Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lots of Jam

The next few weeks are going to be interesting as there are a bunch of game jams that I am thinking about participating in. The mini-Ludum Dare this weekend is a game based on the real world. I have a simple but interesting idea for this game. What I haven't decided is if I am going to do the game in Flash or in JavaScript. I do want to move away from Flash and towards HTML5 but I am far more productive in ActionScript.

Shortly after that is the Game in Ten Days #30. This is a longer duration challenge which actually puts me at a huge disadvantage. Clearling out a weekend is something that is easily done.  10 days, not so much. People who have 10 solid days to work on a project will clearly be able to do better than 10 part-time days so winning the prize is probably not remotely likely. Still, if the theme is interesting then it may be worth losing my weekends and evenings. Besides, I really should start trying to take advantage of Kongregate which is something I have never done.

After that challenge is another week-long one. As there is no prize other than a completed game there is no real disadvantage to working on it in my spare time. That said, my plans for this are not to create a new game but to create a JavaScript sequel to a Java game that I created. As a lot of the game logic exists, this should be fairly quick to implement, and I really do want to start porting all of my older Java games to HTML5 especially since there seem to be a lot of vulnerabilities with Java lately.

As I created a twitter account for the One Game a Month challenge, I will post frequent progress updates to my twitter feed, not that anybody actually cares. Still, I figure there may be somebody who does decided to follow me on twitter and if not I will have a record of my work for my personal use if I get around to writing postmortems on any of these challenges. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

CRA Agent Postmortem

David S. Gallant was fired for the dreadful sin of creating a game about his job. Ludum Dare decided to host a game jam related to this. I created my CRA Agent game as part of this CRAJam. Now I am writing my postmortem about the development of this game.

What went right.

I had a very clear vision of the game I wanted to make. Having clear and realistic goals made getting the game done fairly quickly. The fact that the game was fairly simple from a coding perspective was a bonus. While I had hoped to have the adventure game kit portion of my GameJam library ready, it simply was too far from completion to contemplate using it which may have been a blessing as I probably would have spent far more time working on my generic adventure game library than on the game.

One big change from my original plan did occur, which is why it is always good to have some flexibility with your designs. Instead of the single inevitable ending I was planning for, I decided that the underlying score systems could be tweaked to allow for three different endings based on how the player plays. It actually didn't take very long to tweak the numbers and I think the game benefited from this change. It is still a short game that can be finished in a couple of minutes but now it has enough replay-ability that it allows more exploration of the theme.

What went wrong

Politics. I hate politics so having a politically themed game was certainly an issue for me. While I think my political opinions can be discerned from this game, some of the decisions that the player could take clearly went against my beliefs. I think I handled both cases with enough humour that the game should be enjoyable even by people with differing opinions than mine, but the fact that politics happens to be one of those subjects that invoke strong irrational emotions from people I am sure I have pissed some people off.

Too much art.  Instead of creating unique art for the agent, the 8 people being audited, and the boss, I may have been better off creating a face-making program that would generate a huge number of faces based on a small number of art pieces. I could have then spent more time creating text for people being audited which would have added a lot more content to the game.


I think even though this game is likely to piss some people off, it turned out pretty good.