The theme for LD31 was ‘Entire Game on One Screen’, this can be interpreted in many ways. my interpretation was to have a game where everything is on one physical screen. No popup menus, no scrolling levels, no switching views of any kind. After the last LD I thought about what type of game I would like to make for the next LD. This is a practice I am no longer going to do, I won’t tell anyone else not to do it but as for me I am DONE! Let me explain. Normally I start with ‘what went right’ but because this section isn’t going to be very big I will start with…
What Went Wrong:
1. Multiple restarts
This is going to be the only entry in this section, but it is the main issue I had and all of the other issues will fall under this as sub issues. Let me start at the beginning (usually I good place, amirite? ) So I did my voting thing for this LD and I actually voted up the theme of this LD in round 4 and the final round. I thought it was a great theme for an LD. I still do. Fast forward to Friday night, I’m home from work and waiting for the theme announcement while watching the IRC Chat.
We were all sure the theme was going to be Snowman, everyone was talking about what type of snowman game their going to make. Others are like ‘if the theme is snowman I’m quitting!!!!’. Then the theme is announced, I was a little anxious prior to the announcement but I already knew what I was going to do. So as I do every LD I start in on the Art, there wasn’t much I needed for the game I had in mind and I even figured I’d be able to get some coding done before I went to bed for the night.
It was at this point I realized my idea wasn’t going to work (should have seen this as an Omen. I mean come on! If I’m at the Art stage and I already know the game wasn’t going to work I should have dropped the idea and thought of a new one!). So I quickly modified my idea and continued on (The blinders were fully extended and tunnel vision was engaged!).
I was able to get some coding done before going to bed. I got about 5 hours before I woke up and started in on a full day of coding. I coded for 9 hours before I stepped back and said, ‘this isn’t going to work’. This is not something you want to say 20 hours into a 48 hour challenge. But I said it, and boy did it hurt! This was a real let down.
I really wanted this to work, but I knew if I kept going with it I wouldn’t finish the game on time. So at 5:10pm I decided to start over. I quickly came up with a new idea which was much more reduced in scope than the last game. Again I started in on Art, but only on what the player was going to look like. I wanted to get the player working then I would add in the other sprites.
I spent a little over 3 hours trying to get the player to do what I wanted him to do. I looked at the clock, and all I could see was time that I could not get back. Frantic at this point, I again decided to do yet another restart, but I didn’t need to think of another idea I just needed to rethink my approach for the one I had. Which is the game I actually finished and submitted.
So those sub issues I talked about in the beginning are the following:
A. Limited Knowledge/Limited Ability of the Framework
I fell in love with the Flixel framework when I found it back in 2010. It was easy to use and I could quickly get a game up and running in no time. It is good for Platformers and Shooters, but in my opinion not really much else. Yeah I was able to make a strategy game with it but it was pretty limited. It is no longer being updated by the author anymore, although there are some community members who have taken it upon themselves to do some updates, but the last official version is 2.55.
The problems I was having stem from this issue, either I did not have the knowledge to do what I wanted to do or it just couldn’t be done with the framework. Many of the big contributors to the project have left and either created there own frameworks or are using other frameworks. I told myself before the LD began that I this would be my last LD using Flixel and that I would be moving to Unity3D for all future LD’s. I’ve been tinkering around with Unity for a few months now, but I’m no where as proficient as I will need to be to compete in an LD but I have 4 months to learn what I need
B. Scope of the Project
George Santayana once said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.“, Oh how true this quote is… I think from now on I am going to read my past Post Mortems before I start any future LD just so I do remember what my previous issues were and hopefully I can avoid them. This is the 2nd LD I’ve had to restart a project because of either scope issues or framework issues. Interestingly enough in each of those LDs I already had an idea of the game I wanted to make… Like I said above, I’m done with that… going in blind will be so much better! What sucks is before the LD started I told myself I needed to make a game that could work on a mobile phone and it took me 30 hours before I actually did that.
C. Ideas Cut Because of Time
There was one thing I remembered from one of my past LDs, LD23 I made a shooter and of all the comments I got from it 2 stuck with me. 1. let the player hold down the button and fire and 2. add in some powerups. This time around I did add in the ‘hold and fire’ ability but I had to cut the powerups from the game. I just didn’t have the time, the game itself was made in a little under 18 hours. Now had this been my original idea I’m sure it would have been better than it already is.
D. Polish, Polish, Polish
You hear it every LD, ‘this is a great game, just add some more polish and this could be awesome’, yet another thing I didn’t have a lot of time for. Which kinda explains why the game is harder than it should be. I was kinda going for the ‘bullet hell’ look and feel but perhaps I should have built up to it. I was too focused on actually completing the game as time was not in abundance for me.
E. Lack of Planning
This is definitely my most weakest point :). Alexander Pope once wrote “For fools rush in where angels fear to tread“, yeah that’s me with planning LOL! Some LDs I have an idea and I’m able to see it from beginning to end and not have a problem, other LD’s I see the finished product but not the route I need to go to get there, or I have a good understanding of what needs to be done but I don’t see the pitfalls until I bump into them. I really need to work on this.
F. Overwhelmed by the Grand Scope of Things
Create a game in 48 hours! HOLY COW IS THIS A HUMUNGOUS UNDERTAKING! Can it be done, of course it can, thousands of games have been created in 48 hours or less, heck I’ve done it 9 times myself! But every LD I get the theme, think of an idea and then freak out about what I need to do to complete said idea. I really need to hire someone to smack me when this happens and then smack me again and tell me how my idea is to large and needs to be reduced in scope. This is essentially what I did to myself which each restart. I reduced the scope of my project until it was very manageable.
I could go all day with ‘What went wrong’ but I think you get the point… So let’s hop on over to…
What Went Right:
Hmm… let’s see… ummmm… Ahhhh… well…. OOO I got one!
1. Completed a Game
Yes, I completed a game for the LD. Its a decent game too, a little rough around the edges but very playable. You can try it HERE.
Yeah, that’s about all I can come up with. Its really sad that this is the one thing I can think of that went right but I have to be honest with myself, this was my worst LD experience ever. Hopefully the next LD will be a better experience and I’m pretty sure I will not forget the events of this LD for a long time. I also hope I never need to repeat them in a Post Mortem ever again. I really hope your LD experience was better than mine. See you all in April of 2015 for LD32!