a day at the park
I had three weeks off work during Christmas 2020. We had planned to visit family, but new restrictions meant we were stuck in London. To top matters off, we were also self isolating, waiting upon a CoViD test result (which came back negative after about a week(!)).
Putting it all together, we had a lot of time inside, without a lot to do. I had a real itch to do something worthwhile with my time, rather than more Rocket League or Factorio. A friend suggested I check out some game jams that might be going on, and that led me to the bitsy jam 45.
I hadn't used bitsy before, but I'd seen a couple of games made in it. It's a tiny world/game/experience builder, with extreme limitations - 3 colours per screen with 1-bit sprites/tiles, 8x8 sprites and tiles and strict 16x16 screens. It really is small - but it seemed perfect for a week's jam, and to get on with making something.
bitsy seems to me all about creating worlds to explore and interact with. It's about the experience of being somewhere, or about sharing the feeling and emotion of a particular idea and place.
I'd been spending a lot of time in the park next to where I live, and on a walk one day I realised that (and this is going to sound super cheesy) I just really like parks. I grew up near (and went to school next to) a really nice park, and spent many hours in London's expansive parks. There's just something really great about that kind of curated nature, a shared outdoor space.
The game idea (as simple as it is) came to me pretty fully formed whilst on the same walk. I knew I wanted to make something light, with a relaxing setting and with interactions that would make you remember that, most of the time, people are nice.
bitsy makes it so easy to just get started building something. I had the first few screens up easily. The art was the trickiest thing for me, but only having 64 pixels and 2 colours per tile really helped - both in terms of simplifying what you can do, and also reminding me not to make things too detailed. There are definitely some rough spots in the art, but I'm pretty happy with what I did, and it challenged me enough to be fun.
The scripting is a little finicky at times, especially when you want to make some more complicated conversations. I would have liked to have more interactions with the various park inhabitants, as well as potentially a more complicated chain of items to find and people to deliver them too, but I ran out of time. At the end of the day, it was the park itself I cared the most about, and that's what I'm happiest with.
I'm really glad I managed to get something made and finished. This was my first solo game jam in years, and it was nice to get back to it in a more relaxed manner. I enjoyed bitsy as a tool, but I'm not sure I'll make any more bitsy games unless I have a specific idea.
You can play the game here if you'd like: https://natpat.itch.io/a-day-at-the-park
permalink | posted by nathan on Friday, the 22th of January, 2021, while on his lunch break