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.

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