Well, here we are, at the end of voting once more, and it has taken us three weeks to summon the motivation to create a Post-Partum for our entry.
One Womb is a fast paced race-the-flood wall climbing platformer where you are a lone sperm trying to outrace a horde of other spermies to fertilize the egg. We’re quite proud of this one overall, but we’ll go into detail on what worked, didn’t work, etc.
Our team once again consisted of:
Programming/Design – Ryan
- What worked:
- The concept we settled on was a silly, fun idea. The first few jams Jon and I did were light hearted, silly things, and we had a lot of fun. The past few we’ve participated in though we’re a bit more serious, and much less focused. They each had their bright points, but for me personally, they were more stressful and less fun to work on. I think the return to silly was what we needed to really have another game click.
- On that note, we all got on mostly the same page very quickly. Once the title ‘One Womb’ was suggested, there was no other course of action. The dominoes fell into place quite quickly, aside from a few miscommunications, and standard delays.
- The game itself was fun. The majority of my time was spent making sure that the core game was fun to play, that aspect is easy to lose sight of, so in any decision I made, the fun answer was usually the best.
- The actual level turned out to be decently balanced. I confess, I didn’t even beat the game until after the competition. During the jam, I only tested the parts of the level to make sure they were in theory beatable, but I hadn’t had the time to finish it. In the end, it was difficult, but I am happy with where it is at, because with some persistence, it is beatable. This gives it a bit of life that otherwise wouldn’t exist if the game was beatable in 5 minutes.
- Gameplay is fairly addictive, and restarts are quick. When I actually did play the game to the end, i always felt that I could get it next time, and so I felt compelled to replay, which went pretty quickly by design. This felt like a good balance to me, so I’m pleased with where it landed.
- What didn’t work:
- Keyboard play. For the love of god, keyboard play doesn’t work. For what it’s worth though, we never intended it to work. The majority of my time was spent getting the game tuned to work with controller, and that was hard enough. Since this type of game is traditionally played with a gamepad, it seemed an obvious choice.
- The biggest problem we had with this was that we didn’t properly convey this fact, so many folks expectations were not met. We added some post jam updates to try to alert the users to this design choice, but I feel like this may have impacted our “fun” score.
- User expectation of difficulty/time investment. I think some people found the game just a bit too hard to complete. While I’m happy with where it landed, I think folks are maybe not willing to dedicate enough time to perfect the game, which is understandable because we’re all trying to rate lots of games! A checkpoint system might have been a decent option for letting people actually finish the game. We considered this in development, but ultimately it was lower priority than other aspects, like character movement.
- Things I might change/Wish I had time for:
- First thing I would probably change is smoothing out the look of the walls. They were created by clipping smaller pieces of wall into each other, and this is my personal choice for least polish. Fortunately, it’s only an aesthetic thing, and didn’t affect the gameplay at all.
- A bit more fanfare on win. What is presented is the minimum bar for a Win Condition. I’d like to have added in some effects and animations, but time did not allow for this.
- Distortion shaders. I would have loved to have wriggly, writhing walls with a nice distortion shaders. We’ve used them for other projects, but did not get one working in time for the jam. I think this would have looked really cool/funny/gross.
- VR Mode. From the beginning I thought this would be entertaining to play in VR, but time again did not allow for this to happen. Without consideration of this, I handled camera control by directly moving the Camera transform, which means there would be a bit of rework (since you shouldn’t be trying to move the camera directly, as the headset controls this), and went with simplistic, overlay UI. It would not take long to implement VR mode, but we missed it within the scope of the jam.
Art (3D) – Jon:
Knew going into this jam that time would be a lot tighter. That being said, I could have planned a lot better to more effectively use my time to make the game look more cohesive or add more enemies.
- What worked:
- Liked the aesthetic we kind of stumbled into (Banjo Kazooie-ish) and the main character concept by our 2D artist. I’m sure there are other styles which would have worked out, but the fact that it made light of the subject matter (hopefully) helped its likability.
- I really enjoyed our direction with the theme just because it was rather silly and somewhat simplistic. This also matched the time commitment of the team.
- What didn’t work:
- The way the wall meshes were textured and used to construct the level. These were kind of slap-dash and meant to be placeholder but ended up sticking due to lack of time for reworking. This limited some of our lighting options and will probably have to change for the potential VR version.
- The tail flap. Tried a couple different methods– and thought I got it at the end– but it was not quite right.
- Time management (on my part). Wasted too much time on the tail and noodling with the level setup (as far as lighting and effects). That could have went toward finishing modeling/ animating other crotch dwellers like crabs.
- Things I would change:
- Change the character designs to increase their whimsy in the game with its current zoom distance. The characters were created without testing them at the distance/ size they would be displayed in the level, so by the time they were completed it was a bit too far down the path to change. They are tiny enough that their faces aren’t really all that noticeable– details (or the whole face) could be accentuated or enlarged.
- Expand upon the gameplay a bit if given time. We didn’t really have time to explore what progression would mean as a sperm– like… can there be multiple levels after you have already fertilized the egg? What does the next level look like?
Audio – Tim
- What Worked:
- Having a fun/funny idea made the whole experience a lot more fun, once I saw the idea pop up in our chat I was so on board and really excited to make it happen.
- I think the gameplay music ended up working out pretty well for the platforming portion, once I asked for more clarification and examples on the direction for the game play.
- A lot of people that I’ve showed the game to tell me the song sticks in their head, which I take as a positive.
- The sounds were a lot of fun to make! I tried to add some humor through the squishiness of the sounds and hopefully that came across. The direction I was given was squishy and sloppy, and honestly were some of the most fun effects I’ve ever had to create and edit.
- What Didn’t work:
- What is currently the music for the title screen and before you begin the game was my first shot at writing the music and I wasn’t exactly sure what direction to go at first other than “love makin music… but frantic” went kinda barry white-ish but I didn’t really go frantic with it.
- I should have asked for more clarification or examples earlier, but luckily the music was still fitting for the opening/title and I’m glad it was still able to be used.
- I hit a pretty hard writer’s block with the music, sleep helped.
- Things I might Change:
- If I could I would add more variety to the sound effects for each action. There are some sounds I could have added like more noise to the jumping/ moving and some kind of ambience… of a womb? I had some difficulty recording the sounds in my makeshift bedroom home “studio.” The squishes were too quiet and that really brought up the noise floor and was limited in what I got that was actually usable. Might need to soundproof my room better or get a better place to record, but I think it worked well still considering.
- If there was more time it would’ve been neat to make the music speed up depending on the closeness of the spermies behind the player, to give some kind of auditory indication on the wave approaching behind.