Get the flock out! – post mortem

Posted by
May 2nd, 2011 3:47 pm

Get the flock out!

So yeah, first LD.  and I survived!  Woo!  48h to create a game is certainly even a bit more intense than I expected.

What went right:

I finished a game – more or less.  I certainly wanted lots more stuff to go into the game, but given the time constraint, I felt like I was able to prioritize.

Monocle is a pretty great framework.  It simplifies a lot of the grunt work of building a game, but doesn’t get in your way.  The abstractions are natural and flexible.  The documentation is still very in progress or missing, but the code is easy to read, and the examples do a great job of documenting how to use the framework as well as some basic game algorithms.

C++ didn’t kill me.  This was some of the first coding in C++ (or any statically typed language) that I’ve done in years and years, and it really wasn’t that bad.

Saturday night, I was figuring out how to go from “toy” to “game.”  I had some game ideas together, but I just wasn’t feeling good about the game.  In a non-crunch environment, it was the kind of feeling that would make drop the project and go watch Doctor Who.  I stepped back and thought about what piece of my game idea I liked – the ridiculous personality of the sheep – and focused on that.  It let me do informed design and better prioritize what do do with the remaining time.

Recording your friends making sheep noises is fun.

Playtesting!  I actually got to watch a person or 2 play the game.  It really helps you realize when things are unpolished and really need to be fixed.

What went wrong:

Bugs.  A few bugs definitely made it into the final version that I maybe could have caught if I’d been able to play the game more than once in its final form.  Not bad for a first run though.

Do it the simple way.  It’s way too easy for me to want to tackle a difficult design challenge.  Early on, I implemented a boids-style wander algorithm for the sheep.  It took a couple hours to get working and integrated, and it looked awful.  Sheep don’t move like birds.  Late Saturday, I tried to integrate entity spawners into Monocle’s XML-based map system by overloading some map loading code.  Although there could be some merit to that approach, this was way too complicated for a weekend competition and required way too much understanding of a complex system for being sleep deprived.

Environment.  LD seemed like a fun excuse to have an “art party.”  I was in a space with people designing a puppet theater piece, sewing a cartoon quilt, making monsters out of old sweaters, and building an accordion.  While this was fun, it was not very helpful for deep thought for code and game design.

Lessons for next time:

No really, sleep.  I wasted probably 4 hours early Sunday morning trying to work on things and definitely making things worse.  I would have been way better off going to sleep and being fresher on Sunday.

So yeah.  Thanks for a great weekend, all.

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