This was my fourth LD and usually I’d write a bit more about what I made and the design process behind it. But this time around, I’m…disappointed? Embarrassed? I made my entry, “Christmas Cookies” in the final 62 minutes of the Jam and while I’m impressed with my ability to make something–anything!–in such a short amount of time, the game is obviously thrown together. It doesn’t have sound, a title screen or a game over screen. There was almost no testing and no balancing to speak of. I wish I could have made the game I wanted to make.

The game I wanted to make, as soon as the theme was announced, was The Legend of Gas-stache and His Fragile Propulsion Device. What a title! What a concept! What level design! A puzzle-platformer where the player could only jump once…in the entire game. I sketched out the concept while at work: a famous jumping hero named Mr. Mustache is cursed and turns semi-corporeal. He can no longer jump by his own power, except by using a propulsion device his kidnapped brother left behind. He must use other techniques, including his newfound ability to turn into liquid or gas and melt through floors, to navigate through a castle and rescue his brother. I sketched the first ten levels at work and made sure that every level included spots that would try to trick the player into using his only jump, or convenient shortcuts. As soon as I got home, I rushed to start coding gravity and collision detection.

And then something I couldn’t have imagined happened: a national TV station contacted me about appearing in their New Years TV special, and they’ve already received a permit to film at my workplace, could I come in early on Monday?

To say that this turned my life upside down was an understatement. That week I was filmed for 40 hours, and 15 of those were during Ludum Dare 28. There simply wasn’t time to sit down and work on a game. As soon as I heard the schedule, I shelved The Legend of Gas-stache, and any plans for any other game, immediately. But Tuesday morning rolled around, and as I was biking home from an early-morning shoot, I realized that I’d arrive home with an hour to spare before the Jam ended! I plotted out the simplest idea I could think of during the ride, walked in the door and plunked down to code as fast as I could. Christmas Cookies was born.

I hated the idea of using the theme to create a game where you only get one life or hit point or whatever, but I had to run with the simplest concept possible. Your spouse is baking Christmas Cookies for a party, and you’re allowed to have one. You try to work, but the smell and thoughts of delicious cookies keep getting in the way of your work…literally, in this case.

As soon as the game was submitted, I jotted down a list of stuff I wanted to improve upon in a post-compo version: title and game over screens, more cookies in different shapes and sizes, better graphics, sound, and maybe a little background tune, like a chiptune Jingle Bells, ANYTHING. But the filming schedule swamped me and I spent the time after recovering and fielding phone calls about more details. Then it was Christmas, and New Years, and the rest is history. I hardly even had time or energy to rate games this time around. I became that person who barely rates anything–a person I never wanted to be.

Though it won’t be seasonal anymore, I do want to touch up Christmas Cookies, if only because I hate submitting something in that state. Assuming more TV shenanigans don’t happen, though, I’ll be back to regular form for LD 29!

2 Responses to “Post-mortem-ish: LD28 Failures and Christmas Cookies”

  1. goerp says:

    Just curious….What is your job? What is the TV show about and can we watch it online?

  2. hissssssssss says:

    I’m studying the craft of making noodles in Japan! I doubt it’ll be available online because the media companies here are a bit behind the times regarding internet streaming, and they aggressively take down rips on Youtube, but if anyone has access to NihonTerebi, it’ll be airing there sometime this month.

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