Towerball Post-mortem

Posted by
August 21st, 2008 1:00 am

This was my first Ludumdare entry, and not knowing just what I could manage in 48 hours I decided to stick with a simple idea and tools and libraries I’m familiar with. The original game idea was to make the player hit all the walls in a 2d space with a trickier-than-usual to control ball, although this didn’t quite work with the Tower theme. Hence, I decided to turn the walls into a scoring mechanism, and to make a tower to ascend or descend instead.

The bad

Idea and gameplay: A few hours before the theme was announced I had an idea that I wanted to do. When the theme was announced, I realized that I could fit the idea within the theme, with a few sacrifices. Focusing less on hitting the walls and more on reaching the goal led to a few problems; for example, if you miss one shot when at the end of a level, you risk going all the way down. If this happens, you might as well start over. This isn’t good, especially from a beginner’s perspective.

Difficulty: The game ended up being too hard for many. I’ve had others saying it was too easy. I suppose the difficulty curve is to steep; I also believe that the dampening function in the game wasn’t intuitive enough. A quick tutorial and a gentle difficulty curve could’ve made this more fun.

Bugs: There aren’t many bugs that I’m aware of, but there is one that is pretty nasty – going through the walls. This happens occasionally if you hit a corner. Being pretty rare I didn’t think of this as a big problem, but I think I should’ve spent more effort on fixing it.

The good

GUI: Having controls in the bottom left isn’t all that great, I should’ve made a tutorial instead. Apart from this, however, I’m pretty happy with the little details in the GUI. I should thank the testers for this, especially GBGames in the #ludumdare irc channel. Small details like turning the screen red when you’re dampening and an additional power indicator close to the cursor helped make this game at least fairly intuitive. I’m also happy with the way the minimap turned out.

Style: I’m pleased with the style of the game, and what little textures I actually made. The graphical style works nicely for me, and I believe it makes the game look at least decently polished.

Sound: The sound effects in the game are minimal, and all made with DrPetter’s SFXR. That being said, I’m happy with how they turned out. They’re not annoying, and introducing them to the game really improved the feel, giving the balls a certain “heaviness” they hadn’t had before.

Fun: Being in the contest was lots of fun. I also think my game is pretty good fun to play.


With a few hours to go, I was so satisfied with the game that I didn’t focus all that much on developing levels. Or anything else related to the game, for that matter. In retrospect, I should’ve spent this time designing a tutorial and perhaps a title screen and a difficulty choice, rather than chatting around on IRC (which was loads of fun, by the way).

I’m glad I entered the contest and I’m happy with the result, and I’ve had a lot of fun participating. I’m sure I’ll be back for another LD 48 in the future!

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