The rating period is slowly but surely nearing its end, and I thought it cannot hurt to write a postmortem for the game I made three weeks ago. I wish I would’ve promoted the game more (it’s my first online multiplayer game after all!) and I wish I could’ve played more games, but my master’s thesis was jealous and demanded I spent more time with it. That being said, I have a free minute now, so here goes nothing!
This Ludum Dare I made SnakeFormer, a short puzzle game combining Snake with pseudo-physics platformer mechanics.
If you’d like to, you can play it here.
Like just about every game, some lessons were learnt, and I thought I’d write a small piece about them. It’s 12 hours before the judging ends, and nobody has time to read through a novel, so I’ll keep this short!
Game & Level Design
If a level has the right difficulty for you, it’ll be too hard for everybody else.
I swear I’ll remember this lesson one day, haha. That doesn’t necessarily mean “make it easier”, because in a level-based game, there is another approach:
When in doubt, make more levels.
Easier levels, preferably. I should’ve spent a lot less time on the menu and instead made more transition levels. Which brings me to:
Don’t introduce more than one mechanic per level.
Level 2 introduces: Lava, falling stones AND growing the snake. That’s, uh, a bit too much.
Even if you think the goal is clear, it might be not.
So – better make it clearer. The goal in my game is to exit the screen to the right, like in most platformers. Some people thought that they had to eat the whole level though, which is a more Snake-like goal.
Put instructions in the first level.
Some players don’t read the instructions before starting the game – but once they are confused inside the game, make it as easy as possible to re-read them.
Art, Sound & Music
Glow is freakin’ cool.
Homemade sound effects can be quite entertaining.
Any game needs sound effects, and since I’m no good at making them digitally, I tried to use my mouth for most. Turns out that’s a lot of fun to listen to, and I actually had a few people praise my sound design, especially the eating- and the end-of-level-sounds.
Abundant Music (music generator) + GXSCC (a MIDI chiptunes-like renderer) are the best team.
I’m no musician, so I had to use generated stuff. Those two are PERFECT. It still took very long to find songs that sound well together, but that definitly was time well spent.
Cheery music for hard and punishing gameplay.
Gnhihihihi. So much fun while watching streamers.
Trust in the process and stay open for new ideas.
The concept I started out was a lot more boring, but but sometime after implementing the stones I asked myself “Okay, so those stones fall – what if gravity affects the snake too?” – and then SnakeFormer was born. So even if your initial idea isn’t perfect, go for it anyway instead of giving up, it might evolve into something great later on!
If your idea comes late, don’t worry! There’s still time!
I don’t think i started any development 12 hours after the start of the compo – 8 hours sleep, 4 hours pondering. I think it paid off!
ToDo lists are great to maintain focus.
Always use a ToDo list so you won’t lose track of your next tasks. Workyflowy works best for me.
Thanks a lot for reading! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Maybe I made you a bit curious about my game too? If you want to, you can play SnakeFormer here – and I don’t think I have to mention how much I like comments and ratings, do I?
Happy New Year, folks!
I thought it’s time to write a postmortem for my Ludum Dare 25 entry. For those who haven’t seen my game yet, you can find it by clicking on this conveniently placed handcrafted icon:
And now, without further ado, lets begin the postmortem!
At the end of every January, people all around the world gather to make awesome games in an absurdly short time. Developing a game in 48 hours is nothing short of insane, and I don’t think it comes to anyones surprise that this appeals a lot to me. And here I proudly present our result this year:
Super Snake Wheel
“We can’t stop here! This is bat country!”
Well, Mr. Snake might have been a bit drunk when he and his companion Mr. Gecko ignored all the warnings and set out to their adventure. Being one of the few snakes who can form a tire out of himself, he’s now rolling down the hill while Mr. Gecko defends him from birds, barely keeping his balance! Take control of this duo of odd heroes in this quirky adventure for one casual and one hardcore player!
And of course credit where credit is due, and these amazing guys deserve a lot:
- Game Design: Matthias Niebergall
- Art: Kirill Krysov
- Programming: Dominik Hübner and myself
- Music taken from the wonderful Kevin MacLeod
- A big thanks to all the people organizing the jam, globally and locally here in Berlin. You’ve done a great job!
By the way, we even satisfied a diversifier (an achievement for the developers) this year: “Collaborative Casual/Hardcore (Two players: one casual, one hardcore): Collaborative play for two, but one player has more to do than the other (or the difficulty level is different between them).” I am sure you will agree after you’ve tried both the casual Mr. Snake and the slightly more hardcore Mr. Gecko: The former just has to jump and duck, while the later has to balance on the snake, jump at the right times and use the mouse to shoot at birds!
Even though this is not my first jam, it seems that every single one has some valuable lessons to teach. These are mine this time:
- Even though it’s an a very small timeframe, make a rough project plan with milestones so you won’t lose focus.
- Every milestone should be playable (player interaction and a goal), especially the first one – which should ideally be ready when you go to sleep the first time. It does wonders to your motivation!
- Programmers, make a task list. It keeps you focused.
- You cannot say if something is fun until you can test it. Halfway through the project I felt like giving up because nothing seemed to be coming together, and 12 hours later we had this amazingly fun prototype! So even if it seems like the game won’t be any good, at least implement the first playable prototype.
- If your code is based on a pixel oriented framework like Flashpunk, don’t mix in vector based stuff like MovieClips. It just leads to a whole load of implementation overhead.
- If you want to pull an all-nighter, at least sleep the first night. Otherwise you might fall asleep the second night which will surely lead to you missing the deadline.
This year the GGJ was certainly not easy and at times tedious and exhausting, but the result totally makes up for that. I daresay that it is one of my best prototypes so far! I am very happy that I have participated, and I’d like to thank everybody who made the weekend as amazing as it was!