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Postmortem: Goblins: Rise of Gurg

After my successful entry to the Seven Day Roguelike Challenge, I found out about the Dungeon Crawlers Jam. The original Bard's Tale series was a favorite of mine. I even set about recreating the Bard's Tale Construction Set in open source. The construction set wasn't very good and I slowly added features to make it more Bard's Tale like. The Bt Builder engine still lacked a complete example game so perhaps this would provide the push to create one.

The Dungeon Crawlers Jam ran for seven days. I did take some time off but I didn't need to write a new game engine. In fact the plan was to use Bt Builder as is. It meant that the game wouldn't feel very innovative but that was fine.

My initial thought was to do a reverse of Bard's Tale. You played as monsters rising out of the dungeon to attack the town. Initially I thought of using dark elves but found there was only two dark elf images. Goblins had three images so I decided to go with them.


What went wrong?

1) Time Management

Not much work was done on the weekend. Just created some images and some of those ended up being replaced. One of the days I took off, I was very distracted by other things. I did implement a quest system which hadn't been planned. It probably didn't add enough to be worth doing. I could have added a task list at the camp and spent more time on content.

On the final day I still only had the forest map and the dragon cave. Neither were complete. Monsters, items, and spells still needed to be done. I debated giving up at that point. I pushed on and created a bare skeleton for everything. I made sure you were able to complete the game. Experience needed for levels were cut drastically to allow people to win the game in a shorter time.

2) Scope

I wanted to have some creature or creatures not found in Bt Builder. I noticed the white ape and a demon with wings. With some quick Gimp work, I had a winged ape. To make the winged ape fit in, I decided to move the goblins to a forest instead of underground. The goblins worshiped a winged ape god and wanted to create an avatar for him.

You would start by performing a quest to become adults in the goblin tribe. Then you would be provided with a variety of tasks to create the winged ape. After completing the avatar, you would venture through the sewers and attack the human city. Very quickly I realized that I wouldn't have time for attacking the human city. I also reduced the number of quests to get the winged ape.

Original vision had each class with class change options like Bard's Tale. That was completely cut. I didn't have time to make spells for a single class. Multiple classes with spells and special items were too much.

3) No Sample Party

After release, I thought more about what reviewers might experience of the game. I doubted most would complete the game. They might not even get through the initial quest. It occurred to me I should have included a powerful party. It would allow a reviewer to quickly see the whole thing if they wanted.

Another option or perhaps in addition to a sample party would have been starting equipment for the characters so you didn't need to purchase equipment first. Considering this is not my first game jam, I should have known people playing them wouldn't have a lot of time.

What went right?

1) Game Engine

I put a lot of faith in Bt Builder to allow me to quickly make a game. It performed great in that respect. There were a few features that could have made game creation easier.

The lack of undo meant you can mess up special scripts really easily. If monsters had the ability to drop items, I could have put more in the game or at least not had them all in the shop. This has been a request for a while. As it was each item would need a special script somewhere to give the item. Overall it was still a great engine to use.

2) Story

I thought the general story for the game was interesting. The Bard's Tale games tend to have one thing you are doing at a time. I liked that you were given several tasks to create the avatar and could complete them in whatever order. It was unfortunate that most people probably didn't get very far in the game.

3) Artwork

The base Bt Builder had a lot of artwork to draw from. Even so I found making a game about goblins difficult. I didn't want the goblins in the Adventurer's Guild but there was no suitable image for a camp. I ended up clipping part of a cave image from Ancient Beasts and modified two other images for a review board and healer.

I posted them to a Bard's Tale forum. The artist who got all the existing artwork for Bt Builder quickly made three images for me to use. He suggested next year we should work together on an entry.

What can we learn?

Same thing I said after every other game jam, time management. While this was a complete game unlike my first game jam entry, it was not the same success as the last game jam. My scope was far too grand but time management was the true killer. The game could have been much better with a little more effort on monsters, items, and spells. Still I'm glad I persevered instead of giving up.


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Last modified: 2022-04-17, 00:28

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