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Game Jam 9 Post-Mortem

2013-07-06 22:29:38 by FlyingColours

Alright, I know nobody ever reads my news posts, but I'll write a post-mortem here anyway. Consider it a personal rant...

The choice of screenshot... originally, I had never thought to use that screenshot; it was too difficult for me. I was quite surprised when Nimble and Sam decided to choose it... but yeah, two weeks is a lot of time, so why not? It's great to try something new anyway.

Unfortunately, I didn't finish it on time. All the art and stuff were finished on the last day. After I'd coded in everything, embedded all the XML files, fixed the seemingly infinite bugs... I had no time to incorporate those sprites. Not to mention that we had no volume control. (or game saving, but I coded that during the time we waited for Tom to reply to our PM requesting a rise in storage area...)

Not sleeping for 36 hours, which I did on the last day, was no vacation. It was more of a nightmare to me, and although I didn't feel that sleepy, many times I felt like stamping on the floor, and it would probably break. Darn. Nor did that change much in the next 24 hours following our publication: We kept unpublishing after discovering series of major bugs, and only like 24 hours after the deadline was our game eventually playable. It did NOT help that the make live option was automatically checked by default, and I kept unchecking it!

Still, I was rather satisfied with the game myself. I felt it was pretty cool, especially with the plot...

The plot is actually one I've been turning over my head over the past few months, wanting to turn it into a game. I figured it fit pretty well here, so I suggested it. It was Nimble, though, who eventually turned the storyline into the great plot it is now.

What really sucked was that only one player ever got to the climax of the plot! It was exciting: Cal fainted, lived the last moments of his life, and came back, then he embarked on his journey to I'm-not-going-to-tell-you-where-it-is. Nimble's music for these two acts was PURE AWESOMENESS. and yet only one person could enjoy it.

Reading egg's review, I did get a good idea of what went wrong. First and foremost, people weren't familiar with the mouse system for platformers, which I actually stole from Poptropica, a kids' game I was still playing not long ago. I realised that using the mouse to move was rather confusing unless you came from there. However, since people never complain about movement in Poptropica, what made us different? I think the answer is arrows. Poptropica has arrows to show the player where they're going; we didn't. I could have coded it in, but I didn't have time.

Another thing is conversations. Before the final day of the jam, I still thought we would have voice acting, which would be easy to implement, what with a sound system quite ready. I eventually had to code the conversation system quickly, which I did in three hours. Unfortunately, it was not quite perfect. Large conversation blocks went as fast as small ones, and I can see why players will get impatient, having got impatient myself waiting for the next block to come. I'll have to add skip button.

Apart from that, there's no quality toggle or volume control, which of course I'll have to fix.

As for the screen freezing, I'm fairly sure it's a lack of resources because of those noises, which I had to convert to Starling in real-time. I'll fix that by storing maybe fifty of those noises in a static Vector.<T> variable and using them each time. That should take care of the freezing.

After fixing all that - and them bugs - I believe our game will be ready to distribute to other sites, where they will - hopefully - fare better.

To Nimble, Miha, bluebolt and Sam, sorry for being such a slow programmer. I do still hope we can do better on other sites.


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2013-07-12 11:02:01

Thats what's tough about game jams, the fact that such a good chunk of time has to be left at the end to beta test and have it FEEL good. Theres so many intangibles like pacing and repeat plays that come into play that you cant anticipate. You just have to be that damn good to finish with enough time to fit and finish.

I read your rant ;)

FlyingColours responds:

Thanks for reading Luis! :P Yes, I do think that's what hardest about those jams. The first time I was in a jam (GJ7) I was a complete noob and made a really simply Flash IDE game, so there wasn't much testing needed - everything just worked. This time, though, it was a completely different story...