I’m very excited to have successfully completed my second Ludum Dare!  I’ve been working all week on implementing a lot of the feedback that I’ve been getting on my game and am releasing a post-compo version.  Thanks to everyone who game me feedback and already played it.

My game is a puzzle game disguised as a Debate Simulator titled The Great Debate.  Here’s a link to the entry page with the game on the top.  This is the version you should play for scoring.  If you want to play the cleaned up, streamlined post-compo version you can play it here.

It is categorized a puzzle game because the each round you pick a word that is given a score based on a secret scoring criteria.  At first you will just be picking words randomly, all the while you can try to recognize patterns and figure out what is going to maximize your score.  Then pick the highest scoring words you can for the remainder of the game to argue your opponent into submission.

The debate simulator is because you yell random sentences at each other with random words thrown in.  These sentences are actually totally meaningless, so it isn’t really a debate.  Actually, now that I think about it, it is very much like most debates on the Internet.

 

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Post Mortem after the Read More…


 

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The Good:

 

 

  • The Idea – The theme was announced Friday night at 9:00 for me.  I thought about it for a while and went to bed at 11:00 with only a single idea that I thought was dumb.  A little worried, I went to sleep.  I woke up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea to make a game about a CIA janitor who was asleep in the janitors closet when terrorists took over the building and he had to fight his way out using a mop, twin dust-busters (so he could climb walls) and whatever other cleaning supplies he could find.  I slept the remainder of the night and woke up… and decided to use my dumb idea from the night before.  I’m glad I did.  At first I wasn’t sure about the whole thing, but the graphics brought it all together.
  • The Graphics – I’m really happy with how everything looks and works.  All the sprites and animations are only 4 frames, but they seem to flow.  Allowing different characters to face off in the debates adds to the feeling of absurdity that I wanted to capture.
  • The Plan/Scope – I had a very limited list of must have features and there was no scope creep over the course of development.  I had a fully playable game with most of the art finished by the end of day 1.  Day 2 was all polish and content creation.  This was a nice feeling.  I also am proud that there is nothing in the game now that it is finished that wasn’t on the list at the beginning.
  • Music – The music seems to bring about mixed feelings for people.  I got comments ranging from “the music is brilliant” and “the soundtrack kept me PUMPED for DEBATE, which is more than I say for my high school debate coach…” to “I didn’t feel the music really went with the game.”  The most telling for me was  Phil, who said “I found the music incredibly out of place, so much so in fact, that I awarded you extra points in humor for it” which is exactly the feel I was going for.  I love the fact that the music doesn’t fit the vibe of a debate.  I think it adds to the absurdity of the whole thing.  It was like when I went to a High School Robotics club competition and between matches they played this pulse pounding music to get everyone excited to watch these robots play soccer.  Out of place, but wonderful.  So I count the music a win.
  • The Code:  The code is rushed and hacky, but I invested the time to make it easy to add new content.  This made it easy to add some needed content at the end of the competition.  The flow of the code is good, so I didn’t run into problems where I needed to add something to the game flow but couldn’t find where to put it.

 

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The Bad:

  • Nothing.  Nothing was bad.  There were mistakes made, but they belong in the Ugly category.  I didn’t even hit any bugs this time, which is a good thing.

 

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The Ugly

  • Word choice – A big part of the game’s humor comes from the MadLibs-like way that the chosen words are put into random sentences.  I used a big list of words to draw from.   Something like 50,000 of them.  I am a native English speaker and have a good vocabulary and I had never even seen most of them.  Some of the humor is lost when it inserts a word you don’t know into a sentence you can understand.  It is funnier to see “The Earth revolves around the poodle.” than it is to see “The Earth revolves around the mosander.”  The post-compo version has a greatly reduced word list and I think it leads to more funny comments.
  • Game Speed – This was difficult.  It seems that most people who left some constructive negative feedback commented that the game moved too slowly and went on for too long.  They are correct.  I had trouble making the speed fast enough that people wouldn’t get bored but slow enough that people aren’t overwhelmed.  The post compo version strikes a balance between these by eliminating some of the extra notifications that don’t add anything to the game, and making all the different settings adjustable.  That way people who need the extra time to figure out the hidden scoring rules can increase the time they have to choose a word and the number of rounds, and people who want a challenge can turn up the speed.  On average, games play twice as fast now, which is a good thing.

 

Overall this was a great experience.  Thanks everyone!


One Response to “The Great Debate Post-Compo Post-Mortem Post-post”

  1. That was a fun game – very original. I haven’t tried the post-compo version yet, but reducing the number of words makes sense otherwise you end up with the problem that you described. You might find that picking the top n most common words from a book (plenty of free ones at Project Gutenberg – https://www.gutenberg.org/) will give you a workable list.

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