Aglæca Post-mortem

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August 25th, 2015 12:47 am

I actually was forced to finish my Jam entry late last night, but I held off posting about it until now because I only now have been able to post a Windows build of it for people to play. You can check it out at my entry page.

Aglaeca's map screen

Aglaeca’s map screen

Aglæca is a game inspired by Grendel, the oldest monsters in English-language literature, and also by the 1971 novel of the same name (by John Gardner), which is excellent and you should read it. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

You’ve read it now? Good. In any case, I didn’t hew too closely to the novel in my game (or to the original story from a thousand-odd years ago, either).

Because I was only able to spend about 15 hours developing it, the gameplay is much more limited that the idea behind it. Here are some things the game should have had, but didn’t:

  • Multiple monsters to choose from (though Grendel would always be the one I designed around).
  • People travelling around the map who you might run into outside of settlements.
  • People founding additional settlements.
  • The different tribes going to war with each other.
  • The settlements being able to do something with the lumber and iron they collect (they were supposed to build settlement improvements, and weaponry, respectively).
  • An actual combat minigame, either action or strategy, rather than the computer just crunching numbers and telling you how you did.
  • More awesome quotes from Grendel, as well as quotes from Beowulf.
  • Stats other that health/strength, such as cunning and speed.
  • One or more stats (possibly hidden) that keep track of how awful you are – when you are hungry, for instance, do you steal food from the village, or do you just kill and eat a villager? Mind, you’re always bad. This is more about how you are bad.
  • Multiple endings, possibly influenced by the aforementioned hidden stats.
  • Music.
  • Different tilesets for the different seasons.
  • LOTS of balance tweaks. Lots and lots.

So, given that it’s missing all that stuff, is it still a good game? Well, you tell me! Personally, while it’s not everything I had hoped for, I’m pretty happy with what I have so far, as a building block for something bigger.

For this to be a real post-mortem, I need to include what-went-wrong and what-went-right sections,  I suppose.

What Went Wrong

I can already say that my biggest mistake was wasting several precious hours on a procedural island coastline generation algorithm that went nowhere. The problem isn’t just that I didn’t make it work; the bigger problem is that even if I had made it work, it wouldn’t have really added much. If I hadn’t wasted that time, I could have gotten one or more things on the list above in there, instead.

Most of the rest of the problems fundamentally came down to the fact that I was too busy to spend the full time block working on it. Oh, well.

What Went Right

In the end, I really liked the theme. It’s not one I had voted for (in fact, as I recall I down-voted it), but once I thought of basing the game on Grendel rather than, say, Bowser, everything sorta clicked.

I’m also just really glad that I was able to submit anything at all. I haven’t worked on any game code for months at this point, and it felt really good to get back into the swing of it.

Anyway, congratulations to everyone else who submitted an entry, and I look forward to playing some of them myself!

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