LD27 Portmortem – “Adventure, Level 2”

Posted by (twitter: @laaph023)
September 10th, 2013 4:49 pm

After I wrote “Adventure” for LD26, there were a lot of requests for me to do a post-compo version, or at least finish it.  I didn’t want to, in part because I like the format of the 48-hour game jam – if it didn’t do well, I never have to look at it again.  However, the unexpected response to Adventure did put some ideas in my head for post-compo improvements…

…including the idea to work on one level for a game jam.  Does this break any rules?  I didn’t reuse any assets – I painstakingly remodeled that cube by hand all over again.  I redrew that arrow on his head (and fixed the bug of where it fades out).  There is no shared code between this and my previous compo (unless you include the Unity environment).

Despite all this, I feel that I was cheating somehow.  I had an idea of what I was doing before I started.  The theme was easily worked in to my ideas, in fact, I almost didn’t change anything and it fit the theme perfectly.  The idea of taking the four levels of Adventure and separating them in to four different mini-games, and then possibly reuniting them after I successfully make them…  for the October challenge, of course!…  Somehow it doesn’t quite fit in the right spirit of things.

So enough on that.  Let’s talk about how it really went.

The good:

  • I’ve done this enough it seems easy.  Movement, mobs, basic AI, etc, all up and running really quick and easy.  With the exception of ghosts going through walls, it didn’t feel like I was fighting the Unity environment.
  • Is that all?

The not-so-good:

  • The piggies became ghosts.  While I did have ideas that there would be varying types of enemies, as the deadline came along, I only made one.  And then somewhere along the line, I had difficulty making it so they wouldn’t go through walls, and rather than fix that bug, they became ghosts.
  • I had the idea of implementing the algorithms I found in this article about the arcade game “Berzerk“.  However, I couldn’t find that article when the clock was ticking (my google skills are not good at the best of times; it took me a good hour of searching about to find it to be able to link it here), so I just made random rooms.  That actually worked out okay.  I had actually intended to take a lot more influence from Berzerk, but implementing Evil Otto would have taken more time.
  • Because in Unity3d, there is no natural separation between rooms – it was hard to tell ghosts to move or not move.  So they move randomly when you aren’t about, and when you are within about half a room’s distance, they’ll beeline towards you.  Primitive AI, yes, but it works.  Unfortunately, many players complained about the unfairness of ghosts mindlessly cruising through the walls and giving you a death screen.
  • No one read any documentation.  People clicked through the text screens without any looking.  Not that there was a lot of documentation to read – but there was enough that if you read what was going on, you had a bit of an advantage.  Or at least understood what was going on.  Although, I still didn’t explain what the arrow was doing – it seemed most people figured out what it did this time.
  • Because I made it rather difficult, with abrupt deaths through walls, it became rather hard to test things around the win conditions.  This caused me to spend more time playtesting than properly required.
  • Compared to other works I’ve done, I get the sense that people didn’t really enjoy this one.  While I kind of thought it was fun, more challenging than say my Donkey Kong clone, an interesting scoring system (I still haven’t heard reports of a perfect score – I don’t expect to at this point), it would still be better with varying enemies and weapons as per my original idea.
  • No sound.  I really need to stop waiting until the end to implement sound and audio effects, as it usually means I never implement sound.

The rough:

  • Too busy for this.  I was working two jobs (one finished, thank you), hosting the real-world meetup (so I couldn’t just head out early), and then off to a big festival in the desert for a week.  So I didn’t even begin to rate other games until half the rating time was over.  I’m still not done!  It may have been a mistake to set aside the weekend for that, but, it’s still worth it.  :)

For all that, I need to talk about how I felt during the programming itself. My past three Ludum Dares I had finished with a huge sense of accomplishment – proof that I could make a game in a weekend, even if I didn’t quite finish (LD26, MolyJamDeux) or if no one else liked it as much as I did (LD25), or it was so buggy such that it was near unplayable (LD24, 0hGameJam).  This time, it almost felt like I was going through the motions – I just did it, and things fell in to place, and at best I feel like perhaps I could have pushed myself more, but then it ventures in to “playtest less and do everything faster”, and it already is rushed enough.  I am not sure whether this is a good feeling (woo fly through game jams without stress!) or a blah feeling (I am not learning as much as I would in a game jam!).

So, I’ll continue rating games.  Pro-tip:  If you write a postmortem, you heavily increase the odds I’ll play your game – when I rate games, I just go down the website, and every postmortem I read I play that game if it runs on my system.  Also, if you leave a comment on my game, again, if I can play and rate yours, I’ll do so.

Also, I put together a quick “here are games I’ve made for game jams” page, I do mean to migrate this over to wordpress but I just haven’t done it yet.  At the current moment, it just needs a “made in vi” badge for complete flavor (even though I didn’t make it in vi).

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