For the 27th Ludum Dare 48-hour game making competition, I created an entry called Grid Ten. It was my 6th entry into the competition, and needed to be based around the theme ‘10 Seconds’. The competition voting isn’t quite over at the time of this writing, but here are my thoughts on how my game turned out.
Pre- theme annoucement: I had planned to use Inform 7 or Twine for creating a text adventure, but I had also considered Haxe with HaxeFlixel or HaxePunk as a fall-back if I didn’t want to do a text adventure. Other than that, I went into the competition with no substantial ideas for the direction I wanted to go.
Theme Announcement: The IRC chat room was full of hate for ‘10 Seconds’, and I just knew this was the theme going to be picked. So, when it was announced, I was already thinking about what I could do. Initially I started drafting some sort of story that would revolve around using ‘10 seconds’ in the context of a lat/long coordinate. I actually spent a good 4 hours working on this concept before going to bed for the night.
The next morning: With the announcement happening only 4 or so hours before I went to bed, it gave my subconcious a good chance to mull over what I had worked on the night before. When I woke up, I started having doubts about my ideas from the night before – none of them were really ‘gelling’ with me. So after about 2 hours, I came upon the core idea for what turned into Grid Ten, which was definitely not a text-adventure.
Day 2: I spent a good 7 hours polishing everything up – I added some primitive animations, another ‘block’ the player could place, I also did some optimizations and improved the ‘intelligence’ of the enemies and added a menu, and a end-game screen. Generally, I polished the thing up quit a bit. I did stop early, around 3pm, to start the process of packaging and releasing. I’ll talk about this a bit more later, but I should have definitely kept at it for at least another 2 or 3 hours.
Post- competition end: I ended up fixing a bug whereby user placed blocks would stick around after a reset. Small, and easily fixed, but I should have totally caught that before submission!
- I leveraged a platform that I know fairly well
- I stuck really well to a plan for absolute minimum viable product – I didn’t put a lot of extra cruft into the game that I didn’t think significantly improved the experience. Take, for example, the start and end screens – I put a large ‘bouncing’ text on both screens which didn’t add anything to game-play, but it made the start and end screens much less boring to look at, which is important for first impressions I think.
- I got plenty of sleep and food (always important!)
There are really only three things I think were really bad this time around:
- I basically scratched and restarted what I was doing after about 6 hours total of development time. This hurt – but, to be fair, I wasn’t ‘feeling’ the text-adventure I started with, and it was probably good for my sanity to restart with the game I did.
- I quit 2 or 3 hours earlier than I really should have, and in that time I probably could have done quite a lot of polishing.
- I used mostly original code – I used zero game related engines/frameworks
Overall I’m really happy with the project, and I think the core concept has a lot of potential. I see a few ways that it could grow and change, and I’m actually pretty excited to continue working on this game in my down time.
However, I think I’ll probably end up re-writing most of it. The style I used to code the game isn’t sustainable I think… growing the project much larger would hurt, especially adding some of the mechanics into it that I have ideas for. I don’t know that I’ll have to write every piece of code from scratch, but good chunks of it for sure.
Otherwise, I think I’ve gotten some fairly positive comments on my entry page, and I got around a 2.5 out of 5, which is about where I was expecting this time around. If there were more mechanics and more polish, then I think I would have absolutely nailed it.