This is a post-mortem analysis of my first completed game jam entry Weapon Against Oblivion (a submission frequency of approx. 10*10^-10 Hz).
What went right?
Know your tools: After noodling around with my sprite engine both in and out of game jams, and playing with tools and techniques, I am now able to implement basic features in the first day. The engine ain’t no Unity or GameMaker, but I am comfortable in it, and that means I can be productive.
Focused on my strengths: I am not an artist. I am not a musician, nor a writer. But I can code somewhat. Some my previous designs called for three or four animated sprites and a background tile set, which is just too much at my skill set. I was able to achieve this game with a total of five single sprites.
I actually “finished”: and it feels so good. It is a ‘full game’, with an intro screen, victory / defeat screen, and simple level progression. I didn’t get time to add a high scores screen which would have given the game more of a sense of purpose, but it has a complete game life-cycle regardless.
Community: I am not a naturally social animal, but during my down time I hung out on IRC, read LD blog posts, and watched some of the streamers. There were a lot of channels that seemed to only have one or two viewers but they were all working on awesome stuff.
Seeing the cool stuff kept me going, although before I had a concrete game idea it was disheartening to see everyone else with such great ideas.
What went wrong?
Maths: Here’s a tip for anyone out there: Don’t attempt to implement a complex and realistic-feeling model for planetary population growth unless you are super-comfortable with maths. At least, don’t do it if you also want your models to be entertaining. I spent almost half of my time making different functions and parameters, trying to get something elegant that was also fun to play. In the end, I ripped almost all of it out, and implemented some simple formulas, but even then…
Gameplay: It’s not.. very fun. I had wanted to make the game-play strategic, nurturing some planets and abandoning others. In the end, the best strategy is mostly to blow up every planet you come across.
If I chose to work on this project post-compo, there are several different directions I could take this game to make it into something real. For example:
- Design and lay out the levels instead of having them totally random
- Have some planets be intrinsically worth more, so you have to keep coming back to them
- Have your ‘best’ planets do things to help your cause, like invade other planets
What will I do in the future?
Enter again (: The weekend after LD I legitimately sad that there was no game jam scheduled. I had such a fun time this LD.