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My First Postmortem
Updated 4 months ago
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Bowling Jam!

Hey!

As you probably already know by the title, this is my first postmortem! To be more precise, the postmortem of Bowling Jam. Actually this is the first game that I endured through the end and finished. Well, kind of...
I'm not shipping to the Play Store or anything and I'm not hopping to be a millionaire with it. So why I'm I writing a postmortem on a bad, unfinished game?
Well first I've always love playing games and loved reading about the process behind creating them. So when I started making them, it was only natural that I started writing about them as well.
Second English isn't my first language and considering the fact that I want to get a job abroad, it's always nice to practice.
And third, if anyone benefits from my experience it'll be cool knowing that I helped someone.

General experience with Bowling Jam

I'm writing this on the middle of 2018. I'm on my last year of college (computer science) and I have a little over six months of experience using Unity and developing games in general.
So after months of creating half-baked games and never shipping them, I decided to create this simple game. A bowling game which you could control the ball with telekinesis to dodge obstacles.
The ideal was simple, create a simple game to experience (almost) all parts of game development.
I divided this postmortem into clear segments, similar to the method I used to develop this game.

Gameplay

Programming the gameplay elements of the game was quite easy. I had already done more complicated things than moving a ball using the built in physics engine.
So quickly I put up a working demo with you tilting the phone to control the ball, pins to hit a lane etc. In a day I had the core gameplay done and I was quite happy with myself.
Second day of work I created a simple level system to manage different obstacles, power-ups. Everything was going according to plan, I thought I was going to finish in 3-4 days and conclude as a success.
The code was rushed and not so pretty, but it got the job done.

Game System

Now I only had to create the "Game System". I have no idea what the actual name for what I call Game System is. It's simply what holds the game all together... Menus, UI, persistent data etc.
I already knew how to create everything, at least how to code it. But boy... I learned the hard way that this part is not just about programming.
This part was by far the one on which I learned the most. When it comes to creating software architecture and just organization in general, I`m not hopeless. I have a CS background that helps me. But when I had to create a project that actually requires some level of UX, I was helpless.
It took some trial and error, experimenting, re-designing and in general not being afraid to throw everything in the trash to create something I was please with.
And not trying to fool you, the final design isn't pretty. It's reeeeeeeally ugly. The icons are ugly, the colors don't make sense, the transitions are bad. Everything feels like a a game that was created by a 12 years old on a pre-school dev class.
But I love it! And I don't feel ashamed by it.
When I started programming, the code was bad. So it's only logical that when I start making games, the design was going to look bad.

Polishing

So I had this ugly UI with simple gameplay. If it was any previous game I would consider it done and throw it on the trash, or as The Beginner's Guide so kindly described: "Important Games folder". But similar to building the Game System, I had to improve myself on the game design.
So I downloaded some free unity assets, third party software's and again spent a lot of time just learning. Experimenting with different tools and little by little improving my game.

Conclusions

Well after finishing my game I felt a mixture of feelings. I was happy for finally shipping a game, but I think the main feeling was anxiety. But in a good way! Sure I found out how little I know about game design. And how much more it is then just programming the game. But I experienced everything and learned a lot by myself.
When you learn how to program you discover early that there is no way to learn something unless you do it your self. As my mom always says, you have to sit your ass on the chair and study. I had no idea of how to study and improve on Game Development in general. I thought that just by learning how to code, the other parts were just going to fit piece by piece and I just had to leave the artists to do the "artistic work". And if I never had this experience of doing everything my self, I would probably keep believing that.
I know that in hindsight everything that I wrote here is obvious. But I'm sure there are a bunch of people just like me that start a lot of games, but never finish them. My message to you is:
"If you haven't yet, develop an entire game yourself and don't give up on it! You'll be surprised on how much you'll learn."

Pedro Azevedo
Indie Developer - Programmer
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