I started the draft as soon as I finished watching the GoT season finale and the latest Rick and Morty but then work, sleep and procrastination got in the way. Shame!
A bit of background
Originally I'd intended to participate with a friend, but I failed at making her aware of the jam date and she had other (way) more important life commitments coming in soon, so I decided to go on my own, as usual. My main purpose would be to go with a straightforward mechanic that I could iterate or extend easily and that at the same time gave me space for working a bit more on aesthetics.
My first reaction at the theme choice was WTF. I normally favour mechanics-based themes as opposed to super general, or more setting-related approaches, and "pugs and croquettes" was a weird mix. Still, a bit of brainstorming yielded some interesting ideas (unfortunately, I can't find the notes to share some) and began with a super simple "defend croquettes from pugs".
- Engine/language: Unity 2017, and C# using the experimental support for a more recent .Net version
- Art: Photoshop CS6
- Audio: Caustic 3, Audacity, Chiptone.
What went well
Scope and game design flexibility
As opposed to "Thunderbolt and Lightning" (you can check the LD version, I still haven't updated the latest changes I worked on after the submission date) this time I managed to have a decent plan to iterate the starting vision and expand it in different ways if I had the time (spoiler: I didn't).
For example, I wasn't fully decided between a more arcade gameplay or a tower defence. I assumed that a TD game would be more demanding (pathfinding, tower placement, potentially a more complex AI, etc) and I might run out of time before having a decent implementation. On the other hand, a "tap to hit" core mechanic was easy to prototype and it could be more engaging for the player. I was still harbouring the idea of switching to a tower defence game, but as a later iteration.
Another important feature I planned for a second pass was having a player character, instead of a supernatural entity dispatching vacumm cleaners across the screen. Again, this would have come with a bunch of tasks that could have taken time from enemies or art/sound creation.
In the end my Trello board TO-DO lists looked like this. The main one was the Iteration 1 (as you can see there were a few pending tasks there), with the Ideas list as a bunch of improvements to that pass. I didn't get to Iterations 2 and 3, so the tasks there were broader and less exhaustive.
I'm sure that if I'd opted by PC + TD from the beginning the end result would have been duller.
Acceptable degree of polish and consistency in visuals
Still not perfect, but I tried to aim for a cartoonish and colourful style and I believe it went well. Of course, I could have spent more time polishing the pugs animations, or polishing the lineart, but it could have put other areas at risk, so I decided to play safe.
It's been quite a while since the last time I managed to add music to a game jam entry. Korokke Defence features a single song and it is super simple (just a bass track and the main one), but I think it sort of fits. Using a dedicated keyboard instead of using the Caustic 3 visual editor using the laptop's keyboard or mouse to enter the notes was also a great choice once I found the inspiration for a tune, as I was able to control the rhythm easily.
What went wrong
A couple of weeks ago I decided to upgrade my Unity version from 5.6 to the newer 2017.1. I was interested in taking a look at the new features, and specially .Net framework upgrade . I don't know if it could have been because of some incompatibility with a plugin I was using for input, but boy it was unstable! By Sunday night, as I was adding the finishing touches, it was crashing like crazy. There were several different situations that could result in crashes, so in hindsight it could have been best to just stick to 5.6.
Slow pace for in-game asset creation
As a coder, programming comes more naturally and it's pretty much become a bit of a habit. It also makes me biased at the moment to choose a feature to work in, which means I tend to prioritise them. This can result in neglecting the other areas. This time it wasn't so severe because of the improvements in scope management,
Besides, to improve at art, music or even low-level game design, in addition to learning more about the basics the key to becoming good lies in practising -which I'm not doing.
Because of all this, I spend a long time to create a bunch of initial assets, which eventually become final. I did mention that I was satisfied with the game graphics this time, but the time spent doing them for the quality achieved points to inefficiencies and lack of practice.
No pugs in space! (aka "Lack of content")
A by-product of my previous point, the current gameplay is super simple, and there are only 3 levels pretty similar among them. I would have liked to incorporate more mechanics, or have different amount of pugs. I would have liked to have crazy variations with the scenery, such as a beach scene with merpugs, and of course, a sci-fi set of levels with astronaut pugs. Sigh...
I think this time I learned my lesson from my previous experience, even if I still need to get into my head the importance of practicing art and music/sound creation. I also had a lot of fun :)
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