Let’s look back at how the game was created, what went well and what didn’t work as planned.
Our Weekend started on Saturday at 8 o’clock in the morning (Ludum Dare was already running since 3:00 am in our time zone) with the discussion of game ideas. We first weren’t really happy with the theme but after a few minutes we came up with the idea we now implemented. As we knew that the first idea often isn’t the best one we looked for more. The best we could come up with was that you are a frog and can shapeshift into a prince. You would then have to infiltrate a castle without getting noticed. Obviously the first idea was better so we took it: you can shapeshift into a human, a wolf and a turtle, each of the forms has unique abilities. Those allow you to solve different kinds of puzzles / platformer elements.
The rest of Saturday was spent implementing the engine, doing artwork, level design and narration writing. On Sunday we recorded all the narration which took several hours. So much monologue… In the evening we tried to create some music but failed horribly. It was Sunday midnight and we didn’t have any levels implemented in the game and only about three existed on paper. The engine also still needed a lot of work to be done. Our goal was to be done by this time, instead we had virtually nothing playable. Oh well, we would need to spend the Monday as well on the game. The lectures at the university had to wait…
The Monday was mostly spent with implementing the levels in the engine (writing tons of xml, so much fun…) and teaching the narrator when to say what. In the end the narrator took about 1000 lines of code, one fourth of the whole engine. The last level was done at one o’clock in the morning, two hours left until the deadline. By the way we still hadn’t come up with a name for our game yet. Unfortunately we didn’t have time for a proper play through as we still had to fix some bugs. And yeah, we still didn’t have any music. We had a few sound effects but no music. So we gave up with trying to create it ourselves and let the computer take over. Thanks to Abundant Music we were able to add music in the last minute. It was somehow depressing that the computer created better music than we were able to but this just means that we have to practice more ;-). We opted to let the users vote on audio even though we didn’t create the music ourselves as we spent a lot of time doing the narration which is also part of audio.
After we uploaded our game and the deadline was over we were able to play the whole game for the first time. And as you can imagine a few small bug fixes followed shortly after. At four o’clock on Tuesday morning we were done, but luckily, so was our game.
What we want to do better next time
- Create our own music. The music we now have is good but our own would „feel“ better.
- We didn’t have any playable levels until Monday morning. Plays into the next point.
- Have the game almost finished way earlier so more time can be spent hunting bugs and improving the game experience.
- Include the bear in the game.
What went well
- Idea turned out to be better than expected.
- We have about 20 minutes of game play. Or much more if you haven’t already played each level a thousand times.
- Our goal before the jam started was to made a game with a narrator. It worked out pretty good.
- The visuals of the game are – at least in my eyes as a developer – pretty nice. And we have a nice shader for the mountain lake.
- We were able to turn the missing bear (cut due to the limited time budget) into an ongoing joke.
- We finished the game on time (later than planned but still within the deadline).
Although we first didn’t really like the theme I think the game we made this time is my best Ludum Dare game so far. Most things went well but took more time to complete than we first thought. But that’s always the case. We were able to adjust the scope of our game early enough to be able to still finish it. The feedback so far is great and we already thought about making the game bigger and better. Coming Summer 2017?
If you got curious and want to play the game: there you go!