Pixel Story is pretty much the best game I’ve ever made, in terms of being a complete experience. It almost didn’t happen, as I started making a different game but scrapped it within a few hours.
What went well.
I spent the first day and a half at a friend’s house. It was his first Ludum Dare, and he’s an accomplished programmer who struggles with motivation and doesn’t really have a game dev tool he likes that much yet. I was there because I wanted to encourage him to participate, and as I discovered, having someone around to bounce ideas off of for the first few hours is really handy. Also, I could have immediate feedback on gameplay.
I actually got really lucky here. I made a decision early on that all levels should be 24 pixels square, and that the camera would be static. I also decided to make a game with 8 levels or realms. This later turned into 6 after I made the town level. As a result, I was gameplay complete with 15 hours to go, which allowed me to really polish my game.
Just for the record, I haven’t seen anyone aside from me actually play through my game. The difficulty was originally tuned with me in mind, which turned out to be really harsh on some players. The type of difficulty tended to be about reflexes, which I later retargeted to multitasking, after some fairly solid feedback from another friend.
What went badly.
To tell you the truth, not much actually went badly. But I can think of a few things I’m not incredibly pleased with.
I really can’t see where I can go with Pixel Story. It really feels like a complete experience. I could release an updated version with new levels, but I’m just not sure how much I’d like it. This is as opposed to my last good Ludum Dare Entry, Questling, which I could totally see with a community and on mobile devices and the like.
I’m still not quite sure how much gameplay there is in Pixel Story, as I really haven’t seen anyone play it through in front of me. I feel that the replayability is just too low, and that it’s just a bite sized experience. I’d far prefer to have created something that has lasting appeal.
What I learned!
- Be around people, people you can work with. They significantly decrease the chances of massive burnout and death spirals.
- Don’t be afraid to make small games! Pixel Story is complete! It’s super finished, and super tight. Feels good man.
- Leave time to polish! Falls in with the above lesson, but polish turns a meh game into a good game.
- Don’t post your game to Reddit too quickly. You get downvoted and ignored.
I had tons of fun, learned a lot, and I’m super excited for LD24.