One Jump Post-Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @xanjos)
January 5th, 2014 12:05 pm

Since there’s less than a day left until ratings are finished and I haven’t gotten around to doing it yet, I figure I might do a little post-mortem of my LD28 Entry One Jump (not to be confused with a couple of other entries with the same name). This was my 2nd Ludum Dare game but the first submitted for the 48 hour compo.

LD28ss1

My primary aim during the weekend was to avoid some of the mistakes I did in my last entry (such as time management) and submit something playable in time for the 48 hour compo. Prior to the competition, I decided I wanted to use Unity (specifically the new 2D tools) for a couple of reasons:

  • Familiarity (I’ve used Unity before but not for a Ludum Dare entry) instead of trying to learn a new language/engine in 1/2 weeks
  • More widespread deployment: Compared to my last entry (which used XNA), using Unity meant that I could easily deploy my entry to the web as well as create standalone versions in one go.

I also decided that I wanted to create a platformer (mostly because I haven’t made one before and also because I didn’t want to create a top-down game where you move something in 4 directions and shoot stuff). The day before the actual theme was announced, I did jot down a couple of ideas based on some of the themes that made it to the final round of voting (although I didn’t actually have an initial idea for the one that eventually chosen). After the theme was announced however, it took me some time to think of a core mechanic that would fit it (To be honest, I didn’t really like the theme although ironically, due to the primary mechanics, my last Ludum Dare game would have been an absolute perfect fit for it). Eventually, I decided to interpret “You Only Get One”  as being able to do something that you can normally do many times only once. In the case of a platformer, the primary mechanic is jumping hence the main objective of my game: To simply reach the exit but being only able to jump once per level (which led to some rather strange and interesting level design)

What went right:

  • Planning and Time Management: Compared to my last entry, I actually made much better use of my time thanks to the Unity workflow and managed to submit my entry in time for the competition.
  • Levels: A common complaint with my last entry was that there were too few levels (about 4/5). Thanks to Unity, I was able to rapidly prototype levels in the editor without having to recompile and restart the game and created around 8 levels for my entry.
  • Mechanics: Initially, I thought that being only able to jump once was too gimmicky (trying to design levels based on that mechanic was pretty hard as well as I wanted to make the player use their only jump at the right moment). In the end however, I was pretty satisfied with the end result.

What went wrong:

  • Graphics: I’m not a very good artist so I decided to use simple shapes again for my entry. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to change those shapes into something more plausible (but still somewhat crude).
  • Lack of background audio: I initially created a small audio loop for my entry but I wasn’t able to get it to loop properly in Unity.
  • General Platformer Physics: Although the game generally worked, some of the primary platforming mechanics were a bit buggy (having to create some momentum in order to jump, unintended wall sticking etc.). Some platforming elements such as the moving platforms didn’t work as much as I had hoped.

Initial Feedback:

Feedback for my game so far has been fairly ok (and better than I had originally anticipated) with level design being praised the most and some platformer physics/controls being the main criticism.

Overall Experience and What I’ll do in the Future:

Compared to my last entry, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I’d hoped (mainly because of the theme) even though I managed to submit something in time for the compo. I did have a fun time however and if there was anything new that I’ve learnt during that time, it’s that I shouldn’t be afraid of submitting to the jam instead (rather than treat it as a place where I didn’t submit my compo entry in time): if my entry needs one more day of polish then I should take advantage of that extra day. During the period of time before the next dare, I will try to make at least some improvement with my graphics skills (or failing that, just collab with an artist friend for the jam instead).

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