Getting ready for the Epic MegaJam

The Epic MegaJam is coming up in about two weeks and I’ve been gearing for it for about 5 months now getting ready. I missed last years because I didn’t think I was ready. This year (I think) I am, and I’m going solo. Here’s what I’ve been doing;

1- A few months ago I completed the Unreal Kickstarter series on the website to understand how the engine works.

2- I just completed the “Unreal 5 C++ Developer” course and feel confident I can manage my way around the engine. C++ and OOP I already knew at an intermediate level before the course, but it’s great to understand the methods for interacting with the engine and with blueprints. Before the course I had attempted some coding with Unreal but I found a lot of roadblocks on account of not understanding the practical implications of how it all fit together.

3- I applied for a 2-month SideFX Houdini Indie license as it was offered for the duration of the Jam. Unfortunately, though, I’ve found it impossible to activate the software. This is my second try, a few months ago I also couldn’t get Apprentice to run no matter what I did. The entire naming scheme and licensing system seems Kafkian and turned me off from it, I really don’t want to spend hours on this again or contact support and troubleshoot. So I went on a quick web search and found AlterMesh, which is an Unreal plugin that adds functionality for using Blender Geometry Nodes within Unreal. This is great, because I already know Blender and Python pretty well, so I will be leveraging that to my advantage.

In terms of what I will be doing in the procedural world, I am most likely going to exploit the ‘ol reliable wave function collapse. It seems like a quick way to expedite asset generation once the clock is ticking and a great intro to practical procedural work. I plan on tackling the topic this weekend if time allows. I do have some Geometry node experience using Alan Wyatt’s fantastic illustration shader (if you haven’t checked that out you’re missing out!) but I expect this to be a challenge and one of the major learning points of this jam. Hopefully, though, this will help me expedite asset generation in the future. Part time solo game dev is code for “takes 5 years to release the simplest platformer”, unless you want to use a lot of marketplace assets, which I really don’t. I want to ship games with custom assets at a reasonable pace and get more notches under my belt.

4- As for graphical assets I have a lot of Synty’s Polygon series packs that I have purchased over time. I will probably be using some of those because time will be of the essence and they are ready to go. I also have Kitbash’s free pack, “Neo City”. I might use that instead depending on the theme of the jam, which hasn’t been announced yet, of course. Whatever I use, I will most likely replace after the jam if I feel the game concept is worth pursuing.

5- As far as ideas for a game, I have a few ideas floating around but I won’t be posting them obviously, at least not until the jam is over.

6- Music and sound is the area I feel the most at ease with, so not much preparation needed here. I already have a pretty big library of custom music and sound FX that I can adapt. If there is time, which I doubt, I might be able to implement some adaptive music using the Quartz system. We’ll see.

7- I’ll be keeping a log and (hopefully) posting daily during the jam or after the fact. I haven’t decided yet. Will definitely do a post-mortem.

8- You might be wondering… How are you going to do this and juggle your music commitments? The answer is: I will be taking that week off. This is my vacation, lol.