the recently acquired art assets matched the kind of theme I was going for and I decided that I would attempt to create the necessary art assets myself. After sinking a couple of hours into the effort it became clear that it was going to take too much time and the whole project would be very low quality if I insisted on continuing to solo the Jam. Thankfully Anna was up for converting my rough sketches into animated sprites that were usable and creating the other art assets we needed. Together we stayed up so late working that it was early again that second night of the Jam. While we were working on the game one of our mutual friends got excited about the Jam and offered to produce an image that we used as the background during gameplay.

Here is our submission — The Chaos Stick

August – December

After stressing out about the art/sound bits of our GMTK submission when I was trying to do everything myself, I realized that I needed to improve my art skills. So I've redoubled my efforts to learn pen and paper drawing, pixel art editing, and other critical art skills. I would also like to learn to put together sound effects and music, but I'm prioritizing visual art for the time being.


Draw A Box
A set of free exercise-based lessons that teach drawing fundamentals
Pixel Art 101 — Pixel Pete on YouTube
Series of videos that strive to teach pixel art fundamentals
Proprietary software for creating pixel art including layers, frames, and more
FOSS software for digital drawing and painting

I write about coding, games, and coding games.