Solitude Post Mortem

Good evening. Man, what an interesting week!

It’s fun to think that a week ago i decided to join the GPC (Game Prototype Challenge) in a whim, and now i got a brand new video game!

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Solitude is a game based on the themes “Island” and “Entangled”. The goal of the game is to get all the floating crystals on a level and take them to the teleporting device. To do that, you “tie” the floating crystals to your ship, and you pull them. It’s some sort of puzzle driven snake.

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This time, i was especially amazed by my speed. The experience on making Goblin Rampage (both versions) were priceless. In fact, this time i completed the core mechanics of the game a lot in advance ( Yes, i learned my lesson ^_^;) .

The problems started when i had to do level design. This will probably sound dumb, but i thought that i just needed simple game mechanics to make a good puzzle game, and that the ideas to make challenging levels would swiftly come.

So, this time i learned this : Never, Ever, assume that level design is something that comes natural. Even when the game was made you yourself!

You can’t just take a random game mechanic and assume that you will instantly know how to design good levels out of it. Heck, It’s even plausible that you can’t pull anything interesting, no matter how skilled you are.

I must say that this did not leave after burns on me. After all, having problems on making levels was expected, since i never did it before ( And it was my first shot at tiling, so positioning tiles with Tiled was very time consuming :S). Also, what matters is that the game is complete, no matter what. The things that i set out to complete first were done on a wink of an eye!

This is without a doubt really satisfying , but it made me wonder.

All this speed, was due to the fact that i knew how things were done. Now, A Shmup and a puzzle game are of course really different. At coding level, and on spriting too, i had to do things in a different way, and i also had a more efficient approach on how to structure my work.

Still, i don’t think I felt a challenge strong enough. I made something new, but it wasn’t enough.

I merged this thought with some discussions with fellow developers of 1GAM and other game jams, and with this article i read today , http://indiestatik.com/2013/04/15/why-freeware/ , pondering the cause behind the will of posting your game as a free one.

You can take a lot of things from that article, but staying inherent to my thoughts, it reminded me an important concept.

As a game dev, i join game jams for 2 main goals, that is,

Learning new things in a very effective way , and posing a challenge to yourself.

Of course i join game jams also because i enjoy making games, but usually this enjoyment is tied with the challenge.

Thus, the fact that i succeeded  on making this game without commendable difficulty ,

is of course something to joy about, cause it means you are in the right way and you are learning good practices. But you also need to consider it an orange light. It means that you probably will have to higher the ambition and difficulty for your next project. Don’t stick to something that you probably know how to do, and remember that the Failing at making a too difficult game is never a fail. In fact, you will probably learn a lot more trying to make something new, and studying what made you fail, than succeeding in doing something more feasible on your standards.

Truth is, by no means you should always start with this philosophy, unless you are masochist. And you probably don’t want to use it when doing a commercial work.

What we need is middle point , and moving from that depending from the situation.

This is, on my opinion, the best way to take all you can from every game jam you will ever join.

Ok, guess this is all i wanted to say. I will be back for Ludum Dare, Folks. Have a nice day!