Zorba the Hutt (zorbathut) wrote,
Zorba the Hutt

Mr. McDougal’s Marvelous Upside-Down Electrotree Postmortem

So hey been a while. Let’s get this thing wrapped up.

I’ve gotten a curiously small amount of commentary on this game, and I’m not quite sure why. Doesn’t give me a lot to go on, and it worries me that, perhaps, I did something wrong that I will be unable to figure out.

Who knows!

What Went Right

I decided to tackle hardware shaders and higher-end graphical effects in this game. Overall I think this was an amazing success – there are a lot of effects in this game that are done entirely via hardware and on the graphics card, and the game comes across much better thanks to those. In fact, even something as simple as the lit-up paths are hardware processed. Wonderfully powerful and I’ll be using similar stuff in the future as needed. Huge success.

I feel that the sound effects turned out great as well, which is surprising because I maybe spent two hours on sound for the entire game. I wasn’t intending to end up with such a meditative soundscape but that’s kind of what happened, and I really rather enjoy it. Happy accident there.

The basic game design . . . I’m a little uncertain. I’ve had a few people suggest that it would be better with a touchscreen interface and a countdown, and I think that might be true – the “falling tiles” behavior doesn’t lend much of interest to the gameplay. However, the actual idea, linking things via wires one way or another, seems to be pretty dang fun. I think it’s got potential for tweaks and improvements.

What Went Wrong

Nobody anywhere has commented about the achievements. Did people not notice them? Did people not care about them? I have no clue! Tell me what you thought of them, or even if you noticed. The idea was to give people suggestions towards things that might increase their score, or towards things that they might not have thought of – essentially encouraging people to explore the bounds of the game mechanics. Hopefully it worked.

The hardware shaders ended up turning into a huge code and efficiency problem, and I ended up spending a week before the game making them work, plus a week after the game making them work fast. Ugh. On top of that I’m still getting frequent crash reports. I’m not sure if this is thanks to the hardware shaders or what – I’ll have to instrument some codepaths better to figure out where this crash is coming from. It may simply be that a lot of people are trying to run this game on low-end graphics systems.

I also still don’t have OSX crash reports working.

I didn’t have time to play around with the game mechanics much further. I wanted to have things like “score doublers” that you could drop in, that would double any points gotten “through” that link. Didn’t happen. I had some ideas about ways to modify the board layout after placing pieces, or letting the player stash a piece. Didn’t happen. This game was a huge time crunch from beginning to end, and I’m glad I did it because I ended up with some great infrastructure in place, but the game design suffered.

The Bottom Line

I feel like I’ve made my prettiest and most atmospheric game yet. That’s cool. I feel like the game design itself was kind of a failure, and I’m pretty much just gonna be moving on to whatever’s next.

Which, lately, has been an iPhone port. Getting close to the point where I can (relatively) easily build iPhone games!

Tags: art, design, monthly game
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