Room Builder Postmortem!

Posted by
December 31st, 2016 11:37 am

RoomBuilderScreenshot2

ROOM BUILDER POSTMORTEM

This was my first time entering a game jam but I managed to make a quite complex entry. Let’s analize the mistakes I made and what I did right during the development of Room Builder.


 

 

WHAT WENT RIGHT:

THE IDEA: Avoiding the unknown

After seeign the theme I brainstormed some ideas. I thought about making a platformer with only one level where a new obsticle is added every time you complete it, a game about customizing and improving a hotel room, a point-and-click , a top down zombie shooter…

But some of these seemed too complicated for me to do, so I decided to stick to the genres I had experience in and made a top-down shooter about repairing your room’s walls, shooting at enemies and building turrets, which is what I made.

I surely had experience on top-down shooters (this one was my forth!) but I underestimated the building part! Even though making the building mechanics was quite a challenge the core mechanics were easy to make cause I had the experience.

 

SCOPE: Make something you can actually make

Maybe I aimed a little high but still the scope was very small and totally doable in 48 hours. If I had chosen to make the “deep-storied” top-down zombie shooter full of cutscenes and different endings that I imagined during the brainstorm, I would’ve ran into problems. Choosing something relatively small, with simple mechanics is ideal for 48 hour challenges.

 

STICKING TO THE IDEA

I’ve heard of many people that didn’t like their idea and changed it in the middle of the competition. So when I was thinking about what game to make I made sure I chose something that I was able to make and that I would enjoy working on so I wouldn’t want to change plans later.

 

TIME MANAGEMENT: Starting with a minimum viable product

Everyone knows developers are bad at predicting the time they need. For that reason I made a list of the minimum features I had to implement to make my game something “decent enough to upload on LD” and I didn’t add anything else until those features were done. This ensured that if I ran out of time I could still upload my game. Once I had those I started making the music, the shop, the UI, improving the sprites… but I knew I had something playable.

 

 

WHAT WENT WRONG:

LACK OF PREPARATION: Not knowing the tools

I had played around a bit with sfx tools and a music generator, but that wasn’t enough. During the game jam I had to learn how to make gifs to make screenshots of my game, learn how to use the music generator (abundant-music.com) properly, how to make a song loop with Audacity (which took a hole hour!) and how to upload a game on itch.io. All of these could’ve been avoided just with some more preparation, and would’ve saved me a lot of time.

 

NOT FOCUSING ENOUGH ON GAME DESIGN

The idea and the pitch were clear, but I didn’t think much about the details: what items the monsters would drop, how you would make the turrets, what would be needed to make turrets…

So all of these were answered basicly with “whatever is easier to implement”.

The consequence of that was that the difficulty curve was irregular and some choices that were meant to be meaningful (like choosing to build walls or build turrets) were not meaningful at all (building walls was a waste of resources, turrets were extremely better).

That could’ve been solved with some trial and error, but I wasted my time on little details and improving the art, instead of making the game as fun as possible.

 


CONCLUSION:

Even though I made some mistakes during the development, Room Builder turned out very well and I’m really happy with the result. The difficulty curve is a bit odd: the game starts very hard and seems impossible but then once you’ve died a couple times and know what’s most efficient, the game becomes really easy. Appart from that, Room Builder is amazing and very fun. You totally need to play it.

———->  PLAY ROOM BUILDER HERE  <———-


THE FUTURE:

I haven’t stopped working on the game since its release on Ludum Dare. The bugs, difficulty problems and game design problems are fixed. I’m currently adding new features and improving the game. I plan to upload the final version in one month or so, and it will feel totally different. Follow me on Twitter to be updated on the development of Room Builder!

 

RoomBuilderScreenshot6

Last version of Room Builder (not available yet)

———->  PLAY ROOM BUILDER HERE  <———-


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