Ludum Dare 31
December 5th-8th, 2014

Posts Tagged ‘post-mortem’

TRI Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @RatKingsLair)
Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 1:53 pm

TRI is a game with a long story, so I won’t even attempt to remember every detail. Instead, I will write down what comes into my mind. This way the following article might be a bit inconsistent; I hope it’s still an interesting read.

TRI

The story begins in April 2011, when I participate for the first time in a big Ludum Dare event. It was the 20th Ludum Dare, with the theme “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this!” (a quote from Zelda) – but the theme didn’t really matter, as I got the idea for my entry the evening before. I was inspired by working with 3D modeling software, where you create and manipulate polygons, and I thought: how could I use that for a game? Good thing the eventual Ludum Dare theme kinda fit – I just equipped the player with a “Tri Force Field Gun” (the “this” for the theme), and TRI was born, where all you do is creating triangles to walk and jump on them, and solve a few puzzles.

Old TRI

My entry was kinda successful: I submitted it to the Compo, but eventually switched to Jam, because I copied a character controller from the Unify wiki (as Unity’s inbuilt one was too wonky). The Jam worked a bit differently back then, so my entry didn’t receive any ratings. But PoV featured TRI in the results announcement post, and people who played the game (the community of Ludum Dare, and players on Kongregate) liked it well and some even asked for more levels.
A few months later, in October 2011, we were searching for a cool new project. Somehow we convinced ourselves that we could create a full version of TRI within a few months, which of course was very naive. We actually already made two commercial games back then, but as those were done in a much shorter timeframe and were for mobile only we still underestimated how hard it is to make a full-blown game with individually designed levels, somewhat complex gameplay, physics and a story-line. Also – and this was the worst part – a lack of clear direction (due to missing experience) hindered a straight development, and so we changed the design several times before TRI became the game you can see and play nowadays. Of course, we learned a lot during these three years, but I often wish we would have learned this stuff faster.

Soon!

TRI was made by Jana and me, Friedrich. Jana created the visuals and most 3D models, while I programmed in Unity/C# and also made the GUI. We both created the levels and searched for and worked on the sounds. The music was composed by my brother Ludwig.

It is still funny for me how each department is received extremely differently by different people: some love the graphics, some find them bland. Some adore the gameplay, some think it’s clunky or just headache-inducing. Some bought the soundtrack, some just found it repetitive. I know that tastes differ, but as most feedback nowadays comes from official reviews, it’s just silly how one piece of opinion claims that our levels are “not convincing” while the other describes them as highly genius.

Scribbles

But yeah. A lot of reviews miss the “polish of Portal” in TRI, and I can’t do anything else than concur. We are a two-man team, still learning, with a fraction of the budget of Portal. I guess the secret of success is to hide such facts as well as possible, but I don’t know how. So the biggest learning for us: we won’t do anything this big again soon. At least we shouldn’t.

We even had to take breaks during the years, because of interfering contract work, or just because we had to take some time off. Both didn’t make development any shorter, and if Rising Star wouldn’t have approached us to give us some funding and a deadline to kick our asses, we probably would still work on TRI (or having a break from it).

In reality, TRI was a good project for a small team, as the game has a narrow scope: the main gameplay is about creating triangles, and almost all of the other mechanics somehow work with this mechanic. For example, there are light rays, and you can reflect them – with the triangles. And you can walk on the walls and the ceilings – thanks to the triangles. There are also some basic physics puzzles (dropping crates on platforms and so on), but the physics are built into Unity. So how did TRI become a “too big game”?

By not being absolutely clear about the game’s direction.

More triangles!

One indication for this is the game’s story. We wanted a background story from the beginning; the original TRI has one, although fairly simple and only communicated via texts on walls. And yet it added a big portion to the package – so we still think some kind of narrative is necessary as a hook. Just think of how showing triangles would be boring for reviewers and YouTubers. This is why we needed some characters in the game. Unfortunately our story changed a lot during the development, or rather: the whole design and with it the story. From a sci-fi setting with a mad professor and a fantasy story with an alchemist, to the now present fable about a Monk and a Fox. This last iteration of TRI’s plot feels a bit tackled on sometimes, and really you can still complete the game (hopefully) even when you skip all story bits (hopefully not). So it’s there to entertain, but the narrative sadly isn’t an integral part of TRI.

Reading a scroll.

The most problematic thing was that Jana and I never fought over what TRI actually should be – at least there never was a clear winner. Jana was all for making a game about atmosphere and looking at nice architecture. I on the other side was totally focused on the gameplay, and how there should be a lot of puzzles, because I feared people would be bored otherwise.
This way TRI became a game with two souls – there are parts that are mostly about the design, and parts that contain a lot of riddles and obstacles. Thankfully it doesn’t feel too much like a game with multiple personalities because Jana added her personal touch to each level after they were done by adding the textures and decorations. And fortunately the Monk and Fox also help to string them together, at least in my opinion.

Puzzles

Nobody ever complained about the sound design – apart from our very own voices for the climbing. Still, this fact is kinda great because although we actually tried to hire someone to make sound effects, the deal didn’t come to place and we found our best partner in freesound.org – really a great resource for indie developers. Most of the sounds actually were done within a few days. Sound design may be something that we still neglect, but TRI didn’t focus on sounds anyway, even though we wish we had time to create atmospheric “sound carpets” for each level, because sometimes everything is silent and nothing happens, and it then feels a bit too lifeless.

Monk

Although we normally tell everyone that the game was released on 9th October 2014, we actually put TRI online for the first time in June 2012, as a “pre-alpha”, which was a stupid description. We renamed it quickly to “alpha”, and a bit later I also tried to get rid off the version numbers (like 0.3.0) which always were low and unattractive, by replacing them with something cooler: code names! The next version was then “MagicalMonk”, which sounds much more confident.
These early-access versions (purchasable via our website and Desura) were not very successful in terms of sales, but we actually never did much marketing for them. We rather tried to get feedback from people interested in the concept and art style, by pre-selling the game for a low price and adding a survey at the end of the game. The later versions even included the possibility to give direct feedback via an inbuilt form. (Thanks to Jedi for the idea!) This was great, because people could send us bug reports or suggestions together with a game save. And it was a solution for our QA problem – every game needs testers, and this way everybody can be one!

The Grid

In October 2013 we submitted TRI to Steam Greenlight, and some months later it was finally approved by Valve. It also made a lot more people aware of our game. But unfortunately Greenlight was a better marketing tool when it started in 2012. While the first batches of greenlit games were celebrated by the press, this effect became non-existent, thanks to the countless, bi-monthly batches with 100 titles approved at once – and TRI was part of one of these, in February 2014.

It was like winning $20 – nice, but absolutely underwhelming. On the other hand we’re a bit proud of being greenlit before TRI even reached the Top 100, although I am not sure what exactly that means.

Greenlit!

Anyway, at least we’re on Steam – and as the saying goes: “be on Steam, or don’t be”. A little anecdote: to be visible to curators (the new thing on Steam) we had to rename TRI, as the name was too common (think “Counterstrike”) for the search form to work, as it relied on auto-completion only. This is why TRI is now called “TRI: Of Friendship and Madness” (Jana’s idea) almost everywhere.

Thanks to Rising Star Games we’re also on GOG. GOG was great regarding the release, as they wrote a very cool release article. And you can also get our game directly on the HumbleStore, too!

Overall we are happy with the reception of TRI: more reviewers than I would have expected like or even love the game, and our Steam user score is pretty high – as of writing we have 30 positive and only 2 negative reviews, resulting in 93%. Yet, the game is still missing visibility – Steam, Greenlight and reviews alone don’t do that for you (anymore). We need more YouTubers with a high amount of subscribers, playing the game on their channels. And probably some sensible discounts, as it seems a lot of potential buyers are just waiting for the inevitable XY% off sale. I can’t even blame them: with so many games on my backlog, I do the same with most new titles.

Title

What can TRI offer you? It has 16 levels created by our hands, 5 different “worlds” each with a different background music and a new look, two animated NPCs, all degrees of freedom, and unlimited triangles. You conjure these to overcome abysses, to block and reflect light rays and lasers, and to walk on the walls and the ceilings. A lot of areas can be approached differently, depending on your own play style. Even some of the puzzles have more than one solution, and I sometimes see people solving them in a new, unique way. There are very open levels where you can fall into the void, and levels with a lot of narrow hallways. You can jump, crouch, climb, run, carry crates around and use levers.

TRI is a bit about celebrating freedom and possibilities, and we hoped that a lot of people would love that. For now, we still have to find out how to reach them.

WATCH THE TRAILER

If you enjoyed reading this, you might want to have a look at our Making-of video series, our our blog.

End

Planet Sweepers post-mortem

Posted by (twitter: @OMGWTFGAMES)
Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 6:40 pm

The game is here: Planet Sweepers. Here’s a postmortem.

Planet Sweepers LD30

For Ludum Dare, I’m a firm believer of using the theme for inspiration and as a restriction to stimulate creative solutions – and then ultimately not letting it get between you and producing a good game. It’s a starting point, not a destination. A muse, not a contract with a client. (more…)

The Nether – Post Mortem and timelapse

Posted by (twitter: @SirGFM)
Monday, September 15th, 2014 4:43 pm

The results will be out tomorrow in a few hours, and I’ve yet to write my post mortem… >_< Ok, let’s do this!

(also, here’s my timelapse for this LD’s entry!)

Since there are a quite few gifs and images (which add up to almost 2MB), I thought it was best to not keep everything on the main page…

(more…)

…but first invite a friend or two. It’s dangerous to go alone!

The rating period is slowly but surely nearing its end, and I thought it cannot hurt to write a postmortem for the game I made three weeks ago. I wish I would’ve promoted the game more (it’s my first online multiplayer game after all!) and I wish I could’ve played more games, but my master’s thesis was jealous and demanded I spent more time with it. That being said, I have a free minute now, so here goes nothing!

Design

Three weeks ago, when I was still young and inexperienced, I thought that “Connected Worlds” lends itselfs perfectly well to making an online multiplayer game. (Nevermind that I never did one before, haha.) That being said, there are some obvious design problems that I needed to solve – and that ultimatly led to the current design:

  • LD rating is 3 weeks, and people likely won’t play all at once. To tackle that, the game should a) be able to be finished single-player too.
  • Even if people are online at the same time, they probably won’t arrive at the same time – and likely don’t want to wait either. For that reason, I made the game drop-in/drop-out: The first player to join starts a new session that ends when the last player leaves or the game is won/lost. Any player that arrives in the meantime just spawns next to the torch. (I briefly entertained the idea of one permanent session, but I wouldn’t want to do the level design for THAT, phew. Also I highly doubted that players would come back often enough for that to be interesting.)
  • Synchronisation is hard. So, uh, nothing twitchy. More slowly. With tiles to walk on.
  • Synchronisation might not work correctly. I have no idea what I’m doing after all. So, better do a co-op game and nobody gets pissed that the enemy had an advantage.

Okay, so a scalable drop-in/drop-out co-op online multiplayer game. This is basically what I spent my complete first day on, and I had no idea what I actually wanted to do gameplay-wise yet. I implemented a chat though: Just text that appears on top of player’s heads.

After a good night’s sleep, I arrived at the idea spawning from the Olypmic torch relay: A flame had to be transported from A to B – in this case between two kingsdoms. Slowly everything clicked together: It was dark, hence the flame is important. If you drop it, it’s not protected anymore and slowly dies down, and you have to drop it sometimes because it’s heavy as hell. And there are multiple obstacles that you have to dig through or build across. You can do it alone if you react fast, but it’s stressful always to drop the flame, dig/build a little, pick it up again, transport it, drop it etc. – it’s much better with friends helping you! So yeah, here we go – a game that you can play alone or with “any” number of friends.

Implementation

The game is made in Unity and with the SDK from (and hosted by) Yahoo Game Networks. Free hosting for up to 5000 daily users? Yes please.

There is a server, but it doesn’t do much – it mainly keeps track of the users, items on the floor and already dug-out rocks so that it can inform new players. It also distributes events. The only thing that it is really authorative about is when an item is spawned, picked up or dropped to avoid item duplication.

On the client side, you are the only player that moves directly – and you send messages to the server how you move. Because movement is between tiles, those messages are few, and they will arrive in roughly the same interval in which they are send, so on the other screens you move the same way, just with a delay. Each player object has an event queue – move, dig, build bridge etc – that will be executed in that order with the appropriate delays, so it’s no problem if messages arrive to quickly either.

Making the server mostly non-authorative and using that message queue system is what helped me be able to finish the game in such a short time, I think.

What didn’t go so well?

  • No sound effects. I wish I had some, but I finished the level itself in last second, and well – that was a bit more important, I guess.
  • Nobody invites their friends to play. I wish I knew why. It’s super easy – just share a link – but many people commented that they had to play alone. I suppose they do have friends, right? Maybe even game developer friends?

Apart from that, I’m actually largely content! Sure, there’s not that much gameplay, but it’s fun – and sure, the graphics could be better, but hey! 48 hours and first time online multiplayer! I’m certainly not complaining. Which leads me to…

What went well?

  • Online Multiplayer in 48 hours, that’s what!
  • The whole thing is surpringly stable, if sometimes a little laggy. I would’ve expected to have more problems with an online multiplayer game.
  • Development wasn’t as hard as expected. I was always a bit wary of networked multiplayer in any form, but it turns out that it wasn’t that bad to always have a server and often two windows running. Might be because it was only 48 hours and a small-scoped project with no necessary security though.
  • The Drop-in/Drop-out is cool. And it also has the side effect of allowing people to spectate games. Apropos drop-in/drop-out…
  • The game is a lot of fun with streamers! Allowing for a variable number of players that can join anytime, and streamers having an audience already made for great fun a lot of time.
  • The chat is refreshingly different. Having text appear on top of the heads is cool, but seeing it being typed live is surprisingly even more fun!

Tips

  • Trust in the process. Seriously, don’t worry if your design is not complete yet. I didn’t have any core gameplay ideas until 12 hours before the end and I still finished with something. Just work towards that goal until then.
  • Keep a ToDo list. Workflowy is superb for that. Helps me stay on course and motivated.
  • Keep your design simple and modular. Especially if you do something big technology-wise that you haven’t attempted before. If you finish early, you can still add more features! I would’ve loved to have enemies and defending each other, or wind zones where you have to keep the flame safe, and… but time ran out, and the current state is very playable.
  • Test early. I started testing long before I had actual gameplay. I guess networked games are special in that regard though.

In Conclusion…

…I’m quite happy with the result, and I’m seriously considering doing a game with online components for next LD too. So much inspiring online stuff this LD, damn! And maybe I’ll even get a chance to gather more networked multiplayer experience by then, but knowing me, I won’t and I’ll just dive right in. Wouldn’t have it any other way, really.

Do you have any questions? Feel free to ask them in the comments or on Twitter!

And maybe you have a free minute or two and want to try my game? (And maybe ask a friend to join you! Friends are pretty cool.)

Thanks for reading! I’m done here, goodbye.

Kid Got Lost – Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @paperboxstudios)
Sunday, September 14th, 2014 6:59 am

This was the first Ludum Dare that Paperbox Studios had ever participated in, we had a great time making our game Kid Got Lost and were quite pleased with the feedback that we had received for our entry. When the theme of connected worlds was revealed we knew that the obvious choice was to make some sort of turn based strategy or a 4X game since this type of game play would fit in so naturally to the theme of connected worlds.

After lots of brainstorming we eventually came up with the idea of creating Kid Got Lost, a maze game at its core but we implemented a mechanic where you could shift from one dimension to another, this is where the theme of connected worlds played its part in our idea.

The goal of our game is to find a key and then precede to finding the door, sounds easy enough but you need to look into the other dimension in order to be able to see different objects such as the key, traps, portals and the door. You are not alone in the other dimension though, you need to be wary of ghosts who can sense your presence when in the other dimension and will come after you.

Sound became quite an important element within Kid Got Lost, initially we just wanted sound and music for the sake of actually having those elements within our game. Our amazing sound designer had other ideas though, in a few hours he had managed to create amazing atmospheric music and eerie sound effects that turned our game into quite a chilling experience. The sounds also play an integral part, as the player will  be able to listen to the howls of the ghosts near by, acting as a warning of when it was not safe to swap between dimensions.

After we had published our game on Ludum Dare, we began to receive some feedback. Most of the feedback received were positive, commenting on the unique concept and mechanic, complementing the art style and the sound effects as well. Although we intended from the beginning that we wanted Kid Got Lost to be a difficult game, the idea of the game was to challenge the player until they finally made it through the maze and the aftermath would be a sense of satisfaction.  may have gone a bit overboard with the difficulty, as many users commented on how hard it was. We ended up making it slightly more forgiving to hopefully be more appealing.

All in all Ludum Dare was a fun and amazing experience for the whole team, we learnt a lot of lessons but at the end of the day were happy with our product. We played some amazing games from other developers and were amazed by so many great submissions that were made, it’s just so intriguing to see what other developers came up with working within the same time and theme constraints and how they went about making it. We are definitely looking forward to the next Ludum Dare Jam but until then guys keep making great games, keep innovating and have a great time.

kidgotlost-2kidgotlost-4kidgotlost-3kidgotlost-1

 

Android & PostCompo for Path of Supernova

Posted by
Sunday, September 14th, 2014 6:06 am

My puzzle game for LD30 is now available on Android. I also made a postcompo version.

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-30/?action=preview&uid=18943

Screen_01b

The main goal of the postcompo version was to simplify the rules a little. Until now, every powered tile could be moved.
This was never the goal, most levels can be solved by moving only the Supernova.
But without the possibility of moving other tiles my random level generation could produce impossible levels.
I have now fixed my random level generation, so there is no need to move other tiles around.

Here are the changes :
Slight change of rule : only the supernova can be moved around
Progression (last level unlocked) is now saved
Random levels Hard & Unknown better balanced
Last level completely remade (less difficult)
Better UI

Into the Shadows Post-Mortem

Posted by
Saturday, September 13th, 2014 6:00 pm

 

 

 

ITSscreenshot

 

Our game: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-30/?action=preview&uid=22050

What Went Wrong:
– We started with 3 people and good ideas, but the ideas proved to ambitious and 1 person quit, so we only really started after about half the time had already passed.

– A lot of people thought our game was too hard. We can both beat it easily, along with a few other people, but most people struggled with it.

– The game is pretty short, which is partly why we wanted to make it so challenging. We didn’t end up with enough time to make the entire game that we had planned, so we had to settle for limiting the game to one area, instead of implementing a whole story with multiple areas.

– We didn’t have time to make custom audio. The sound effects actually turned out pretty well (we didn’t make them ourselves), but there was no music. For our game from the last competition we had time to make an entire custom soundtrack with multiple tracks. Here is our last game if you’re interested:
http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-29/?action=preview&uid=22050

What Went Well:

- The game is pretty well polished. Despite not being able to complete our entire idea, when we realized that we wouldn’t have time to add much more, we dedicated the last few hours to polishing what we already had.

– The mood turned out very well. We added flickering lights and eerie sound effects that really contributed to the creepy mood of the game. People have said our game is scary, and we’re glad to have been able to achieve that with simple looking enemies (shadows) and without adding any gore.

– Despite many people thinking it was too hard, we think the game mechanics themselves were actually pretty innovative. Many people did games with the idea of pressing a button to go into another world, but our game has a bar that shows how far into the other world you are and if it fills up you lose. This, along with the flashlight mechanic that drives the shadows away, makes for very interesting and unique game-play.

– There is a Nick Cage Easter egg somewhere in the game.

ITSscreenshot2

The Future

We had a good idea for this game and it turned well, but we would like to release a post-compo version sometime in the future. This would include many more areas and possibly some of the story that we didn’t add. The difficulty level would also be changed. Many people thought that the flashlight didn’t do much to stop the shadows even though it actually slows them down considerably. Therefore, we’ll try to make it FEEL as if the flashlight does more and possibly make it actually do a little more. With a bigger game we could also have more progressive difficulty, so that people would get used to using the flashlight in easy areas before it got to difficult. We’re also planning to add many other features like lit-up areas that would act as safe-zones and a lantern with limited uses that would drive away shadows if you are surrounded.

Praise the Sun!

Daydream Runaway: It will be tough

Posted by (twitter: @psychonull)
Friday, September 12th, 2014 7:50 am

TLDR: The end result is not what we imagined when we started to work on the game, but overall the experience was great, and we are really happy we keep participating. Go and play the game! (BEWARE: Frustration guaranteed)

Here is a little gameplay video. Sorry for the bad quality, but when I realized it was too late. While recording this gameplay, more than ever I felt how the game is damn frustrating and urged me to burn down my computer a couple of times. Anyone up to beat my score? :P

 

What went wrong

Theme announcement

It was friday night here when the theme was announced. We were at a pub with some friends. Everyone was talking and making suggestions of what game we could make. While that’s great, having a lot of ideas dancing in your head is sometimes not that cool. We were suffering an “idea overflow” and every idea seemed unoriginal or not doable. The same night we picked the best looking despite doubts, and started working on that one saturday morning.

TIME, TIME, TIME!!

We couldn’t get to the point of our original idea. The game was intended to contain “dream objects” as obstacles. Each level should have been aesthetically different, resembling a escape from different connected dream worlds: Level 1 should have been vectorial art, level 2 pixel art, level 3 doodles, level 4 realistic objects and so on (with some effects and transitions in between). We were running out of time so we ended up using photoshop filters over the same sprites, getting not good results. PLUS the game goes so fast, that anything but the player is noticeable. I guess that’s why the link with the theme might be weak to nonexistent for anyone playing.
+ More time would have bought us a much polished game with less coding horrors (and better level design, and better everything). I guess this can be improved a little doing a couple of “warmups” and exercising so everything is “fresh” when LD begins.

So you think this game is hard?

Nobody but us tested the game before submission. I guess by doing that we could have seen how the game runs in different machines, and how frustrating the game and each level could be.
Our record for the entire game is ~9 minutes (the first times ranged 15-20), but there is a noticeable unbalance in some levels.
For example these are the marks for each level:

daydream_scores

I’m sure little to none people other than us finished the game.

What went right

Compact core mechanics + simple controls

We knew we wanted to make a “little fun game” with simple mechanics and controls beforehand.

We had fun

Being friends and getting together a whole weekend to make a game is great. LD is a great excuse to reunite, share meals, drinks and enjoy moments doing what we like to do :)

Level editor

We made a great level editor, that allowed us to visually place every element, and  export / import as json.

Difficulty – Challenge vs. Frustration

What draws the line between challenge and frustration? There are a lot of readings and thoughts on the topic and this experience was a trigger to further learn on that game design topic.

Closing words

Thanks to everyone in the LD community that helped and contributed with cool feedback, games and stories.

Hopefully in some near future we will get the time and motivation to fix and improve all the things that were wrong with the game, but meanwhile you can play it get frustrated here.

Clashing Galaxies post-mortem

Posted by
Thursday, September 11th, 2014 9:49 am

This was my first LD entry, so I thought I’d write a short post-mortem.

Background

I had been wanting to create a 4X game for quite a while, and when the theme for LD 30 was announced to be “Connected Worlds”, I thought it’d be a great opportunity to do something about the idea, as well as trying to actually finish a game for once :)

With a lot of ideas I wanted to include and limited time, I needed to scope things down heavily. Long story short, I submitted my entry with a few hours to go, and have reflected on what worked and what didn’t.

The good

  • Choosing to make the game in plain javascript – a language I code in daily at work – definitely sped things up. Mixing drawing to a simple canvas context, as well as using simple HTML overlays styled with CSS worked great to get something up and running quickly.
  • I made a quick music loop just to have some music, as I figured something was better than nothing. I was expecting some comments from people playing/rating the game – as I know that the style of music I make is kind of a niche – but most of the comments I ended up getting about the music were positive.
  • I have a really hard time making my own graphics, and was expecting comments pointing this out. In practice this wasn’t something people commented on, which leads me to believe I made the right choice not spending more time on them than I did. Spending them on gameplay/features seemed like better use of the limited time.

The inconclusive

  • My original vision was a turn-based game, but during development I’d let the ticks run automatically to speed up testing. I ended up liking the pausable real-time gameplay, and kept it like that. Friends and co-workers thought this was something that made it pretty original, but many of the commenters here thought the game was too fast and chaotic. I assume most of these players didn’t know about the pause key though (which wasn’t very well documented – more about this in the next section.)
  • If I had more time, I would have liked to balance and tweak the gameplay before submitting a lot more. There were some pretty obvious balance issues, but all in all I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

The bad

  • My game is somewhat complex, and I didn’t include very detailed instructions. I had some simple tooltips in-game as well as a short toggleable instruction text, but things like what buildings did what weren’t very well explained. A lot of people commented this, and I could probably have given them a better experience if I had explained more of this at the time of submission. (The post-compo version has tables detailing building bonus numbers and research effects.)
  • I had a button that was pretty important to gameplay, that unfortunately wasn’t very obvious if you didn’t read the instructions (and most didn’t). Some people found it by accident, but I should definitely have made it more clear that it was clickable and what it did. (The button in question is the one that opens the research screen – a window that adds a lot of strategy and choices to the game, and kind of makes or breaks the gameplay.)

End notes

I had a lot of fun making the game during the compo weekend, and reading peoples’ feedback is very humbling and rewarding. As a conclusion I have to declare my first LD entry a personal success – if nothing else – for finishing my first game in a long time ;)

You can play my original entry here, or the improved post-compo version here.

Game in progress

Thanks for reading!

Constellation – Post Mortem

Posted by
Monday, September 8th, 2014 1:56 pm

LD #30 was not only my first participation in Ludum Dare, but also a first time when I published a game to a wide audience. I learned very much when I was making new game and when I was getting ffedback after I submitted it. If you would like to play my game, it can be found here: Constellation  – the game about restoring and destroying connections between worlds.

Title screenshot

I’m not an experienced game developer and don’t have much programming bachground, and making games is just a hobby for me. About an year ago I started to explore this area, at first – for practical purposes (I need to make several simple games for a website of educational organisation, where I work), and then I saw, that I can use it to express my own ideas. Mostly I work using Stencyl 3.1 with its visual programming, but work on developing my programming skills beyond this level.

 

Destroyed constellation (level selection)

Tools used:

Stencyl 3.1

Paint and Inkscape on PC and InfinitePainter on tablet

sfxr

Good things: 

– I made a finished game, that has a plot with the beginning, the end (actually, two endings, although with only small difference) and something inbetween. I also added some interesting details, like two wearpons, that differently affects on different enemies.

– I managed to make instructions and explanations part of the game (so people can understand, what is happening, even if they don’t read the description)

– I am confident with graphics I made in short time (I expected that it woud be more difficult and will take much time)

– Using Stencyl 3.1 really saved me much time at initial stage of making a game. The only problem with it is that compiling a project takes long (several minutes). But it turns into a nice working rhythm: while it compiles, I draw sprites or backgrounds, then check the result of compilation… than add what I’ve drawn… etc. So it was nice for working solo.

Bad things: 

– I choose the idea, that cannot be fully realized in 1 or 2 levels. To clearly show the idea of restoring right connections between worlds to form a constellation, I need more levels: initially I planned to made 5-6 words with two levels in each, but this was unrealistic. So I finished 3 worlds (one of them presented with 2 levels, others – with 1)

– I didn’t have enough time to make sounds and music. I see, that music can add much to the mood of the game, and have a tool to make it (Music Maker Jam), but just didn’t have time. So I managed only to add two sounds generated with sfxr – one in the intro and one when the player loses life.

– I also didn’t have time to draw animated sprites.

– Some people reported in comments, that the controls in my game aren’t very good. I think I need to read some documentation about Stencyl and Box2D to find, what is the problem. (As for me, controls aren’t ideal, but they don’t make game too hard or boring or unplayable)

– Two-wearpon system was good idea in general, but some players commented, that they finished the game using only one gun. Now I see, how to made the system more balanced, and maybe use this idea later.

Level 3

What to do next?

I don’t know now, if I will make improved version of my game Constellation or not. I made a version where I fixed some bugs and typos, mentioned in the comments, but I don’t know, if I want to spend time on polishing it (adding music, more levels, better graphics. improving controls etc.) Probably, yes (at least, music and animations), because it is always sad for me to leave ideas in such half-embodied state. Probably, not now, because I have some other projects to work on. In any case, I hope I will have time to took part in next LD, because this was a great experience for me, and I found several other creative ideas for later use, when I was working on this game. I also had wonderful experience playing and rating games made by others. Thanks to all, see you at next LD!

====Some links:====

My game

Post-LD-version (no new features, just several small fixes) (direct link)

My blog (it is in Russian, but maybe somebody here will be interested :))

Hey! Play my game!

Posted by (twitter: @jezzamonn)
Monday, September 8th, 2014 6:11 am

I’m really, really happy with my Ludum Dare game this time, so I thought I’d share it some more!

Click to play! ^^

Click to play!

Play it! You might just have fun!

I took a post-modern approach to connected worlds – people live in different worlds based on their perceptions, but are connected by ‘reality’, whatever that is.


What went right

I brainstormed a whole bunch of potential mechanics for the concept of different perspectives. I actually thought of 4 different characters, and quite a few more ideas. I then implemented the mechanics one at a time.
With around 10 hours left, I decided to stop designing levels, and not add any new mechanics but instead focus on polish, and pretty particles. I could have included more mechanics, but I think the polish was much more important.

I also programmed it all from scratch! No game libraries :) (not that game libraries aren’t great too)

I plan on uploading a timelapse, and a post-compo version with a few more levels in the next few days (depending on how busy I am)

My post-mortem

Posted by
Monday, September 8th, 2014 1:45 am

Phew! It was a hard LD! For long time I had this idea of making a game in which you would play in real world(basically use photos as background/map). The connected worlds theme was great excuse to do that. Generally this Jam was definitely one of the better Ludum Dares I took part in.
What went right:
-Idea for a game(distilled over ~2 years, this had to be good)
-Speed of level design(when I made first photo level, the rest of them was finished in~1 hour, Tiled is great for that purpose)

What went ok:
-AI, my first finished AI that is at least somehow dangerous
-Audio, my first attempt was really smooth(~30 mins to implement+create sound). Sadly the sounds are a bit too plain.

What went not right:
-I wanted to make a jumpy platformer. Then I made main character leg-less robot on tracks. I didn’t have time to add some kind of rocket-y jumping, so the lore is a bit edited to adress that.
-Collisions and movement, I had to pause game game before every level since the tunneling is really bad if I don’t. Now I know that this could be easily subverted by using more constant timestep.
What went wrong:
-Using my own, untested in real scenario library(had to hot fix it 2 hours into a LD)
-Tile level design(not colorful, not enough tile variants, rooms feel empty)
-Graphics, the main enemy is well… weird, the protagonist is blocky and not detailed enough.
Lessons i have learned:
-TEST YOUR LIBRARY
-IF YOU ARE NOT AN ARTIST: DRAW YOUR PIXELS, NOT ART

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