Ludum Dare, Postmortem

Diner Devil! (LD28) Postmortem

Voting has officially ended for Ludum Dare 28. My entry was ranked as follows:

Rank (of 1284) Category Rating Percent
#267 Fun 3.22 79.2%
#343 Humor 2.61 73.3%
#371 Graphics 3.17 71.1%
#399 Overall 3.13 68.9%
#427 Innovation 3.00 66.7%
#464 Mood 2.81 63.9%
#867 Theme 2.14 32.5%

Average score: 65.1%

If you’re curious, you can play my game, Diner Devil! Let’s dive into the postmortem…

When I reflect on the game, there are two general ways to analyze it. 1. Strictly as an entry in the Ludum Dare Competition, and 2. Just as a game.

Diner Devil! as a Ludum Dare Entry

What went well:

  1. I finished.
  2. The game came out similar to how I imagined it.
  3. Graphics look pretty good.
  4. It is an actual game.
  5. It’s somewhat fun.

What didn’t go so well:

  1. Spent way too much time on graphics.
  2. No sound.
  3. Gameplay isn’t that fun, honestly.
  4. Controls are a little wonky.
  5. Took me too long to have an actual playable game.

I would estimate that at least 70% of my time was spent in Photoshop. Nearly all of Saturday was spent in Photoshop, and a good portion of Sunday. I now understand why people tend to do pixel art – it is simply the fastest way to get something on the screen.

If I could do it over again I would definitely have used pixel art, and would have further simplified the game more by removing so many stages of burnt items. The graphics should be: raw, cooked, burnt (3). Instead, I have: raw, soft, hard, sad, dead, and end (6!). Lots of time wasted on creating different shades of burnt eggs.

Too many states!

Too many states!

Lastly, the most important lesson for me was to get a GAME running as soon as humanly possible. I put off doing the game logic until Sunday night – and by the time I had something playable, I didn’t have any time to playtest it! I should have made the orders first, along with the game rounds, and then added things to be cooked once that was running. That would have given me much more time to playtest as I was adding more content.

If I had made the game first, then focused on adding content, I could have scheduled time to make sound. Instead, I did graphics for 1.5 days, and had to panic towards the end just to have something playable. The missing sound is the most glaring flaw.

Diner Devil! as a Game

Now, let’s forget that this was made in 48 hours… How is Diner Devil! as a game?

What works:

  1. Love the customer comments.
  2. It actually feels like working in a Diner.
  3. Lots of different cooking mechanics (stove, toaster, counter, bowl, chopping, scrambling, flipping).
  4. Tutorial is nice.

What doesn’t:

  1. Money has no meaning.
  2. Gets tedious and isn’t that much fun.
  3. Doesn’t work on mobile, even though it would be perfect for it.
  4. Things get harder, but not more rewarding.
  5. There’s no real motivation to do a good job.
  6. As things get faster, multitasking goes away.

The game’s biggest failure, from the perspective of game design, is that money is meaningless. This alone ruins whatever potential fun the game could have. Most reward is linked to money, but you can’t do anything with money.

The easiest way to improve the game would be to add powerups between the rounds that users could purchase with their money. Powerups should help the user manage the tedious nature of the gameplay. For example, purchasing a larger toaster, or the ability to crack eggs faster, or a sharper knife, or a hotter stove to cook faster, or the ability to grab two pieces of bread at once.

Another thing that would help would be to provide more methods of reward other than money or funny customer comments. For example, achievements, funny sound effects, fanfare, restaurant additions, praise from local newspapers, etc.

Lastly, the game needs to be balanced a lot more. Towards rounds 4-7 it is so fast that there isn’t that much multitasking going on – you’re mostly just cooking things one at a time. If it took longer to cook things, along with more orders displayed at once, then you would be required to do more multitasking (which would give more meaning to powerups).


The competition was such a blast. It was so much fun to create a game the same time as everyone else. It was great seeing everyone in the chat room and on twitter. And I loved playing through and voting on others’ creations.

One slight annoyance I had with Ludum was that Jam and Compo entries are listed side by side. This feels a bit unfair to me – of course my game doesn’t look or play as good as people who had an extra day and multiple people. A two person team had 144 man-hours, compared to my 48. Three person teams had 216 man-hours! Please, separate Jam and Compo completely (listing and voting).

Still though, it was awesome, and they aren’t kidding when they say “your prize is your product”. I am so happy to have something finished, that I can show off. All too often I start on a gaming idea and never produce anything playable. The game has its flaws, but it’s a complete, playable game. Maybe I need more deadlines in my life?

Thanks, and see you guys in April!

Tags: Ludum Dare, Postmortem

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