So I finally made it completely through my first Ludum Dare. I must say, I was quite happy with this. I’ve been wanting to do this for around a year and half now, and for one reason or another (typically schedule), it has just not happened for me. But alas, LD27 was different, and I finally have a finished product to show:
So what are my thoughts on the whole process? Post-mortem time, a la Ludum Dare style.
What went right:
Game Idea: I settled on an idea relatively quickly and got to work on it. I may have been tempted once or twice to reconsider, but I stuck with it. I came up with an idea that I felt was unique but also was attractive from a player’s perspective (i.e. not something unique but totally pointless). When all was said and done, I think the fleshed-out concept paid off.
Monster Graphics: I had some fun with this one. It helped ease some of the monotony of the workflow. In particular, my favorite monster would have to be the Belchworm. Fire-breathing worms for the win!
Programming: Besides some stupid mistakes on my part, this went pretty well. Even the grid system came along rather quickly… something I was a little leery of working with in Stencyl (doing 2D arrays can be a bit of a pain in that engine).
What went wrong:
Time Management: Well, I kind of anticipated this one a little bit. Being my first Ludum Dare, I decided to take it a little more casually and not try to be “insane programmer man”. This was due in part to the fact that, as usual, my schedule still ended up with some stuff on it. Could my project use a little more polish? Absolutely. But for me, the main goal this time was to just finish a game. Maybe that sounds lazy and unprofessional, but really I just knew what my goal was this time and stuck to that.
Audio: Simply put, I didn’t get to much of it. Humorously enough, the reason I put the few sounds it has in is because my little sister was watching me and told me it would be better with some sounds. I knew that of course, but her comment made me reconsider my stance and take some quick minutes working out a few sounds so that there wasn’t complete silence (thanks, sis!). Beyond that though, I just didn’t get to much of it. Given the overall result and aim, I suppose that wasn’t a big deal, but that does kind of bring me to my next point.
Overall Presentation: Oh yeah, I had ambitions. And again, I just didn’t get to them. I scaled back my ideas multiple times until I was left with a near skeleton of what I had planned. As a result, scenery and what have you got pushed to the side as well. Voila, easy gradient background and no music. Did I just overshoot or not manage my time properly? Given my primary goal, probably more of the former. Its something to definitely work on for next time though.
Game Mechanics: Like I said, I didn’t get to a lot of stuff. For instance, I was thinking some monsters could have attacks that hit adjacent rows or inflict status conditions. Clearly that didn’t happen. The system right now works, but I think having even one extra layer of detail to the game would have helped. Right now, due to the nature of attacking, its kind of a three-battles-at-the-same-time ordeal.
So far, I’ve actually been surprised by some of the comments people have left. They seem to like the idea. Whether that’s because LDers tend to go easier on people due to the nature of the contest, I’m not sure. But even so, I get a good vibe about what people are saying about the game and I appreciate all the feedback! I think I might take this game farther past Ludum Dare, contrary to what I might have been thinking before. I think one of the most important things will be to preserve the simple dynamic I have going. Obviously I want to make some changes, but not overhaul the system. It needs a little more depth, but I was starting to get some ideas that were significantly different than the original you see now. I think the important concepts to preserve are:
1.) Time-based health
2.) Flexible unit management and placement (Focus on the army, not a commando squad)
3.) The sense of urgency and tactical timing I wanted to achieve originally (not sure I totally captured it initially, but it’s something to work on)
So we’ll see! But in the mean time, I’m pleased with my first LD entry. Hope you all enjoyed it!