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Bladeless: Post Mortem

Posted by
Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 12:47 pm




Seems everyone’s doing one of  these post mortems, so lets jump on the train :)

What went right?

Graphics! Almost all the comments so far have praised the graphics, and I’m thrilled about it. My style is usually skewed more towards the cartoony (ie the logo at the start of the game), and this was my first go at making something that actually looks “cool”. Also love the way the random character/enemy generator works. Each character is a collection of random parts that get throw together to keep the enemies and your own samurai unique every time you play.

The theme! When the theme first popped up, I was at a loss. No idea what to do, and kind of bummed that I was probably going to need to change my style to make something that fit in the theme. This game would not exist without this theme. I took minimalism to every step of the design from the sounds to the background, and lack of any health or clear instructions (more on that later), and I think it all came together pretty well.

Sounds: I initially had way more sound effects in the game, so every time you draw, sheath, or swing the sword there was a noise. It just didn’t fit, so I cut it back to the bare minimum, and really liked the results.

Gameplay: Once you know what to do, and recognize how the attacks work, it’s pretty intuitive. And hard! The enemies are infinite, and will keep coming out until you die. The speed maxes out at level 10, and the chance of them countering your attack increases forever. I initially added 100 skulls to the background…I can’t get past level 9 :)



What went wrong?

Instructions! Sticking with the minimalism theme, I wanted to leave the instructions vague and let people die a few times trying to figure it out. Probably a bad move. A quick tutorial in the game would have immediately opened up the gameplay to people, taken out the frustration, and given more players a chance to enjoy the game and have some success at it.  This was my biggest mistake :/

Weapons! Along with the randomized body parts, I wanted to include randomized weapons. I screwed up in the initial setup though, and had to use 2 symbols each of for the swords, both on different angles. This made it harder to add in different weapons, and time ran out before I could do it.

Changing Blocks! I should have added in the option to change your block before the enemy attacks. It’s a simple addition and would have made the first few levels a bit more forgiving at first.

Clash animations! I got lazy and only included one sword clash animation for all attacks. Really need to add one for each attack and smooth out the transition between attack/clash/counterattack. It is a bit jumpy now and I really wanted everything to be as smooth as possible.

Time management! I got all cocky at first and started slow. I came up with the concept Friday night, but didn’t put pen to paper until noon Saturday, thinking I could hammer out a basic idea, and the gameplay wouldn’t be hard to program. Sunday night rolls around, and there’s no way I’m going to be finished in time for the comp :( Luckily the jam exists, and I took the extra 24hours and used every second of them to polish up the game.

The name! The deadline is looming and I still don’t have a name for this thing. Bladeless had been rolling around in my head the entire time…but I really have no idea why. Everyone clearly has a sword, and each sword clearly has a blade. Oh well…I still kind of like it, even if I don’t understand it 😉


Where to go from here?

Everyone’s feedback has been priceless, and I know what the game needs to improve. I plan on taking everyone’s advice and adding in the tutorial, tightening up the gameplay and smoothing out the  animations. The difficulty level needs a bit of tweaking, and I have a couple ideas for other gameplay modes based around the same game. Also plan on adding more enemies, and maybe some bosses.

What do I take away from the Dare?

This is my first time competing in the Dare and I really had a blast here! As I said earlier, this game wasn’t even a glimmer of an idea until that theme popped up. I tend to have grand ideas with my games, and try to make these massive projects that take forever (which is why I’m still sitting on 2 partially complete projects, and struggling to add more content). Keeping things simple and keeping the design timeline short is a much better approach for me. I need to finish the game before my attention wanders elsewhere 😉 Also love the format of the dare. It’s easy to create games that fit right in your wheelhouse, but the theme (this year’s in particular) really pushes you to try something new.

So a big thanks go out to everyone who helped set up and run the Dare, and a huge high 5 to all the other designers who submitted entries! So many cool games, made in so little time!

And if you haven’t played Bladeless yet, check er out…just make sure you read the tutorial first 😉



Instructions or no instructions?

Posted by
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013 2:14 pm


So it seems the comments for my game are split down the middle: half seem to like that there are no instructions, and it’s a bit more rewarding once you figure out the visual clues for the gameplay, the other half think that that instructions would have made it less frustrating to jump into the gameplay and just start chopping guys in half right away :)

One of the problems we face as designers, is we always know what to do when we test our games. Boss battles are always easy since we know the pattern, and hints are always clear, because we know they are there. In this case, I took the minimalism approach to the instructions as well and just left a hint above the first battle.

So try it out, and let me know: more fun observing and figuring it out, or add instructions so you can jump right into gameplay.





Posted by
Monday, April 29th, 2013 8:20 pm

Well, my first shot at the comp is done, and I’ve got to say, I had a blast. Tried to get my game done in time for the official comp, but by the time the deadline rolled around, I wasn’t close to finishing.

Loved the theme too! Really went minimalist for everything with this. No real instructions, no score, no visible health, simple controls, and hopefully fun gameplay. Counter your enemies’ attacks, and kill them before they kill you. Difficulty ramps up as you go. Enemies are more likely to counter your attacks, and they attack you much quicker.

Enemies and character are also totally random, so you may never get the same guy twice :)




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