‘the Child’, a Post-Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @DarkAcreJack)
May 21st, 2011 2:08 pm

Here’s the last push for a bit of attention to my LD submission, if you have a second and haven’t already done so, please check it out and toss me whatever rating you feel it’s worth.

This whole experience has been absolutely fantastic. Thanks and much love to the organizers and participants for making this such a great ride to be on!

There’s a walk-through video, a time-lapse, and a self-hosted project page if you’re interested.

Here I present the “edited and abridged for LD’ers” version of the post-mortem:

What Went Right

1. Leveraging the Power of Unity Prefabs

All of my past projects up to this one had been done almost exclusively in C#, with almost no special use of the Unity environment. They were done that way to help me come to grips with coding in C#.

Image of the Child's Prefabs

For this LD, I threw that mentality out the window and crafted nearly everything in scene, using prefabs. What an amazing difference it makes! Defining game objects, exposing the variables on them, and using drag-and-drop to configure game play is really what Unity is all about, and I’m glad I had this LD to finally realize that.

2. Scripting Tight

Sort of a knock-on effect of switching over to prefabs, code bloat was immediately reduced to a negligible amount. With all the variables explicitly used and exposed on the game objects in scene, it was far easier to manage what was going on and limit the overall messiness of the scripting process. That’s not to say there’s no kludgy-hacky nonsense going on, but there’s far less than there was when I was in pure code mode.

3. Winning the Theme Roulette

This time I followed the theme selection very closely. I hadn’t before because I didn’t want to set my sights on any one theme before the final was announced, and avoid any kind of disappointment. This time I didn’t really fixate on a theme, but I had a very strong feeling that ‘It’s Dangerous…’ was going to be chosen. The night before the compo I dreamed a fully-formed concept for a game that used this theme, so you can imagine my relief when it turned out to be the one that made the cut. Lucky advantage.

What Went Wrong

1. Uneven Production Process

When tackling any long-term project, I tend to break things down into manageable chunks and then assign levels of ‘completeness required for play’ to them. This means there’s a round of building, and producing passable assets so that I can start to see if a game is going to be fun or not.

For Ludum Dare, though, it seems that one thing that makes games stand out and get recognized is the end quality levels of art. I’ve always envied these 2D wizards that can crank out beautiful pixels for their projects that really make them shine. So, I told myself I was going to push it to the limit with the 3D assets this time out. The problem was I focused so much on making the 3D nice that I had little time for audio and controls polish.

It’s always a trade off, a fine balance of managing just how much to produce in the time given.

2. Not Enough Kitties

Apparently this is also an important thing to producing a popular entry, and I’ll endeavor to add more cute meme-cats to my future entries.

Picture of guy holding like 10 kittens.

3. Not Enough Zelda

Looking back at it now, I probably could have taken the time to insert at least a few nods to the venerable Nintendo classic, but I’m still happy with my interpretation of the theme and glad that it left enough leeway for all the other creative entries that weren’t strictly focused on emulating the Tri-force hunter in one way or another.

It’s really important to note that this LD sparked enough of a creative fire under my butt to finally abandon another project that I wasn’t really having much fun with and shift all of my production over to creating an improved version!

Thanks again and congrats to all that participated in this LD, I’m looking forward to seeing you all and more come the next one.


<click here for Dark Acre Jack’s entry>

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3 Responses to “‘the Child’, a Post-Mortem”

  1. matthias_zarzecki says:

    Good to see somebo0dy recognize the ease of unity :-)

    I’m not sure, however, if nodding to Zelda would have made it better – putting the “old man” in there at the beginning, telling you “the theme”, is the most obvious (and therefore most boring and graon-worthy) thing to do.

  2. FredericRP says:

    Thanks for sharing the way you ended doing this game. It’s not polished, it’s more than that :)
    And by the way, I’m impressed… by the number of prefabs for this “small” projects !

  3. Thanks for the comments!

    @Matthias Yeah, it was funny that, much to my shame, I didn’t even remember where that line was from until after submission… >.<

    @Frederic Yeah, there probably would have been more but I spent most of the duration of the event discovering new things about them and going back and changing the older ones!

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