Welcome to my Room – Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @tinyruin)
December 16th, 2016 12:50 pm

This was a really nice Ludum Dare, where I experimented with hand-painted graphics and ended up creating a little, personal game.
As this post mortem would spoil your experience, I suggest to check out the game first here: http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-37/?action=preview&uid=10000 and then come back and read.


What went right

1. Hand-painted graphics

I created all graphics using felt-pens and a simple ball-point pen, which was a pretty relaxing experience.


My process looked like this:

  • look up real-life/photo reference
  • “block out” colors & shapes first, so the felt-pen doesn’t mix with the ballpoint pen
  • create a messy outline around the object (so it looks “drawn”)
  • scan, transparency from white, import

If you want to look me “over the shoulder” creating the graphics, I made a timelapse video here: Youtube
I then combined the graphics with a paper texture I created some time ago and brought everything together in GIMP. Here is also “baked in” the light of the windows and room.

( Ingame I put light, middleground and background into different layers to create a bit of depth in the scene)


2. Personal Meaning

While the game can not be seen as an 1:1 representation of my life, there is a lot of symbolism pointing towards me and my thoughts.
This made me very vulnerable, but also created some of the most meaningful reactions I ever got on a game project.

3. Sound Design

A large part of why the game seems to many relaxing and atmospheric can be accounted to the sound and specifically the music.

I used the wonderful “Peace is king” album by bbatv (Creative commons). He created the album while recovering from anxiety and depression, wanting to create something that “promotes recovery and healing” as much as possible. I think this personal background made the music really meaningful and touching and linked nicely with my game.
For the sounds itself I used some out of my own sound library and recorded the ones I hadn’t in there yet.


What went wrong

1. Time management

I forgot to plan in times for breaks. One day I also woke up way too late, which I had to make up for in the end sprint.
Most of the actual gameplay was done on the night of the last day up until 5am. My neighbour left to work before I went to bed that day ^^

2. Deciding on an idea early on

I made the mistake with multiple Ludum Dares now. First I focus on the style and then I really struggle with the gameplay, usually around the evening of the first day.
Quite some frustration there, but it turned out really nice in the end ^^

3. Animation & Interactivity

Some people describe the game as poem, but there really is not much opportunity for the player to express themselves. Ludipe shared a really interesting perspective on this:
“Perhaps it’d be cool to put those items in different rooms that you can explore in any order; it’s always nice to let players express themselves through gameplay, even if they can only choose the order in which they find things. Exploration and discovery are powerful feelings :-)”
Another thing that was critized was the lack of animations. I created only simple character animations, since hand-drawn animations take time.
I ended up using procedural animation for the character to save time (GIMP’s iWarp filter has an animation feature). The effect is interesting, but the tool is really not too advanced.


For the next Ludum Dare ..

  1. For the jam, personal asset libraries are super useful! So I want to start again extending mine.
  2. Plan in time for breaks.
  3. MAYBE not work on the style first 😀
  4. Learn tools for procedural/bone-based animation

So all in all I really enjoyed this Ludum Dare! Definitively one of my favorites so far.

I hope you found this post mortem helpful, and learned some things you can apply to your own process! :)

If you want to see more of my art, you can take a look at www.tinyworlds.org.
I’m also photographing tiny worlds besides making games :)


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