Hey all, recently, I created a game for Ludum Dare. This was my first time making a game in 72 hours; this is my post mortem on that entire experience. I know there are a lot of things that could have gone better and I want to share that with you! Let’s get into it, start with the planning phase.
During the planning of the game, we didn’t have any significant problems. But, there is one problem that we faced in terms of scope. We should have taken more time to focus on a single mechanic, rather than implementing multiple ones within the time frame. If we couldn’t do that, we could instead have picked one that solves multiple problems in the Game Design. My takeaway, always focuses on a single mechanic that can solve multiple problems in smaller games where time constraints matter. That will make your Ludum Dare experience much better.
Okay so, with what happened in planning, what else could have been improved? I think another aspect that could have been improved is the level design process.
Improving The Level Design Process
We started designing levels somewhat early. This seemed like a good idea at first, but it ended up causing us a lot of issues down the line. We had to go back and rework several levels in the game. This cost us time and energy that could have instead been spent on something else in the development timeline. The takeaway is to refine your game mechanic until it feels right, then build levels in your game. We did eventually when we started running out of time. But, we should have done so from the start.
Now, there are a couple more things that we could have improved on.
We should have checked the art frequently. Time taken to evaluate the art takes time away from the development if it’s just a small team. For example, you may have your artist constantly asking you to validate whether the art looks good while you’re trying to code another feature. Having test builds that are updated consistently would have been useful to both me and the artist to keep him updated on how his art looks in-game, without me having to spend time updating the art all the time. If creating test builds is not possible, a video of it in-game, or even just streaming the development would be helpful.
Next topic, programming mistakes.
Programming is difficult, we should have taken more time focusing on a single mechanic in the programming. Additionally, I should have taken more time tightening up the base mechanics of the game. The code could have had a couple more comments for clarity. I also think that I should have spent more time learning ways to speed up development for small changes, such as hscript in Haxe. Also, I should have reached out more to others for answering simple questions to not waste precious development time.
Those are my main takeaways. Additionally, I think that the main takeaway is that everything starts and ends with planning. Planning is everything take the time to plan the idea and prototype until you’re ready to go all-in on your final design.
With that said, Good luck game making!!