Postmortem – Space Dock

Posted by
April 21st, 2016 5:38 am

I’ve had such a good time reading other first-timers’ (and veterans’) experiences, I will put nervousness aside and share my own as well :)


Ohhh…that is a thing we’re supposed to do, isn’t it?

Yeah, I didn’t actually plan to participate at all.

I’ve been an LD lurker for a little while. The plan for this past weekend was to settle in watching my two favorite GameMaker tutorial makers stream the creation of their games. Was really quite looking forward to it.

Then, while looking over pre-LD footage they had up during their pre-dev sleep breaks, I had an idea. A very small-scope idea that I thus thought I could reasonably do in time. Before I could let anxiety get the better of me, I created an LD account (the name accurately reflecting my feelings ;)) and started work…6 or 7 hours into the thing.

It was completely worth it.

What went right:

Since the idea was so simple, my minimum viable prototype came together very quickly.

I playtested extensively throughout the dev process and afterward as a final check-up. When I used testing shortcuts such as winning the game at level 1, I made sure to do later testing passes once the shortcuts were removed, just to be sure everything still worked. This extra pass caught a drawing bug on level 5’s win state.

I made sure to stand up and walk around and stretch occasionally. I also got up and cooked when I was hungry which, rather than being a distraction, helped me clear my head and re-focus.

It was so much fun making my craptacular explosion animation. I also rather enjoyed designing the stitched-together abomination of a ship which I have lovingly christened Frankenship.


I feel a ton more comfortable with GameMaker’s draw functions now, just, a ton.

What went wrong:

I didn’t sleep. While I’m new to game dev, I am not new to programming (though rusty) and this is something which happens a lot when I really get into programming. I avoid caffeine, but even if I go to bed, I just lay there programming/designing in my head, unable to let go of something until it’s solved. I was so amped that I didn’t sleep for a while after finishing, either – and I was exhausted. Should have gone to bed just a few hours after I started, instead I worked on the game for 16-18 hours.

It had working music at one point, made at Otomata. But the game is so short that even with it only starting over on game restart it still got seriously obnoxious during my own playtesting – there were good odds it was going to annoy others, and it seemed extraneous. So I removed it, a decision I am comfortable with for this particular game.

I originally planned to put a little more detail into the station, windows on the rings and simple shading and such. But my art tools were such a pain to use (more on this later) that I chose to leave them simple, only adding a little detail to the center ring to draw attention to the goal. At least they aren’t distracting? 😉

Not entirely happy with the first expansion level for the ship, even if it does form the basis for all the other levels. It just doesn’t seem like a big enough change from the first level, serving as more introduction to the idea that the ship changes than any real increase in challenge.

I struggled with getting some characters such as apostrophes to work in my text, even after making sure I had included them in my font and font ranges. I couldn’t seem to get concatenation to work, and that annoyed me.

OMFG did I really put a grey moon behind my grey station that my mostly grey ship navigates?

What I hope to do better:

Uh, planning, mostly. If I’d known I was going to participate, my artwork probably wouldn’t have all been done in Microsoft Paint and GameMaker’s own Sprite and BG editors. Making the rings was far more obnoxious than it had any right to be. Definitely need to pick up some tools.

Sleep more, hopefully? If I do a larger game which will take more time, this may end up a moot point.

Hopefully next time I’ll make something which isn’t so dependent on Precise Collision detection in GameMaker. Although it was appropriate here, and the game is small, it seriously felt WEIRD for my first game to use that.

I had so much fun guys! Both developing my own game and playing others’. And I’ve been floored by the comments. My thought on making it was “Yes, this is technically a game, I am learning” but so many of you have said you had fun with it and that means a lot.

To any timid or nervous fellow lurkers out there, next time this comes around, dive in! It’s worth it :)

Space Dock can be found here.

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2 Responses to “Postmortem – Space Dock”

  1. Yumeito says:

    I had the same felling. This is my first time on ludum dare too and also my first game. Made with Game maker. check it out here

  2. HoldMeImScared says:

    Nice entry, Yumeito! :)

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