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Ludum Dare 30

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You were there *Award* #LD30
Awarded by alvivar
on October 19, 2014

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WE MUST EXPLORE – Postmortem

Posted by
Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 10:08 pm

Before I get into the post mortem details, here is a link to my game in case you haven’t played it

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-30/?action=preview&uid=29650

Front-End

And some choice comments from user feedback that might persuade you go check it out:

  • “I didn’t understand the purpose of this game, but it was well made.”
  • “very fun well not bad”
  • “A nice way to pass some time. Just fly through space and see whats there.”

The gameplay is fairly simple, explore, collect, create, repeat.  As you collect comets your power increases and allows you to collect larger comets.  Initially I had wanted to make a Planet Recipe Book and by combing different elements you could create planets with distinct properties and gameplay benefits.  But with a limited amount of time I settled with a random creation system instead, not ideal but still satisfying.

What went right?

Scope – I spent Friday night doing 3-4 different  prototypes before settling on the collection/creation idea.  Then I kept it simple, I didn’t want to get too crazy with the size of the game and knew that since it was light on gameplay I was going to spend more time on polish and atmosphere. I figured that for each mechanic I added I should  devote 1-3 hours of polish (for visuals, audio, particles) to get it to the quality level that I wanted.  By keeping this polish time budget in mind it  helped me maintain a small handful of game mechanics and prevent feature creep.

Mood & Atmosphere – Early on while doing research I came across this one NASA audio clip that really stuck with me http://goo.gl/UFZKKH.  From then on I wanted to capture that feeling of isolation and excitement that astronauts must have floating out in space.  I spent a decent amount of time making  the ambient SFX by combining  real sounds of a satellites echoing back from space with some simple filters.   When I overlaid some of  the voice clips from NASA’s page into the game I found that it really helped sell  the experience.  Another aspect I wanted to try focus on was the “big bag” event when you create a new planet.  I spent a little more time here really trying to make this event rewarding for exploring and successfully collecting enough resources.  While its not as cool as I wanted it to be its still a neat experience and it also ties back intro gameplay by generating a new comet field with additional resources to collect.

Assets– While some people might ding me for this I ended up using several free assets (all credited btw) from NASA and the Unity Asset store.  Since I was doing this solo and only really had the majority of Sunday night to work on this I wasn’t able to create all of the content from scratch.  Ideally I would have loved to generate more original content but I think the end result is incredibly polished due to a focus on fine details and smart asset reuse.

What went wrong?

Performance – At the last minute I ended up cranking up the number of comets I had placed in the map and unfortunately introduced a few performance issues.  I was able to fix them in the post compo build but its just another good reminder to be incredibly careful with your last minute changes.

Objective – Mainly because of time I decided to not add an end state condition.  Without a clear goal I can see the game getting a little stale and not very challenging.  If I had to do it again I would have included a stronger objective or multiple mini-challenges, and would have used these goals to help  guide the player through the early portion of the experience. I still enjoy the open ended nature of the game it just needed a little more focus in the beginning.

At the end of the day I had a lot of fun with this challenge , its nice to read user feedback and play the games that everyone contributed to the event.  This is the second Ludum Dare I have participated in and look forward to doing this again, see you next LD!

One of the fun side effects in the game, flying around as a giant comet cluster.

Thanks!

twitter: @mattkrystek

Other projects can be found here on tumblr

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