(Tail Power) – Results & Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @@maarten_engels)
January 6th, 2016 3:00 am

Hi all,

LD34 was my first ever Ludum Dare or Game Jam for that matter. And boy, did I have fun.

Anyway, I would like to share some of my experiences and talk a bit about the results for my entry: Tail Power (Compo).

screenshot2_small

What went well?

  • Submit a complete game &&
  • Within 48 hours &&
  • That is fun and playable
  • Stuck to the plan: keep it simple
  • The feeling of accomplishment after clicking the “Submit” button.

In other words: my main goal was to actually deliver within 48 hours. I had no idea how long everything was going to take, so chose to play it safe. This meant to make sure to keep the game design simple. To use technology I’m familiar with and don’t try anything risky. Also, I knew I had to find time to trim the tree somewhere in those 48 hours and also spend some time with family. Note: submitting actually takes quite some time, so I was happy to have allowed enough time for that.

What didn’t went well

  • Input controls and build targets: I chose Unity WebGL as the main deployment target. On my Mac / Safari combination this has some issues with control. For instance, the standard fire button (left-control) and an arrow key trigger Exposé (switching between virtual screens), so you can’t really use left-control reliably on a Mac together with arrow keys. “No problem! I’ll just use the [space] key to fire then!”. Nice try, space key in Safari scrolls the page one page down. So I ended up using the ‘/’ key to fire.
  • A frame within a frame: the actual game is hosted on itch.io within an embedded frame. This frame embeds the Unity WebGL page. My target screen sizes (960×600, Unity default for WebGL) ended up with introducing several scroll bars. Worse, using the arrow keys started scrolling the frames in addition to controlling the player character on screen. What a mess. I ended up adding WASD to control the player in addition to arrow keys.
  • Unity lighting: I wanted to use baked lights to indicate blue and red zones on the play field. However, lights also needed to illuminate the player as it moved around the play field. I tried using light probes but couldn’t get it to work. So, I ended up using about 12 real time point lights. That didn’t help performance. In the post compo version I finally settled with using one directional light and color grading.
  • Could have done more: even with trimming the tree and family affairs, there was still time to maybe add some more stuff.

Results

First off, thank you to everyone who played and rated my game. Much appreciated!

My entry ended up somewhere in the middle of the pack. Which I’m pretty happy with actually.

results

I’m not surprised by the relatively low score for innovation: in the end this is just snake with a gun strapped on. I did not take any risks, something that will be a goal for me in April.

Apart from the scores what really helps are the comments some of you left about the game: what you liked and didn’t and suggestions for improvements. These really help make a better game. So thank you to all who left feedback.

Final thoughts

I can’t begin to describe how much fun participating was. Next time I’ll definitely make sure to freeze all family related activities during the time of the Compo. See you in April!

You can play the game here

 


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