Ludum Dare #35 : «Shapeshift»


Ludum Dare #35 : «Shapeshift»

Hello there!

Here’s a new post to talk about my last week-end. Indeed, it was the 35th Ludum Dare, and as always (or nearly always), I definitely HAD to take part to it!
As some of you may know, the 34th LD turned out pretty well, as we ranked 60th at the Overall. We decided to team up again with Louis (Programming/Assist. GD) and Benjamin (Music Composer), and to renew the experience of Jamming. Now it’s been a few days since the end of the Ludum Dare 35, and it’s Post-mortem time!

Ludum Dare #35 : « Shapeshift »

For this Jam session, we were the same team of three : Louis Denizet, Benjamin Baldassini, and I. But this time, it was a bit more special : I was alone on board, Game Design-side. Louis was moving to Annecy during the week-end, so I had to take care about all the Game Design, documentation and Art during his absence. He would get all my work when arrived at his new place, and start to code the game.



So let’s enter into Kitsune development. First of all, what is Kitsune ? Well, it’s the game we made, and you can learn more about the finished product and how to download it on its own page, RIGHT HERE.

A (new) Game Designer challenge!

This time, I decided to go for a new game design method. I took my old Game Design Documents and put them in the trash. I needed something more efficient, that Louis would be able to understand « crystal clear » without us communicating in live by Skype or telephone. The ideas would be illustrated by a moodboard with keywords, expressing the DNA of each feature. Then, I’d list efficient user-centric lines that would need to be checked one by one in the TODO List.

FDNA_3CExample of Moodboard illustrating 3Cs

And now it’s time to actually make things happen (…again)!

Then, it was a go for the « production » part. The graphic part went good, and even faster than during the last LD. I had a really precise view of what I wanted : Japan, Old-fashion Theatre set, a fight between Good & Evil. Classic, but definitely working :) In the same time, I made a first prototype of the game in order to help Louis get a precise idea of the 3Cs (that he would custom/improve later).
Talking about Louis, he finally managed to get some time in the weekend, and started programming over my first prototype. I polished art, hand-made animations and documentation during the week-end, and was informing Louis about where exactly we were in the project, as he was in the train to his new living-town. As stressed as we could be with just a beginning of game and all the DATA done, I kept on iterating on the design, and Louis started programming and making feedback on the design again at the first second he was back at home…
Unfortunately, I was working on Monday, so I just closed and shared my files Sunday at night, and went to bed. At the same time Louis was still working, it was kind of a Relay race !
We were looking at the timer, and were only starting to make Level Design and still improving the Altars behavior and rules. The tutorial part went particularly good, as Louis had kept the experience of our previous entry concerning that part. We finally made some adjustments, and the game was cooked.

The goal of this LD35 was to create a game with a great experience concerning the Mood and Gameplay (that we wanted nervous, timed and fluid, cf. Moodboard), and I think that we’re pretty close to that today.
I learned great stuff, produced something, lived a unique (and I think non-reproductible) experience. Ludum Dare style.


What went wrong?

Since we don’t have any result yet, I can only make suppositions. On a production-side, I think that the word that could describe our week-end is « cahotic ». When I was working, Louis could not, and when he could, I was working or getting a bit of rest. It cost us precious iterations steps on the game, and we have been lucky the final product ended so well.
The release was a problem too, though. We had no time in the first few days to look after our game, and came back to it only around Thursday. So we started to vote for others and get review only around Friday. After these reviews, I think that I’m able to tell our weaknesses on this project :

  • The game isn’t playable on Web (Windows only). Again. And it’s still a thing that Web-playable games will get more exposure as you don’t have to install them on your PC.
  • The fact that the game has a « Die & Retry » gameplay is totally assumed, but can make some players fly away.
  • Level Design balance is still one of the last things we do, and I think that it should change for the next time.

Actually, we have a lot of good feedback on Our Ludum Dare page, so I invite you to go and read them :)
Anyway, we’re always waiting for more and more feedbacks, so hope you’ll like it!

Cheers :)

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