Given Up But Not Done

Posted by (twitter: @drentsoftmedia)
August 25th, 2014 7:12 am

A Confession From a Non-Pro

I’m sad to say but I think I’ll have to give up. I thought I’d take the time and try to keep going for the jam but I’ve hit a bit of a wall and I’m not sure the game will be playable in the ~11 hours I have left.

That said unlike the last Ludum Dare where I couldn’t quite settle on an idea which then, quite obviously, affected my ability to make the game, in this one I managed to come up with a game that I think could be quite viable and interesting. I see this as a positive as it gives me something to work towards in my spare time.

What Went Wrong

  • Scope Creep – Originally the game I had in mind felt quite simple and viable for a short 48 hour competition but the more I worked on it and the more I struggled to think how to implement the few features I had the more I realised that it would probably be a bit dull. With that in mind I started to think up ways to make it more engaging and more features slowly appeared. Sadly this also made the game feel less theme appropriate and I ended up trying to shoehorn features into the original concept I came up with for the theme.
  • Spending Too Much Time on UI – This is actually a double problem.
  1. I always focus too much on the entry point experience, this isn’t so bad when you’re working to a less than tight deadline but in a 48 hour competition it’s killer. This stems someways because I always start 100% from scratch
  2. Using the wrong UI technology. For the type of game I’m trying to create I decided to just use Swing UI elements rather than rolling my own “gamey” UI. I thought it would save time in the long run but turned out that even for such a simple game style it caused its own problems. This may be the first thing that changes should I decide to continue this project outside of the jam.
  • Lack of Focus When Coding – I kept jumping from class to class, half-implementing features and never quite finishing any of them. This is another thing I do a lot and it’s something I’m trying to improve on. In some ways it’s a good thing, it means you’re in theory never not coding but it is also a bit of an enabler for scope creep and unintentional coupling as you jump between classes that work together then another that will help and another and another.

What Went Right

To be honest not a whole lot went right but that’s OK. As… some people say if things never went wrong you’d never learn anything.

  • A variation of ideas based on the theme with time to think on them and choose one
  • An hopefully interesting idea for a game
  • A game model that should teach me some things that I haven’t encountered so far in other games I’ve tried
  • The above model will help me develop

Anyways I’m a bit bummed about my 2nd “failed” Ludum Dare but I’m optimistic that something useful will come of it. I hope this post was an interesting insight into a project gone wrong. If you’d like to see if and/or how I develop this further, follow me on my Twitter @drentsoftmedia.

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