Heya! Welcome to our Ludum Dare 36 post mortem (better late than never!).
Unlike my previous postmortems, I will not be dividing this one into days because of how differently this Ludum Dare went down. Instead I will try to analyze what happened, and explain why it happened.
In case you haven’t already seen, we didn’t finish a game on time. So what happened?
We initially set up in a studio apartment along with two other teams – one of them being our friends SUNFURY! And let me tell you – the atmosphere at that place was incredible. People were stoked about making videogames, talking about various design and mechanical concepts, discussing engines – it really was amazing. And this entire Ludum Dare was worth it just for the vibe we had here, but more on that later. We went to sleep pretty early.
We had an idea right off the bat of day 1 – a game about using an old clam-type cell phone (get it? it’s ancient technology) with special powers to fight off mobs of enemies.
The main mechanic would be that you would have to use the numeric keypad on your keyboard to dial numbers for different weapons and powerups, and upgrade them in-between stages.
We all really liked the idea and got straight to work, but after a bunch of hours we realized we couldn’t find a way to keep the game “interesting” so to say – constantly redialing the same numbers for the most powerful powers seemed boring to play with, and randomizing the numbers each time would just make the mechanic a tedious task for the player – so pretty late into the day, we dropped the idea.
Still not losing motivation, we sat down and tried to think of new game ideas. It took us another full hour of iterating various ideas to come up with one we all liked. The basic premise was to play an explorer in an apocalyptic desert-themed wasteland, using your hacking abilities to revive long-ago-deactivated robots to fight for you as you traverse the landscape.
The first problem we ran into was the feel of the game. Originally, both Itamar and I immediately envisioned the main character as being mysterious and somewhat sinister, playing like an evil overlord of some sort, but Mati didn’t see the game that way, and tried other designs which we just couldn’t agree on. This lead to Mati and Itamar working on just the main character’s design (in an attempt to define how the game would feel) for the rest of the day.
Meanwhlie, I was struggling with the code. For the past few months, GameMaker has been giving me nothing but headaches and this time wasn’t different. I felt like I was fighting the engine just to make a simple top-down Hyper Light Drifter-like movement system. From here on out I felt my motivation slowly die out and my doubts rise.
We did have something to look at at the end of the day, but I wasn’t satisfied with it at all. It felt clunky and sorta thrown-together, making me really doubt my work.
The second day didn’t go much different for me, although it did go pretty well for Mati and Itamar, and the guys at SUNFURY. I kept struggling with GameMaker and making extremely slow progress.
At this point I felt like I had lost all motivation – I couldn’t see this game being finished on time. In the end, I’m willing to admit it was I who dragged us down and caused us to not finish on time. After struggling so much with engine, I just felt like I couldn’t work properly anymore – and starting a new game would be insane right now.
But we still tried; going into a “team meeting”, we talked about what can we do now. We tried to think of new game ideas – and some of them even sounded cool – but it would just be impossible to make anything enjoyable or actually good-looking in just one day (and the few hours we had left). We went on a long walk to try to get me motivated again, and for a while it worked, but I just found myself in the same no-motivation predicament an hour later.
The last day was the most draining for me, as I found myself, for the first time in my life, actually disliking the task of writing code. It was horrible.
Meanwhile Mati and Itamar had already finished a plethora of awesome art assets:
And Jason had made two incredible music tracks along with a bunch of professional-level sound effects for the game. (it’s really high quality stuff!! go listen to it in the prototype)
All of this just made me feel worse – I really felt like I was bringing the entire team down. Mixed with some other messes in my life, this was set to be a really shitty experience.
But then, we had a team talk.
Mati and Itamar talked to me, not about the game. but about how I feel. They told me people sometimes screw up. They told me it’s okay. They told me they had fun. And heck, aside from failing the Dare, I had a ton of fun myself. We cooked our own food, we made a ton of jokes, we talked to amazing people, everything about this Ludum Dare was just great. Why was I feeling so bad?
It took me a while to understand it, but I guess Ludum Dare isn’t just about making a game. It’s about getting together and facing challenges with friends. Sometimes we fail. Sometimes life’s not so fun. Everyone has crises. Everybody falls. What’s important is to keep moving – and we do that by surrounding ourselves with people we can love and trust, people who know what it’s like to fall.
Mati and Itamar convinced me to upload the unfinished prototype, even though I felt ashamed of it. Now it’s on display on our Ludum Dare profile, along with our other, more complete games. And I don’t regret it one bit. It wasn’t about the game this time around – it was about the experience!
Overall? This Ludum Dare was absolutely amazing. Yeah, I didn’t make a game, and I failed my favorite challenge, but I got together with friends. And hell, SUNFURY (Rom and Tom) made and finished their own game, and it came out awesome!!
- Everybody fails sometimes, we just gotta learn to move forward.
- Use Unity.
That’s it! Sorry if this got a little bit emotional – I waited with this postmortem so I could rest a bit and then openly write about how I felt.
Until next time.
– Lonebot ♥