Geps Hen Postmortem

A game postmortem is a great thing to write about. A game postmortem about my first time doing a collaboration is even better. That’s what happened in May’s 1GAMCRUNCH.

Team Geps Hen is made up of three people: Charlie, Sara, and myself. This postmortem will be from my perspective. Everything I say here is my own opinion. I’m sure the rest of the team feel differently about some parts of the game. Here we go.

First, what went right. Our idea was pretty good I think. A MegaMan-like platformer about a chicken who is a god and is saving farm animals from a farmer. A good mix of uniqueness and humor. It gave us a great place to start, and I started with the level loading code. That’s right, before levels were even being designed, I was writing the code to parse the levels. Past experience with game jams has taught me what to prioritize in various types of games.

Once the basic level loading was done (I didn’t know everything that we would add, and so couldn’t write it all immediately),  I began the platforming engine. This is a point I’d like to stress went extremely well by the end. Using knowledge of previous platformers I’d made, I quickly got the code into a non-working mess. After taking a step back, I managed to write the best platforming code I had ever written in my life. It’s smooth, it works, and the code itself isn’t even that bad to look at. There is actually one thing that isn’t ‘correct’, but I don’t think anyone has run into a problem from that yet. 😉

All that code was written in the first few hours, before I slept. Actually, most of the code went pretty well. On the topic of sleep, that was another thing that went right. I got only slightly less than my normal amounts of sleep that weekend. I believe this helped a lot, especially toward the end.

One more thing that really went right: the art. Yes, I said this postmortem would be about my work and my points of view, but the art is just that good. Sara did an amazing job, and seeing the art in the game was a huge motivator.

Now for what went wrong. First, a minor issue: I didn’t have the whole weekend to spend working on the game. This might have helped in a way, by giving me more ‘sanity breaks’, but I keep thinking about what could have been done with just a little more time.

Back to the code. I had some huge problems getting the art displayed correctly in the game at first, but with a long break, and destroyed desire to do thing the ‘right way’, I managed to eventually get it working. However, I was worried for a long time that all the hard work on the art might have been wasted!

As for features, well…we had to cut a lot out. This always happens in game jams it seems. The bosses especially were simplified. Due to not getting finalized ideas for the story and boss attacks, the bosses were added in the last hour or two of the jam. Definitely last minute.

Microphone input works, but it’s…interesting. It’s only able to take the volume of the input, so it’s fairly limited. In the game’s current state, microphone controls are not recommended unless you want much more of a challenge.

I’m sure I’m forgetting some things about that weekend, so to make up for it, here’s a few bonus paragraphs about topics that weren’t exactly right or wrong.

The ending time for the jam was 7pm in my time zone. Or at least, that’s what I thought. Fortunately, the actual deadline was later than I had thought and not earlier. We had until midnight. I immediately felt better (I learned about the real deadline at around 3-4pm). Even with the ‘extended’ time limit, we worked until the last second. I was exhausted. My teammates will confirm that I had given up correcting typos in the irc for the last several hours. I was tired and there still wasn’t time for that. We were all exhausted.

I felt the level design was okay at best. Not great, not terrible. Certainly not Mega Man type hard. (unless you’re playing with the microphone!)

As for the collaboration itself, it went well enough. We had irc and twitter to communicate. We talked a lot. We offered suggestions and feedback constantly. We got a game done.

Well, I guess that’s about it. I’m sure there’s more to talk about, but I leave it up to my team members to talk about anything else, if they want to. Collaborating was fun, and I’ll definitely try to do it again! Thanks for reading this postmortem, and please check out the game here!

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About jacobwgames

I make and play games.
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