Sunday, February 7, 2016

Analyzing my Ludum Dare games (Part Two)

Continued from part one:

Up next on my list of Ludum Dare games is Break a Leg.  For this game, we started working on the project by creating the game with two sets of cards.  I thought it was great:  So much so that I am actually working on making it a full-fledged game right now.  But what did everyone else think of the game?  Well, the instructions didn't really help.  Most of the comments were focused on confusion.  Most commenters didn't know what to do and were confused by all of the sandbags dropping seemingly at random (they were dropped by the other actors).  In terms of artwork, the commenters stated that they liked the style, but the UI was less than obvious, especially with the sandbags up at the top of the screen.  It seems like the UI could have been worked out be be more intuitive, like re-sizing the forward sandbag and moving them towards the center of the button where they would land.  Or perhaps having a switch button to change the movement to dropping and vice-versa.  At least voters found Break a Leg to be more innovative and followed the theme well.  For a more in-depth post-mortem of the game, look at my previous post here.
Royal Flesh was a return to audio for me.  In this game, we were able to tag-team the code, which gave me time to work on both putting in some audio and get some artwork in as well.  Most of the comments center around the first build working, so only limited analysis can be gleaned from the rest of the commenters.  What little they said was mostly praise for the game's simplicity.  The ratings for the game show that innovation and theme are becoming fast strengths of the team.  I don't really have much more that I can glean from this, but I did do a longer post-mortem here.
With this last Ludum Dare, I had way too much fun creating Space Mashers.  I felt like I was on point in terms of coding, but I didn't really manage the team too well this time (analyzed here).  Comments centered on praise and a lack of affirmative feedback when the correct buttons are pressed.  I suppose we could have added more effects and background music, but I was just happy getting any sound working in this game.  I have not exactly found out how audio works in pygame, so any sounds were a strict bonus.  It sounds like my UI work left something to be desired and I need to add polish to indicate when the player does something right.  Innovation and theming were on point with this game, however.

That's all of the scoring that I have gotten for Ludum Dare games, but it's certainly not all of my games I've created.  You can see all of the games I've created, including the mini-dare games here and here.  If you have any comments on any of the games, let me know here or on Twitter!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Analyzing my first few attempts at Ludum Dare game challenges (Part One)

I have been looking back at my previous entries into the Ludum Dare lately.  It feels like every time I work on one of these games, I come away feeling great about it.  I rarely look at them a second time, however.  As I have some downtime before the next Ludum Dare, now would be as good a time as any to compare my post-mortems to what the ratings actually said of them.

First up, we have my first ever entry, Lobo.
This being my first ever game created with a team, I felt very good about the outcome.  The strongest portion of our game happened to be the audio.  We found the audio online, using free music (as in the music that can be used for general non-commercial use) and used a few sound clips we made.  I feel that made audio point somewhat of a caveat, since we didn't create all of the assets.  The lowest score we got was in fun.  As the game only had walking brains and no win condition, I'd say that this was a fair critique to have. There wasn't much in terms of gameplay here.  The graphics were a second strong point we had.  I'll do a full post-mortem on this game later.  Onto the next one, The Orion Trial!
Not to be confused with Schell Games The Orion Trail, our Orion Trial ended up being a standout game in terms of rankings, despite having no audio.  We ended up ranking in the top twenty for humor by filling the game with humorous sci-fi references.  It ended up being just a game of random number generation, but no one seemed to care about that weakness, at least judging by the fun rating and the comments.  The weakest portion of the game was the innovation, since it was a clone of the meta-game in Oregon Trail. I personally spent way too much time working on a parallax field, which I felt added polish to the game, but didn't help the fun factor of the game.  I know that I didn't really care about the looks of the original Oregon Trail.  The main part of the game that I liked was the mini-games: Packing up as many bullets, ignoring almost all other supplies, for the hunting mini-game was what I did as a child.  Having no mini-games in the Orion Trial made me feel like the game was somewhat unfinished.  One commenter left one hilarious post, however:

 fisholith says ...
"Cool concept, I love the encounters. :)
On one mission I recruited no fewer than 4 LRRRs. They all died.
On my next mission, my ship had been built on top of an ancient space burial ground. One which also seemed to travel with the ship, because wow, was that ship ever haunted. Actually ... now that I think of it ... there were more ghosts on that ship then crew. Oh my various space gods! *WE* WERE THE GHOSTS!

But also we died later."
Loot Runners was a seeming back-slide in terms of finding that magical mix of game.  I only worked with one other person on this game, but I still am only somewhat happy with the results.  This was our first attempt to create a game involving multiplayer.  The comments on this game were appropriately critical of the execution.  There was not much in terms of gameplay, nor was there much in terms of eye-candy.  What seemed to frustrate the players the most was the lack of feedback.  I think this could have been solved if the player image shook or the monster shook when they attacked you.  What we did do right was sticking on point with the theme.  The entire game was on a single screen.  One bright spot in the game was using a giant killer rabbit for an enemy.  Once again, it was not an especially innovative game.  As a first stab at a local multiplayer game, however, I am pleased with the results.

I will continue the analysis and data visualization of the next three games in the next post.