Fight the Urge Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @akilladakeith)
September 8th, 2013 9:31 pm

2013-08-28 21_49_25-TitleScreen

 

My Entry: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-27/?action=preview&uid=25189

What went Right:

Theme/Humor:  I felt pretty good about how I used the theme.  I was happy I was able to make a game that fit the theme without any violence at all.  Its the first game I had ever made that didn’t hinge on hurting other people and it was a personal goal to do just that for this compo.  Also so far I think the humor and tone have been connecting with people.  This is especially satisfying since there isn’t any audio of any kind and I was pretty sure the humor would fall really flat without that extra polish.

Practice: I completed a few practice games in the weeks leading up to LD.  All the games were fairly basic and throwaway quality but they were very effective at getting familiar with the basics of Impact.  The impact framework is pretty easy to use but if I had gone in blind I’m sure I would have ended with half my current game.

Brainstorming: I was driving home when the 10 second theme was announced.  I wasn’t going to be able to get to my computer for at least the next 3 hours.  At first this felt like valuable time wasted but in retrospect it allowed me the time to thoroughly brainstorm.  Instead of hoping on my first idea I was able to throw away a number of weaker designs before I ended up settling on the find the bathroom concept.

Abandoning Perfection:  Doing the 1 man compo I knew that I would have to work fast and sloppier than I am usually comfortable with.  That alone is part of what makes these events so great, being forced to push through all your inevitable problems.  I had done a few jams before but this was my first LD and my first solo competition.  I made a conscience effort to not get too hung up on making everything perfect.  There is a really obvious bug in the game where the waiters will get twitchy while pathing.  I could have fixed this by implementing A* pathfinding but it would have taken a good chunk of time since I hadn’t done any pathfinding logic from scratch in years.  I decided to live with the bug and focus on other parts of the game.  It kind of sucked to leave something broken but it was the right decision in the end.

GameOverScreen

 

What went Wrong:

Time Management: Usually I jam when my family goes out of town.  My wife will take my son to visit his grandparents and I’ll take advantage of 48 hours of single living to learn a new programming language and bust something out.  This was the first time I had tried to Jam while maintaining a semblance of normal family life.  What this meant is that I tried to do all my normal daytime family activities and jam late into the night.  Overall it worked but on Sunday I had to escape to the bedroom and work for a solid 6 hours while my son was awake.  Not a huge problem and it was very understood but it is something I’ll remember next time when scheduling my time.

Asset Creation:  I am not an artist…but I tried to do a bunch of art.  I spent many hours one night pixeling out the restaurant and all the different characters.  Overall I’m pretty happy with how it looks but I know that a more experienced artist could have done something far better with a fraction of the time.  One of my main goals before the December LD is to re-pixel this game and try to take my art skills to the next level.

I also had a plan to make my own music and sfx.  I even recorded a bunch of ambient conversation that I had begun splicing together for background noise.  Unfortunately none of that was able to make it into the final game.

Only 2 levels:  The initial plan was for 20 levels that would randomly be presented to the player.  Since all of these levels were to use the same art assets that seemed totally doable.  It turns out just building a level in Weltmeister (impacts level editor) and adding all the necessary level markup took about 30 minutes per level.  I added the second level about an hour before the submission deadline.

What I Learned

Oh man, so much.  It was a really great experience.  I have made a lot of games but I’ve never made a game entirely on my own in such a short amount of time.  I found the dev process incredibly freeing since the idea of creating something perfect was impossible.  I was able to just try out ideas and not worry too much about the consequences.

So far the feedback on the game has been positive, with people pointing out a lot of the faults I see in the game.  That has been very reassuring and gives me the encouragement to take this game a little further and polish it up for a more full featured free release


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