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Ludum Dare 31 — Coming December 5th-8th 2014!

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    Eyes of the Exorcist Post Mortem.

    Posted by
    January 9th, 2012 2:24 pm

    Eyes of the Exorcist was made as the first collaborative effort
    between six strangers from who met through the San Diego Game
    Developer’s Meet-up Group
    . The team consisted of 3 programmers, two 3D
    artist, and one 2D artist/musician. We spent the full 72 hours of the
    Jam in the living room of one of our member’s home. On a whole it was
    an incredibly fun learning experience.

    What went Right:
    * The Location – Caryn and her family were gracious enough to let 5
    strangers take over their living room for the weekend. Sharing ideas,
    sketches, and code face to face was far more productive than a more
    technology based solution.
    * Concept Voting – Once the theme was announced we brainstormed for a
    while but had not reached a consensus. We agreed that main proponent
    of each idea would do a final pitch, then we would vote on all the
    ideas. Voting was handled by anonymous paper ballet. Each participant
    wrote the numbers 1-8 next to each of the eight ideas. Eight indicated
    their favorite idea and one was the least favorite. Each idea’s ballet
    score was added up, and we picked the one with the highest cumulative
    value. This process allowed all of us to air our ideas, and choose one
    that we could agree on.
    * Team Energy – Working face to face and having other people depend on
    your output brought about a tremendous energy among the group. Two of
    us had participated in prior Ludum Dare’s as individuals. We both had
    far more energy and drive working as a team than our individual
    experience.
    * Using Unity – We used Unity for game development. We were able to
    take advantage of the input, GUI, character controller, particle
    system, and camera components that unity provides. This saved us a
    great deal of time not making basic game control objects.
    * Art Asset Naming Convention – Despite using Unity for our project
    our artists used the Unreal Engine’s naming convention to organize the
    art assets. This naming convention allowed us to keep track of who was
    working on what, and what stage it was at.
    * Division of Labor – Since our team was comprised of programming and
    art specialists the programmers could focus on the scripts while the
    artists could focus on the art.
    * Food – Prior to the start of Ludum Dare the team acquired a large
    quantity of sushi, sticky rice, tea, coffee, and chocolate covered
    banana chips. We were able to graze off this bounty over the course of
    the contest and only had to go out for food three times.

    What went Wrong:
    * Ambition – When we selected our initial concept we voted on the idea
    that we felt would be the most fun game, not what we could complete in
    the time limit. This concept involved a spooky ghost town, two
    different vision modes, multiple attacks, power ups, inventory items
    and a leveling system. In retrospect this was way too much for a Ludum
    Dare.
    * Lack of Documentation – We kept verbal and mental track of what
    features we wanted to implement and in what order. As development
    progressed new features were added to the list, but there was no clear
    indication as to which features were vital to the build and which were
    nice add-ons.
    * Tool Familiarization – Since this was our first collaborative
    project the artists and programmers were not familiar with each
    other’s tools. As such we spent valuable contest time figuring out how
    to get art assets into the game. Also we could not utilize the
    artist’s time to do level design due to their unfamiliarity with the
    unity editor. These things should have been resolved prior to the
    start of the event.
    * Lack of Leadership – We did not have one person in over all control
    of the project, and instead spent a lot of time debating amongst
    ourselves over the proper course of action. Also we were unable to
    incorporate some of the art assets since the programmers were too
    focused on programming tasks.
    * Lack of mile stones – We had an idea of what we wanted the end
    result of our project to be and when it had to be done. We did not set
    time limits on the intermediary steps to get to that final goal. There
    were two attempts to have working builds by a certain hour, however we let
    both those deadlines slip trying to get it to work perfectly instead of
    Kludging together something so we could move on.
    * Wasted time on Kitty – One of our team members (Wilson) was insistent on
    getting kitty bonus points and wasted valuable time creating scripts
    for an NPC cat that did not do much for the end game experience. This
    feature was cut from the contest build and all that time was wasted.

    Conclusion:
    Ludum Dare Game Jam was an incredibly fun learning experience. Working
    as a team kept us incredibly motivated. Sadly we bit off more than we
    could crew and the end result suffered for it. We now have a better
    idea of each other’s capabilities and what can be accomplished in 72
    hours.

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