Postmortem of “Lonely Island”, my first Ludum Dare entry.
I decided before the compo I would not make a game about killing things (having kids changes your thinking). This helped me come up with something original (for me anyway). Okay, so you kill the trees and you kill the fish when you cook it but hey, baby steps.
I took lots of breaks, got enough sleep, and ate healthy. I think this made a big difference in my stress level. I wasn’t even feeling that stressed when Sunday came and I still didn’t know what my game was going to be about.
I found an animation template that helped immensely. My programmer graphics perhaps went from fugly to “charmingly ugly”. I probably would have spend the whole two days just adjusting pixels to make the guy walk without it.
I made the n00b mistake of committing my pre-competition thoughts to either Random Generation or Evolution themes, both having great possibilities. I never thought Alone would win. So when it did my mind went blank. “How can I make an original game about being alone? That’s like 90% of games already out there.” I spent Saturday just making a generic game and hoping inspiration would hit me. That might explain why you saw down trees by umm, punching them?
I waited until late the last night (GMT+1 here) to make most of my sounds. My kids were sleeping in the next room and I was exhausted. Not the ideal environment for trying to voice hilarious dialog. Next time I will do this during the day and leave quiet night-time for coding and graphics.
Not enough playtesting. I got my wife to stop rolling her eyes long enough to try the game a couple of times so that helped. Myself, I only played in easy mode (everything costs 1 log) to test all the features because building the boat over and over got tedious. When your own game gets tedious to play after just a few times that should tell you something. I missed the message because building the boat is still tedious.
Got too used to seeing my placeholder graphics for terrain. The only piece of terrain that wasn’t created in the first 3 minutes of the compo is the freshwater, which is exactly one tile out of 300. I should have looked at it with a more citical eye. Spending just 20 minutes on terrain would have made the game look much better.
Not this time. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Can’t wait for the next one!