The First Episode of Indie Van Game Jam Is Here!

Hurrah! After four months of work, it is finally here: The first episode of Indie Van Game Jam!

You can also see it and download the game over at IndieVanGameJam on the Episode page. For today, I thought I would give a little bit of background information about the process of making the first episode and the game, “It’s Not Me, It’s You.”

The Making of The First Episode of Indie Van Game Jam: Rob Lach and Two Smoking Barrels

Quick Stats:

  • Pre-production: 2 weeks.
  • Filming: 1 week.
  • Post-production: 2 months.
  • Amount of Footage: 96.776 GB of raw video.
  • Arguments: Many

Pre-production

The process of making the first episode started in early October just before our failed kickstarter for Indie Van Game Jam. (That’s indie, right?) We pretty much picked out spots on a map we thought we should hit and sent a bunch of emails. We knew nobody. We were new to the scene. We had no track record or examples to show anyone. Luckily, Rob was humble enough to let us come see his work set-up and open up as a guest on our show.

It took us a while, but we decided to film in mid-December for the Chicago episode. Our thought process was kind of crazy (because it was Chad’s.) It would probably be snowing and miserable, which would make for great television and an entirely different color palette than our other episodes. After quelling Scott’s fear of an Ice Road Truckers scenario we were not equipped to handle, we planned our route, rented and purchased a mix of cameras, stands, and audio. (More on that in another post.)

Production

We left on a Monday (at 9 AM) heading through St. Louis. We planned our route so that we could see our friends, Butterscotch Shenanigans, and check out a St. Louis IGDA event. It took us a day to get there and, surprise, it was awesome. So awesome,  in fact, that we have a whole boat load of footage and will be creating a special “Side Quest” out of the ordeal showcasing the St. Louis Indie Game scene.

Afterwards, we took off towards Chicago. We were over an hour late getting to the Indie City Co-Op. We had pictured some sort of ideal schedule that slowly dissolved. Rob was more than accommodating. We arrived, got lunch, then to brass tacks. We were luckily able to capture everything in a single half-day, which allowed us to depart the next morning without needing any re-shoots. We barreled home as quickly as possible.

Post Production

This was easily the hardest part as a team. It’s easy to think that everyone is on the same page before you start to discuss what the product actually looks like. That’s when you learn everyone has different ideas about the tone, the shots we need, the order, and everything else. For starters, we don’t all have a background in film. Quickly, we realized we had to get the basic structure sorted out. This is when we made our extremely rough outline.

[A whiteboard outline of our first episode.]
The first outline of our episode.
After that, we were off to the races editing. We had begun editing without getting anything transcribed, no comprehensive log, nothing. We knew what scenes we thought we needed and had a plan to get a 10 minute episode. The game development part was supposed to be about 1 minute and 30 seconds. After an awkward rough cut of this, it was back to the drawing board.

[Rough draft on the timeline.]
The first finalized rough of the episode.
We went though each scene meticulously categorizing and sorting. We re-envisioned the episode. Redid almost very scene. Eventually, we decided the longer cut was fine and fleshed it out. This allowed us to tell multiple jokes in each scene. It let some scenes have a little air. It let us convey some of the awkward or tense moments that existed. That gave us the episode we have available on the web today.

[The final cut for the web on the timeline.]
The final cut for the web on the timeline.

Making The Game

The game would seem to be a much simpler process. At Zeb’s apartment we came up with the prompt. When we first took off, Chad drove as he couldn’t yet code. We brainstormed, picked the second person shooter idea, and then started jamming. The basic process, is Chad codes features, Diego makes art, Zeb makes sound, and then Chad makes sure it all works as one. Then he hands it off to Zeb to finalize and level design. Game finished, right?

Not quite. When we get back to Austin we have to make sure everyone has access to the game. We make sure the game is built for PC, Mac, and Linux. We also do a quick playtest through these builds just to make sure you can make it through the game. If there’s a crash bug that would stop people from getting the basic game experience, we have decided to fix those.

And THAT is the basic behind-the-scenes info. Stay tuned and we’ll be publishing more information such as our equipment list, editing process, and more on the games themselves.

From all of us at Binary Solo, we hope you enjoyed the first episode and the game. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or on our mailing list for information on the rest of the series as it’s available. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

[The crew in front of the van.]

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