Ludum Dare 27 was my first ever game jam!I made a game hastily titled “Get Ready, Fight!”. It’s a single-screen, 2D competitive action platformer where players have 10 seconds to run around and collect powerups and modifiers for themselves, before fighting to the death using whatever equipment they managed to scrounge up. While I managed to finish the game, I didn’t quite bring my vision to life. I had hoped to focus more on the initial 10 second scramble, forcing players to make hasty decisions and then have to deal with the consequences. In the end, it seemed more fun just to have all the powerups have positive effects, so the 10 second scramble is just a race to grab as many powerups as possible without much thought.
Overall though, I had a great time with the jam. I came up with an idea that I think has some potential to be fleshed out and I managed to finish a game from scratch in under 48 hours to boot.
Here are some quick post-mortem-y thoughts about my experience while they’re still fresh in my mind:
What Went Well:
- Stopped making excuses and actually entered a jam.
- Could have said it was too close to PAX, but didn’t.
- Stuck with it, finished the jam. And it’s a real, honest-to-goodness game too, including menus, audio, and some reasonable polish.
- Did absolutely everything myself. Coding, art, sound effects, even music. No libraries outside of the XNA framework.
- Speaking of which, I also tried something totally new during the jam: making music! It’s bad, and there’s incredibly little of it (maybe 20 seconds), but I did it!
- Didn’t get too hung up on art, since the rate at which returns diminish for my time investment is substantial (read: I’m not a very good artist).
- Got a reasonable amount of sleep!
- Streamed development a few times at http://www.twitch.tv/benkane, totaling over 12 hours.
- Resisted the urge to just give up and play Spelunky instead.
What Didn’t Go So Well:
It’s easy to criticize your own games, and one that was made in <48 hrs has a lot to criticize. Still, here are a few things that stuck out:
- Pretty poor art.
- Music and sfx are pretty sparse, and what is there is pretty bad.
- The game drifted away from theme/my plan pretty quickly.
- The gameplay doesn’t have a lot of variety, even though I had a lot of ideas for this.
- I was hugely productive for some stretches, but others were quite poor. I should have taken a more distinct break at that point and walked away from the screen.
- I did not eat very well.
- My schedule was rougher than it needed to be. 48 hours is a lot of time if you keep your scope down, so there was no need to stay up until 5am on the first day.
- I wasn’t too interactive with my viewers on the stream (but a huge thanks to those that did hang out! You rock!). Next time I’ll use the mic.
What Went ???:
Why on earth did I decide to make a multiplayer-only game for a solo game jam? I’m not even sure 4-player mode works at all. And there’s certainly going to be balance problems that will be obvious once the game is played with other humans.
What I’d Change For Next Time:
- Spend more time on gameplay once I have a functioning game. I could have done a lot more with the concept I built.
- Make a single-player game! I basically came up with an untestable concept for a solo jam.
- Start thinking about music earlier. I like that I attempted to make the music myself, but I definitely had a “writer’s block” of sorts when it came time to compose the music (I use the term “compose” as loosely as humanly possible). Thinking about what style of audio earlier could have helped there.
- Create a timelapse of development. Streaming is awesome (and I’d do that again), but it would be nice to look back at the whole process over the span of a few minutes.
- Consider jamming in a group environment to keep myself motivated.