What I learned from the xkcd Game Jam
I want to say first that I am very proud of what I did. I met my challenge of making a full and complete game by myself in 72 hours using no game making software, templates, or pre-made assets (except the music). The game came out pretty, balanced, cute, and sounded great. However, I was disappointed in the reception and It only scored middle of the pack in every rating, which is how I scored with my other game jam games that were way less polished. I thought it was because my games before were minimal graphic and experimental. However, due to this lukewarm reception here, I’m scraping my game idea for Ludum Dare Compo and following these new rules when making the game this time. (This might be helpful for other game jammers too, IDK)
-Do not try to make a complete game: I wore myself to the bone making A Mole of Mole and was hallucinating and unstable by the end of the jam. I spent nearly ~60 hours of the 72 hours coding. It took me 2 days to fully recover. Just make one to a few levels to explore your concept and save effort.
-Make a Quick game: The game should not take more than 5-10 minutes to play. I made an Idle game that, while passive and balanced throughout, takes at least 2 hours to complete. While some people did play through, most players of game jams were not willing to commit that time when there are 90 other games to check out. Therefor, people quit early or used debug tools to rush through the game. If the game cannot be experienced in 5 minutes, most will just quit and not play through.
-Use experimental concepts: I thought my games before were too experimental and my concepts, while good one paper, fell flat when attempted. So this time I did (mostly) a well established game type, and focus on instead beautifying, but it still fell flat . It is a good Idea to try new experimental concepts to grab people’s attention.
-Do not focus in one category for ratings: I was thrown off that all my ratings were all about the same. I thought that there were some aspects of my game that were just stronger than others, but same ratings throughout. I noticed on other games, that I played and overall enjoyed, still had clear weak points in a category or two(like poor sound,ect.) but still ranked high in everything. People don’t care or distinguish weak points of games in the rating. If they like it, it’s 4s and 5s all around.
I’d also say don’t worry about using game making software or pre-made assets too. People don’t care how the game is made, just that it is fun. Though, for me, I like learning code so I’m still going in raw and Ludum Jam Compo does not allow pre-made assets anyways. Still, good to note for other jams.
I’m not complaining or anything, I’m just figuring out what people are looking for in a game jam game. I’m still very proud of what I did with A Mole of Moles and I accomplished my personal goals and learned a lot. I don’t feel the need to build it up post-jam. I think it is solid as is. I’m pretty sure some random folks searching for a quick idle game will appreciate it. If you feel like a quick idle game, you can’t go wrong with A Mole of Moles. :-)