Post jam reflection

I wanted to start by thanking everyone for playing and rating my game for GeoJam! This is my first completely solo attempt at a game jam, and I'm pleased most players enjoyed the game! I wasn't able to fit everything I wanted, and two small oversights were kept in, but overall I'm just glad I made a functional, completed game within the time limit. Now that the jam is over, I wanted to reflect on what went right and wrong, my work process, and future updates.

First, what went right? I was able to find a good idea within a couple hour of brainstorming, so I was able to design the gameplay and controls quickly. While I joined to learn the Godot engine, I had actually been experimenting with it for a week beforehand, so I wasn't learning every single thing from scratch. I was able to combine tutorials for level editors,2D  movement (without having to take physics into account), and menus into an original game! Beyond actual coding, I was talking with another developer who introduced me to the Pomodoro technique. Basically you break tasks into 25-minutes chunks, then take a 5-minute break in between tasks. It kept me on track because 25 minutes wasn't that much time, and the breaks prevented me from burning out. Eventually I was able to understand what I could realistically do within 25 minutes while feeling more productive than ever because I had multiple, smaller tasks I was consistently completing. I'm definitely keeping this as part of my work process in the future.

So what went wrong? The biggest thing I regret is not prototyping the game. Seriously, the first playable version was only a couple hours before the deadline! I was still scrambling to add in basic features up to submission. Looking back, that was caused by me overplanning the game. I had a whole convoluted word document with all the functions, signals, objects, and how they interacted. I spent the entire first day just planning things in text instead of writing code and testing if my concept was even good in the first place. While this was useful for keeping things organized and catching oversights before they were already in the game, it also wasted a lot of time and caused issues when my plans had to be changed, causing even more wasted time changing the document.  I feel like I was at my best during the frantic rush a couple hours before the deadline where I would make a temporary note and wrote something that worked as soon as possible. It prevented me from wasting time, and my plans were based on what I was actually doing at that moment. So next time, I'm going to put a limit on how much I actually plan and "pre-optimize" my game. 

So what next? Since I got a lot of positive feedback from friends and fellow jammers I wanted to release an extended version of SideBreakers that includes my scrapped ideas as well as some newer features from the feedback I received! Things like:

  1. Having enemies spawn from any location instead of three sides.
  2. More shape types, such as triangles, kites, etc.
  3. Enemies with their own blasters
  4. Configurable keys.
  5. An endless mode where you pick up upgrades and apply them instead of surviving waves.
  6. Player HP.

If there is anything else you feel would improve the game, let me know in the comments below! I am hoping to release this new version before the end of the summer. Follow me on twitter for in-progress updates on that and any other games I create in the future.  If you just want to know when the game is completed, follow me here on itch or my tumblr where I post completed work. 

Thanks again to everyone for your feedback and ratings!

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