As is becoming a regular feature with Ludum Dare challenges, shortly after the challenge I like to write a postmortem of the game I created. The theme for Ludum Dare #25 was "You are the Villain." The game that I created for the challenge was "Evil Gnome's Revenge." This game has you playing the Evil Gnome from one of my earlier Christmas games (Santa's Snowball). As the gnome is not able to steal toys, he is instead going to release Santa's reindeer from the corral that he keeps them in.
What went right
The first thing that I did right was choosing a simple game to develop. Even simple games take longer than you think they will to create. As polishing games is one of my weaknesses, I figured that the sooner the game was functional the sooner I could start polishing the game and perhaps end up with a really great game. While I was able to get the basic chase mechanics working right away, I still spent a lot of time coding so didn't get as much polishing done as I would have liked. Missing features include fully animated reindeer, idle actions for the reindeer, and an evil version of a Christmas song for the theme.
The second thing that went right was getting proper rest. As Todd was having his 24 hour podcast while the challenge was going on, I had plans on listening to the whole podcast while I was fine-tuning the game. When I realized that I simply was not far enough along. There is a big difference between an hour of work done when exhausted and a productive hour of work. By spending a few hours sleeping I was able to regain my focus and get the game done. I honestly believe that the extra productivity gained from getting a few hours of sleep more than made up for the hours lost.
What went wrong
While I liked the theme when voting, shortly before the announcement there was a major high school shooting which really put a damper on it. When I heard the theme I knew that I wanted a non-violent game. It took me about an hour to come up with an idea that would fit the theme yet would not be violent. Had the shooting not happened I would have gone with one of my other ideas which probably would have resulted in a more entertaining game.
The other big problem that I had was the realization that I was writing far too much code. A lot of the code I was writing was fairly straight-forward and should be handled by my GameJam library. The library is in a early state so this is understandable, but I am going to have to find ways of creating classes that incorporate a lot of the generic code that I was writing into them. Basic movement logic and collision detection are common to most games so having that inheritable in a generic game screen class would be a huge time-saver.
While I ended up with a fairly solid game, it simply is not quite as polished as it should have been. I am going to have to find spare time before the next game jam and update my library to incorporate a lot of the more generic game elements so rapid game development will be easier.