In depth CGJ post-mortem! Enjoyed the read, thank you.
For this jam I've rated more than 200 games (nearly 20%) and almost 2.000 people have played my game. A lot of the people that I've rated, have also rated my games; which is always nice. First I want to talk about the most common type of game I have seen for this jam. I'll then continue with my favourite games. To end with a misstep that I've seen a lot and some reflection on my own game.
The main thing I noticed was, that a lot of the games (30%) use the hidden platforms and obstacles lie. For this mechanic I've seen three types of games: trial and error, reveal around the player (mouse or at player position) and reveal by the environment changing. The best ones in concept were Lamplighter, Beware The White Lies and REDality. However, there is quite a large step in between concept and execution. The games that I found to the best in execution were Beyond Truth, Instrucdoors and Mondays.
As mentioned earlier, I've played quite a lot of games for this jam. My favourites were The Race, The Tutorial, Differentiation Game, Void, Back and White and the best in execution that were discussed earlier. I do want to note that all of these games have some (substantial) issues that I hope the developers will fix after the jam is over. Games that I think have potential to become more than what they currently are, would be Pico, The Cavern, Clickhead and The Suspects. Now I've mentioned quite a few games, but you might be wondering which ones I recommend you to play. I would say start with the best in execution for the most common mechanic and then play the rest of my favourites for some variety.
The main misstep that I've seen a lot of people make, is to deliberately make their game confusing and unfriendly to the player; just to fit into the theme. During the rating period, I got the impression that a game would either fit the theme or be fun to play. There were a couple of fun games that made me feel like they fit the theme. The lies in these games would be that the conventional rules of their type of game were reversed. At first glance this could be perceived as lying, however the game simply has different rules than the rules you would expect. There were indeed a couple of games that did fit into both catergories, but they were exceptions rather than the norm. Most of my favourites managed to be these exceptions.
Now on to my own game. I would say that my game fits into the "fun game that doesn't fit the theme"-category. The main feedback I got was regarding the theme, lack of ability to speed up the simulation, colour of the start button and the towers sometimes being buggy. There is not much I can do about the theme integration, without drastically changing the game. However, I did resolve most of the issues mentioned by the players (see the patchnotes for the changes made). I'm also happy with the way the game turned out and the response from the community.
There are plans for making a spin-off title as well. For that game I will take a different genre and see how I can change it by adding a similar mechanic. However, I did find the keyboard layout to be quite restrictive for the level design. Chicken Hike is a game that also allows the player to create new pieces of the environment. However, in that game you can do it anywere in the level, while my game heavily restricts the player's options. Both executions have their advantages and disadvantages, like the player having more possibilities vs more focussed levels. Ultimately, I will tweak my mechanic in a way that allows for more possibilities, resulting in more diverse levels and more freedom for the player.
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