Sep 212010
 

During OrcaJam a few of us were wistfully reminiscing about a “5 minute game” stunt Petri Purho did at GDC two years ago. Talk soon turned to whether or not a 5 minute game is possible at all, and what it would take to make it happen.

I leaned back in my chair, with my hand on my chin. 5 minutes is pretty long, isn’t it? And a basic “avoider”-style game wouldn’t be too hard to make in that time… Would it? I mean… Yeah… I can do it, right?

Colin Northway immediately demanded I put my skills to the test in a public forum – on the projector at OrcaJam with a crowd observing. It wasn’t long before a few more joined in, as well!

Round 1: Me!

Being the first entrant of the 5-minute-challenge, I decided to stack the odds in my favour as best I could; I mapped out (on paper) what my game flow would look like, and decided on using simple mouse controls. I’m allowed to start with an open “new project” in FlashDevelop, and I chose to not use any frameworks or library software of any kind. Straight-up from-scratch AS3 code!

And the horn sounds! 5 minutes is counting down on a nearby clock. The crowd heckles me as I type – sometimes making suggestions on “what I should have done” – definitely should have worn some headphones! It’s quite distracting.

I managed to get a working build in at around 5:40, but not in any state that I would call playable. Turns out I was going to fail the 5 minute challenge. In the end it took me 11:15 to get the game to where I had envisioned. :C

Here’s a link to my game as it was meant to be (20 minutes work), and as produced in the contest (11 minutes).

Round 2: Chevy Johnston

Chevy wanted to show off how his game framework, FlashPunk, could make a more complicated game in under 5 minutes. Brazenly going in without any preparation, the clock was set and he was off!

Chevy benefited a bit from a receptive crowd – there was a few ooohs and aahs as he slammed out some magical code with blazing speed. No heckling for this codemonkey!

Partway into his game design he ran into a bit of scope-shock, and decided to ditch his original game design and do a basic replication of mine (costing him precious seconds!). Chevy also lost a time-draining 30-45 seconds on setting up and tweaking keyboard inputs though! A terrible mistake?

At approximately 6:30, Chevy finished his game – another side-scrolling avoider with an interesting gameplay twist (while not moving to avoid things, your speed increases dramatically!).

Check out Chevy’s challenge game here.

Round 3: Mike Lee

Mike wanted a go too, and would be using Flixel for his portion of the challenge. He also started with a blank project in FlashDevelop and was also going in without any form of planning (like a madman!).

By this point, a full gaggle of developers had crowded around the projector and were announcing play-by-plays as the code was rapidly produced. Though it sounds like it might be a bit encouraging, I can imagine it was terribly distracting.

Wasting a few minutes on a silly collision-detecting bug didn’t help things, and setting up a keyboard control handler took a little longer than my mouse routine, but in the end Mike churned out an awesome game in only 8 minutes.

He not only implemented the same game that Chevy and I did – but he also included a score counter, and “gold” pickups as well! Definite bonus points for that, despite clocking in a bit beyond Chevy’s time.

Check out Mike’s game here.

Observations

What surprised me the most, and made my heart sink, was how quickly the first minute went by. Colin announcing “1/5th of the way complete!” stunned me – I had just barely started typing some basic setup items and declaring functions! I think both Mike and Chevy agree with me here – the first minute or two go by way faster than any of us had ever planned (even after watching others fail before you).

With all my knowledge and experience gained, I don’t think I can drop my time much more than a minute or so. I was typing fairly fast and did exactly what I want with a few typos being my only bugs… I think 10 minutes is my theoretical minimum time!

Chevy thinks he can definitely get in under 5 minutes if he streamlines his keyboard controls and starts out with a properly-scoped plan in mind. Mike thinks he could have gotten in under 5 minutes, too, if he didn’t run into his collision detection bug.

So there you have it: Using a Flash framework like Flixel or FlashPunk will complete your projects approximately 5 minutes faster. ;)

Can you do better?

Open up a new project window and stretch your hands – It’s only going to take 5 minutes of your time, give it a whirl! See for yourself what exactly you can accomplish in a short timespan. Maybe you can be the first to create a true 5 minute game!

  8 Responses to “OrcaJam’s Spectator Sport”

Comments (8)
  1. I’m shocked you took so long for such a simple game 8D
    I’m awful at writing AS3 from scratch, but I wonder what I could do in 5 minutes in AS2… So long after touching that language, I wonder if I’m at a disadvantage there too. Hmmm.
    If I get a non-avoider idea that sounds doable, I might just take you on.

  2. This was one of the most entertaining parts of the jam. The heckling simulates and scales up to real life distractions throughout a normal product cycle.

  3. This was super fun and honestly quite impressive. Can’t wait for more next year!

    On my list of things to do: explore autocomplete settings in Flex Builder…

  4. Heh, sounds awesome.
    I managed a really rough “straight on the timeline” crab attack clone in 4:24

  5. Haha, nice !

  6. I managed to not make a Whack-A-Mole clone in 5:15. That is, I made /something/, but it wasn’t anything like I expected, thanks to glitches I hadn’t contemplated. Moral of the story: If I knew how to code what I’m making, I’d be able to make a game in 5:15!

  7. Awesome, glad I use Flixel then. ;)

    Well, I often get stuck with too-big projects, so the idea that I could make a game in five minutes is extremely inspiring to me! I wonder how many games I could make in an entire hour… :)

    Thanks!

  8. What a worthy entry. I really like browsing your web site

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