Song of Arashi - Postmortem
What Went Right:
Listening to game design lectures and learning from others
I spent a lot of time watching Extra Credits and reading about the development of games like Super Meat Boy. Sometimes it felt like wasted time, but it wasn’t time that drained me. I learned about creating a ‘weight’ for your character by adding momentum, how to design levels that allow the player to select difficulty (this was used especially in the ice level), and the importance of playtesting. Which leads me to:
I benefited greatly from group of gamer friends, as well as some wonderful people down at /r/gamedev on Feedback Friday and Screenshot Saturday, who were not afraid to tell me that my game had flaws. I was able to find out what ninja tools the players really enjoyed using and what aspects of the controls players felt were awkward, not to mention various bugs I hadn’t encountered.
Having a Deadline
About December 20th, 2012, I set the goal of submitting my game, which at the time was not much more than an idea, to the IGF. As I drew closer and closer to the deadline my dream shrunk to fit that deadline - and that was a *good* thing. If it weren’t for the deadline, the game would be less complete than it is now and the idea would be the same size it was when I started. As a result of the deadline I soon had an engine worked out that includes many of the tools in the game today.
What Went Horribly Wrong:
I spent a lot of time thinking about the game, but not really doing much about it. I didn’t write down a lot of my ideas so it just became worthless daydreaming. I also continually convinced myself that I would work on the game when I had time - the weekend, spring break, summer break, all went by and I got some work done but never as much as I thought I could. I’ve learned that you have to make time, and then make use of the time you made. Time during breaks feels so plentiful that little gets done, so a timeline or a deadline must be set in order to stay on track.
Programming Without Planning - NPCs
I spent a great deal of time creating NPCs for this game. It made a lot more sense when the game was free-roam, since there were to be more side quests which involved information from NPCS, as well as enemies blocking paths, but when I cut the game down to just the dungeons, the NPCs became lost time. I didn’t really plan out their use before I made them, I just assumed I’d find a place for them, but it didn’t fit the story for the enemies to be guarding inside these dungeons which were supposedly kept sealed.
For a time, Song of Arashi had limited ammunition. This ammunition had to be gathered via chests. The idea behind this was to add a level of difficulty to the game and to stop people from spamming their weapons. I guess I didn’t really think this through because the best part of the game is toying around with the ninja weapons, so it makes little sense to limit their use. So, shortly before completion, I undid the limited ammo entirely. I did still limit the spamming though, but in a way that I can stand by - power-charging. A shuriken now takes time to draw back to full power, this prevents spamming but also allows for more custom play, since a player can choose to lob the projectile or throw it straight at the target.
http://bomberdev.itch.io/song-of-arashi. I’ve pretty much stopped development for now, but I may come back to it some time later. I am currently working on an adaptation of the game which centers around local multiplayer ninja battles and is intended for controller use.