Ludum Dare Endless Ocean Cleanup – Postmortem

Ludum Dare Endless Ocean Cleanup – Postmortem

This is my Endless ocean cleanup postmortem is a project developed for the 47th Ludum Dare game jam COMPO where you get 48h time to create a game from scratch. I took this theme to raise awareness for our polluted oceans and credit the few heroes who ship daily outside to clean up the mess other people left behind. This time, I handed in my second Ludum Dare 47 entry made entirely from scratch by myself with Unity3D and Blender.

In this Ludum Dare Ocean Cleanup Postmortem, I would like to discuss my experiences in developing the game: the Good, the Bad and my learnings. I also want to take the time to thank my beautiful girlfriend, Johanna, for supporting me with these tense events and her endless supply of coffee, food, snacks, and constant feedback. But as always, certain things came to the realisation long after the game was published and played.

If you want to give it a try, all my LudumDare games are still playable via HTML5 on itch.io

The beginning of Ocean Cleanup, first day.

THE GOOD of my Ludum Dare 47 Ocean Cleanup Postmortem

Top 17% Overall Rating!

Endless Ocean Cleanup got 557th place in the overall rating. That’s almost 200 places up from my last entry, my little sunshine! There where 3206 rated submissions in October 2020. My goal is obviously the top 10%, but the overall impression of the game is excellent. I got most of my points in graphics (Top 10%!). But the unnecessary complexity of the game dragged me down. 

Post Processing

In the last hours of the event, I decided to skip music and sound effects and concentrate on post-processing. I don’t have much experience in this area, but I think it was worth it. I experimented with different camera styles, shaders and particle effects, and the post-processing settings in the Unity URP. Some settings made a massive difference with next to no time investment. So I decided that I will use post-processing now for every project. 

Comfortable with my tools

The months ahead of the game jam, I started to intensify my skills with Unity and Blender. Especially Impensia https://blog.imphenzia.com/ helped me with his quick Blender tutorials to get comfortable creating my own assets in 3D without following any tutorial. During a year of Unity development, I got as comfortable with the engine to be confident in doing all kinds of different games. That means, this time, I was prepared.

THE BAD of my Ludum Dare 47 Ocean Cleanup Postmortem

Simple is always better.

I have a hand to make simple things complicated. Mostly because I think about how to advance things in the future and build upon systems. I code in a way that I don’t close any doors. That often leads to very complex results that are not necessary at all. One example is the ship movement. I gave it a gear you can change to different speeds and modes. But every player just wants to press “W” and move. That threw a lot of people off and took way too long to implement.

Less UI more inGame

I tend to often rely on the game UI to show information. But with this game, I learned that it almost always seems to be the better way to visualise things IN the game. Why make a cargo UI when it looks so much better to fill up the boat? Why not play with this mechanic and make the boat slower the heavier it got? So much potential but nothing in the game. I like Ocean Cleanup a lot, but I would do it completely different next time. 

Skipped Sound AGAIN!

Overall I really liked to spend one hour at the end of the event on shaders and post-processing. But I skipped sound again! That’s the second time in a row. It’s not that hard to implement, but I am maybe a little scared to create sound effects in the first place. There is not much to say, then the sound is my kryptonite, and I guess I have to face it on the next LudumDare in April!

THE LEARNINGS of my Ludum Dare Ocean Cleanup Postmortem

Why not scale the game with levels?

Looking back over my Ludum Dare Ocean Cleanup Postmortem, I never really did a game with levels. But reviewing other game makers works, I feel like I miss out on something. With levels, I could give my games more depth and variety instead of a minute of joy. I also could reuse my mechanics of the game. It’s probably a good choice. 

Sound

Sound cannot be that hard. I really want to have a basic sound setup in my next game. It does not have to be the best sounding game, but sound conveys a lot of mood and emotion to the player that I don’t want to miss. This is a topic I am surely able to try out a little bit in advance and include in my next project.

More Ideas?