Well, my experience this jam wasn't... horrible. It definitely could have been worse, but it could have been better as well.
I avoided doing any brainstorming before the jam, because I didn't feel like wasting creativity on anything that wouldn't be created. So when I saw the theme was "sacrifice," I just drew a massive blank and had no clue how to go about making a game.
I thought, maybe I could do a strange story-based game? Where you have a grandma and she sacrifices herself or something, to teach a moral to the player? I brainstormed for a while, and eventually thought of the Oregon Trail game and the pioneers, and decided I could make a game based off of traveling west and managing your supplies and family members. But I wanted to throw in a twist: you have to pass by troll bridges, and either pay or fight them.
So on the first day, from the start of the jam for about 7 hours, I worked on the infrastructure and HUD, mostly. I drew up the box, wrote a few scripts, and got the animation of the wagon moving. I drew the wagon, tried drawing horses for it, and gave up. I didn't want to waste time on horses, because then I'd have to account for them in the gameplay, too...
The entire first day, I was afraid I was biting off more than I could chew. I was hypocritical, because the previous day I had made a reddit post along the lines of "What to do to succeed in the gm48" and I wasn't following it very well myself. One of my points was to NOT make that super-complicated strategy defense RPG, and of course... that's what I ended up making.
My fear got so bad, that about nine hours in (after drawing some stuff and animating the wagon and the HUD) I went back to the drawing board and sat there, for about an hour. An hour of wasted time! I was trying to hard to think of something different, something fast-paced and exciting, something deep and replayable yet fun at the same time... and I was dumbfounded. I didn't want to make anything stereotypical, but I didn't feel so good about the pioneer idea either...
But then I thought about how much I had already made. I made the framework for events, the trolls, the bridges, the wagon... and I didn't want it to go to waste, so I kept working. I had made games this complicated in the gm48 before, like Floor 62, although I would say this one is considerably more complex. And like Floor 62, this game was just as heavy on the storytelling. But the event system, which I had never really made in a game before, took a lot of effort and thought to create it in a way that I would only have to add a new object and script for each event.
I eventually went to bed, and slept for too long. The next day, I got back to work. I made all the events now, and by the end I was so sick of doing it. I was super bored of making all these events, but I did my best to make them all as unique and fun as possible. I also made my sounds this day, which also made me nervous. It took a few tries to make the noise of the bugs at night, and hoo-ing for the owl, and the wagon sound is actually me shaking a box of candy, but it does sound like a wagon in context.
By the end of the second day I was very happy with how it was coming out, and realized there was no turning back and I had to submit it eventually. That was when it really got intense.
I woke up after too long (again) and got back to work, for about 7 hours on the last day. In this time, I made all the menus, the victory and game-over screens, the rest of the music and sounds and graphics, and I also made the event selector script, which took a lot of thought, because there are some events where you need more than 2 people, some that show up more depending on how healthy your family is, and how lucky you are that day. The final algorithm works pretty well, and avoids duplicate events in one day.
And then, I submitted my game literally 1 minute before the deadline, because I couldn't seem to zip it properly and spent a good 15 minutes in TOTAL PANIC. I got it in the end though, and I couldn't be happier with the final result.