No Time to Stop is a classic puzzle where you can’t turn until you hit a wall, with an additional 10 seconds time limit. This was not just to follow the theme, it added something I love in puzzle game: optimizing solution. You also need to smash keys in fast sequence, which I am not a fan in music games, but here I liked it, because instead of simply following a track, you actually design the sequence and replay it using both memory and quick thinking. The game was done in less than 24 hours and has 10 levels offering a hard challenge.
What went wrong:
Lost 24H on another idea (a dirt racing game). The car drifting mechanic was done when I realized that a 10 seconds lap was too short to be fun. I scrapped that and fell back to something more easy to tweak and simple enough to be coded in 24H. Don’t give up, try plan B instead.
How to win. I suspect that some players didn’t understand how I intend the game to be played. You are supposed to ignore the time limit when searching the solution and then replay it quickly. I think some people directly stop and retry after 10 seconds, probably because it looks like you are supposed to do that (death sound and a red retry message, even if you are still free to move). Others seem to plan mentally before the start. I admire that chess-like spirit and it’s how I designed the level in my editor, but it makes some levels very hard. Don’t assume that players will play the “fun way”.
The difficulty. Because 10 seconds was a fixed limit, it was hard to balance the levels (IMHO that was a general problem with the theme). So, during development I tested with 8 seconds and added hotkeys to tweak that time limit if needed. Unfortunately this is not visible in the interface and some people will not see it in the description. Always show hotkeys in-game.
What went right:
Easy to code. This time it was really refreshing to have a game straightforward to code. My previous LD always had some tricky physics problems, which are often hard to tweak. Here, the core mechanic is very simple, and adding special blocks was just few lines. Pick an idea easy to fully prototype early.
The graphics. During most of the development, it was just a grid of colored squares, good enough to prototype, maybe even to release. I only added sprites in the last few hours. A simple trick with good payoff was the line behind the player. This obviously helps to follow your moves, but before that, there was no animation (for fast gameplay and easier coding), and that tiny effect really added a lot of life to the game. Always add a cool effect to the main action.
The levels. I really had a lot of fun creating them, and a simple pixel editor was enough. I am also happy about their number and variety. Without testers, it’s hard to balance but they are small, so hopefully determined players can finish the game. Making levels is fun and important, keep time for that.
This LD started bad but ended well. My advice to people who give up during LD because their initial ambitious project failed: instead try to make a very simple idea in the short amount of time left, it’s very fun too.