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Ancestor’s Sword, post mortem

Posted by (twitter: @@JajabenGames)
May 1st, 2012 8:24 am

Post Mortem
Best Ludum Dare I’ve entered yet! I’ve played 75 games now, when I get to 100 I’ll post a list of games I liked most. But first my post mortem.

What went wrong
I start with what went wrong to end positive.

Wanting complicated things

I promised myself I would make something simple and polished. I knew I wouldn’t have the full 48 hours for my game (I had other things to do as well) and after having made an entry that was too confusing to understand (escape) and a game with controls that were too slow to be enjoyable (alone), I wanted to make something simple and fun.

Well forget it, what I want and what I want are two completely different things. I decided I wanted to make a game where you can walk on each side of the platforms, causing a lot of problems with the controls.

There is no right solution to this!

It turned out that not a single control method I came up with worked well. When I used the method where left always makes you walk to the character’s left and right to the character’s right (the method most similar games have used in this competition), players got confused when the character was upside down. So I decided that it would be better if you always walk in the direction you press, with the option to press space to jump regardless of direction. I, and people who tested this game, thought that this worked pretty well, but quite some people have disagreed. My guess is that it feels natural for people who don’t play games often (my testers this weekend) but not for gamers. Perhaps there is an option I have missed?

Funny glitches

The game has no known ways to get stuck or cheat, which deserves a place in “what went right” since that’s pretty rare for me, but I’ve already said it now. However, there are quite some funny things that can happen due to the gravity switches.

What went right

The theme

I loved it! I was so afraid that the theme would be “death is a new beginning” or some other theme that seems to be based on games that already exist. You can do so many things with “tiny world” but it still manages to inspire you. Those are the best themes.

Starting with the music works for me.

This is the third time I composed the music first, but this time I took it one step further. Before I even had a concept I made this song based on the theme alone: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/4358735/TinyWorldJaj.mid . Nothing is as inspiring to me as a piece of music, and I guess having this so early made it a lot easier for me to create the mood of the game.

Autopilot.

I don’t know what came over me, but I just worked and worked without actively thinking about what I was doing too much. Going forward and not looking back. And when I finally looked back, I liked what I saw. I still can’t believe I managed to finish this game in less than 48 hours, with time left to tweak, test and polish.

I’m already looking forward to next Ludum Dare to make something even better!

Play and rate here!

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-23/?action=preview&uid=5496

 

 

4 Responses to “Ancestor’s Sword, post mortem”

  1. Chinchilla says:

    Looks really cool! Without having played it (yet) I guess the controls that would make the most sense to me would be the first method, but with controls inverted just for when you’re upside down. But its hard to know for sure. The second method would make sense for an analog stick.

  2. JaJ says:

    Thanks for the suggestion! I’ve tried having the controls inverted when upside-down, but this complicates things at turning points, because the moment you go around the corner the controls switch again, making you go back and forth until you release the key. You don’t get stuck that way, but it is very annoying.

  3. johnfn says:

    I really liked your game, so I’m happy you did a postmortem.

    One suggestion about the controls. How about having the entire world rotate so that you’re always facing up, no matter which side of the platform you’re on? This would have been difficult to do in the 48h, but I think that this would be the best way to handle the control situation. Super Mario Galaxy does this (right?).

  4. JaJ says:

    Thank you!
    Actually, I did try that during the competition. It’s not much work in gamemaker. However, I got extremely dizzy after just a few seconds of play, and it is a lot more disorienting than you might think. At some points, even I couldn’t find my way, and I’ve placed everything where it is! Perhaps I should have mentioned all these tries in the post mortem, but I wanted to keep it of reasonable length. :)

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