Path of a Psychopath – A Post-Mortem

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August 29th, 2015 9:12 am

I am incredibly happy with this summer’s Ludum Dare results. Not only feedback has been overwhelmingly positive in areas we only started experimenting in, the game managed to get 3.11 on kongregate which is huge new record for us and motivation to keep ever going.

Now, what is this game, you may ask?
It’s an interactive story with a somewhat uncommon interpretation of the theme: instead of straight up Godzilla-style destruction we went for the more subtle dictatorship-building kind.

What went well:

  • We kept it simple. This may sound silly but it feels like the hardest part of every LD is planning small, then cutting most of it off to fit in time. We focused a lot on doing the MVP (Minimal Viable Product). We made just enough conversations and cutscenes for the story to have a beginning, an arc, an ending. We could have added so many more, had the ideas for them all. But rather than shipping a game with 8 incomplete and ugly and inconsistent levels, we decided to have the 4 we had and polish them.
    We added effects, refined the texts, had playtesters fish out the bugs and try to break the game by clicking everywhere they shouldn’t be clicking. This all ended in a much better experience all-together. Keep in mind, a longer game is not necessarily better.
  • We dared to go for minimalism.
    This saved us both time, effort and probably made the game better all around.
    Instead of full figures and faces, we used silhoutettes. Easier to draw (art is a weaker side of our team compared to the visual wonders some others make here :) ) and it allows the player to place the characters of their own imaginings into their place. We had a very clear idea of how our monster would look but others from all around the world would probably have different ideas so we settled for an evil-looking hat.
    The other artistic decision was making the game full grayscale. It ties in well to the old-timey atmosphere and generally dark storyline and also saves us the color-picking effort.
  • Teamwork. This is the 6th Ludum Dare the full team takes part in and by this point, we work together really well. There is a general sense of who is a master of what and how much progress we should be making by the nth day and the need to ask each other what we should be doing once we finished X task is smaller every time.
    Despite our scheludes being all over the place, we managed to make our best game yet.
  • Shine, polish and juice. We added a bunch of effects that really help the atmosphere appear. See one below for example.

What went wrong:

  • The aforementioned scheludes. We didn’t plan ahead enough for the LD and families and stuff so I believe if we had more working time we could have done some more features and scenes.
  • Spaghetti code. We did not have a conversation-framework so we made one on the fly – making the final debate that has a large conversation tree instead of the randomly rolled standard kind of the first 3 was a lot of pain and copy-pasting. Seriously. For lack of better ideas to name them, I made 40 functions with the names one, two, three… forty.
  • Recording device. Our music is praised a lot in comments but it was recorded with a camera that was lying around the house. It would probably be even more gorgeous with an actual microphone.
Very sinister!

Very sinister!

Gameplay

Gameplay

 

Play the game by clicking here!

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