Almost a week has passed since LD23 started and I think it is time to look back at what actually happened. I didn’t really have a favorite among the themes, so when Tiny World popped up I had nothing prepared. I got a few ideas while having breakfast, but nothing that I thought was interesting enough. Tiny World to me is about relative sizes, but all I came up with was not relative to anything else in the game. So I took a shower and not only did I get clean, but the idea of summarizing another game into tiny bits was born. I went with Super Mario Brothers pretty much straight away as it both widely known, but also said WORLD x-y on every other screen.
Can’t be bothered to read the post mortem? Go straight to the game and play/rate it here.
Things that what went right
I used my own developed engine Pixelizer. Even if I’ve been working a lot on it lately and this would be the first true test. Luckily it stood up to the challenge and allowed me to cram a lot into the game in little time.
Straight and simple, but colorful. I obviously had original graphics to start from, but I wanted to put my own touch to it to make the game as a whole a quite different experience from the original. The first thing I did on the project was actually animating the main character as I knew I would be spending a lot of time with him and didn’t want to stare at a purple box. From there I build the rest of the graphics to work with the character.
I knew making 32 distinct levels would take it’s time, so I decided to find a way to control the scope in case I ran out of time. The solution I choose was to alternate between making levels from the start and making levels from the back. Ie, first I made world 1, then I made world 8, than world 2, then 7, etc. Should I run out of time, I would at least have the start and the end of the game. Also I didn’t implement anything until it was needed in a level. That way I could focus on the task at hand at all times.
Being part of the LD meet up at Free Lunch Design worked great for me, it was very relaxing which allowed me to focus when needed, and chat with friends at other times. Kept me from burning out which very easily could have happened.
Things that what went less right
In retrospect, this was way to big for a single weekend. I churned out levels like a crazy person the last few hours before submission. Even if I had control of the scope, it would have ruined the idea as a whole if I had failed to recreate every level.
Pixelizer was good to me in many ways, but there are also some glitches in the game which are due to the engine. Needs more work.
The game feels a bit flat without any music. But there was simply no time for this and I am no composer by any means. I decided not to include music as it would probably do more harm than good unless it was really good.
Misjudgung the audience
A lot of the decisions I made for the game design concerned how to make the game more puzzly and less actionly. I thought I would get away with this, but it caused the game to be somewhat less similar to the original than what players expected. For instance being able to jump over the flag pole or nog being able to stand safely on pipes, made a lot of players frustrated.
I didn’t do much noise about having completed my game. I was tired and went to bed. When I woke up again the game was mentioned on some sites and I thought ‘hey that’s great’ but didn’t think more about it. Later that it started appearing on more sites and suddenly it was featured on Kotaku. From there everything exploded, with the game appearing on everything from destructoid and boingboing to barstoolgames. Tweets kept rolling in with comments and questions, from all over the world. It was an amazing experience to see something that I had created spread like a wildfire. I had never imagined that people would take the game to their hearts the way they did and I feel incredibly humble and fortunate to the whole experience.
Ludum Dare 23 was an amazing experience for me. Not only did I had a great time making the game, seeing the response has been thrilling beyond compare. Browsing the entires I am amazed by the sheer range of awesome game concepts and implementations. The sky is truly the limit for this fantastic event. I am happy and proud to be a part of it and so should you!
If you’re still interested in the actual game after reading this, please play/rate it here.