I'm a bit disappointed with the results for Whirling Blades, but I guess that's what I get for doing something I'm not good at (isometric). xD
The goal was to make a well rounded game while also stepping out of my comfort zone, which I did. I've never done anything isometric before and knew almost nothing about it when I started. I didn't look up anything and did everything by just figuring it out. It was a great learning experience.
- The game was completely different from my other games, which was probably nice for anyone that has played most of my games.
- The mechanics turned out great. They were simple since you only used the mouse, but also still fun.
- The character designs turned out good aside from the big tanky one, which I didn't draw by hand before I started.
- The visual effects were nice in my opinion. (the eruptions and the slashing)
Here's the single paper I used for the idea beforehand. I'm definitely not an artist outside of pixel art.
- The artwork didn't turn out as good as I had hoped. The rating really shows it when compared to Lollipop Ninja. Part of the issue was that I wasn't used to working from an isometric perspective, but I believe the main issue was the dark outline. I've had a few people outside of the AKJ complain about that specifically. The outlines also reduced the space I had to work in, which also reduced my ability to add detail. The over abundance of green in the play area was also a common complaint.
- There were a few minor design issues, such as the difficulty scaling and the fact that you can get stuck in a corner next to the "stompers" which causes tons of damage.
- I assumed that adding depth in the form of items and unique traits for each enemy that took some thinking to figure out were a good thing since it was "optional" depth, but this ended up making people not like the game. Humans tend to not like the unknown, so the items that were automatically used and the overly varied enemy traits probably made the game worse for most people.
- The game at its core was just a game where you kill things in an expanding area. IMHO, it seemed like the isometric elements and everything else were just tacked on to a very generic concept. Nobody really complained about it, but I prefer for the core of my games to be more innovative than that. In Lollipop Ninja, the core idea was that you jump around and use terrain as a shield from "enemies", which is presented in a humorous fashion. I think I did a good job with Precious Cargo, which was one of my older LD games. The core idea was that you were on a moving platform around other moving platforms with enemies knocking you around while you needed to go onto the enemies' platforms to keep yours in the air. It sounds complex, but in a game it actually works really well. I think if I remade this core concept now, it would be a pretty good game.
- I didn't have time to add fullscreen, so accidentally clicking out of the window became a rather annoying problem for almost anyone playing. Although it seems like a lot of people missed the note that F11 could be used to make the window larger.
The big mistake that resulted in a lot of these issues was that I was somewhat blinded be the desire to make a fast-paced isometric fighting game. I had some cool ideas in my head, but forgot to think about potential issues in design before getting to work. Normally I spend 60-90 minutes on the game's concept, wheras for this one, I only spent about 10. Next game jam I'll try to dedicate more time to design (>= 3 hours) and less to content since it seems to be the major issue with a lot of my games. I wasted so much time on Lollipop Ninja making levels nobody would play and I wasted a lot of time making items and enemy traits that people would just find a nuisance when making Whirling Blades. On The Crushed Sky (one of my LD games), I also spent way too much time making levels that nobody would play. I even made a boss battle with its own set of tiles that almost nobody ever played.
The boss fight from The Crushed Sky:
I'm slowly figuring out game design and hopefully I'll make something great when I enter the next Ludum Dare!
EDIT: I also need to stop going so low-rez with my artwork. >.>