Our personal goal for this jam was to focus on polish more than anything else because that is something we had the most trouble with in earlier jams. By the way, this was our third Ludum Dare of the past four, which also made it our first Ludum Dareversary. This post mortem is mostly focused on the design and production aspects of development, we might talk about programming, visuals and music in another one.
The idea for the game came rather quickly, and due to the amount of resources about the genre it did not take longer than a few hours to come up with a playable prototype. Creating a match-three-game was something we discussed before, as part of some “make all the genres but start with the casual stuff”-masterplan. After we had come up with our initial idea and set up a first gameplay prototype we ran into some motivational problems. It might have been the different way we approached the jam this time but after the basics were done work pretty much stopped for the rest of day one. Luckily George came over to help us out with sounds and music on the second day, which forced us to continue working and ultimately lead to us becoming motivated enough to keep working through the rest of Day 2 and 3.
We did not see the full potential of our shapeshifting idea until Day 2, which might have also played a role in us losing motivation at first but then regaining it. The shapeshifting had to be incorporated into the game in a understandable way. That is why we came up with the idea to let people play a match-three-game as usual and then shift a creature with the data we get out of that. It took us a full day to see that what was initially planned as nothing but a visual gimmick would have an effect on the gameplay as well. When we put the monster in and added the mechanic to change shapes when crushing potions the playtesting opened our eyes and we saw that our gimmick was actually a mechanic. We unintentionally ended up with a meta-game to be played while playing the core game If you have not played the game: Certain amounts of certain potions will change the shape of a body part of the monster, and to achieve a full shapeshift it is neccessary to crush a lot of one color while avoiding all the others as much as possible. That is one of the two tactics we found so far, the other being very good at creating large chain reactions and having a bunch of luck that enough of the right potions are destroyed. It was nice to see that we don’t have to try and build up a complex idea beforehand and can just go for it and come up with something interesting.