Postmortem - Game Jam
This is a repost of the original postmortem I posted on my Tumblr blog. I deleted the blog and decided to include it here for posterity's sake.
1. 2 game jams, 2 themes
First was the thing about joining 2 game jams. gm48′s theme was Helpful but Harmful while LD Jam’s was Combine 2 Incompatible Genres. I had to somehow come up with an idea where I could integrate both themes. Both were themes that I considered “weird” so I completely didn’t prepare for either of them. (I do not come up with ideas for themes I consider “weird” :P) I just randomly thought of one and went with it, whether it’ll work or not.
2. Wrong Priorities
When I finally settled with the idea of going platformer-management, I don’t know what got to me but I prioritized the platformer aspect instead of the management bit. Platformers are very common and I could have easily integrated it even if I did it later. However, I did it first. I quickly regretted this. I only got to work on the management aspect of the game when around less than 10 hours was left. I didn’t realize that it entailed a lot more detailed work compared to the platforming, most especially in the design aspect. The inclusion of management in the game is so crucial to make it stand out from the typical platformer, after all.
What went well
- I’m quite proud of what I accomplished in the art department. It can still use some improvements but, both the quantity and quality of art present in the game amazes even me given the timeframe.
- Combination of platformer and management
- The two genres combined is quite okay. Platforming makes the management aspect of the game more challenging.
- General time and project management
- Deciding where to really focus for a few hours before moving onto another worked for me in this game. I prevented myself from overwhelming myself with the amount of tasks which saved me from getting headaches.
What went wrong
- 100% no music and sound effects
- I knew no one who I can ask to do music. I was too shy to ask around. Also, I dedicated too much time on the art that I completely ignored the audio part of the game.
- Lack of proper tutorial (or how to play)
- Design tweaks took priority over introducing the player to the level. The game plays good if you know what to do, but it is confusing and chaotic if you don’t. Some people became dissuaded from the game because of this.
- Focused art too much on level; ignored the others
- All art efforts were placed on the actual level. All other game screens (title, game over, etc.) had little to no love given to them. I imagine that some people are turned off by the simplistic logo and title screen only to be greeted by a lot of art in the actual level.
What I can improve
- Prioritization of gameplay > visuals
- As mentioned earlier, I focused way too much time on art that gameplay was touched only on the last few hours of the jam. I prototyped the idea but I always went back to art before nailing down what can be considered as “good gameplay”.
- Community engagement
- I was a bit shy to share my progress during the jam. The few screenshots that I released were posted out of the overwhelming excitement I gained after those huge milestones were done. I fear that my game’s visibility will suffer because of this.
- There are quite a few variables added for the management part. I think I added a bit too much that balancing the game required really intricate tweaks. It might have been better if I went with fewer ones.
What I learned
- Dealing with platforming mechanics
- This is my first time actually handling a platformer. I dealt with it before but immediately scrapped it. I had to cram some tutorials, which I think went just right.
- Intricacies of the management genre
- The management genre is no joke. What Delve had might be simpler than the typical management game but there are still a lot of variables involved, all needing lots of love to get just right.
- Importance of taking care of self
- I only got to sleep a total of 10 hours in 3 days. I ate too many food and drank too much coffee. A few days after the game jams and I’m still not feeling good. Now I know why I should take care of myself during game jams..
- Advantages of sticking to a color palette
- Having a color palette saved me some headaches for producing the art. It made the visuals look cohesive and brought a certain kind of feel.
- Music and sounds matter (a bit)
- With the absence of music and sounds in the game, I think I might have been able to come up with a better experience if they were included. They’re not as important as gameplay but their integration may have certainly mattered in Delve.
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