ECHO CHAMBER Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @LorenBednar)
December 19th, 2012 9:21 pm

So, this was my first real Ludum Dare. I participated in the Charity MiniLD and the warmup weekend, but the atmosphere surrounding the compo has been amazing to me.  I am very impressed with how great people have been and how respectful the comments have been to all the games i have seen.  It’s genuinely helpful and makes new folks definitely feel welcome.

With that, I would like to discuss my game, ECHO CHAMBER

 http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-25/?action=preview&uid=17687

 

All stories have a beginning (hopefully), here is ECHO CHAMBER’s:

EC_begin

Initially, I was hoping the theme would be a pleasant one (Colonize, Night and Day, Timeloop in particular), so I was taken a bit by surprise that ‘You Be the Villain’ won.

I took this as a sign that I should not approach this game as I have previous games, with planning all the parts and building a final product. I was uncomfortable with the theme and I wanted that to be my driving force and to make me feel that the game could be weird.  Very weird.  I wanted to approach with a stream of conciousness focus, anything that came up was good and would some how work.

This approach worked for me because I only had 8 hours to design, develop and score audio (sfx and music). Had I taken more time to plan, I would have missed some key elements and the game would have suffered.

What went well

Throwing rationale to the wind and being happy with whatever came to be was freeing and let me just have fun with it. Almost like by building the game, I was playing a game with my mind; how weird can this get? I’m not a particularly good artist, so I had to rely on typography and bright colors, which I tend to use a lot of in my games. I’m really drawn to neon I suppose.  This worked because it let the game get close to sensory overload, which is something I wanted to achieve. I wanted the RETRIBUTION mode to be a bit stressful and cause a sense of relief when it was over.

EC_1

At this point, the connection lines were solid, the same color and thickness was random. Also, the words were technicolor non stop for both sides.  It was hard to differentiate between the two ‘factions’, so I changed them to be a limited pallet.

After the first day (4 hours), I had a functioning game, but no lose condition.  You could spam words infinitely and it was lame. It looked super pretty, but there was no substance.  That night I had the idea of how the media would feed you words and you would absorb them, acting as ammunition against the critics’ assaults. Their words could defeat you, causes a game lose. At the time, given what I had left time-wise, I felt that was enough to substantiate a complete experience.

Asset creation was almost entirely typographical and I really liked the outcome. The rest was basic line art that flashed crazy colors or simple geometry (squares).

EC_2

I am also pretty happy with the music that backed up the various parts (title screen, gameplay, RETRIBUTION and game over.  They all worked well together.  Because so many people liked the music in the game’s comments, I decided to upload the uncut soundtrack (minus gameplay apparently) to soundcloud for folks to download:

What went wrong

Wrong is a hard thing to tackle for a game like this. I definitely think there could have been improvements given more time, but for what I had available, a lot went right. That being said, I could have spent maybe a little more time thinking about all the game states in an abstract way, just considering things like an actual win state, maybe a difficulty curve or what that could look like while I let my stream of consciousness take the wheel so to speak.

What could be improved

This fits better with ECHO CHAMBER.

I think the main things I will be working on in my post-compo build will be increasing difficulty over an arc, adding strategic elements and fleshing out a win condition that makes sense given the theme. This game isn’t quite as simple to build a win condition, at least in my opinion, as at its core, the game should be unwinnable.  However, I want there to be a positive destination for the player and I want to explore that when I start building the more complete version. I would want some of the more abstract themes to make themselves visible during the player’s journey instead of showing my hand in an intro screen. I like the game’s character now and I think that with some tweaks, it could really be something special. At least I think so, what about you guys?

In Conclusion

I am amazed at this community and how supportive they have been. I will definitely be participating in future Ludum Dares, this is such a special event.  Thank you to everyone that has played my game, rated it and commented on it. I have been trying my best to play and learn about everyone’s games.  Please let me know if you would like me to rate your game, I would be happy to!

I’m on Twitter too! @LorenBednar

Thanks all!

Loren

 

 


4 Responses to “ECHO CHAMBER Post Mortem”

  1. raincole says:

    Thanks for generous share. What tool did you use to make these good music?

  2. Loren says:

    I used Cubase 5 :)

  3. SonnyBone says:

    I’ll be playing your game sometime within the next two days. I have a huge backlog of suggestions and requests. But yeah, Ludum Dare is a blast and the community is pretty stellar for the most part.

    This was my seventh event and it’s still as fun and exciting as ever!

  4. Loren says:

    Thank you so much, I hope you enjoy it! There are so many entries, it’s pretty great to see the range

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