So, for our first Ludum Dare ever me and Regus made The Joining, a centrally hosted 2D shooter MMO. Against all expectations, including my own, we made a relatively complete game by jam’s end. Unfortunately a 3-day-mmo is kind of like 5-minute-cake, a cool idea, worth doing to be able to say it’s doable, but the end result is infinitely less satisfying than what you’d get if you put the proper amount of time in. While running around pewpewing evil robots is fun, a lack of players and general aim and finetuning makes it only playable for 5-10 minutes before boredom sets in.
What went right
- We knew our tools. Despite the fact that XNA isn’t the best thing to use to get a lot of people to play your LD game, we decided to stick with what we knew in order to finish in time.
- Teaming up with Regus was extremely enjoyable, we’ve known each other going on I don’t know, a decade and a half now, but we’ve never made a game together. Working together was great, we had complimenting skillsets and we didn’t step on each others toes or had to wait for the other to finish to continue working.
- I’m mostly pleased with the pixel art I did. Pixel art is something I consider myself good at but I rarely get to do it anymore. Being able to do some again was very nice.
- The game is pretty well feature complete and stable. Our code design was mostly to thank for that, until the last day when cleanliness kind of went out the window and some of my rendering functions turned to spaghetti.
- We made an MMO, complete with combat, enemy AI, A* pathfinding and a neat sort of “level up” system. In three frickin’ days. How awesome is that? Worth it just to say we did it.
- I got to remind myself that even if your art and particle effects are only 50% as awesome as you want, it’s still a more satisfying experience to have a bunch of half-awesome stuff and a more complete experience, then an incomplete number of perfect things. The perfectionist in me needed this reminder.
What went wrong
- No music. I’m bad at music and didn’t have the tools or time to modify even an autotracker song. I subbed in ambient sounds instead and it works okay, but not the way I wanted.
- We didn’t actually have time to add some features that would’ve given the game a goal, like a boss at the center, better tuned distribution of enemies, and a global win/lose condition like we planned.
- The game wound up being not very fun. See my opening paragraph for thoughts about that.
- I felt kind of sick after the third day cause I pushed myself so hard and my sleeping patterns are completely shot now.
Overall a lot of things went right, far more than went wrong. Our first LD experience was enjoyable, and taught me some valuable lessons, or rather reminded me of them. And it was a chance to do a few things I don’t normally get to do, like make an MMO and work on pixel art. I consider it a win, even if I doubt our game will be getting top ratings.
We probably won’t work on the game for a post-compo version, I think. Nobody’s asked us to, which is a pretty good sign that it’s not actually wanted. Comment if you think we should, though. I’m tagging this SuccessStory even though the end result is lackluster, because… well, 3 day frickin’ MMO man.
Eniko, signing out.