People often wonder, “what the hell is going on in Jiggawatt’s head?”. Well, now’s your chance to find out with this timelapse of my LD24 compo entry, Manual Population Control.
One point of interest is that the visual style only gets designed at about 3/4th of the way, when I quickly slap proper images on top of the squares. I can’t even imagine having “excess sprites” like some of you have mentioned. You people are weird and I’m the only sane person here.
(Perhaps I should’ve checked if there’s anything overly private shown in that video before uploading. Oh well.)
I also made that gameplay video I wanted. People are pretty clueless about what’s going on in my game (and for a reason), so I hope this is at least proof that there is a point to this game.
See, I tend to make my games for myself, without the need to rely on buzzwords like “ease of use” or “tutorial mode”.
But I like to think my game is fair once you get the hang of it: you can always easily blame yourself for doing something wrong or having left something undone. It has that same addictive charm as roguelikes, in a sense, so I feel like it’s successful at what I set out to do. The mechanics are quite simple in the end (as a result of cutting down features), but there are some interesting strategies emerging from them.
‘Evolution’ as a theme was what I was hoping for but not expecting. I think my problem at the start was an excess of ideas rather than a lack of them. My first impression was that I’d make something like a strategy game where you indirectly guide the evolution of entities, and I had a couple of potential executions branching out from this vague “feeling” I wanted to capture.
I quickly decided I wanted to make something abstract, because fixing physics/collisions/pathfinding bugs has previously taken too much time from the actual design and content creation. It was a good decision because I had some spare time to fine-tune mechanics and just try things out, as well as add polish. Oh, and to keep proper breaks and have a good night’s sleep. Incidentally, MPC has probably the best graphics & audio I’ve made for an LD game.
It’s still not perfect, I guess, at least I want to believe that I haven’t hit my skill ceiling just yet. There are no proper animations, subtle things that would indicate gameplay events like who is attacking whom. That’s probably my biggest gripe because I realize how a developer can guide players with visual cues, and now I just resorted to writing a lengthy manual (plus the gameplay video) while leaving the rest for the imagination. I guess I should consider the user experience at some point, but it’s easy to get lost in the mechanics when there’s nobody else playtesting.
But overall, I’m once again satisfied at what I’ve done. It was my 4th LD and I’ve never failed to make a game, so I feel like I’m a lucky person when watching everyone around me give up. That feeling of clicking ‘Submit’ after two stressing days is just euphoric. You can’t plan everything in advance, so the end result is always a surprise from you to yourself. But that’s the point, to get over that perfectionism and just improvise and make a damn game.