This entry was originally posted in the Ludum Dare blog.
You Only Get One Colour is a minimalistic puzzle-platformer that tells you one story. The story of a boy who’s born with the inability to see more than one colour at a time. If you hadn’t played it yet (shame on you) you can find it following this link:
PLAY: You Only Get One COLOUR
What went right?
I think I’ve improved since my last (and first) solo Ludum Dare in some aspects. For starters I’ve slept 4/8/8 hours between Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That may sound like a waste of time and definitely something to talk about in what went wrong, but it’s not. Sleeping is important for two reasons:
- If you’re tired you think BAD.
- If you go to sleep thinking in a problem, you may catch a creativity spark that lights the path to success.
I had my idea while I was trying to get some sleep in the whole excitement of Ludum Dare. This is something I heard seasoned LDers advise, but could believe it. Now I know it’s something good.
I performed very well at planning. Although I got a bit distracted (see next section) I had a plan from the very beginning to finish the game on time. I kept a list of things to do with priorities using Trello. Sure, I spent some time creating the tasks and sorting them from higher to lower priority, but the thing paid off. I got stuck some times, but the plan persisted and pointed me always in the right direction.
Finally, I think I made a good workflow. I’ve heard the word workflow many time, but it was just recently that I understood what it actually meant. For me, workflow is the process between someone creating an asset (music piece or texture) and your game using it. You want to make that process as fast and agile as possible. You don’t want to manually add all your textures into a texture map. You don’t want to manually encode your WAV files into MP3s or OGGs. You don’t want to manually pack all the files required to publish the game.
Since a while back, I keep creating my texture maps using ImageMagick. I even wrote a post about it. I also use Bash in Windows to make some scripts for the encoding of the audio assets from WAV to its appropriate format (usually OGG). That allows me focusing on creating the assets, not preparing them for production. Ah! And the levels are created using GIMP. I can visualise the level while creating it. This helped me minimise the level errors (although the difficulty still sucks).
What went wrong?
The game suffers from some terrible diseases. The most important one I think it’s that I didn’t think of the audience, especially when I was playtesting. I was unaware of how a good player I was becoming, so I kept making levels that were a challenge to me. I was so worried about making levels too easy that I didn’t realise I was loosing my audience. I was making a game for me. That’s fine if that’s what you want, but it wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted people to enjoy the game. Instead I can almost certainly say that no one, besides me, has seen the end of the game (:<)
Next time I NEED time to polish level design.
Another thing that I did wrong was distractions. It’s not that I was doing other things apart from Ludum Dare, but I was spending time in the wrong tasks. I tried to learn how to use tile maps in FlashPunk and I ended up creating my own lite version of tile maps from scratch… Not recommended if you’re participating in a tight schedule competition. I also spent lots of time doing things that ended up in the trash bin. For example, those special brushes that were a pain to create and code.
Next time I NEED to focus on the game and avoid risky routes.
Finally, I think besides good intentions one needs skill to do something cool. I’m terrible at graphics and audio. I’m a poor artists. That’s something that I can improve practising. I can train doing graphic and audio challenges before the competition gets started. After all, you must train all you can before Ludum Dare!
Things to keep doing:
- Sleep well! You need your brain at 100%.
- Prioritise and focus on the most important task. Keep track of things to do and update that list often.
- Optimise your workflow so everything is made automagickally.
Things to do next time:
- Think of your audience and drive your decisions based on them!
- Avoid risks focusing on your plan.
- Train all year your skills. You don’t want to spend time thinking how to make a 1px brush with Gimp.
As with all advices, take mine with caution. I don’t know the ultimate truth about competitions and I’m ALWAYS learning. I do hope that you enjoyed the reading and the game 🙂
Bonus track: You can see my pain in this (time+face)lapse!