Ludum Dare 44 has come and gone and the results are in! There were a plethora of submissions (1817 in the Jam category, 2538 total) including my contribution, Evil Dungeon.
Ludum Dare 44 Jam Rankings
Note: Percentiles were calculated differently this time around. In my previous Ludum Dare postmortems I was unaware that the total entries reported included those which did not receive the minimum of 20 ratings to be considered ranked. This time I utilized data obtained by @adroitconceptions which can be found at: https://ldjam.com/events/ludum-dare/44/mud-framework/total-rated-games-by-jamcomp-and-category-1. Also, I was unable to opt out of the Humor category for this jam although I didn’t intend for it to be rated in that category.
The theme of this jam was “Your life is currency”. Participants were given 72 hours to create a game from scratch that incorporated this theme. I brainstormed numerous concepts and mechanics such as:
Spending life to buy items/upgrades
Selling blood obtained from enemies to a blood bank
Luring/trapping people to sell on the black market
Surviving as an animal in an environment full of hunters
Collecting money to stay alive
Navigating a maze filled with “life tolls” that consume your health when passed
I had a feeling that most people would be making something where the player spent health on items and upgrades so I wanted to try something different. I went with the last idea and came up with an evil dungeon full of traps, darkness, and “Demon Gates”.
What Went Right
The game was completed and submitted on time. Although the scope had to be reduced, the game was fully playable and bug-free.
The flashlight mechanic looked nice and worked well. I used the flashlight/darkness to limit the player’s visibility which made choosing the right paths more challenging.
The level design provided the right amount of challenge and progression. The first level serves to introduce the player to the flashlight and Demon Gate mechanics. The second level introduces the arrow launcher and spike traps. The third level increases in complexity and contains numerous areas where the player can choose to cross a Demon Gate, taking guaranteed damage, or try their luck avoiding traps and obstacles and potentially incurring a greater health penalty.
What Went Wrong
Time management. I spent too much time on prototyping features, building a test level, and creating sprites that didn’t end up making it into the game. The scope had to be reduced as a result.
The presentation wasn’t as polished as I had planned. Notably, I didn’t have time to add background ambience/music which would have went a long way in the mood department. Also, player and UI animation didn’t make the cut which made things feel more static than I would have liked.
The Demon Gate mechanic was a bit too punishing. When the player chooses an incorrect path such as a dead end, they are penalized both times they pass the gate. In retrospect, I should have disabled the gate after it is crossed so there is only a single penalty per mistake.
This was a rough one! It was my third Ludum Dare/game jam and ranking-wise it was my worst to date. The root of the problem came down to time management. I spent an abundance of my limited time frame prototyping my various ideas which didn’t leave enough time to make the actual game, or at least the game I had envisioned.
It wasn’t all bad though. This was my first game jam game that featured multiple levels, rather than a single level containing waves or increasing in difficulty. I was also happy with how the flashlight mechanic turned out. I got a chance to brush up on my trigonometry, gained more experience creating sprites and working with tilemaps, and learned a few new things about Unity and Cinemachine.
I’d like to thank everyone for playing and rating Evil Dungeon! Your feedback is a great help to me and I really appreciate it! Although the outcome wasn’t ideal, I still had a great time creating, playing, and rating games during this jam. I’ll be back with a vengeance for Ludum Dare 45!