“Emily Morrison’s Garden” (post-mortem)

Posted by (twitter: @Ludipe)
September 1st, 2016 11:07 am

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I’m almost recovered from Ludum Dare, which means it’s about time I write a post-mortem, but before that I’ll add here the progress reports we published over the weekend.

Day #1: A game about plants and sundials

Day #2: Everything is ready-ish

The game was made by Rubén, Celer and myself.

So let’s do a quick recap of the overall experience. We got to a local LD gathering to enjoy jamming along some friends of ours, which also means you goof around with everybody until the theme is announced, something I don’t usually do since I prefer to sleep and start the jam fresh.

We discussed a few concepts and decided to go for a gardening/harvesting game, which I liked, in most jams I tend to make games more focused around content creation (level design, narrative, etc) and this time I got to spend more time working on systems, which is nice for a change.

I believe we worked for about 3 hours before deciding it was time to sleep. At that point the project looked like this:

celer

Day 1 was mostly about creating the system and testing it. On day 2 we focused on implementing all the art and eyecandy while trying to find some time to balance the game. Day 3 felt really short (nothing new) and we spent our time fixing bugs, adding the last details, implementing audio, adding a score system, a title screen, etc.

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What went wrong

  • My biggest issue with the game is that the rules are hard to pick up. I don’t think it’s too complex (in fact, I believe it could have ussed some add-ons) but the truth is that throwing all those mechanics at the player’s face as soon as the game starts isn’t the best thing to do. If this were to be a content-based game we would have made a first level to teach them the mechanics, but since this project was based around systems we would have needed to include a tutorial and we didn’t really have time for that. At least we got all the help/instructions in-game, so players don’t have to read the description to find out  how everything works (otherwise I think nobody would stand playing it).
  • UI. Could have been better, we didn’t have time to iterate it. There was too much information we wanted to display and I’m pretty sure there was a better layout than the one we chose.
  • I had to throw away part of my work (and re-do) it while implementing art.
  • Seasonal change remains too “blocky”, but improving that would have taken many hours.

What went right

  • Closed game, polished and with just a few bug reports.
  • We didn’t have to cut off gameplay features.
  • We got it working soon to focus on polish and art implementation.
  • We were handling quite a lot of assets (4 types of tree, 5 different growth stages for each one and 4 different seasons) but fortunately communication was smooth and this didn’t became a big issue.
  • We enjoyed working on it.
  • Slept enough hours.
  • Jammed with friends!
  • Finished a couple of hours early (which means we could get back home on public transport :-P)

I’m happy with what we made. Sure, there’s a couple of things I’d like to change or add, but felt pretty decent to me, something that I don’t get to achieve on every jam. So far players are saying what we expected, they liked the mechanics but it takes a few games to get used to them.

-> Click here to play “Emily Morrison’s Garden” <-

Now that I’m done with the post-mortem I’m gonna start playing the games you made over the weekend. I’m starting with the ones from devs I know, but I’d like to play about 30 games over September. Let a link to your game on a comment so I can check it out! :-)


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