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zinger avatar 9:17 PM on 06.17.2012  (server time)
Night of the Loving Dead: Post-Mortem

Early this year I decided to dive more into game development and I released my first game, Night of the Loving Dead, in late March. Now that the game has been out in the wild for a few months, I decided to reflect on the experience and share what Iíve learned throughout the process. I hope this information is helpful to someone or at least entertaining.

If you want to try the game, you can check it out here; I'd really appreciate any feedback you may have! The premise is you play as a skeleton that must find various parts of his body to become whole again and reunite with the love left behind upon death.

The Good

Flixel - I had never made a game using Flixel prior to this project, but after talking to some friends and doing a bit of research, it seemed like a good way to go: it was. Flixel is a fantastic game engine written in ActionScript 3. It handles nearly all of the really hard parts about creating a game including physics and collision and since it renders via blitting, its incredibly fast. I highly recommend checking it out if youíre looking to make a platform game.

SFXR - This little program is awesome. Itís a fantastic way to generate retro-style sound effects for games. One of the biggest pains in game development (for me) is searching the internet for royalty-free sound effects so SFXR was a welcomed surprise.

MochiMedia - The good thing about writing a game in Flash is the massive distribution avenues available. There are countless Flash portals out there allowing you to get your game in front of a very large audience. So far, Iíve gotten the best results using MochiMedia which has out-performed Kongregate by 600%.

The Bad

Music - Finding music for the game was a pain. Iíd suggest starting this early in the process. Finding music that fits and getting permission to use it can take a long time. I saved this for last thinking it would be simple and ended up sitting on an otherwise finished game for weeks while waiting for replies on music.

Art - Iím a developer, not an artist. Making the art and animations for the game took a LONG time. At the end of the day, Iím happy with what I was able to produce, but I will definitely be looking to improve my pixel art abilities. I severely underestimated how long it would take to create even seemingly simple items. This also gave me a better appreciation for the work artists do. After trying it firsthand, Iím even more amazed by some of the great pixel art Iíve seen on the web.

Lessons Learned

Staying Motivated - When working on a game project, it can be hard to stay motivated. In order to make sure I got the game finished, I tried every day to work on it at least a little. I didnít succeed every day, but I came pretty close. As long as you keep working on it, even if one day all you do is add a button, it is progress. The biggest danger in taking a day off is that it can quickly become 2 days off, which becomes 3 and so on.

Another way I stayed motivated was by sharing the game with friends. I had buddies play the game early and often. The positive reinforcement gained from that went a long way in keeping me interested in the project.

You Canít Please Everyone - It is important to take the feedback of your players seriously, but it is equally important to realize that not everyone is going to like your game. Initially, a lot of people complained that the game was too easy so I added a new enemy (the floating eyeball) and then people complained that it was too difficult. In response to this, I gave the player more health to begin with. I actually liked the game better without the eye, but it seemed like less complaints came in so I left it at that.

Currently I am hard at work on my next game and have so many ideas for others that it is sometimes hard to stay focused! Anyway, that's pretty much it; I hope this wasn't a waste of your time.

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