[As part of our project, mindful xp is committed to documenting our progress – part of that is creating post-mortems for our games. Post-mortems are very candid about game details, so if you don’t want a game’s experience spoiled before you play, reading these might not be in your best interest.]
Get Closer was the final game created for the mindful xp project. It was an individual game created by myself about the difficulty with trying to get close to someone. As the last project in our semester, it was a pretty straightforward process to develop the game.
Get Closer is an offshoot of a previous game idea I was working on for the Ludum Dare 48 competition this April. The theme of the original Ludum Dare was “tiny planet” and the original game was called A System of My Own. In the game you controlled a planet trying to navigate around various solar systems and find the right orbit. However while the design for that never quite came together, I did take the main orbiting mechanic and adjust that for Get Closer.
What Went Right:
1. Changing Directions
Switching directions from A System of My Own was a great decision that paid real dividends. With the development of the original game I had fashioned some strong subsystems that were relatively easy to modify. When the original design wasn’t working by going with something that made more sense I was able to complete Get Closer within 2 days. Most of that 2 days was spent iterating on level designs and polishing graphics since the base mechanic was ready to go.
2. Sticking With the Mechanic
The core mechanic of orbiting a single body (or person) and moving closer was something that I felt resonated pretty strongly. Even with the original game it was the most enjoyable mechanic in there and made the most intuitive sense in play. With Get Closer I focused solely on the orbiting mechanic by getting rid of just about anything superfluous to the design. So things such as overall movement were excised.
Orbiting made a lot of sense in terms of how we (or at least I) tend to think about relationships in a weird spatial sense. The visuals of the game really seemed to translate this to players since you had distinct rings around the person you were trying to get closer to. I added a few other simple mechanics to add a little variety to each level, but all of those were designed to make orbiting itself more interesting.
What Went Wrong:
1. More Iterations!
2 days is not a lot of time to develop anything and this was true with Get Closer. I managed to build around 12 simple levels for Get Closer, but a lot of them tend to be repeating the same basic structure. With a little more time to experiment and design I would have liked to have iterated more on levels and structure. With some more time I feel like I could have created a stronger narrative framework for the game and a few more interesting variations on the basic theme of getting closer to someone you care about.
Get Closer by the standards of our project was painless and straightforward. The smooth development of Get Closer really showed how much we (and I) as designers and developers had grown throughout the process. Our confidence in our skills and our knowledge overall in creating meaningful moments really shown through on this final game.