Personal Warm-Up Post Mortem

Posted by
August 13th, 2012 6:11 am

This weekend I spent 4-5 hours livestreaming a personal warm-up for Ludum Dare to make sure that my workflow in Unity 3d and Blender was ready to meet the challenge of another game jam.  I may do another warm-up this upcoming weekend as well.


The Good:

  • My Unity knowledge seems up to snuff, even when it comes to doing new things that I haven’t explicitly done before.
  • Even though I didn’t finish the game (which was never my intention during the warm-up), I created a LOT of content in about 4 hours. I’m working much, much faster than the last time I used Unity for Ludum Dare. Both because I’m more familiar with the tools, but also because I think I’m structuring my content better.
  • I can whip out (very ugly) 3d models in Blender extremely quickly, which is good.  Animating a convincing walk cycle is still probably out of line for a 48 hour competition, but I’m happy that I can have more than cubes and capsules this time.
The Bad:
  • Focusing too much on the “theme” before deciding on the “gameplay”.  It’s too easy for me to get overly focused on mechanics and simulation and to forget that I need a game in there.
  • Not deciding on a single aesthetic first. None of my models really looked like each other — they weren’t even the same size. I need to keep this in mind a little sooner.
  • Finding out that there’s no native IK support in Unity 3d, which is a real shame. I don’t have the experience to write an IK Solver in a 48 hour compo either.  It would have opened up some interesting possibilities.
The Ugly:
  • I got really frustrated trying to sort out the “gameplay” issue and even snapped at the livestream chat, which is very much not okay. I was feeling overwhelmed by trying to read so much chat and filter ideas. Taking a 10 minute was all I needed to sort out my brain, get some inspiration, and be balanced and level-headed again.  I need to schedule more breaks, especially early on when we’re still in the “idea” phase.  Walks are good. (Also, it helped to turn off the mic/camera for a little while and just get “in the zone” with the programming for a bit, rather than try to entertain people.)
The Unknown:
  • Is it good, bad, or ugly to use a well-established gameplay mechanic (“tower defense”) and just try to adapt it to a theme?  On the one hand, how many truly unique gameplay mechanics exist out there? Most things are just something that already exists (first-person, platformer, rts, 4x, side-scroller, etc…) with a twist.  Trying to come up with something completely innovative is hard/impossible in general, and to come up with something spontaneously AND finding a good way to implement it in 48 hours is probably idiotic.  Many of the best and most original LD submissions (and artistic/original indie games) ARE things like platformers with a twist.  Braid, VVVVVV, and Super Meat Boy are — in many ways — basic platformers. And yet they stand out as completely unique at the same time.  
Personally, after the more relaxed pacing of my LD22 and LD23 games, I think I want to make something quite a bit more action-packed and adrenaline-inducing this time around.

2 Responses to “Personal Warm-Up Post Mortem”

  1. iandioch says:

    Using an existing genre as a starting point is the way to go imho. Then you can branch out into all sorts of wacky things from there. It’s a gamejam, and only 48 hours, so you can go crazy. If it doesn’t work out, oh well. It’s not like you wasted a month doing it.
    And action-packed and adrenaline-racing are getting me excited :3

  2. Puzzlem00n says:

    Oh, trust me, it’s completely fine. It would be ridiculous to try and invent a genre, and even the more interesting game mechanics you see have been done to an extent. Just make something you’re proud of, and if it looks just like something else, then who cares?

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