People who have visited Blazing Games last week or who are following me on Google Plus already know that I recently participated in the Ludum Dare #24 challenge. This is a challenge where you have 48 hours to develop a game that reflects on the theme of the challenge. This theme is announced at the start of the challenge and this time was Evolution. For this fortnight's post, I have decided to write a mini-postmortem of my entry.
What went right
This was my first Ludum Dare but I had participated in the 7DFPS challenge so I was aware of how quick time goes by in these type of challenges so from the beginning decided that the best way of proceeding was to quickly get a functional game and then iterate on it. The theme of evolution immediately gave me the idea of missing links so the first pass of the game was simply a search of the map for the missing links. I then cleaned up the game to make sure I had something to release before the deadline. Finally I added the combat to the game.
My other wise decision was to take advantage of the photography rule. The challenge allows use of photographs and generated sounds as long as they are created during the 48 hours of the challenge. By quickly taking some photos and using a sound effects generator I was quickly able to come up with good looking game assets in a really short period of time. This gave my game a more polished look without the time burden.
What went wrong
The biggest mistake I made was not having a library of game code ready beforehand. Writing an engine from scratch is not really a good idea when you have time pressures. When you consider that one of the complaints for my game was the sluggishness of the scrolling, Having an optimized map class to start with would have been much nicer and would have given me more time to fine tune the game.
The combat was a bit too last-minute so ended up being a bit more difficult than what I would have liked. I should have listened to the voice in the back of my head telling me to cut the speed of the spiders down and lengthen the whip. I didn't and as a result a lot of people found the game too challenging to finish.
I am thinking that entering game jams will become a bigger part of my life. I really don't care if I win, but do enjoy the challenge and can use the resulting game on my site while I start focusing on the development of larger scale games that can actually turn Blazing Games into a real company instead of a hobby.