AEterno: Postmortem

Posted by
May 4th, 2015 1:55 am

As a first time participant.  My experience with the Ludum Dare has been bittersweet.  Although reasonably well prepared, I had few expectations going in as to how I’d fare.

That being said, it was a huge success!  I built a game in 48 hours, I didn’t lose a ton of sleep, and I didn’t work right to the last minute!  I imagine some of that steadfastness was due to being lucky enough to attend the Seattle Games Cooperative meetup for Ludum Dare 32, hosted by the fine folks at Atom Jack.

Now that the dust has settled, the bittersweet part comes in figuring out what to do with my newly-proven skills.  If I can finish a game in 48 hours (albeit a cursory one), what excuse do I have not to follow through and get something to market?


With regard to AEterno, here’s what I thought went well and could have been better.

What Worked Well

  • Gameplay feel:  Multiple users said they enjoyed smacking enemies around, complimented the fluidity of the attack animations.
  • Simple mechanics/win condition:  Smack enemies into the spikes to kill.  Smack them all into the spikes? You win!
  • Programmer graphics/animations worked OK:  Lacking significant art skills, I felt overly-accomplished in just being able to cobble together rudimentary humanoid/monster/goomba shapes and apply transform-based animations to them.  Not having crashed and burned or wasted tons of time in this area was a huge win for me.

What didn’t work well

  • Way too short:   Victory can be achieved in just a few minutes once the control scheme is learned
  • Controls not intuitive:   As a rabid fan of the Smash Bros series, I was surprised by how few people understood how to use the control scheme effectively.
  • Feels unfinished:   Due to a number of factors.  One being that an endboss was ‘in the works’, but I had to scrap the idea since I only had a few hours left, in favor of solidifying and submitting the game.  Another being that the ‘goombas’ just weren’t that fun to fight against and were too numerous in the first level.  Thirdly, when you die you’re sent back to the beginning, making the second point even more problematic since you’d need to ‘sweep the  floor’ with the goomba-like enemies again to get another shot at completion.  I think this was the number-one thing that I observed that caused players to give up before playing to completion.


Closing Thoughts

I learned a lot during this Ludum Dare – though rather than evolving AETerno, I think I will take things one step further and revamp/recreate the whole game in 3d.  The game begs to be taken to the next level – with true omnidirectional top-down combat rather than fakey 2.5d isometric top down, and ragdoll-like physics to round out the experience as you batter your foes.  It’s going to take a lot more than 48 hours of effort, but it will be worth it!

If you haven’t played AEterno  yet, here’s the link!
AEterno: Warrior of Light


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