Garden State Post-Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @@cbear_wallis)
April 23rd, 2015 7:46 am


Last weekend I attended a hackathon at the University of Maryland, suffice to say I didn’t get much sleep. So when I realized that the Ludum Dare was happening the very next weekend I was both excited and incredibly unsure if I would actually be able to do it. I eventually decided to do something for the jam with the help of my girlfriend! It was friday night, the Ludum Dare had officially started and I just got home at 9:30 EST. It was time to make a game.

I knew what I wanted to do from the start. The idea I had was to make a grid based puzzle game with tree and flowers and stuff. Originally, this game was to be a way more strategic and deep, but it really didn’t turn out that way. My biggest flaw during this jam was that I overplanned before starting and then I had all these expectations of my design that in reality just simply didn’t work. Now, this isn’t my first jam in the least so I’m aware of all the pitfalls, but I still fall for them sometimes. It’s all about finding that balancing between starting and planning. Start too quickly and you end up make a structure that can’t support it’s weight and which has no direction. Plan too much before starting and you wind up forgetting that the laws of physics exist; you build things that are suited more for the mind than the real world. So, I had a design for a puzzle game that didn’t really work.


On the second day I decided to redesign or rather repurpose the existing mechanics for a different game of sorts and I had an epiphany of sorts. I noticed when playing the game that it became something that wasn’t really about winning or losing but it built out these cool looking gardens. The nature of what I call the “Bramble”, which is the darker looking bushes, is random. The Bramble looks for empty grass around it and randomly chooses one to grow to. This created a really cool visual almost akin to prim’s algorithm when generating mazes. I really enjoyed this aspect and, although it was quite experimental, I decided to go with it. So the final day was adding final GUI fixes(which were a pain) and getting sfx etc. all working fine.

Another cool thing that I put in was that all the plants talk randomly. My girlfriend wrote all this dialog for the plants to spout out. This was originally going to be a much bigger part with the plants actually commenting on the games state. For instance, if you have a lot of flowers maybe the trees will tell you to plant some different things etc. I think this is a really cool idea because most of the time puzzle games don’t insert narrative in this manner(there are some like maybe Girls like Robots I think it’s called something like that). But yeah I think my implementation of the text boxes are a little shady because I did them so quickly but people seem to not mind since the dialog is funny.

But yeah, I’m pretty happy with this game and if anything I learned bit and pieces that will make me better for next time!

Play the Game <3



One Response to “Garden State Post-Mortem”

  1. Mhm, some nice points about trying to balance the planning process and the “doing” process. I also tend to spend too much time in the planning phase myself, conceptualizing things that just aren’t always realistic in scope.

    I’m excited to try your game, I’ve enjoyed (at least conceptually) the games that are experimenting more with dropping win-states in favor of trying to create something that’s just… interesting to play with.

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