So, I’m done and dusted – first LD is completed, and I’ve built my first game in the process. I’m immensely proud, but also a little sad – I made some real rookie mistakes, and I think I could have produced a far, far more polished game with ten or so more hours and a little more motivation. So instead of the traditional post-mortem, here are what I’d tell my pre-LD me, if I had the good fortune to send him an inter-dimensional time-travelling message.
1. Learn your weak areas, and focus on them
I did this mostly right – prior to LD, I read a few tutorials on creating good programmer art, and those were invaluable. Sadly, I didn’t also realise that I didn’t know the first thing about making music, so had to figure it out as I went along. I lost a fair few hours figuring out whether I wanted to use SunVox or not.
2. Define your mood early, and stick to it
I knew pretty early on what I wanted from The Fix – the feel of 1940s New York underground boxing, with black and white pictures, quiet piano music, and a small crowd. What I hadn’t really figured is that I really don’t have the skill for that. I can’t draw boxers for crap, let alone make good piano music. Had I taken that into account, and gone for a more cutesy aesthetic, I would probably have ended up with a far more coherent game with fewer stick figures.
3. Think of which features you’re willing to lose
Early on, think about what’s core to your game, and what’s superfluous faffing around. Think about what you can lose, and what you need to implement – and get that done early. My game would have been massively improved with a rudimentary betting system, but I was just so out of motivation 2 days in that I didn’t get it done. That’s a huge shame, in hindsight.
4. 48 hours is actually damn long time
I assumed, like most people do, that I might fail LD because due to running out of time. I was nowhere near that happening – 48 hours is a huge amount of time for a basic game. What’s far more likely to kill you is burning out and running out of motivation. So take some time off: go outside and enjoy life. I spent all of Sunday morning outside with my girlfriend, and had a really, really productive afternoon.
I think that’s all for now. If you’re reading this and considering jumping into LD, then the most important tip of all is this – don’t worry too much. Enjoy yourself, build something that works, and finish it off. There are plenty more jams in the future. I’ll definitely be back for another