After I submitted our game yesterday I was numb and empty. I felt robbed of my vision of the game. It will never be finished, its purpose has faded and the goal has been declared reached. Since we failed to submit last time, we already severely cut back on the game concept this time around, which is why I don’t think this game is worth finishing.
This time we started preparing weeks in advance; we got familiar with the programming environment we would be working and even thought up file formats we could use for animations. We also planned out our code structure a lot more carefully from the start and it did seem to pay off. In the end, all of this and the reduced gameplay mechanics were not enough, and I am not yet sure, whether I want to participate again. I fear having to reduce the gameplay even further will merely yield “minigames”, stranded outside the realm of multiplayer party games. Perhaps the 48-hour single-person version is better, I haven’t tried it; maybe it will avoid these heartbreaks by virtue of having the option of extending into the 72-hour jam.
Overall, this weekend overall has left me with great relief that it is finally over, but also with a bitter aftertaste of disappointment. I will have to recharge my enthusiasm.
While the above certainly sounded very gloomy, I also learned a thing or two about creating games under pressure. I believe the key is to churn out a well-rounded prototype in the first 24 hours: the important game mechanics should be implemented and the game should play like a full albeit very short and contentless game. Then, in the second phase, which I like to call “content + balancing”, you get to spend time making the game fun by play-testing, adding levels, diverse enemies, creating cool animations and effects, and so on; none of these things should be difficult or voluminous in terms of coding.
In neither the last nor in this competition did we get to spend much time on the second phase at all – a few hours tops.
In hindsight, the new rendering method probably didn’t add that much clarity (although it looks way fancier!) and next time I would probably stick to the first version and concentrate on getting that done before the first day is over.
Closing this post, I am still confused and a little angered. Perhaps time will bring me wisdom.
P.S.: I would like to give a shoutout to Guild Wars 2 for stealing our only semi-competent artist from us just in time for LD24.