#1 in Fun?? Guess I’d Better Do That Update!

Posted by (twitter: @pkenneydev)
January 5th, 2016 7:55 am

Thanks for #1!!

Thanks everyone for the kind words and generous votes for my game, PsychoTennis, which placed #1 in the compo for Fun.

I am already expanding the game so that it offers a deeper experience rather than just the fun quick play that it has now, and this gold metal is a real motivator.  If you’d like to hear when a new version comes out, then follow me on twitter @pkenneydev and I’ll keep you posted.

If you haven’t seen the game in action, you can get a quick idea from this shot here:

PsychoTennisClip

Shooting for Fun

Since I’m just a programmer (and I guess “designer” too?), Fun is always the category I’ve focused on across my 6 compo Ludum Dares.  Learning enough art and sound skills to get by has been a fantastic experience, but I never had a goal to win those categories.  So it really is a huge thrill for me to land in the top spot in Fun.

I learn new lessons every single time I do an LD, but as you can see, it has not been a straight upward trajectory:

FunChart

Failures and Lessons Along the Way

A few comments on the 2-game downward trajectory may be worth making.

In LD31 my fun score started to go down, but it was a valuable lesson.  That’s one my own favorite games, but I made it too confusing.  That game was actually my biggest success after I dramatically streamlined it in a post-compo build, as it was featured on GameJolt and got a small write-up on RPS, drawing several thousand players to try it.  So it’s a dip on the graph, but one I’m very happy with.

LD32 on the other hand was a total unmitigated disaster, and showed me that a GameJolt feature didn’t mean I couldn’t still get my ass kicked hard.  The core mechanic simply was not fun in that game, and honestly the ranking there was maybe a bit generous from you fine folks.  I think my main takeaway from that experience is that indirect methods of player control risk being too uncontrollable, and they can tank the entire experience by giving the player no agency or control.

So I was a bit scared with the tennis ball interaction in Psychotennis.  Could I make it FUN to hit the ball?  Could I make it CONTROLLABLE?  I spent an awful lot of time in this LD simply hitting the ball against the wall, over and over and over without even having any bricks, and trying to make the impact feel really good, sanding off any rough edges, and trying to create visibility into the way the ball was coming off the racket and why.

And apparently it paid off!  I feel like I slayed the demon of my LD32 failure with this win, and I’m excited to see what happens with a bit of an update.

Post-Compo Goals, and Call for Comments

My goals for the update:

  • Reward a longer play session with a more meaningful feeling of progression
  • Smooth out the difficulty curve once you’re past the first few levels.

I have some concrete ideas I’m in the middle of implementing, but if you have some thoughts of your own I would love to hear them in the comments below.

Also I’m having a kind of “now what?” feeling in terms of what to do with an updated version if I make a nice one.  I welcome any wisdom about that as well.

And is there something I can do to kind of bump the art up a level?  I’m somewhat happy with it but it’s not great.

Thanks again for the honor, everyone!  Don’t forget to follow @pkenneydev on twitter if you’d like to hear when there’s an improved version to play.


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