Another week, another game! And like with the last one, it’s time to see what I did wrong… but also what I did right, because I did much better this time! (I think)
Small and clear focus
One of the things I criticized myself greatly for on group was having poor focus, which resulted in a game that was confusing, had too many mechanics, and ultimately felt like it didn’t transmit the message I wanted (or any message at all really). closeness had a pretty simple message that translated into mechanics in quite a direct way (I would explain it… but it’s more fun if you play the game and interpret by yourself!), so even though I felt the gameplay was maybe a bit too simple, I avoided the temptation to add more elements so that the message was clear. It’s worth noting though that I decided to keep the gameplay simple because the base mechanic was fun as is, I felt that I could play for a while and get into flow.
The advantage of a simple game is that I had a lot of time to polish. As I mentioned in the last postmortem, polish is important not because I want to make a game that looks really nice, but because a lot of the things that transmit and reinforce the message are in the details. But you know what I realized? Detail is hard! I’ve seen tons of talks on articles on the importance of making your game “juicy” and reactive to player input, so while I was conscious of what I had to do, I was absolutely no good at doing it. As I started to add audio cues, I also realized how ugly my assortment of free sounds were. While these are not things I want to focus on now, I’m glad I’ve noticed a weakness of mine.
Gameplay a bit.. too simple
Yeah, this is definitely contradictory. Wasn’t I saying simplicity was a good thing a couple of paragraphs ago? Well, yes, it was! The fact that the gameplay is too simple is not a problem with the game itself, but a problem when looked at from the perspective of my long-term goal: making games with meaning through mechanics, and making a living through these games. It’s much easier to try out these ideas and experiment in the small scope of a experimental web game, but if I want to make games I’ll sell, I need to make games with deeper and more interesting mechanics. The challenge then becomes, how do I make games with complex systems that contain intelligent and clear messages? I’m not sure, and that’s what I want to learn… but I won’t learn it if I keep on making simple games like closeness.
So yeah, making a simple game was a good experience! But I went a bit too far and need to try my hand at something more complex… The only problem is that I barely have any time this week… But we’ll see what happens!