Zap - Post Mortem

Another month, another #1GAM entry. Zap isn't quite what I'd planned at the start of the month, but it still turned out pretty playable.

What Went Right

It got done

I originally planned on making a text adventure for March's entry. I had a basic engine up and running, and it was possible to move around, pick up and use items.

However, I quickly realised it would take more time to complete than I could spare, so I tried to come up with something I could build a little quicker. Considering I built everything in four hours, I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

It's not going to win any awards, but it's still playable.

I learnt something new

I've never made a game with an online high score table before. Now I have.

It's fun to compare versions

Well, maybe not fun, but it is pretty neat to see how the game evolved over such a short space of time. I might even do something similar for future games, to complement the development log and video timelapse.

I'm building a library of code and knowledge

I couldn't have built the game as quickly as I did without borrowing from previous projects. The particle explosions, powerups, sound effects and most of the graphics all came from previous games. Having these bits of code lying around has been a real help, and each project adds a little bit more to the toolbox.

What Went Wrong

Not my original plan

I started late, and ended up building Zap even later. So far that's 3 entries that I've left until the last minute.

Needed more time for polish and play testing

There are a tonne of little bugs and annoyances left in the game. Spending time on play testing and polishing would have made for a much better end result.

For example, spawning enemies in a random position works fine when playing to make sure everything works. However, the longer you play, the more likely it is that an enemy will spawn right on top of you and you'll die. A better option would be to check to make sure the player is not in range before creating the enemy, but this isn't something that really comes up during the crunch.

It's not very good

Sure, you can fly around and shoot things, but it doesn't really add anything new.

Lessons For The Future

Start earlier

Every game I've made this year has suffered due to lack of time. I think there's a lesson in there somewhere…

Make time for polish

A little polish can go a long way. For future entries I'd like to spend at least 10-20% of my time polishing what I have, rather than adding half-baked features.

Make more games!

Every game I've made has taught me something, and these little snippets of knowledge can then go towards something better. It's quite liberating to be able to try out new ideas without having to worry about keeping things maintainable.

This is something I should have done a long time ago.


March's #1GAM Entry - Zap

It's taken me a little while to get around to packaging up March's game, but here it is.

Zap is a really simple shoot-em-up with a not-so-great control scheme. It's also probably the least amount of time I've ever spent making a game - just under 4 hours total.

Originally I'd intended to make a text adventure. I had a basic prototype up and running, but as the month wore on I was getting busier with client work, and it became clear that I could never get it finished on time.

In order to make such a short project more interesting, there are 4 versions of the game to play. Each one was built after an hour of work, and it's kind of neat to see how things change over such as short space of time.

Here's a rough rundown of what you can expect in each version:

  1. One type of enemy, and you'll need to refresh once you die.
  2. Working score, high score and different kinds of enemies. Full title, play and game over loop.
  3. Power-ups, particles, sound effects and a improved gameplay loop.
  4. Online high score table. Slightly tweaked speeds.

For April I'll be taking part in Ludum Dare #29, so expect some updates once that gets closer.

Play it here