Posted on March 26, 2018
Unfortunately, this weekend got the better of me and I did not have enough time to finish the game I had planned for the Heart Jam. Realistically, the idea would have been executable had I worked a full day on Friday. I basically skipped Friday, starting in earnest early Saturday morning.
I should have cut my scope down mid-way, as I have done successfully in the past - but by the time I made that decision, I wasn't left with enough time to get levels designed. I had implemented all of the mechanics I planned for and even a little bit of art, but alas, I was defeated by the dreaded level design.
If there is one take away from this experience I can highlight it's that level design is time-consuming. With some ideas, it can be a matter of throwing things at a wall and hoping they stick. This idea, which boiled down to a 2D puzzle-platformer based on speed running, was not one of those. In order to balance levels out for the items/mechanics the player was to acquire, the levels required considerable design. This sort of cohesion makes or breaks a game of that style.
As I approach Ludum Dare next month and any game jam in the future - I need to remain cognizant of ideas/designs that require explicit level design choices to be made. This is something that has stalled me in the past and has worked out for me, as well. So, I need to hone in on my designer Spidey-senses and make those saving calls earlier (or recognize them before I even start to develop).
For instance, in Ludum Dares 34 & 35, I built level-based puzzle games. Because the majority of my time was spent fleshing out features and implementing art - the time required for levels was cut short and the result was A.) fewer levels and B.) rushed design lending to reduced leveraging of mechanics.
Here's a little screenshot of what I had managed to get done:
The premise was to get to the top of the tower as fast as possible. In your way were gates, which required keys to unlock. Collecting gems and keys increased your score. In addition to that, you collect Relics, which are items that give you unique abilities, like Double-Jump or Gliding.
The idea and implementation was really simple and not too difficult to implement. I got hung up on the level design and my time was limited by work and life on Friday and a few distractions on Saturday.
I'll have some news and announcements on a little project I'm starting on later this week. Until then!
Peace and love.