DOE / LD26 / POST MORTEM
Hi everyone, so here we go, time for the Post Mortem. My game is called Doe and playable here :
Just to set a bit of background on the LD26. I’m a 3d artist in my everyday job and I code as a hobby on my spare time. This 26th edition was a good opportunity for me because my last finished LD was the 23rd and since the beginning of January I jumped to C#/XNA, then on C++ where I started my own 2d/3d game engine a few weeks ago. So I got back on AS3 with the idea that I would work better now. We’ll see that in the conclusion.
Here’s a quick breakdown on both days:
Saturday: I wake up with a theme that I completely dislike at first, but there you go, huge brainstorm. Some ideas started to flash and pretty quickly I had a “universe” in mind. Then ideas for the gameplay, it was enough to start coding. By the end of the day I nearly had the 3 first levels of the game set up which was really cool. I was able to play it with decent length and different mechanisms.
Sunday: That day was much longer than I thought, the game was running well but the last level is more “story-driven” and even if it’s really short I used a lot of time. And it’s far from what I imagined. But still I managed to finish the complete gameplay elements something like 12 hours before the deadline so I had more time than usual to work on better graphics, make music, menu screens and all of the details that seem endless.
So, let’s conclude:
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- Coding: As I said earlier, I work now on C++ so getting back to AS3/Flashpunk was a breeze. Had to recall a few stuff but the game never suffered of any major bug or problems. The code structure began to “fall” somewhere in the middle of Sunday where I did a lot of temp/dirty stuff to be fast and not change previous code. So I could have been much cleaner on this side but I still managed to move forward without getting lost.
- Concept: I guess the theme is hard to find inside of Doe, we’ll get to that later, but the brainstorm started from that word anyway and I’m really happy with what came out of it. The whole universe that I imagined is in the end much bigger than what is exposed in the game. So that leaves me with a new story inside of my head and something that could be crafted into a bigger game. On the other hand it also gives the result a new dimension. My previous games in LD were usually boring because the mechanic was simple and repetitive (every time it’s better in my head but can’t do it in 48h), here it’s I believe more interesting and it’s not just one mechanic but more that fit inside of the story.
- Prototype approach: It seems obvious to work this way, but as an artist I always like to do a bit of art. I can’t stand to work with just shapes. I did it anyway this time for the simple fact that I had a lot to code to get the full game even without art. That leaves me room afterward to make the whole graphic overhaul. I’ll come back on this on “what went wrong” also.
- Art: It greatly comes to the fact that I worked on a prototype first, so I was able to have the full game and be less stressed about taking time to make cool graphics music and all.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- Theme: As I said earlier, the theme is kind of blurred inside of the game. What I wanted to express is the story of a man that want to fight minimalism with his dreams. And as he is seen as an enemy he is kept captive by the order in charge of the society and is prevented to dream anymore. It’s a metaphor on my creative process for this LD, I disliked the theme and was horrified to see a lot of people going with Mondrian art (like, really). So I wanted to get away with that, so as Doe. But I think I failed into telling that side of the story, maybe because I ran out of time, maybe because the scope of the game is too little and didn’t want to have too much text.
- Narrative: A bit like the previous point, I do believe that I’m still bad at telling stories. Not just the theme, but the complete Doe story, and the universe. The two soldiers chat at the beginning is an example. I love how game like Bioshock tell you the story with an indirect way, and it looks easy but in the end I’m no writer and it feels. You have to pick the right words without being too direct. I still have plans on story driven game so I’ll definitely train on this part.
- Prototype approach: I told you it was wrong also. The dark side of the approach (to me, on this LD) is that I was out of any planning. I managed to finish the game, but at some point I started to go off and wanted more and more and more. The final version for example miss a lot of sound effects, because I tweaked music, I tweaked graphics, etc. I missed some kind of structure or time fractioning to advance in a better way.
Stay tuned, the dramatic conclusion to this epic weekend right after a new screenshot !
Doe leaves me this bittersweet impression that it can be more, but in my artist work I always feel this way. It’s disturbing and sometimes frustrating but that also the sign that I’m interested in what was made and know that I can progress on my skills. My two previous games were bad, I was happy to complete something, but they were hollow and I was able to recognize that as soon as I published them. I think this time Doe shows something more, it looks more like a game. To me, it’s also the result of what I explained in the beginning of this long text (is there anyone still here ?). I was more confident in my coding skills and it really felt like something I know well with art, that moment where the tool starts to fade, when you know it and you can stay focused on the game itself. It’s the first time I felt that and it’s amazing. Last but not least, I’m working on my own engine and it was great to get out of it a little bit and come back on another library, Flashpunk. It helped refocus on my own work, see what are the strong points and maybe the weaker one. And it gave me that real motivation to work on it as much as I can to be able one day to craft an LD game with it.
Thanks for reading, hope you liked the game and see you next time !
(if you haven’t played it yet, let me give you the link again : Doe – Web/Flash)