Jam Postmortem: What now?
Last weekend, I participated in the Ludum Dare compo along with about 800 other devs. This postmortem is going to discuss the Good, the Bad and the Future of Ace of Rope.
What went right
The game was well received in general! The music, art style, game mechanic, and bosses are most appreciated.
What changed since last jam (when I did Lighthouse Keeper for Ludum Dare 46) is how I found the idea. This time, instead of discarding the ideas file from before the theme announcement, I strictly followed it.
Another change is development time. For Lighthouse Keeper, the game was ready at noon, giving me half a day to polish, publish and start rating games. Here instead, the game was ready two hours before the end of the jam, with bugs fixed at T-1 hour. This amounts at nearly 30 hours of total development, most of the remaining time was dedicated to eating and sleeping. What a tight schedule!
Helpful elements include previous experience in Godot, pixel-art, audio, Ludum Dare, publishing on itch.io, and gamedev in general. My graphics tablet helped me (I didn't have access to it in the last hours, hence the poorly drawn intro and outro).
What went wrong
Here is all the non-positive feedback:
There is no real challenge between bosses. More puzzles and/or tougher enemies could fill the gap. It's even possible to go past the entire game, bosses not included, in less than 2 minutes. I plan to do more content, like hostile snakes, menacing vulture, and dramatic tumble-weeds (just implemented, you can play soccer with them). That's for the desert alone.
The player can be stuck in the middle of water. This bug can be trivially reproduced: take paddle from boat, do the helicopter move, stop helicopter move in the middle of river. I fixed it yesterday. Now you just reappear where you started doing the helicopter, with no damage taken.
It's not obvious how the boat item should be used. The player has to take the paddle from it with the rope, then use the paddle as a helicopter blade. It's a bit mystical naturally, because paddles are not intended to be used like that.
There are also minor flaws nobody but me noticed or complained about:
- The first boss occasionally turns into health bars when just beaten. This is a bug, not an intended plot element ("and then, as a revenge, the mystical criminal cast a spell and turned the Judge into a health bar for a thousand years!").
- The cave entrances (room transitions) don't look like you can get into them while still standing. This is a problem with doors in many RPGs, but I still fixed it for the next release.
- Two rope mechanics is not enough. (acceptable flaw for a game made in two days)
- The cactus and dead tree are obstacles but look just like the rest of the tileset, the intro & outro are poorly drawn, etc.
There is a new deadline approaching, that is the end of October. I plan to release a 1.1 version, though this is starting to become more of a 2.0.
There are two main reasons for this:
- The end of the rating period, allowing me to update the itch.io page.
The next release will still be free. However, in the case of a relative success, I might turn it into my first paid game! This will require the game to have at least 20 hours of playing time, which is not the case at all today. The Halloween version will certainly serve as a demo.
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