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May 5th, 2011 12:10 am

After a few days to reflect on my game and get comments from people, here’s a brief post-mortem:

Overall, responses have been positive.  Between the comments here and from friends, the general consensus is that my game is based on a cool idea, but that there’s not enough gameplay there.  It’s too simple/easy.  Also, people have often said that the sonar sound gets annoying over time.  I definitely agree with these opinions (and sometimes hear that sound effect as I fall asleep).  These are certainly issues that can be fixed though, and I plan to update the game in the coming days/weeks to get it up to a state where I feel comfortable giving it a wider release.  On to the specifics:

What Went Right:

Brainstorming/Planning – It didn’t take me long to come up with a few ideas that used the theme, and I’m definitely happy with the one I ultimately chose.  My initial planning of the game- the general design, what pieces of code I needed to write, and what content I had to makealso went well.  Having a design that didn’t require many changes certainly helped with working in such a time frame.  I was able to budget my time a lot better because of this.

Coding the Big Pieces – Though not perfect, I got the core pieces of the game working in good time.  The level generation, sonar, and control code didn’t take too long to get working on a basic level.  Debugging and getting things working just how I wanted took a bit longer though.

Asset Creation Process – Although I didn’t get as much sound in the game as I wanted (I’ll get to that in a minute), the creation of the art and sound that did make it into the game went a lot smoother and quicker than I expected.  Obviously I’m no great artist, but I’m happy with the way everything looks, particularly the monsters death animations, and none of it took me very long.  I made the music and sound effects in the last hour of the competition, and that too was quicker-going than I expected.

What Went Wrong:

Not Enough Playtesting – Definitely the biggest problem.  I was so concerned with getting all the basic functionality and assets done that I didn’t take much time to actually play the game.  If I did, I would have realized that it’s a bit simplistic, as well as exploitable.  Next time, I will certainly leave more time for playtesting, as well as getting opinions from friends during the process, not exclusively after I’m done.

Not Enough Sounds/Music – My game ended up with one very short piece of music and two sound effects.  Not at all enough for a game based on sound.  I think prioritizing other aspects of the game was the right decision, but I wish I fit in more time for sound, especially figuring out how to make the sonar less annoying over an extended session.

Key Bugs – There were a few issues that took way too long to resolve.  For example, being a bit lazy with determining how fast the sonar should beep led to at least an hour of debugging caused by a shortcut that would only have saved me five minutes.  Though I can’t think of specific examples, there were definitely a number of other bugs that really slowed down development for long periods of time.

What I Learned:

That I can release a game!

That I can make a game with a small scope that is still interesting, and that I should do so more often.

Even though I already knew the importance of playtesting and rely on it heavily in my larger project, I learned that even on a small project it is one of the most important aspects of game development.  Especially when working in such a tight time frame, I get to know my game so well that I can’t make any objective judgements about it or consider alternate solutions.  Therefore, I need a nice dose of outside perspective.


That about wraps it up.  If you haven’t played my game yet, give it a try and rate it.  If you have, keep an eye out for updates to fix some of the issues I talked about here, as well as those which I didn’t address but that are mentioned in the comments.  I put the first (small) one out about an hour ago.  And of course, I can always use more feedback!

-Tim ‘Fueelin’ Beck

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