Ludum Dare Postmortem
The following is a copy of the short postmortem I wrote for the Ludum Dare website. I just want to archive it here as I hate dead links and don’t trust anybodies WordPress installations to be still available some years down the road.
It may or may not be helpful for you if you plan to attend the next Ludum Dare - which you must absolutely do, it’s a lot of fun!
Here’s the screencast of the whole thing:
This was my first Ludum Dare and I made a game called “Moore’s Game”. It’s basically a journey through the evolution of video games – starting with Tic Tac Toe on a line-printer and ending with a ray-casting first person shooter.
What went right
Although I (think I) was fast, I couldn’t finish everything I had originally planned. More on that later (that’s going to be a big what-went-wrong section, oh my…).
The competition - as I said, this was my first Ludum Dare. I had the most programming-related fun since …ever, really! :-) I also didn’t expect such a cool community. I was on the IRC a little bit, during the competition, and I was stunned how friendly and civilized everyone behaved. It’s the internet, people, you are expected to endlessly insult each other!
No, Ludum Dare is just great – it won’t be my last one!
What went wrong
Scope - that was my biggest problem. I just planned too much features. And while implementing those I had ideas for even more and more and more… I originally wanted to blend the gameplay from one game-generation into the other (that is, playing a bit of a Mario-Bros.-like jump-and-run with Pacman, for example) – but I had just no time for that. The games itself were all simple and small – but there were eight of them.
Which, by my current calculations, were at least seven games too many for a 48h-competition…
Code Quality - let’s not talk about that. This was hands-down the worst code I’ve ever written. I’ve written BASIC on my calculator that was better structured… I just didn’t have time to stop and think. So, copy-and-paste it was, mostly. And brute force. And a lot of “what’s the most stupid thing that could possibly work at least half of the time”.
Pacman - I still don’t know how the hell I managed to get completely stumped by writing pacman. I was on the wrong path, somehow and as a result I wasted much too much time even getting it to the sorry state it’s in now. The ghosts just move randomly, the frame-rate is ridiculously low, it’s buggy as hell. And it doesn’t even look too much like pacman. Not good.
Adventure - The lucas-arts inspired point-and-click adventure level was first planned to be the cool level of the game. The one that would pay back for all the bugs in the other levels. Well, no, that didn’t work out. I wrote half of an engine for it, but there just wasn’t enough time – and I didn’t really know how to actually write a point-and-click adventure game engine… So I started that level over – with about 4 hours left – and basically cut down all the features until it was just one big if-else tree. Not good, part 2.
Time management - It’s easy to lose track of just how much work is still to do when you’re working on eight different games at the same time. And losing track I did.
Knowledge - Before I started, I thought that I generally knew how to program all the games I had planned. Well, yes, generally. But what are good jumping dynamics for a platformer? How should I do collision testing? How do I insert scaled sprites into a ray-casted world? By which rules do the monsters move in pacman? I have no idea. Oh, and no time to find out… Not good, part 3.
What I’ll do different next time
I’m going to write one game. Like, one.
One! Eins! Uno!
One single, polished, working game that’s fun to play.
Not freaking eight badly made ones…
Ludum Dare 24 was fun!
Previously: Assorted Stuff
Next up: Convay's Game of Floating Point
The machine thinks that the Web-Log entries Ludum Dare Postmortem, 26th Ludum Dare - Postmortem, and Purely Functional Games might be related to the topic so eloquently discussed above. The machine is sometimes right.