Lumote: An Unreal Engine Game Jam Postmortem

By Kyle & Michelle Rocha

The three days of the October Unreal Game Jam were super creative and we had a lot of fun. We were able to create something we were very happy with and wanted to expand on further. That we were then one of the three winning teams was the icing on the sweet, sweet validation cake. We had so much fun with this jam (both making and playing our own game) that we think we can take this on as a full game. Originally called Bump, we’re happy to announce the game’s new name Lumote.

In Lumote, you play a glowing cube in a world of darkness. Jump to expand your light radius, but be careful. When you can see something it can see you, and your light may wake things you’d rather avoid.

During the jam, UE4 allowed us to build our game quickly focusing on what was important and aside from our player and enemies the world was built out of BSP cubes and we used some starter content materials. Split between two coders one with a background in art the other music we spent around a 30 hours in three days to build our game.

The Good

Keep it simple.

The major thing we feel that led to success is that we kept the game in scope. We knew we only had three days and so we came up with a game we knew we could make. We went for something that even with it’s paired down visuals looked good. Any time we started talking new things past our initial brainstorming session, we’d stop and kill it, scope creep is doom.

Use of Light.

We originally were thinking of using a ripple effect to simulate echolocation. In our initial kick at it, we used a light because it was quick and didn’t require any crazy new tech. As it turned out the light worked really well! So we decided we wouldn’t even attempt to implement some sort of bouncing soundwave thing. It already looked great with UE4’s slick lighting and bloom, so why throw away good thing.

The Bad

Too hard!

This really came down to time and resources, the trick with making a game is you become very good at it and lose sense of what is difficult or needs to be fixed. The resounding feedback we got was that people felt robbed; failing seemingly perfect jumps. There were two major factors leading to all the frustration.

The first was jump physics. The jump height was just a hair too low for players to feel like they could consistently jump on or over an enemy. On the other hand the momentum was actually sufficient to make every jump. However in the case of the bottomless maze room, many players felt like they didn’t have enough room to get the speed to make the jumps. So in the end we probably needed more little pegs to offer players more maneuvering room to feel like they can get sufficient speed.

The second problem which exasperated the problems above even further was our characters shape. The model was a cube, but the character collision was actually a flat-bottomed capsule, this caused a lot of missed ledge jumps and slipping off of the edge of things. There simply wasn’t enough time to modify ACharacter to support a different shape and the consistency and convenience of it was just too good to swap out for a sliding rigid body.

Enemies Unclear.

Almost everyone who played didn’t understand that the red hunter cubes would only chase you as long as they were lit. So we’ve tweaked their behaviour a little, now they stop before fading out which seems to make things much clearer.

Top is old behaviour and on the bottom is the new behavior

What Next!

Without the hectic rush of a game jam deadline we’ve slowed down to plan and experiment. Lumote game will continue to be a very challenging game to play, but we will working to make it more fair. Our challenge is to make sure you only fail when you make a mistake you know you made.

We’re refining our enemies and added a few more, we’ve also added more interactive level bits that respond to, and emit light.

A big change is that we’ve added the ability to rotate the camera. This has allowed us to create more interesting and complex levels with more vertical and overlapping areas.

We’ll be doing more dev updates on luminawesome.com so please check us out and let us know what you think of Lumote!

Good luck to the December jam teams and congrats to all the game jam winners for October and November. There’s some fun stuff in there for sure!


Kyle & Michelle

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