Beneath the Surface – Post Mortem (48h)

Posted by (twitter: @tomrijnbeek)
April 29th, 2014 6:46 am

As promised, a post-mortem for my first ever Ludum Dare. I can’t say I did really badly, but I also can’t say I am happy with the result. I think there are a few major points that could get some improvement, so I will discuss each of them briefly.

 

Preparation

The way I went into this Ludum Dare was pretty much unprepared. I heard that this Ludum Dare finally was not in the weekend before my finals and decided to join in if (and only if) the theme was interesting and I had a cool concept. Over the days the “Ludum Dare hype” grew a bit on me and when the theme turned out to be not what I hoped for, I still went in. However, I had not even settled with an engine yet and it took me half a day to get started. I had no idea what to do, I had to set up everything from scratch and I lost quite some time with it. Next time, I want to settle on an engine beforehand and – if necessary – make sure to have a codebase ready.

 

The concept

The concept I finally decided to go with was a puzzle game. I think the ambitions with the concept were spot on: the mechanics were easily implementable, the concept was extensible if there was enough time, all in all a good idea to realise in (less than) 48 hours. However, even though I did consider that level design would take time, I had underestimated the difficulty of it. Making good levels is about ten times harder as completing them and the mechanics I had weren’t always as intuitive. The problem with a concept like mine is that the game stands or falls with the level design. I didn’t design the levels very well, so I think that makes the game not very enjoyable, even though I think there is a lot of potential in the introduced mechanics.

 

Graphics

If there was a prize for “worst graphics skills”, I would probably get it. It’s official: I suck at graphics. That is something I knew beforehand. This was the first time I ever made my own graphics (apart from boxes, circles, triangles, lines and stickmen) and I spent a lot of time on it – probably at least half of the development time. While this is not a problem per se, after all that time my graphics still sucked. I could have gotten the graphics over with in an hour and spent more time on the mechanics and I will next time try to spend more time on my actual field of expertise: programming.

 

Experience

This is the most important point. I am not referring to this being my first Ludum Dare, but to my experience with jamming (or prototyping) in general. I think I am a fairly good programmer, but I started on a relatively late age and I always went on with large projects. I am working on a big project right now (consider it a job if you want), and while that is really educating, I would like to set some more time apart to do small games like the ones made in the Ludum Dare. In the end, to become better, you just need to make game. Period.

 

Conclusions

I loved working on something with the feeling of community. It is so motivating to have other people do awesome stuff as well. I definitely want to do more of these, but I also want to do more prototyping myself. I just need to get more experience and get a better feeling for what works and what doesn’t. I have always been a bit sceptical of Unity, but I have seen some people do amazing things with it and it would also solve all my distribution problems, so I am definitely gonna give that a try and probably use that for my next Ludum Dare. Last weekend was such a cool and educating experience and it gave me so much insights in what I am good at and what I still have to improve on.

I am looking forward to playing some of the other entries and applying everything I have learned to my daily life. For now, I say goodbye and see you all at the next Ludum Dare!

 

My entry

If you want to check out my entry, you can do so over here. Currently it only runs on Windows, but an OSX build should be provided soon.

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