Boxing with Bears - Bear Knuckle Boxing Post Mortem
Disclaimer: the opinions presented here are my own and do not reflect the team's as a whole.
Bear Knuckle Boxing was an excellent exercise in my ability to improvise and change stuff quickly during the development process. The game I set out to make and the game I ended up with are similar, but not quite the same. This is largely due to a major technical issue during the last day of the jam that had me cut out a major system that I personally consider the heart of the game.
So without further ado, here's my post mortem take on Bear Knuckle Boxing.
What Went Wrong
Now, I know what you're probably thinking if you've played the game: "what microphone input". Well, you're not wrong. We cut it a few hours before submission time.
I'd made a microphone input system for Unity that was working fine all day on the Saturday, but come the Sunday it decided it didn't want to work anymore. I tested it with several different microphones but it just didn't want to come back.
We tried fixing it for a couple hours, but had no luck. In the end, it got cut out.
The original design for the game was that you had to fight until someone falls, then that player would need to shout encouraging things like "You can do it!" or "Keep trying!" to their fighter to get them to stand back up. That was going to be our unique hook on the boxing genre. With this cut out, the game just isn't as interesting or exciting as I wanted it to be.
But I guess this is what happens when trying new things in a jam setting. Sure, it might not have worked out, but we didn't spend a lot of time on it and we all learned from the experience, so it was beneficial to us in the end.
Fighting Game Experience
Without movement or a unique twist, the fighting in the game is really lackluster. It works out to a simple two button fighter that isn't very exciting to play. The getting up mechanic works well to offset this, since it still produces good friction for the player, but the combat itself is a bit lacking.
We opted for a simple combat experience in order to focus more time on the microphone mechanics, but since those didn't work out all we were left with was a simple fighting system.
What Went Right
Considering I brought on two artists the day after the jam started, I think things turned out great. The art and animations look and feel very good and definitely make the game look super polished, which goes a long way in a jam game.
The speed at which new assets and animations were produced was incredibly impressive. A huge thanks to Josh and Wu for their help!
The sound of the game also turned out really good. I also brought on Carson to help with sounds and music at the same time I asked for art help, so it was all done pretty last minute. With that in mind, it turned out really good! From the energetic music to the humanoid bear language spoken, all the sounds make the game feel more alive than if it had all been silence or generated retro sounds.
Last minute we decided we wanted paralax backgrounds, but instead of doing it the normal way with scrolling scripts I chose to instead switch our cameras over to perspective mode and layer the backgrounds in 3D space. This lead to some great and unique scrolling background effects and also allowed me to move around the cameras in ways that wouldn't have been possible in 2D.
What Was Learned
Polish Until You Can See Your Reflection
Polish goes a long way in a jam game. Good art, animations and sound can take a jam game from a 7/10 to a 9/10. Even if you don't have the best game, being more polished can net a lot of points.
My advice to get more polish points is to include these things:
- Juice (Screenshake, Camera Stuff)
With these you might even be able to trick people into thinking you spent more than 2 days on your game!
Test Sooner and More
If we'd done more rigorous testing sooner, we'd probably have discovered the issues with the mic input and maybe have been able to fix them during the jam time. Going forward, I definitely plan to test weird mechanics sooner in development as well as more thoroughly.
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