Over at the SA Forums, I’m taking part in a monthly week-long game design experiment. What this means is once a month I’ll be making a game and will only have a week to do so from start to finish. Usually there will be some sort of theme or design constraint to encourage experimental game design.
For each game I’ll also write up a post-mortem about what I was going for, what went right/wrong and how to improve upon that in the future. The idea is to experiment with game design ideas to see what works and what doesn’t, improving my overall ability to design games and come up with actual good ideas. Plus there’s always the possibility of coming up with a surprise hit or at least a very good idea worth developing further. I’ll also pump out 12 games a year and even if they all suck it’s better than nothing.
The first game is called “Get Out” and is thematically inspired by this thread.
Besides the obvious inclusion of the frog and other emoticons from SA, there wasn’t really any overall theme or design constraint when making the game. More than anything it was just an excuse to get out of the rut I’ve been in lately where I haven’t actually released anything for a very long time (over two years now, in fact). So I decided to make a dead simple side-scrolling shooter variant.
The biggest issue I ran into during development was, unsurprisingly, the deadline. I had a lot of ideas of extra things to put into the game but ultimately they had to be cut. A health bar for the frog, power ups, extra graphical effects, better music integration and other things were cut to meet the one week deadline.
Unfortunately, this sometimes had a knock-on effect of making other parts of the game less effective. For example, enemies have a random amount of health and so take a few hits to kill. There was going to be a sound and graphical effect when hit, but they were cut. The result is the game feels a bit frustrating when attacking the enemies as there’s no indication when they are hit and no way to tell how close they are to dying. In retrospect, the enemies should have only taken one hit to kill.
Another problem was the title screen “click your mouse a lot” when in actual fact the optimal way of playing the game is to hold the mouse down. I really didn’t think about this when I put it in, but I should have as it is actually a bit misleading.
I think the game suffers a bit from the frog’s invincibility. There’s no way to lose, even if you sit there and do nothing. The gameplay might have been improved by letting the frog die when hit by enemies, adding in an extra gameplay objective of having to avoid any enemies that you miss.
The ending of the game is the least polished and it kind of shows. An extra screen saying “Game Over. You scored
Ultimately the game suffered because I didn’t have enough time to add in all the necessary features, which is largely because I didn’t manage my time properly in the early days, resulting in less time in the later days. Time management is going to the main thing I’ll focus on improving next month.