Ludum Dare 31
December 5th-8th, 2014

Quark – A Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @Mach60KAS)
April 23rd, 2012 5:17 pm

Wow, I’m beat. That weekend marked my first complete Ludum Dare (and first arguably complete game, too!). I’ve learned a lot of lessons about what to and what not to do for the Compo, and overall had an awesome experience! I’ve put together a timelapse of the creation process below, which I feel is great as I can see all the effort of two days compressed into 5 minutes.

Although a very stressful weekend (the final bout of crunch time in particular springs to mind…), I am relatively happy with what I have created – despite the lack of such critical video game assets as enemies and music. Still, here is the overview:

What Went Right

  • I more or less had a plan: I didn’t go in to the design blind expecting things to just happen. Planning out key features and the remaining critical systems helped me to not only prioritise what needed to be done, but also allowed me to see what features weren’t working or could be cut to fit into the time constraints.
  • I was very pleased with my art. This was a major confidence boost seeing how well I felt it had turned out, and I felt it motivated me during the final hours so as not to go to waste.
  • I was more or less entirely motivated throughout both days.
  • I remembered to take the weekend off work. This was single-handedly the most important thing ever.
  • Some familiarity with the Stencyl framework helped the coding segments.
  • The Ending.

What Went Wrong

  • My inexperience at programming severely limited not only the rate at which I could work, but the complexity of the features I could integrate.
  • The lack of music really got me down, and ultimately during the last hour I had the choice of whether to favour music or to fix the critical bugs present in the game. I chose the bugs.
  • At the 6 hour remaining mark, I completely panicked. The game had a major warp glitch that rendered the game unwinnable (if the game can even be won per se), and I began to panic with 3 rooms still to design – after calming myself (by working) I eventually managed to face the challenges head on. I feel improvements could have been made with this extra time that was wasted.
  • I left the music till last. For me, composition is a very time dependant process – if I feel rushed, it falls flat. This should be a Day One task, not one for the last few hours.
  • I was not properly managing my time: one animation took over an hour to create – this should never be the case!

This Animation. This is Why.

Changes to consider next time / Advice

  • I should become far more familiar with the Stencyl framework to allow myself a fighting chance.
  • I’m asking the next LD off work, too. This has been a great experience.
  • Better time management.
  • More music, created earlier in development.
  • I should at least learn how to code enemy behaviour – a key feature that had to be cut during the final two hours.
  • I should attempt to achieve the same standard of art (if not better), but I can’t waste time on a single animation like I did here.
  • Overall, I just need to be far more prepared.

I feel that if I were to have spent more time on the game, the early mental picture I had of the game would be attainable, perhaps this could serve as a further project? I’d really love to flesh this concept out into a fuller, richer game – and I guess I have all the time in the world to do it! So, why not?

However, I felt a major time killer was that my original idea (the player shifts gravity) was midway through actualisation before I realised it was just impossible as a balanced game mechanic. I just scrapped it after looking at the long term, and my project seriously improved for it. Hence, if anyone is interested enough to peer through the source code there are various vague references to a “GravDir” in the movement behaviours – just holdovers, really.

Quark

I’ve gained so much invaluable experience from this weekend alone: safe to say I’ll be attending the future Ludum Dares! Though next time, I’ll be more prepared for the challenges present. I was totally caught off guard by the workload, having given up LD22 due to work interfering I was unaware of how taxing making a game truly was. I guess I’m rather happy with the end result – it’s flawed and imperfect, but I can always fix it up later. :)

If you’re interested, my game’s page can be found here. I appreciate all your comments and feedback, especially negative!


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