Ludum Dare 29 – Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @ecmahacker)
April 28th, 2014 7:37 pm

This was my first Ludum Dare (my first competition ever, really) and I must say that I had more fun during those 48 hours than I have in a long time! I can’t wait for the next Ludum Dare. With that in mind, I’ve learned a lot of things in general about making a game during a time crunch…

Prioritize Prioritize Prioritize!
I am a ScrumMaster at work, so naturally I brought some of my training into the real world! During the competition I maintained a prioritized backlog of items (written on post-it-notes). This turned out to be an exceptional tool that allowed me to easily make big decisions during those precious last hours. Moving forward, I plan to start my backlog much earlier than I did during this “sprint”.

Prioritized Backlog

Polish is good!
I believe my entry turned out quite well, all things considered. But I realized that with every bit of polish I added, things became exponentially more entertaining. Knowing when to start working on polish versus functionality is a very tricky thing to master, but never underestimate its value. Of course my game would not even be playable without a framework, but dedicating those last few hours purely to polish was the best thing I could do.

For web-based games, test on slow connections.
During the upload period, I started allowing my friends to demo what I had made and offer last-minute bug reports. The result was terrifying. More than half of everyone who tried my game couldn’t even load it properly. I quickly realized that it was an image downloading problem due to the scripts “initializing” faster than the content was able to load. The result was a few tragic comments and a very poor initial reveal. Luckily, I was able to quickly fix the catastrophic bug that was causing all my heartache. My advice for fellow web developers – make sure to test your game on slower-than-instant connections! One trick is to pop open fiddler and set the simulation-mode to “dial-up”. Since fiddler automatically hijacks your network traffic, it does wonders for testing this sort of thing.

Testing in general.
I have since found that my entry doesn’t appear compatible with all versions of firefox. Oops! Make sure to test your stuff thoroughly, especially if you’re cooking with home-brew frameworks. I have no doubt my compatibility issues will affect my overall score. Live and learn, I suppose.

Keep a log of progress.
Unfortunately, I did not keep screenshots of my game during the earlier stages of development. I would very much like to see how it compares to even 12 hours prior to release. During the next Ludum Dare, I will definitely be keeping a larger collection of shots and animated gifs that represent my game during various stages of development… On the bright side, I did maintain a microblog of development decisions and random updates during crunch time which was a pretty neat experience. I think it’s good to be able to look back on all the decisions one made over the 48 hours of development.

In Conclusion:
I had a lot of fun during this event and learned a lot about the process. I’m not new to game development, however, working under a 2 day deadline was a whole other ball game. I am very glad that I participated in this Ludum Dare and look forward to many years of consecutive entries!

Ludum Dare 29
Moon Harvest – Embark on a journey to harvest celestial cores throughout the galaxy!

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