Just one more turn (please!) – Postmortem

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December 17th, 2013 8:16 am

Just one more turn (please!) – Postmortem

I’m back to life again, so it only feels appropriate to write a postmortem. Just one more turn (please!) is my fifth LD game, and this has probably been the one that I’ve had a hardest time with so far, to the point that I considered quitting in some occasions.

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 3.44.02 PM

Play and rate it here!

The game came to be after I failed shaping some fun mechanics (or even plot) for the main idea I had been thinking about: something abstract about choices in life and how you only get one chance for each of them. As I was getting stuck I decided to throw it to the rubbish bin and come up with a better idea. I ruled out another one partially inspired by Battle Royale and the random weapon that is assigned to each of the students, too. Luckily, memories of games such as Civilization, Heroes of Might and Magic, X-Com or Fire Emblem came to the rescue, and together with the theme I managed to combine both things to create a turn-based strategy game where each unit only had one turn (which actually makes the game a bit more of a puzzle). It sounded feasible, it sounded interesting, and it had potential to be fun. How did it turn out, then?

 

What went wrong

  • Physical/Mental exhaustion: I came home late at night after a Christmas party with the people from work (and before that I’d been exercising, too), and I woke up on Saturday after 4 hours of sleep, hangover and really tired. This is definitely not the best situation to work , and as time piled up it only got worse: now put into the mix some unrelated personal issues and obsessions of mine, together with my perception of how development was progressing, and the final result was not one nor two but three panic attacks throughout Sunday. By the third one the pot was boiling and I seriously thought that I should leave it there. I have some anxiety-related issues (AvPD, to be specific), but panic is almost news for me, so I was feeling worn out from both the long hours and all that other crap, even a bit scared and quite demotivated, all of which had a very negative impact in the game end result.
  • No Planning: On the last LD I decided to keep a detailed backlog of features to do, which really helped define priorities and keep things on focus. This time I had nothing like that, just some scribbles on a notebook, and then I would work in whatever I would feel like at the moment. I paid for it.
  • Insufficient gameplay: Lots of features related to the core gameplay were only partially designed (for example, how would the turn play out, if enemies should counter, if all the ally units should move before the enemies, if the player and AI would alternate,…), and many more (unit stats,  more unit types,… the list is way too long)  got left out because of lack of time. Also, the number of levels is really short and easy, but I didn’t have time to do much more.
  • Lackluster graphics: While I like the character designs (if few, and with only one simple animation), and the backgrounds on their own aren’t completely terrible, they don’t really blend with each other, so the result is quite subpar.
  • Sound: I’d hoped to compose some music this time, choose or create some fitting sounds and help with polish to help with immersion. In the end I just used Autotracker and randomly clicked for a couple of minutes on Bfxr. :/

What went right

  • Submitted: Despite all the problems, and even though I’m not particularly happy with the results (I can’t thank @Zener enough for putting up with all my whining via chat), I managed to submit a more or less defined game. The fact that I didn’t just give up makes me a bit prouder of myself.
  • Unity3D: This is the first game I’ve coded on Unity (besides a 2.5D prototype I’d done at work some months ago), and I’m really glad with it. It’s very usable and lets you build content and functionality really fast. As a counterpart it takes some control away from you (which is somewhat important for me as a programmer), but for this project I didn’t actually need that much.
  • Idea: Again, the final result is not exactly what I had in mind, but the idea has potential. I would like to  try to think a bit more about it and then extend it.
  • Despite what I mentioned on the first point on the “What went wrong” list, the moments when I managed to get in the “zone” coding helped me get distracted from everything else. I tend to see programming  as puzzles waiting to be solved, and that “game” aspect of it is one of the reasons why I love it.

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