Now that the euphoria of not sleeping and game-developing has settled down, let’s take a look at what went right and what went wrong during the development of Metal Sphere Solid.
Well actually, everything went pretty alright. There isn’t much that went “completely wrong”. Ah well, I’ll talk about it anyway.
What went (somewhat) wrong
The theme – Because “escape” is such a non-theme. You can put virtually everything in it. In that regard it is even worse than “it’s dangerous to go alone.”
The color-scheme – The main charater needs to contrast with the environment he’s in too create tension. If the main character just blends in, he’s not in jeopardy, he’s at home. So I was a little miffed when I figured out with 12 hours to go that the environment was mostly blue, and I didn’t want to create a red ball again.
I went for a glowy green (which I nailed this time), which nicely contrast with the level. The color-combination is still a bit weird.
What went right
Tile-based level – Having everything in clean tiles made putting this together much easier. This further creates a nice little gag when you leave the tile-set at the end.
Timelapse – I love timelapses. Everything seems ultra-efficient.
The Story – This is the largest amount of story I ever put in a game. Until now I’ve worked under the premise that good games-design has to be the basis, while story is optional. That still holds true, but now I see how an engaging story can pull you into the game.
The end – I love it. Too bad I couldn’t extend it a bit. First you see your friends, an assortment of balls similar to you, but with different colors, core-structures and sizes. You free them, they say a random, possibly funny line, and roll to freedom. You join them, and while joining them leave the rigid, tile-based confines of the main level and enter a free terrain.
I need to expand upon the “friendly ball”-theme more. It’s fun.
The ball-design – Compared to one of my previous games, Unstoppaball, the ball-design is much better. The glowing core is warmer, the outging light shows the strength of the character, and the brightness contrasts nicely witht he relatively dark surrounding.
The Soundtrack – I experimented with my guitar until I found something that was both interesting and fitting to the gameplay. So far it is only good, but nothing special. Also, the loop is off by half-a-second. Need to remember that next time.
What I would have liked to add/improve
Better character-fragments – So far the “remains” of the hero or the enemies are just four to five relatively uniform fragments. With more time I could have created something more complex and organic.
Better score – The score that is now measured is the time you spend being seen. The highscore-list is reversed, which means that people with the least amounts go on top places. This is far from optimal, as there is a “finite” highscore, and after attaining it doesn’t create an incentive to keep playing.
More complex enemies – The original plan of having patrolling enemies fell through due to time-contraints, but I still managed to make something interesting with only stationary guards.
Well, pretty much every aspect came out positive – The game is emotionally engaging, throwing enemies in spikes is fun, the sneaking mechanic is relatively rare, so far I’ve gotten a pretty good amount of votes, critiques are positive, and a good number of people have played it.
When I started with my first LD, I was at first confused by the somewhat complex voting-system. So I thought I could explain it for anybody who’s interested.
This is what the voting-screen looks like. Here are the details:
1. The list of Developers. The entire list is randomized, to ensure equal visibility. At the beginning only 20 names are visible, but once a certain number of those has been voted on, the list extends, showing the next random batch.
2. Pressing this button will load the entire list. It will still be randomized, though.
3. The amount of votes this developer has gotten.
4. Coolness-rating. Hovering over this spot reveals the coolness-rating of this developer. Coolness is awarded for the percentage of rated games. Should this person rate ALL games, she would get a coolness-rating of 100%. The developer will get a medal displayed on the left, next to the name. Bronze at 25%, Silver at 50%, and gold at 75%.
5. Competition-rating. Games can be rated in the categories Overall, Innovation, Fun, Adherence to Theme, Graphics, Audio, Humor and Community. The Community-rating describes the actions of the developer towards the community, for example by providing blog-posts, timelapse-videos, and other additional pieces of information. Ratings can be 1 to 5 stars, or “n/a”, should you feel you cannot give a proper rating in a certain category.
6. Jam-Rating. The same system as in the competition, only with games that have been entered in the Jam.
7. Text-Comment. An X appears should you have given a comment