I submitted about fifteen minutes ago, so I don’t have any feedback rolling in yet. I think this is a great time to write a post-mortem before the details are lost. I can do another one after my game is rated.
What went great
- I knew my strengths and weaknesses when I went in. Specifically, I knew that I was poor at art, AI, animation and music. This helped me direct my game ideas away from genres where I’d be weak. Knowing I was bad at art and music informed my aesthetic decisions too.
- Doing a puzzle game for LD was a great choice. A puzzle game has depth when it has as few pieces/behaviours as possible. This directly worked against feature creep. My experience with 2D arrays from another project also came in handy with this one (or really any other puzzle game played on a board).
- I used a notebook. I got myself a visual arts diary with unlined pages, and I had some colored pencils. It helped me figure things out and allowed me make to-do lists that were serious business, and not just scrawled on the back of scrap paper.
- I set some time aside to brainstorm ideas. When the theme was announced I put everything aside and made a mind map of all the things associated with the theme. I latched on to the idea of evolution being a gradual change in anything, not just biological, and trying to fit this into a puzzle game resulted in my concept.
- I made a level creation pipeline. And by ‘pipeline’, I mean it loaded a .txt file and parsed it into tiles. Much better than doing things in the editor, though.
- I didn’t drink much coffee. I found that it just made me feel a bit ill.
What went poorly
- Designing puzzle levels is painful. If I do another puzzle game, I will do mathematical puzzles so that I can generate them procedurally. I ended up arranging cutouts of color names on grid paper, working backwards from a semi-solved state.
- Not colorblind-friendly. I’m really, really sorry. The next puzzle game I make will be based on symbols, I pinky-promise.
- Not enough time to deepen the mechanics. I think the behaviours of the tiles are too similar, but I didn’t have time to iterate over changes.
Until now I’ve only finished one crappy minigame. This was my first LD, and I delivered a polished game within 45 hours that I am really quite pleased with. I couldn’t be happier!