What did you learn?

Posts: 592
Joined: 2002.12
Post: #1
So now it is all over, what did you learn for your experience with creating an entry for uDG 2003?

Personally, I learnt that you cannot please everyone.

By some twist of fate it appears that the people who helped beta test and gave plenty of feedback were the ones who liked my entry and grasped its simple concepts.

It just happened to be that those who did not like it, could not work out what to do or whatever did not let these points be known before the 4th Nov deadline.

Next year I'm going to have to work out some way of encouraging those who don't like my entry to try it before then end.
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Posts: 916
Joined: 2002.10
Post: #2
do not do 40 frames of animation per direction if you can't draw that many
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Posts: 81
Joined: 2002.12
Post: #3
ExposÈ is the greatest lifesaver in the world when drawing graphics. Switching from window to window on minimal sized screens was all possible thanks to Apple!
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Posts: 5,143
Joined: 2002.04
Post: #4
* Don't post negative feedback

* Don't start and abandon 4 different games before deciding there's not enough time left
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Posts: 592
Joined: 2002.12
Post: #5
Quote:Don't post negative feedback

At the risk of this thread also being closed down Wink negative feedback is at least 100 times more important than positive feedback as long as the developer gets it in time.
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Posts: 365
Joined: 2002.04
Post: #6
[*]It's just not possible for me to work every evening and weekend, even when I have free time. I just don't have the motivation. Therefore, it's important to choose a project which can be developed in a much shorter period than the allotted competition time.

[*]Real life can really screw up your plans. Again, having a less ambitious project is probably the answer.

[*]Cartoon animation is very difficult when you have no talent for it. In general, creating media for the game takes a lot of time and effort, and I'm not always in the mood for it.

[*]Testing other people's games is almost as much work as writing your own, and can take serious amounts of development time away from you! Wink
My plan for dealing with the first three points next year is to invent a game which requires almost no external media files. I have an idea which fits the bill exactly, but I'm going to keep it to myself for now!

As for point four... well, testing games and writing (hopefully) intelligent commentary is time consuming, but it was fun to see other people's projects develop and improve. It was worth getting involved.

Neil Carter
Nether - Mac games and comic art
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Posts: 45
Joined: 2002.04
Post: #7
stop going to university... cause it allowed me to not update my game at all over the course of the voting period which probably lead to a large number of people that hated my game.. cause it sucked in the form I had it.

I seriously haven't even opened Project Builder in a month.

stupid school teaching me crap I don't want to know anymore.

grrrr Mad

/* Drunk...... fix later.... */
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Posts: 509
Joined: 2002.05
Post: #8
I learned ALOT, and I will write a postmortem about it sometime soon (regardless if I won or not)
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Post: #9
Though not a must for some weirdos (Dave) Most of us can't pull off a reat game on our own.. Having a good team is a huge plus.. What I've learned though is.. Getting people interested is one thing.. Figuring out how to deal with those people is something else ^_^...

So stay organized, stick to your design.. and take the time it takes to figure out how to parse out the work load.

Oh.. and be more of a hardass about deadlines with your people... I'm just too nice a guy ^_^... I guess..
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Posts: 460
Joined: 2002.09
Post: #10
Great idea for a thread! Post-mortems of the winning entries are all very well, but we can take their "what went wrong" lists with a grain of salt, can't we? :-)

I won't know much until I see the scores and the list of winners. And even then I won't know for sure. But some early conjectures:

- don't bother spending time on anything subtle in the game unless you are sure that the player will play it more than once. (In other words, gameplay comes first.) In my case, I'm pretty sure the majority of players didn't notice that I had 4 different musical tracks, and that the game remembers which one it played last. They'd have to race more than one time to notice it.

- when in doubt, give more control of the gaming experience to the player. Some people apparently didn't like my choices for asteroid density and size. I could have given them different "courses" for them to choose from. I did a better job with this last year.

- tell OSC that he isn't supposed to run the whole race at top speed! :-)

Joking aside, there's a serious point here. Since players are in a hurry to try a bunch of uDG games, the players may need to be told some basic strategy up-front, or taught it via the game. Don't expect them to take the time to work much out themselves, unless you can get them totally hooked on your game almost instantly.

- the trend this year seems to be, a handful of games wins most categories. Won't know for sure until tonight, but last year each category had a winner and a runner up, plus 2 overall winners. I think 9 distinct entries won something. This year they had three winners in each category, plus three overall winners. PLUS an editor's prize. Yet: they had to increase this to FIVE winners in five categories just to get up to 13 distinct winners.

What does this mean? If I'm not imagining things It means that even more than last year, a few games dominated the contest. We can expect this trend to continue in the future unless the rules are changed, interest in the contest wanes, or all entries become equally, amazingly good. How I personally should deal with this apparent trend is what's keeping me up at night, because I'm not liking some of the answers. (More on that topic in the future.) But I should wait for the final list of winners, my thinking on this might be flawed.

- Beta testers: my best beta tester from last year couldn't test my game this year because his Mac wasn't good enough. Of all the other friends who offered to test it for me, not one actually did so before voting began. I had FAR fewer bugs this year than last year even though my code was much more complicated (pats self on the back) but I should have posted a rough version of the game to the iDG forums a few weeks earlier than I did. This might have netted me feedback when I still had time to make significant changes.

- Of course I learned some technical stuff. Some more OpenGL, some Cocoa, some performance tuning techniques.

- Have realistic expectations. With so many fine entries, now I'm just hoping that I placed in the top 10 in a category or two. But you know what? Maybe that should have been my goal in the first place. It's not as brag-worthy, and doesn't come with any prizes, but it would be pretty cool. It would mean that maybe the game wasn't a complete write-off...

Measure twice, cut once, curse three or four times.
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Posts: 684
Joined: 2002.11
Post: #11
1. Plan more

2. Don't expect people to read the Read Me, even if the title of aforementioned file contains a threat

3. Plan more
("That's because it takes twice as much work as perseverence!")

4. Don't keep ALL ideas (you'll see why in my postmortem)

5. Start early (I started before the deadline and even now I feel like my entry is half-done)

6. Don't expect to stay motivated

7. Get an artist who's actually experienced in the kind of graphics you need, not just any old artist

My web site - Games, music, Python stuff
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Posts: 509
Joined: 2002.05
Post: #12
Quote:Originally posted by diordna
6. Don't expect to stay motivated

I agree 100%. It is very hard to stay motivated. Sometimes a lack of motivation turns into a lack of time... I hear so much complaining (not just this forum, but everywhere in real life) about people not having enough time to do stuff, but what it really means is they value other things (such as TV and other things) more than programming (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), so its not really "I go to school and have chores with no time for programming but i wish i had more time" but more like "I have a busy schedule and with the few hours I have I would rather do other stuff".
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Posts: 320
Joined: 2003.06
Post: #13
Biggest thing I learnt, would have to be that it is possible to make games, and half decent games at that, and you dont have to be a rocket scientist to do it.

Second biggest thing is that programming can be as addictive as cigarettes.

Chopper, iSight Screensavers, DuckDuckDuck: http://majicjungle.com
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Post: #14
Quote:Originally posted by Louis!
Having a good team is a huge plus..

You betcha!

Other musings...

Focus on getting the framework for a game idea complete "end to end" as soon as possible even if it means you have to stub in crude placeholder graphics.

You can then take your time and strap on the fun fluffy parts later at your lesiure, in parallel with beta testing (beta testing? What's that?).

Plan ahead on not having enough time... make sure the project has some "optional" parts that can be sliced off if necessary due to time constraints.

If you break up with your fiance, you'll have a lot more free time to do last minute compo stuff ^_^

Hook up with talented, enthusiastic, marginally insane people and feed off their energy.
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Posts: 100
Joined: 2006.05
Post: #15

The thing is, I had SOOOOOO much time to improve my game (Mine desperately lacked gameplay) but I was just too freakin' lazy! I know most people say "I was too busy" or "I just didn't have enough time", but me, I had too much time but no motivation. I spent the whole time kicking myself in the ass and I still am. This being my first non-METAL game, I think I should really continue and see where I go with this.

2. Work on the little things last.

The main reason why my game lacked so much in gameplay. I am aware that gameplay should always be number 1, but I spent so much time on subtleties. Why? Maybe because I was intimidated by it. But now that the pressure's off, I'll try to see what I can do...

3. New technologies.

I just switched to C++/Carbon at the start of UDG, so I learned a crap load of new technologies. I'm not sure it was UDG which inspired it but it did coincide.
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