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
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.