Man I haven’t made a post mortem for a ludum dare game for a while but I was quite happy with how this turned out so I decided to write one for my current compo game.
What went right!
I wrote a long post about this already so you might want to check it out if you want more details on that. Long story short the game feels good because I focused on to make it feel good.
A big problem I had in many of my previous dares is the fact I needed to craft the levels myself and that lead to either they became boring/repitive or the game became too short. This time however I used a simple chunk level generator that took me around 1-2 hours to make. It both saved time and added replay value to the game.
- Gameplay first not visuals
A big problem in my earlier LD games is that focused on the visuals of the game even if that’s not my strong suit. This time however the main time was spent on programming and instead using quick ways to make visuals look decent and otherwise just focus on the game. Even with me taking my time coming up with the idea I pretty much had the main mechanic ready and working well day 1.
A lot of my earlier games was focused on throwing thing after thing at the player trying to impress it but creating all that content was tireing and many of those things ended up half harted. This game the main mechanics became just “Climb high”. I was planning to add spikes and many different obstacles like spikes but I realized that hitting the walls hard killing you worked well (and was easier to make) I decided on that. It made it so there was only you and the walls and focusing on only that alone created nice dynamics from a simple base. The only other mechanic that’s aside from walls is ice blocks that you can’t grapple on.
What went wrong!
- The style is not cohesive
Ooh boy. I was never sure what tone I wanted to go with this game and the final product shows how indecisive I was there. I was both thinking to go with a more serious climing from a prison cave like in Batman the dark knight returns. But at the same time I wanted to go a more wacky game with a more fun vibe. In the end it ended up more towards the wacky angle with a colorful smiley character with anchor hooks and silly scream. But at the same time I place it in a abstract gray cave with a dark bruiting music (That I lowered down so it’s barely noticeable because I felt it was so out of place in the end). If I decided from the start when I started working on the graphics it would look better and maybe even save time.
- Took a while to get to the final game idea
I envy the dare people that say “I got the idea immediately and get started and worked hard these 2-3 days” . I always lose at least a half or a whole day on being unsure or doubting myself before or after. This time I spent a long time on another idea where you first just could moving diagonally north west or north east on a grid trying to find stuff that that made that you could move in different ways. a kinda “growing movement system”. The idea was something I thought sounded neat at first but after starting working on it I realised that it was not much to it.
I also tried out many different engines like the Defold beta and then Mono game to see if that worked and that ate up a lot of my time. In the end I went with Unity and I could play much more to my and that engines strengths there.
It took me around 6-8 hours from waking up the first day to working on the final concept. I did salvage some parts of that idea like that the crystalized visual style and the diagonal hookshots was inspired by that game but it still wish I didn’t spend as much time as I did with something that unrelated to the final product.
I spent like two hours just getting it to work on a mobile. It was kinda stupid as I should have spend that time after the combo so I could port it and focus instead on the main game. Not as big as the other two but eh. (I still need to upload the apk later.)
I made it vertical due to the having mobile design ideas in mind (and vertical felt more fun with the controls) as I felt two button world work great with it and I might be able to upload it into the future. It made it kinda ugly in the Desktop versions though but web works nice.
I made it without a tutorial, while the buttons and what they do is easy to understand the controls might take a while to get used to as you die fast if you make a split second mistake. I was kinda going with a flappy bird style of gameplay of trowing directly to the main gameplay and I’m not sure if it worked in the games advantage or not.
The name sucks.. I combined the words Caving and Grappling but it’s not that obvious and doesn’t roll that well on the tongue.
In the end I’m really happy with the results. I find it my most fun Ludum Dare game yet and judging from the comments that seems to be a shared opinion. Many people stated how addicting the game is (and that is without any progression systems of any sort) and some think it’s the best ones they seen in this LD. I’ve been thinking on working on it further to make it into a mobile game so hopefully that will work well.
If you are curious to play the game here’s the link to it.