0000 : PRESS Z post-mortem

Posted by (twitter: @theotheralvaro)
December 10th, 2014 10:41 pm

Screenshot 2014-12-11 at 00.20.26 Screenshot 2014-12-11 at 00.20.52 Screenshot 2014-12-11 at 00.21.15

A bit of context

This was my fourth Ludum Dare and the first time (ever, even outside LD) that I made a game that I actually like. When I say “a game that I actually like”, I mean a game that I would like to play if someone else had made it. Sure, in the past I made some games that I love, but I always had to go around their flaws, disregard game-breaking bugs and just close my eyes on my own mistakes to really enjoy them. In other words, they were my ugly childs.

With 0000, I can finally say that I managed to make a game that I’m proud of, even though it’s far from being perfect or even that great of a game. I think it’s fun (which is the most important part), pretty engaging and people seem to like it, which is a plus. It’s a small first step into actually making decent games.

I pretty much failed during LD30. Here’s what I wrote just before it started  :

 

Pretty excited, once again. To me, Ludum Dare is a way to see and compare what I’ve learned and how much I’ve improved since the last time. I started pretty small, with a funny, but subpar game (Don One). Then, made another game, a lemming-like that was buggy as hell, but cute and people seemed to enjoy the art-style (Daisy’s dog is dead). I think I will stay true to myself : simple, primitive graphics + game mechanics that will allow me to grow and learn as a game developer. I have no other ambitions than having fun and learning, and Ludum Dare has been a great opportunity to do so the last two times I participated.

 

Hey, past self. This is still true. I mean, this Ludum Dare, I went in with the same mentality. Use my already acquired but limited skillset (in game design, art and sound) and try to make the best out of it. 0000 PRESS Z is what came out of that desire. And it was fun to make!

 

Brainstorming and writing ideas for levels on paper

The good

AKA what my last 3 LDs taught me

  • Level design has been a big challenge for me since I started game development over a year ago. With limited sprites and simple mechanics, I succeeded at combining them to create interesting gameplay and difficult, yet rewarding levels.
  • The game style seems to be a big hit with people. I also love it, even though it’s simple as can be. I went with I am capable of doing, and it seems to have worked out.
  • The game feels good. Adding particles here and there and a lot of feedback to the player’s actions really payed off.

 

The bad  

AKA What I didn’t learn yet

  • The movement seems to be a big issue for players. I thought it was on point, but it seems like it might need some more work (more on that later)
  • I didn’t manage to teach the player about the double jump mechanic early enough. Most people seem to discover it by mistake.
  • The sound, while fonctional, is not very expressive and could be improved a lot. Maybe a soundtrack, even, could make the action feel even more frantic. If I had any music skills, I would have added music.
  • The random teleportation, even though it’s the core mechanic to my game, seems to be confusing players. That leaves me with a game design question : Should I give all the answers right out, or let the player figure out the game as he loops through levels? Tough call.

 

What I learned

AKA things I think I understood but maybe not

  • Making the most with very little can be very rewarding and push your creativity.
  • Planning (just enough) is essential. It took me two hours of planning before I even started making the game. I figured out what game I wanted and went with it. It could have failed horribly, but I got lucky this time.
  • Juice matters. Details matter. If you’re making a game that feels fun to you, you’re doing something right.
  • The LD community is a GREAT resource for feedback. You have doubts about your game? I’m pretty sure someone on IRC will be down to talk it out with you.

 

What’s to come and conclusion

With all the positive feedback and encouragement I’ve been getting from the community, I’m considering making an improved version of the game.  Bug fixes, more levels, speedrun mode, highscores, new mechanics and all that good stuff  are amongst the things that are going through my head at the moment(Did anyone say level editor?). It’s still just an idea, but it’s very tempting to make some more evil levels to get the best out of you guys.

In the end, this was a very interesting ludum dare. I learned a lot and gained confidence in myself in the process. I still have so much to learn, but to me, making a game that I actually like is a big milestone.

 

Check out 0000 PRESS Z

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5 Responses to “0000 : PRESS Z post-mortem”

  1. Hellequin says:

    One of my favorites game so far ^^

  2. Aevek says:

    A lot of people have problems with how movement works in my game too. It’s interesting that how I expect a character should move in a game is so different from what the majority of people expect.

    • alvarop says:

      Yes. I’m guessing the answer to this is PLAYTESTING. But I didn’t have anyone around to do so.

      • Taunia Sabanski says:

        Yup! You got it! :) The answer is definitely PLAYTESTING! Hours and hours of it. 😀

        It’s kind of a strange relationship, that between short game-dev events like LD, and platformers — they’re typically one of the easier and faster games to produce — but they are NOTORIOUS for being really movement-sticky right out of the gate. Experienced platform gamers will have an easier time, but those like myself who aren’t so great at the genre tend to get frustrated rather quickly.

        Your collision was pretty spot-on though! It’s strange how some people can get the collision spot on, and what people can get the movement spot on. Your collision was really good, but your character movement needed work. Thopis’ game, “RockRocket”, had really good character movement, but the collision was off.

        BOTH games were VERY good — but LD just doesn’t lend time for good playtesting. :(

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