I spent the preceding days before LD35 looking over the remaining themes and trying to decide which one was the most generic, least inspiring, and therefore had the greatest chance of being voted on. I pegged “Mutation” as the theme, but “Shapeshifter” won out. Originally I thought of a puzzle game where you’d move vertices on a polygon to fit into holes. For some reason this evolved into buildings, and I though “What if I made something like “Be A Great Artist in Just 10 Seconds” but with 3d objects. Buildings came into this somehow. And the game was going to be about designing weird buildings for an unnamed oil-rich country. Somehow that changed to Seattle. The rest started falling into place.
What Went Right:
- Deciding gameplay didn’t matter.
- 48 hours is not a lot of time, and I wasn’t thrilled about the theme. Plus, not having an objective freed up the game to be about something else. At the core, I wanted the game to be about self-expression, and letting people add things to a world, and then interact with it.
- Using Public Domain Classical Music
- An idea I had for previous games, but never got around to using. Making music is a weak point for me, I’ve tried doing it for games in the past with little success. I found a piece by Chopin, with a Public Domain license on the recording, and I used that. It added so much to the game’s atmosphere. I was lucky that I didn’t have to look very long to find a few short songs that looped really well.
- Adding Selfie Mode
- I wanted the game to be about being creative, and Selfie Mode was sorta a joke that I ended up spending some time on. I like the idea of having a souvenir from your game after finishing it. Selfie cameras in games aren’t new, but I’d
- Finishing the core game early
- This allowed me to basically tack things onto the game and add “polish” or other things I’d usually neglect in a game jam. Rule of thumb for 48 hour jams, think of something you can code in an hour or less.
- Doing the Jam over The Compo
- I used lot of helper libraries, code, and assets. Even though I made most of them within the span of the game, I didn’t make the music, which excluded me from the Compo. Loosening the rules lowered the stakes, so I was able to goof off a bit more.
What Went Wrong:
- Not Surfacing Controls Better
- Unfortunately, few users read instructions, readmes, descriptions, or in-game instructions. I really wanted players to switch to walk mode so they could take selfies, and I’m not sure I emphasized that enough. I nearly stuck in a huge graphic that told you this in the game, but didn’t want to handle showing/hiding it. People reported that they didn’t know they they could walk around in-game. Ah Well.
Was the game successful?
One person commented that they laughed, and people seemed to like it. A few people shared selfies that they took in game. So, I consider it a success.
Play and rate it here -> http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-35/?action=preview&uid=3400