Several days after the end of the jam, it’s time to write a short (now that I finished to write it, it’s not short) post-mortem. People who tried my game seems rather satisfied and they have enjoyed the game. I’m globally pleased with the result of my work too even if all isn’t happened perfectly. You can try my game if you want understand what I’m talking about : The Curse of Chronos.
What’s went wrong
Gameplay : I decided to spend my first two hours Saturday morning to find an idea and create a short game design document. My first idea was to create a game where you play a terrorist who trigger bombs and have ten seconds to back off before the bomb goes off. Another idea I had was a hero who has the power to see the future ten seconds in advance and can use it to change it. These ideas were ok but I wasn’t completely satisfied and I had still one hour of thinking.
I finally decided to create a rogue-like where the player has only ten seconds at the beginnning of the game. Each action like walking, talking to an npc or fighting costs time and there’s also objects which can increase hero’s amount of time.
I worked on this idea and Sunday evening, the engine was over. The hero could walk, pick-up objects, kill monsters. At this time, I noticed the gameplay of my game was rather poor. The only thing the player could do was moving as fights where automatically resolved. At the end of day 2, my rogue-like was became a simple exploration game without I notice it.
The game is not bad but I’m a bit disappointed because I’m sure I could do more interesting things with this concept. And I don’t know why but I find definitely that the gameplay of my game is poor.
Time management : I was really well at the end of day 2 concerning the deadline. I had still a lot of things to do on day 3 but I had the time to do it. And one day later, I published my entry 3 minutes before the deadline after 3 hours full of stress and tension.
I was really pleased at the end of day 2. I had a good game with good graphics and music. I think I was a bit less focus during the third day. I spend one or two hours to do other things than working on my game, thinking that the biggest part of the job was done.
At midnight (3 hours before the deadline), I begin to be a bit worry because I had still a lot of work to do. I was forced to work fast and therefore not really well. I give up to create a second music track and I hadn’t the time to balanced really well the difficulty. That’s also the moment where I begin to detect some bugs I haven’t noticed before, still increasing the amount of work to do.
I had been forced to work hard until 3am after a really long day. It was not really good especially because I could avoid it if I had keep focus during the day 3.
What’s went right.
Keep healthy habits and sleep well : In France, the Ludum Dare begin at 3am Saturday morning. For my first Ludum Dare in April, I decided it was a good idea to go out Friday evening and go back home at 7am completely drunk. I began my game only at 5pm.
I manage to avoid it this time and I take a good sleep Friday evening to be ready and fully well-rested Saturday morning at 9am.
I also take 8 hours of sleep each night. I take the time to take a shower and prepare some good dishes for my meals. It seems obvious but it’s really easy to stay focus during seven or eight hours in a row and burn out before the end. It’s truer for the jam which goes on for three days. To my mind, these moments like take a shower and eat good meals are really important to take a break and keep your body and your mind healthy.
It took more time than drink sodas, coffee and redbull during 72 hours, but I think it’s better at the end. Furthermore, it’s often after this sort of break that your succeed to fix this damn bug which annoy you since one hour.
Audio : I use two hours to produce the only track of the game. It last just one minute. I thought it’s a bit short. I was afraid that players find a bit repetitive to listen the same music during all the game, that’s why I would like to add another track. After all, it’s enough long to avoid this problem and nobody seems complain about it.
There are several sounds in the game to accentuate some actions done by the hero like pick-up an object or kill a monster. They are ok and rather effective, I think.
Graphics : I’m really pleased of my tiles and sprites and players who tried my game seems too.
Dialogs in English : Dialogs are really important in a game like this. I write the dialogs during the third day, so very fastly. It’s a bit difficult to write all these dialogs in a language which is not yours because you’re not always sure to use the correct word at the correct place. You also cannot always faithfully transpose what you would like to say. So I tried to keep the dialogs simple and used stereotypes and humor. Old men who are only obsessed by fishing, guards who are all cowards.
I’m satisfied about the result even if I could do better if I haven’t wasting time during day 3 as I said above.
Theme : I was pretty disappointed when I know what’s the theme was. I thought that the only sort of game you can do it with it was : you have ten seconds to do that, you have ten seconds to finised this level, you have ten seconds to…, and so on.
I tried 60 games until now and some of them follows this scheme. My two first game ideas was like this too (see above) but I manage to find something different and I think it’s the challenge when you have a theme : to see the theme in an original way. Among all the games I played, my favourites was those which were able to use the theme in an original way and don’t stop at the common solution which everybody will find.
Scenario and quests : I find the scenario really early when I was still thinking about game mecanics during the first two hours. Chronos, the god of the time put a curse on the hero and left him only ten seconds to live. The goal of the hero is to lift this curse. It’s quite simple but it’s enough to make a good main quest. The challenge was to use cunningly the dialogs and the settings to guide the player without he noticed it too much. The common mistake in this sort of game in open-world is to completely direct the player and he has absolutely no freedom.
Except at the beginning, where the player is a bit directed for the tutorial, I think I succeed because the player can do absolutely what he want, in the order he want but he is not release in the world without any indications. He can even go directly to «final boss» even if he will have difficulty to defeat him. Side quests are optionals but help a lot to do the main quest.
I’m really happy of what I did and players who played my game seems enjoyed it. I will know continue to try games of the Ludum Dare. I’m doing my best to try games of all the people who left a comment about mine.