The Latvian Milk team here with our game’s post-mortem. Hope you enjoy!
WHAT WENT WRONG
– Theming. So, this time around we were tasked with making a game based on the theme of ‘an unconventional weapon’. And, well… Our weapons weren’t particularly unconventional, truth be told. This was more a problem of time constraints that it was a lack of unconventional ideas. We had plans to add a plethora of weird and wonderful weapons, such as a handheld battery-powered rotary fan, a toothbrush, an orbiting familiar that would shock the enemies near it, and a pistol that fired boomeranging shurikens (called the shurigun, naturally). We began by adding in the more basic guns: a pistol, an uzi, a laser carbine, a gatling gun and the like. Fortunately we did manage to fit in one unconventional weapon in the form of a pistol with a tentacle on it that fired eggs. These did substantial damage when connecting with an enemy, but if you missed they would hatch a new enemy, making for an exciting risk/reward dynamic.
– Progression. A sense of progression is an important part of any game, or they can often begin to feel a little futile. A kill count or a counter that showed the wave of enemies you were on would have suited this purpose well in Latvian Milk, and was one of the most common downsides mentioned in feedback. Also, more content as the player progressed through the game would’ve been ideal, such as more enemy types or maybe a boss, but we were hard pushed just to get finished what we did and, as is all too often the case, there wasn’t time to add these in.
– Cheap death. If you’ve yet to play Latvian Milk, the main mechanic is that every 12 seconds or so, your gun randomly changes into another brand new weapon, keeping the game unpredictable. Unfortunately, the transition between weapons was in need of a tweak at the point of release, in that it forced the player to stall for a short moment, leaving them vulnerable for that time. Getting hit in this period was pretty much unavoidable and felt cheap and dissatisfying. Another small point about taking hits is that it could have done with being a little more clear when this happened.
– Menus. There weren’t any, and that made the game feel a little less polished than it otherwise could have. Menus were actually very nearly in the release build, but less than an hour before the deadline our final release build crashed catastrophically. We didn’t fix it in time and reverted to uploading our most recently compiled build from an hour or so previous. This build also has some secret developer debug controls, though fortunately nobody seems to have yet stumbled across them. On a small side note, the death screen was a little too abrupt and a little too easy to skip past.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
– Audio. 8-bit sound effects are something we’ve really not had experience in making, and we’re very happy with how they turned out. We found all the various gun firing sounds to be really satisfying and often quite visceral, and the super-saiyan scream and zombie sounds were suitably humerous. We also powered through some 8-bit music on the second day, something we know a little more about, and wrote a piece of quite substantial length that we loved the sound of. Audio was always going to be an important aspect of Latvian Milk, and it really serves it’s purpose.
– Game feel. We have a blend of 3D lighting in a 2D top-down in Latvian Milk. It was a little bit of a risk, and it’s one that we think certainly paid off. We also included plenty of screen shake and recoil on the heavier weapons, which along with nicely cohesive art and audio made the game feel generally really gratifying.
- Huge guns. Seriously, they’re enormous. The Slim Reaper is more than three times the height of our main man Juice. This kind of happened by accident to begin with, because making a good looking gun at the same resolution of the character (16×16) was near impossible, especially for a rookie pixel artist like myself. And we love how absurd they turned out. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
– Work flow. We were probably overly ambitious for a first game, and yet looking back, I think we managed to get a lot more than I would now have expected to with more objective hindsight. We achieved pretty much what we set out to achieve having worked damn fast to do so. For two of us, this is our first game release, and only the second game for our third member, so we’re especially happy with what we accomplished.
– Bugs. There pretty much aren’t any, and that’s fantastic for how little testing we have time to do. There was one very rare bug where you could clip into a wall when running backwards into a wall firing the Slim Reaper, and that’s about it.
WHAT WE’VE DONE SINCE
You better believe we’re carrying on with Latvian Milk. And we’ve already made some real headway since our submission just a week ago. We’ve added in some bullet spread to the uzi and minigun so they no longer fire in perfect straight lines, a wave counter and menus with awesome music, a minor bug fix here and there, some cool shadows, the beginnings of transition to 3D walls, a couple of new weapons and an improvement to the pistol so it fires faster and semi-automatically. And we aren’t stopping any time soon.
Click here to play Latvian Milk!