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Clashing Galaxies post-mortem

Posted by
Thursday, September 11th, 2014 9:49 am

This was my first LD entry, so I thought I’d write a short post-mortem.

Background

I had been wanting to create a 4X game for quite a while, and when the theme for LD 30 was announced to be “Connected Worlds”, I thought it’d be a great opportunity to do something about the idea, as well as trying to actually finish a game for once :)

With a lot of ideas I wanted to include and limited time, I needed to scope things down heavily. Long story short, I submitted my entry with a few hours to go, and have reflected on what worked and what didn’t.

The good

  • Choosing to make the game in plain javascript – a language I code in daily at work – definitely sped things up. Mixing drawing to a simple canvas context, as well as using simple HTML overlays styled with CSS worked great to get something up and running quickly.
  • I made a quick music loop just to have some music, as I figured something was better than nothing. I was expecting some comments from people playing/rating the game – as I know that the style of music I make is kind of a niche – but most of the comments I ended up getting about the music were positive.
  • I have a really hard time making my own graphics, and was expecting comments pointing this out. In practice this wasn’t something people commented on, which leads me to believe I made the right choice not spending more time on them than I did. Spending them on gameplay/features seemed like better use of the limited time.

The inconclusive

  • My original vision was a turn-based game, but during development I’d let the ticks run automatically to speed up testing. I ended up liking the pausable real-time gameplay, and kept it like that. Friends and co-workers thought this was something that made it pretty original, but many of the commenters here thought the game was too fast and chaotic. I assume most of these players didn’t know about the pause key though (which wasn’t very well documented – more about this in the next section.)
  • If I had more time, I would have liked to balance and tweak the gameplay before submitting a lot more. There were some pretty obvious balance issues, but all in all I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

The bad

  • My game is somewhat complex, and I didn’t include very detailed instructions. I had some simple tooltips in-game as well as a short toggleable instruction text, but things like what buildings did what weren’t very well explained. A lot of people commented this, and I could probably have given them a better experience if I had explained more of this at the time of submission. (The post-compo version has tables detailing building bonus numbers and research effects.)
  • I had a button that was pretty important to gameplay, that unfortunately wasn’t very obvious if you didn’t read the instructions (and most didn’t). Some people found it by accident, but I should definitely have made it more clear that it was clickable and what it did. (The button in question is the one that opens the research screen – a window that adds a lot of strategy and choices to the game, and kind of makes or breaks the gameplay.)

End notes

I had a lot of fun making the game during the compo weekend, and reading peoples’ feedback is very humbling and rewarding. As a conclusion I have to declare my first LD entry a personal success – if nothing else – for finishing my first game in a long time 😉

You can play my original entry here, or the improved post-compo version here.

Game in progress

Thanks for reading!

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