Monday, October 12, 2015

Retrospective: Coin Block Clicker

Play Coin Block Clicker!

Made for Ludum Dare 33 Jam: Coin Block Clicker
- Finished August 24th, 2015
- Additional Work finished October 8th, 2015

The Good

- Dialog/Writing - I really pushed myself this game. Writing is not my strong suit, and somehow I decided that this game would center entirely around dialog and narrative. I'm really proud of what I made, and I can even feel that I got much better at writing narrative. And it was actually quite fun too!
- Great user experience - I really focused on a minimal UI and ways to make the game very available to everyone. It isn't perfect by any means, but I did a pretty good job guiding the user through the experience and making everything as obvious as possible. I cut a lot of stuff to get this done, but I think it was worth it.

The Bad

- The project dragged on. - Right after I finished the game jam, I started work on finishing the game and adding everything that had to be cut for the game jam. I foolishly started work on the hardest part and messed up all of my upgrade balances. This locked me into finishing all of the dialog and upgrades before I could push an incremental build. This hurt so much because none of my progress was visible to the player until this massive project was done.
- NPAPI's death - I knew it was coming. I had know about Chrome dropping support of NPAPI (and thus Unity Web Player) for months, but I had forgotten about it, and I certainly didn't realize it was going to happen halfway through the Ludum Dare voting period. I scrambled to push a WebGL build, which had several pain points (setting a memory maximum??) that I had to work through.

The Lesson

- I should have been far more prepared for the switch from NPAPI to WebGL. Sadly, this also affects all of my previous Unity Web Player games, and I'll need to go back and rebuild them at some point. In the future, I'll be sure to plan in major events like this, especially when they happen during a game jam!
- I'm going to focus on incremental additions to my games, instead of massive rewrites. This is super important because I need to remain agile in everything that I do. There is only one 'me', and my time is very limited. When a project drags on, it can be exhausting not just for the project itself, but for game dev in general. I'm going to try to have a new build available every week for whatever game I'm working on. This forces me to keep my improvement small and successful, and I can get feedback immediately. Honestly, it's no different than a video game. Rewarding players in a timely fashion is important to make the entire experience rewarding and to help drive them forward to the next task/reward.
- Learning a new skill is HARD. It took a lot of time and editing to write the dialog and plan the scenes for Coin Block Clicker. But game jams are a perfect time to focus on improving one skill. Also, I would have really loved to put music in Coin Block Clicker, but I didn't want to just use a song from Incompetech again. I wanted to customize the experience, even if my music was poor. I tried making a song, but it simply was not up to my standards of quality. Working on two new skills for one game can seriously slow down progress and be quite demoralizing. I'm going to have to practice a lot to get much better at making my own music. I'll have to look into making music for one of my next game jams to really force myself to face the issue.