Post-mortem, being something we may analyze after its untimely passing, strikes me as being the wrong approach. I would like to present a short living analysis; an ante-mortem, if you will.
Building You are me now was wonderful, mostly because it had closure, but I do not consider it complete. The central idea, using the Islands metaphor as a physical mechanic, falls short of my initial thoughts when considering the theme when it was announced. While walking around Tel Aviv’s Neve Tsedek neighborhood, I chanced upon some graffiti that seemed to fit the idea of making islands stop being islands. (Continued…)
Concept, plot, story
To be honest, the original idea I had doesn’t work as a game makable in 48 hours. Infecting NPCs with your brain waves, becoming a kind of hive mind, spreading your mental capabilities. Instead, the graffiti solidified a simpler concept of trading places with your enemy, using a kind of teleportation mechanic.
I liked the idea of “Islands”, and it made its way into the game as a settings and a further mechanic. This, too, could use some expansion. Lowering the water level between the islands should be more than just a switch buried in the ground. It needs to be connected to the psychic capabilities as well. Lowering the water level should connect you more with other “minds”, allowing you greater freedom. It should make your clone-self last longer, or jump higher, enabling you to visit locations previously inaccessible.
It was due to this partial thought that the ending is not very satisfying. A truer ending would include a feeling of mastery, as you have swept an archipelago populace into a transcendent state. But nothing along those lines was available in this time frame, so I opted for keeping the ending simple and blunt.
The story is hopefully somewhat implied, but it ended up being mostly absent. I didn’t get around to writing big texts, or adding any sort of characterization.
Having played around with Flixel these past few months, getting a simple game up and running was extremely fast. Approximately half of the time was spent on code as it was on graphics, and very little time wasted on bugs (though I did have a few annoying ones).
One major time-drain was getting the maps and tiles to work. I have used Mappy->Flixel in the past, but this game incorporated more layers than ever before, and my workflow is a pain. Next time, I’ll probably use a different map editor program, like Flan perhaps.
I wishy-washied between GraphicsGale and Inkscape a bit too much, and the resulting pixels are pretty bad. My friend and LD-jam-mate, Daniel Zoran, explained how I should really be making the tilesheets (make a big square page so you see how they fit together), instead of my 1-dimensional tile sheets. Definitely on my list of things to learn how to do.
I can’t believe I made music! This part really contributed to my feeling of accomplishment, when seeing the finished product. I think next time, I would want to extend beyond sfxr sounds, or at least learn how to layer them together with an external program, to add complexity. but daaaaaaang, I made a whole game, including music and sound effects, winning condition, and bad guys.
This one hurts the most. During the last hours of the competition, I neglected playtesting, even though multiple opportunities presented themselves. Even something as simple as tuning the jump mechanic – this could have added much in the way of playability. After the compo was over, I watched a non-gamer play, and I was ashamed that I left so many little annoyances in.
Also, more feedback to the player would have helped. It isn’t obvious that backtracking is necessary, and the checkpoint markers were misidentified as information booths (or even telephones, perhaps because of their sound when activating).
- DO: keep track of your time! Excel is your friend. It says I spent 20.06667 hours working on Ludum Dare.
- DON’T: drink caffeine late at night I had a very bad night’s sleep during the compo.
- DO: have a great friend like Daniel, to keep each other smashing away at the keyboard.
- DO: get the hell out of the house!!! It probably saved my life, going for walks every day. Also, this is how I found the inspirational graffiti (pictured above).
- DO: have a supportive spouse!
Thank you for reading. Thank you for playing. Thank you for leaving meaningful comments.
Play You are me now.
ps. Thank you, Ludum Dare! I can’t wait for the next one.