The 5th Kajam is over, the long awaited results are in, and sadly I must graciously accept the honour of last place. It may not be your first impression to think of it as an honour, but just as every cloud has a silver lining even last place is itself a prize dependant on how you look at it.
By coming in last I therefore made the most mistakes, and by making the most mistakes I then have the most to learn and gain from taking part in this Kajam. I'm going to attempt to reflect on my own submission and work out what I could have done better. If you have any further constructive feedback I'd love to hear it.
I would like to quickly take this opportunity to thank every single person who played, rated and provided feedback on Street Bots. I appreciate every one of you.
Issue 1 - Inspiration: I chose to make a retro game inspired by Pokémon, a high standard to set the bar by. I did so because I love Pokémon and I've never made an adventure rpg so I wanted to challenge myself. An important step I missed was to look at what gave Pokémon its spark, why people loved the games and what drew them in. I think a big part of Pokémon is the depth of the world; the spreading map that you gradually explore, the chance to encounter new creatues in each place, growing your team and forming an attachment to them over time as they help you overcome various challenges. I dont think a lot of these features translate well to a smaller, shorter game which is of course what I would be making when taking part in a timed event (and starting 3 weeks late!).
Issue 2 - Flare (or lack thereof): Not being an artist this is probably something I am often guilty of. A game doesnt have to be flashy to be good but the lifeless, unanimated battles of Street Bots certainly didnt add to the immersion. The battles lacked both SFX and animation and I think this detracted from the "fall in love factor" which can draw people into games. Another example would be the player movement. I struggled at first to get the movement to feel how I wanted and decided to opt for the "good enough" approach and move on. This was a mistake because movement was such a huge part of the game. The first thing you do is move, the majority of time playing the game is probably spent moving around. I tested the game many many times and got used to the clunky movement, however to someone just downloading and trying the game the awkwardness would detract heavily from the rest of the experience.
Issue 3 - Scope: The game was just too much for me to handle in only just over a week. Add in that I got suddenly sick and didn't do any dev for 2 or 3 days and there's just not enough time. If I'd had the time I would've added a lot more to some of the existing mechanics; multiple bot battles using teams, some sort of effectiveness system in battles, a mechanic similar to wild Pokémon for training your bots and full keyboard controls! No more cheap UI and mouse elements. Some of these features could've added more variety and life to the game. In it's current state it feels linear and stale.
Despite the bad things I've said about it I'm very proud of Street Bots. I love the game and learned a lot from creating it.
If you've actually read this entire post then thank you for reading my internal monologue brain dump. I hope you too can learn something from it.
Another huge thanks to everyone who played Street Bots, everyone who took part in Kajam 5 and the fantastic organisers of Alakajam. I look forward to the next one!