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A More Sincere Post-Mortem of my Post-Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @CriticalMammal)
Monday, May 4th, 2015 7:26 am

I’ve already done a post mortem for the game I made this Ludum Dare, but on returning to the website to check my “stats” there was a certain… nagging feeling. Like there’s some kind of genuine information I can share with other people that never really came across before. Partially because in retrospect, I largely wrote to get a brief amount of attention and additional ratings rather than being informative. I mean, I try to balance both a bit but there’s always that looming “link your game for more plays” feeling.

With judging winding down and feeling very content with the amount of feedback I’ve gotten, I think I can make a more sincere post about what I’ve been able to take away from this game jam. I’ll try to not go over specific details about my game, and instead focus on other aspects.

Community

Perhaps the most important aspect of my participation this time around was leaving feedback on other games and getting more of a sense of the community than I have in the past. I tended to leave fairly massive comments on most of the games I played, paragraphs on paragraphs of detailed feedback outlining my thoughts. I would easily pour half an hour, or even close to an hour over just one game… playing it… typing out some thoughts… playing it over a bit… tossing around thoughts in my head… typing them out. I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to do this, even with games that wouldn’t necessarily be considered good or finished… but it just felt nice. Some of the responses I got in return were some of the most memorable aspects of participating this time around.

Feedback Loop

I touched on this in my game post mortem, but I think it’s a fairly important part of what actually led to me loosing a lot of motivation and hitting a small bout of depression after the first week of rating games. I currently have 61 games rated, and I left a large amount of feedback on most of them, which was done within the first week… and ended up actually stressing me out trying to meet “quotas” for playing X amount of games per day. I felt the need to get as much feedback as possible on my game, even though I already was pretty aware of the shortcomings of my entry. Now, this led to me getting a lot of similar comments on my entry about those expected shortcomings… over… and over… and over again. I stressed myself out initially trying to get feedback to later continue to be de-motivated because the feedback kept reaffirming my initial failures. I think the appropriate course of action would have been to work harder on the post jam version and making meaningful progress improving what I did, rather than trying to get additional feedback on a game execution I knew was fairly flawed. Even if the post jam version wasn’t played very much I would have felt much better about what I continued to do rather than feeling bad about the feedback loop I kept getting. I don’t need any more feedback on my game, I feel like I know and understand where it went wrong. I feel good coming to terms with that and am considering playing a couple more games just to leave constructive feedback for people who need it. This relates back to what I said earlier about community, and how rewarding it can be just having that interaction.

The People That Made This Great For Me

I’m going to link the games of the people who responded back to me that really made me happy I took out the time to critique their games, even just small thanks were appreciated (in no particular order):

Speechless – by @MonoS

Quiver of Claws – by @Ben_Myres

Garden State – by @cbear_wallis

You Can Shave the Baby – by @chikun_dev

Paper Cut

GLOV3.1 – by flummox3d

Kodama – by @geekdrums

Slug Fest – by @JamesMBorden

Lost Fame – by joe40001

Sepulcher of the Unicorn – by @jon_fisch

Magnetic Fields – by oparisy

Curiosity – by @IanMakesGames

A Knight and A Line – by @SquekaA

Crowd Control – Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @CriticalMammal)
Sunday, April 26th, 2015 1:51 pm

Ah, it’s taken me a while to do a post mortem. This was my first solo jam, I’ve always worked with a partner for Ludum Dare so when my go-to collaborator wasn’t available (busy with another game project) I decided I’d try a go solo. We normally work under the name Hoqjed

Into the Storm… Alone – Doing this thing by yourself is a slightly different beast. There was a point mid-jam… when I had an alright amount of progress programming-wise, and I still needed to add in art and audio. I sat and thought to myself “what I finish now is all that the game will be, there’s no one to help with assets, or help with the logic, or help scrounge for audio”. I’m accustomed working solo in my personal non-jam work… but the time constraints really emphasize it in a way I’ve never really experienced before. Ultimately, I’m really proud of what I was able to do, and I’m thankful for my friends still taking time out of their busy schedules to help test the game along the way.

The Concept – I settled on the idea of riot control because I liked how it’s a bit of a grey area determining how to handle that kind of situation. I also liked the idea of trying to capture that tense atmosphere. After a little bit of research, I learned more about Active Denial System and read somewhere that these sort of things are developed to be more “social media friendly”. Whether that’s true or not I don’t know, but I found it fascinating and decided my in-game weapon would be a sort of an exaggerated version. The exaggeration came in the form of Big Brother-y emotional control over the crowd.

What went right – Well, the concept for one was surprisingly solid. I’m really happy I was able to come up with an idea that resonated with me and also could lead to interesting and free-form game mechanics. The art style came together somewhat well considering the little amount of time I spent on that portion, and I was able to find some really nice audio and edit it to create a really nice atmosphere overall. The crowd logic also turned out well. There were a lot of little nuances to their reactions… like how they can run away, take a breather off-screen and then come back even more enraged. I also liked that I kept the game open to be explored, rather than demanding players approach the situation a specific way. I leave it completely up to players to decide what to do and act less like a guiding hand and more as an onlooker. The “win”/lose messages presented to you after the scenario has ended are very cold, and don’t necessarily take a stance on the players actions. I’d like to think that this allows the person playing to reflect on their own actions more, and have a more personal experience with the game.

What went wrong – The crowd reactions and giving people feedback on what was happening. This is the downfall of the original submission, and for everything that went right this takes away a lot of the positive aspects. I really learned how important it is to not only create interesting game systems… but to give feedback for how said system reacts to input. I still continue to get comments about how difficult it can be to determine the effects of the emotional changes on the crowd. I was aware of this issue the night before submission, but I just wasn’t able to fix it in time. The feedback for how you’re expected to use the weapon could have also been improved.

Post Jam and the Shadow of Failure – I’ve created a post jam version that addresses a LOT of the issues with the crowd reactions people were experiencing. They now animate based on their strongest felt emotion (or don’t if none of the emotions are high/low enough). There are still issues with the actual balance of the game, but overall it’s a much improved experience. But for all the changes I make to the post jam version, I still continue to get comments about same problems with the original submission. I know that most people are just going to play the original, get burnt out because of its issues, and move on. But it’s rather annoying having an improved version and still getting complaints about the original’s issues. It feels like to some degree I just can’t get away from my initial failures with the game.

I’ll continue to work and improve the post jam version and maybe make another post about it when it’s more where I want it to be. Future plans include improvements all around to the art and color scheme, tank animations for damage level, more balanced crowd reactions, maybe a day/night cycle since I’ve actually already got the art in for that (it was just never implemented).

Check out the game here:

http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-32/?action=preview&uid=26681

PostJamVersion1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crowd Control – Added Post Jam version

Posted by (twitter: @CriticalMammal)
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015 4:32 pm

I’ve done some tweaks to the game and the crowd reactions are much more noticeable than they were in my original submission. They now animate based on their strongest emotion and react more heavily to the effects in some cases. There are other minor tweaks also. I’ll be continuing work and updating the game at least over the course of the next couple days, since I want to see the concept through to a point where I’m satisfied with it.

I think I may have actually introduced new bugs too, but the gameplay differences are worth posting about until I fix them. Also I noticed the performance over iterations of playing the game drops, so it may be best to refresh the page when you want to play another round until I figure it out (sorry for the inconvenience).

PostJamVersion1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crowd Control – First Solo Jam Completed!

Posted by (twitter: @CriticalMammal)
Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 12:17 am

I’m really excited, because this was my first time doing a game jam solo (I’ve participated collaboratively in LD before). I opted to submit to the Jam so I’d have more time to polish and get things straight.

 

Exploring, and Controlling Chaos

This went really well overall. It was stressful, but I really liked the concept and the whole atmosphere this game gives off. It’s about riot crowd control, and allows you to explore ways to disperse and end a riot. There’s some freedom to it, and I like that I didn’t force any specific style or goals around HOW you do it. There are both violent and more passive alternatives to “winning”.

The weapon can do serious damage to people in the crowd via microwaves, but the main twist is that it allows you to modify their emotional states as a trade-off for injuring them. It’s an interesting dynamic balancing how much you hurt them in order to get them to do what you want, and it’s also a bit of a dark concept.

Check it out for yourself and tell me how things end!

http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-32/?action=preview&uid=26681

 

SubmissionDay1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – Crowd Control

Posted by (twitter: @CriticalMammal)
Sunday, April 19th, 2015 5:50 pm

Day 2 progress on my game. I’m realizing I could probably actually submit this as a compo entry if I rushed to the end… but I think I’ll take the extra day to keep refining it and submit is a a jam entry.

It focuses on riots and non-lethal crowd control… well… it will anyway. The weapon will be a sort of microwave mind control thing. I thought it’d be interesting to be able to alter the emotions of the crowd and whatnot. Currently it’s pretty enjoyable to just fry them though…

Oh and ignore the giant tan-ish block for now. The weapon is supposed to be a tank of sorts… but I just haven’t found the time to make an appropriate image for it yet. Also, the .gif seems sped up a bit, in-game it’s a tad slower.

Crowd Control - Day 2

Crowd Control – Day 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crowd Control

Posted by (twitter: @CriticalMammal)
Sunday, April 19th, 2015 1:46 am

My concept ended up focusing on riots and non-lethal crowd control. The weapon will be a sort of microwave mind control thing. I thought it’d be interesting to be able to alter the emotions of the crowd and whatnot. Right now I don’t have a way to modify what emotions you’re altering on the fly, but it’ll get there.

The goal of the game would ideally be to try and not hurt the civilians if you can avoid it, but also prevent them from making forward progress and wrecking the city. So you’ll have to juggle microwaving their emotions out of whack while trying not to seriously injure them.

Currently the crowd is fairly passive, but I’m definitely not…

Day 1 riot game progress

Day 1 riot game progress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diving in

Posted by (twitter: @CriticalMammal)
Friday, April 17th, 2015 12:24 pm

I normally collaborate with a buddy under the account named Hoqjed but they won’t be available this time around. I’m going for the Jam, since the Compo deadline just seems a bit too intense and I might be getting some help with art assets depending on how things go.

Tools that’ll be used:

Flash + FlashDevelop – for code/animation

Photoshop – for art assets

Audacity and Ableton Live – for sounds and music creation

 

Excited to see what theme will be announced! I’m warming up to quite a few of them so it looks like everything is set for a great LD!

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