Usually I am quite early with writing my post mortems, but between work, deadlines, and of course more game development, I didn’t really have the time to write one. Frankly, I don’t really have time either way, but writing these is always so much fun. So here we go!

Ludum Dare #32 was… interesting. I think I have had the most fun with LD32 as I ever had with a game jam. This is actually somewhat surprising. Ever since I started doing Ludum Dares (only since LD28, I am still a greenie in that respect) I said to myself I would participate in each and every one of them from then on. Sadly, at LD31 my schedule did not allow participating, and it seemed that circumstances would also prevent me from making a game this time around. However, between celebrating birthdays and obligatory family visits, I managed to put something together: Satellites vs Aliens was born.

From the decision to actually start working on a game, things went very well. After two failures regarding graphics, I finally figured out something that worked, and the gameplay mechanics came along nicely as well. At the start of the first day, I hate a pretty nifty working prototype.

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There was one big problem though: it was way too hard to control, and frustrating was a better word to describe the game with than fun. This caused me to make major changes to the gameplay during the second day. This took away the time to actually do some of the cool polishing effects I wanted to, and also the balancing was a bit last-moment work, but eventually I ended up with a pretty cool game.

Since I took so long with writing my post mortem, I actually have the scores to discuss, so let’s quickly go over the categories.

#279 Innovation 3.50
Not too bad a score. A solid seven on a 1-10 scale. I think my idea was pretty innovative, but I admit that the general concept is not as original as some other people can come up with. Still, I think this is a decent score, and I am pretty happy overall with the related ranking.

#515 Fun 3.10
My lowest score and lowest rating of all categories, and you know what, I agree. The fun factor in the game was not as obvious. The concept was mainly focussed on humour and innovation: in the end the difficulty of playing the game made the fun factor a bit less. I think it would have been a lot worse if I had not changed over the gameplay the second day.

All in all, I think to make the game really fun, it would have required more tension, more things to do, more depth. This all was not feasible within a gameplay. I do not see any quick fixes that could have been made, and maybe this mean the concept itself was flawed. All in all, a 3.10 as lowest rating is still very respectable, and it once again makes it clear that fun is one of the hardest things to get right in a game on which you are only allowed to spend 48 hours.

#70 Theme 4.05
This must be the highest rating I have ever received! And on theme as well! This one got me pretty excited. I think it is really easy to just take a concept and fit it to a theme, instead of the other way around. This time around, I really got the idea from the theme; not something pulled of my huge list of existing ideas.

This (amongst – spoiler alert – audio) is probably also my first top 100 rating in any category ever, and I am really proud of it being the “Theme” category. To me, this feels like a victory on its own.

#197 Graphics 3.71
As I have already mentioned before, graphics was also one of my struggling points. During the first Ludum Dare, I started doing pixel art, but the mistake I made was making everything too big and detailed, thus spending a lot of time on it that should have been spent otherwise. This got slightly better during my second entry, where I just winged it to spend time on the areas I was better at. Only now was I able to establish a graphics style in my game that worked: it’s consistent, it’s clear, it does the job, and gives an atmosphere to the game. In addition, I only spent a small amount of time on the graphics, which meant that in the end, the graphics were probably done in the most time-efficient way of all aspects of the game.

#53 Audio 3.88
So… this is the category I understood least. Sure, I didn’t have too bad music and I am really happy with how well the sound effects turned out. Of course, space games are relatively easy to make sounds for I think, since there is a lot of pews and boops and booms and bleeps. The audio… I didn’t spend too much time on it. In the end I decided to just go with it because I was out of time. Apparently people enjoyed what I did anyway, or maybe they liked to give me a high score for the mute button in the corner to turn off the awful music 😛 Either way, I think music would be the category I could most improved on, so despite already scoring high here, I will try and set some time aside to get more used to using music generation tools and software like Garageband.

#344 Humor 3.13
Probably the most disappointing score, since I think the idea of sending skyscrapers with boosters duct-taped to them to push satellites out of orbit is brilliant. Alright, maybe not the most practical idea ever, why not blow the aliens to pieces with the skyscrapers itself, and then why are the skyscrapers still needed, but who cares? I thought humor was about not making any sense at all. Either way, what I get from this is that the humor wasn’t really noticeable in the game itself, and that is definitely something to consider next time around. Good idea, poor execution?

#152 Mood 3.53
What is there to say about mood… there is no storytelling in my game, there is no emotion in my game, and who knows the exact definition of “vibe”?

#231 Overall 3.55
Overall, I am really happy with the result. My game scored better than ever before, and I really feel that I am making progress in adapting skills that are outside of my comfort zone. I seem to finally have gotten the hang of making simplified graphics that work. I am still really surprised by my high score for Theme, and this only makes me feel even better about the whole experience, and it makes me wonder what I could have done with the full time.

This time around I did not livestream. In a way this really makes things easier, because you are slightly more flexible. It is also easier to focus with a livestream on though, so I am not sure yet whether I prefer with or without. Something I will definitely look into is making a timelapse, because that seems to be a thing, and we’ll see what comes from that.

In the end, I had a great weekend, I have added a great experience to my repertoire. I am definitely looking forward to further develop my skills and to be able to apply that in my real life occupation. Despite working on this game in some spare hours squeezed between other obligations, and thus not really being part of the community this time, I want to thank everyone for making this Ludum Dare another success, and hopefully I’ll be back for real next time!

View my entry here

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