Petty Puny Planet’s Thank You!

Ludum Dare 38 has been a long week gone, however, we still haven’t completely closed off the event as we haven’t spoken about the results or the future of our game, Petty Puny Planet 38 but most importantly, we haven’t also truly thanked everybody that has rated, commented and played our game (we’ve been doing it every post, but now we want to do it officially)! Guess now’s it’s the appropriate time to fix that.

First off and most importantly, we really want to thank everybody who has participated. When we set out to develop Petty Puny Planet 38 for this edition of the jam, we decided we would go and try to be more connected with the Ludum Dare community. We wanted to share and talk more about the game, it’s development and try to give something back to this amazing community of jammers, attempting to involve those which played the game with it. We got highlighted by Alpha Beta Gamer and several other content creators, made a Timelapse of the game’s development, a feature on the program we use for our Ludum Dare games’ art, and the other small goofs every now and then.

We tried to rate as many games as we possibly could during the event, even if we were in a excessively busy time. We were able to comment and rate several games, but we were still in no way able to payback the community with the same amount of feedback given as the one we received. With the next event being right at the beginning of summer season, we look forward to finally being able to give back as much love as the one we received, as we’ll definitely be more empty-handed by then.

As such, and once again thank you. This has been our biggest, most successful and active Ludum Dare yet, and it’s all thanks to everyone who participated, commented, gave feedback, rated and played our game. We are really looking forward for our next one. ?

Now, on a separate note, we wanted to give our thoughts and opinions regarding the results of our game. After all, everyone’s doing it! We got to fit in as well, right?

There are two conclusions that we were able to draw from the results we’ve got, especially when we cross compare them with the ones from our previous Ludum Dare game, Hyper Holomayhem 37. For starters, our rankings in the average of all categories went up, with only the Fun, Innovation and Mood categories staying under the Top-80 mark, showing we were able to do an overall improvement in aspects we probably used to put less thought into, most notably, the Theme and Innovation categories.

However, we were actually surprised to see our Overall rank decrease, albeit slightly. In our opinion, Hyper Holomayhem 37 was our weakest entry in all three Ludum Dare‘s we have participated in, with Petty Puny Planet being the one where we felt we had the smoothest sailing and the most involvement with the community. As such, we over-expected to see the latter get a much better overall position than Hyper Holomayhem, which ranked 51st, with us, this time around, ranking 69th. In comparison, the drop in Fun from 43rd to 190th didn’t astonish us as much, knowing that the game, due to it’s reading and choice-based gameplay, could be a hit or miss depending on the player.

We have several hypothesis about what could have lead to the increase and decrease in each individual category, and we will be taking those hypothesis into consideration for Ludum Dare 39. The event is already coming up in July, which means we will have to buckle up and take them in mind for when the event comes around! ?

As for the future of Petty Puny Planet, we have plans to make a post-jam version with much more content, a handful set of new features and even, possibly, an official release. Given the structure we’ve developed the game with, adding new content is something easily achievable, but we want to make sure everything is top-notch. We don’t know when exactly when we’ll be releasing this update, as we’re currently busy with something else, but we hope for it sometime in the upcoming months.

When the update is ready, we will be publishing an article here announcing it, but for the time being, give us a follow over at the Whales and Games Twitter, which we’ll start using more frequently for updates and networking! We would love to keep in touch with the highest amount of developers as possible, so if you have a Twitter account, drop us a link. Even if you would rather not follow us, we would love to follow you and keep up with your work! ?

With that, we finally close this Ludum Dare. Oh behalf of Whales and Games, we hope we keep in touch, and we will see you next time on Ludum Dare 39!

Petty Puny Planet’s Planetary Expansion Ballot

This Ludum Dare’s judging is ending pretty soon, and we couldn’t be happier with the response we’ve received for Petty Puny Planet 38, our simulation-but-not-really choose-your-own-adventure-esque game. Once that’s done, we’ll be more than free to further update the game with some of the feedback we’ve received! ?

We’ve got lots of things planned and discussed to further expand the customization of the planet, and the interactions you can have with the game. More choices, more branching, more events, more endings, and some other stuff that could turn each playthrough into an even more unique experience.

However, with all these events planned, we’ve also talked about user-submitted choices and events. So, if you were in charge of adding new stuff to the game, what would you add?

As in, would you like a choice that made your people spend a century bowling? Would you like an event where aliens invade the planet? Would you like an ending where the people evolve beyond comprehension and leave the planet to make their own planets? Do you just want to add a moustache and a monocle to the planet? Anything goes!

Basically, we would love to see some suggestion and ideas coming from you! Anything goes, from events and endings to features or just cosmetics. We will discuss them over, see which would be fun to add, fill in the blanks, and hopefully add them to the game. You can go as far as to suggest actions you would like to see together with the kind of stat bonuses they give and even what kind of cosmetic picking the action would show in the planet!

We’ll credit you, of course. ? We’re not planning on getting any monetary gain from the game, if it helps keep your mind at ease regarding these user-suggestions. We want to keep this project as a constantly evolving free web-toy that everybody can always look back too and expand upon.

As such, if you would like to see some of your own ideas on the game, head over to the comments (of this very post) and make your suggestions there! No need to follow specific templates, forms or anything like that, just make any suggestions you have to your heart’s content! Of course, we recommend you to do it after you give the game a try. ?

On behalf of our team at Whales And Games and everyone else that has jammed with us, we thank you for all the support and feedback you have given us during this Ludum Dare edition. The feedback we’ve received this time around smashed all our expectations, and we’re really thankful to all of you!

Now then, onwards with your suggestions! ?

Petty Puny Planet’s Planet Sized Post-Mortem

We’re one week away from the end of Ludum Dare 38‘s judging period and we’ve been feeling overwhelmed with all the great feedback and reception that Petty Puny Planet 38 has been getting over the last few weeks. As other members of the site have been posting as part of the Ludum Dare tradition, we too, wanted to share the tales and conclusions we’ve made during our development process and aftermath, through our very own Planet Sized Post-Mortem!

Petty Puny Planet 38 is a pick-your-own-adventure roguelike-ish simulator style game where, as a bigger-than-life entity, it’s the player’s job to take care of their small pet-planet – and the tiny people on it. This is done by picking between presented choices that are randomly chosen from a pool actions every round.

Every round, however, a random event will happen that can cause different outcomes to the player’s planet depending on their choices. Most of the choices made by the player, as well as the random events, have visual impact on the planet, which, together with some random visual elements and colors, makes it so each player will have their very own unique planet at the end of each playthrough.

Certain choices also branch out into others, allowing for even newer choices, while others increase or decrease the population’s happiness and wealth. As the player progresses through the game, and depending on their planet’s status, certain choices will start appearing which lead to different endings.

Our development team was composed of the same three members that had also participated together last-time during Ludum Dare 37, where we developed Hyper Holomayhem 37. This team is composed of Jorge who works with everything Unity-related and handles gameplay programming, Moski once again being in charge of the game’s artistic direction and responsible for all graphical assets, and finally, Zak which once again composed unique tracks for the game’s soundtrack, as well as all the jingle sound effects that are played in game.

Tools Used

We once again stuck with the tools we’ve known and have worked on, similar to how we have during all previous Ludum Dares. The game’s development was made using the Unity as the game engine with C# as the chosen programming language. In fact, you can even see the whole Unity and programming part in a timelapse we posted earlier when judging started. The art was designed and created on Krita which Moski has written a blog-post about how the program can be used for developing art for games, and finally, the music and sound effects were composed on FL-Studio.

Game Idea and Design

In order to avoid a similar situation to Ludum Dare 37 where we constantly cross-questioned our design decisions in regards to the game, we decided that for this edition of the jam we would start development once we had an exactly clear idea of what we wanted to go with, and that we needed to decide the idea early on during the first hours of the event.

Once the jam’s theme was announced (Small World) each of us brainstormed several ideas that we’re then pitched to the remaining of the team members. Eventually, the idea of a decision-making planet simulation game, inspired by the likes of Sort the Court and Civilization was picked, with more brainstorming eventually leading the idea of the planet continuously getting new cosmetics as the player made their choices in order to add extra charm and humour to the established concept.

The decision making around the planet eventually was given extra depth, as making decisions regarding a planet struck similar to somebody taking care of a pet rock, which lead us to start focusing the game – and all the descriptions of it – around the concept of the player owning a pet planet, which eventually lead to the game’s name of Petty Puny Planet.

What went right?

Versatile Gameplay and Design

Being a game designed around allowing the player to make decisions at will meant we could progressively add more and more actions and events to the game as development progressed, extending it’s gameplay and replayability. This system was designed with Object Oriented Programming in mind, which meant we could easily add new choices and random events to the game without having to do alterations to existing code once their base was programmed.

Towards the end of the jam, we could easily add choices in a matter of a few minutes, requiring only the art assets to be paired with the text scripts which allowed us to quickly multiply the number of actions, events and endings by the final hours of the event.

Pool System Familiarity

A great strength of making a pick-your-own-adventure styled game focused around random choice picks meant that we could reuse the random pool system we had previously developed for Colossorama and Hyper Holomayhem, our previous Ludum Dare games, and expand it by adding new functionality to fit the unique design characteristics of this project.

These changes made to a pool system we already had experience on, made it more versatile, allowing new choices to be added and compared the ones present in the pool when another choice was picked, as well as to give unique conditions to specific actions where, even if an action had already been unlocked, there could still be some requirements that, when not meet, meant the pool system would re-roll the actions. We believe we will continue using this pool system for future projects as well, as it can be easily repurposed to create a roguelike-ish experience.

Overall Game’s Development

Similarly to our previous Ludum Dare entries, we put a great deal of focus and attention into making sure that the game’s design and game loop was satisfying and polished enough for every player to get absorbed into the game and feel encouraged to keep playing. Deciding on a simple idea, together with the points presented above meant we could focus on adding smaller details as other team members wrote and designed new actions or fulfilled their respective tasks.

This, together with the lessons we learned from our previous experiences, such as having an audio composer on the team, focusing on making design ideas early on the first day in order to avoid delays, in addition to having a web and mobile version available from the moment the game was published on the site, meant that we had a much more accessible and enjoyable game for a wider audience of players and developers alike from the moment the game was released.

It is also to note that a great Samurai Jack episode aired during the jam, which gave extra thicc motivation to the team.

What has feedback told us, and what could we have done better?

Although we normally name this section as ‘What could have gone better?’ we legitimately think that this was one of our best game jams to date, and definitely one of our projects which had the smoothest development. Therefore, we instead want to re-focus this section to what feedback has told us regarding some game design problems we didn’t realize in the game’s design during the actual event.

Game Balancing and Action Diversity

Although there’s an extensive and varied collection of choices that the player can make throughout the game, most of these need to be unlocked first before they are added to the action pool. This means that, during the early phases of game, there are several actions and random events that are too common, and even intuitive for players starting out. The lack of unique actions in the first choices of the game also make the first parts of the game look the same because of the reduced number of options available during this section of the game.

Some choices were also added for the sake of diversity, in attempt to make the game look more unique on each different run, but a small portion of these ended up not adding any significative branching or changes to the planet’s variables, which makes them feel irrelevant.

Early Events and Endings

As an extension of the previous point, there are several random events which reduce happiness and wealth very early in the game. One such example is the Ice Age event, which is drawn multiple times during the first rounds of the game and which constantly reduce the planet’s happiness unless the player chooses to Discover Fire almost early on. However, also choosing to Discover Fire results in yet another event which also results in happiness drops when pooled.

With reduced happiness and wealth the player can easily get most of the ‘bummer‘ endings early in the game, feeling almost like a punishment to the player, especially during their first playthroughs of the game, especially before they even have an idea of the actual length a game session can take up to. In fact, we’ve already witnessed some comments and even an video producer, who believed some of the ‘bummer‘ endings were actually full-fledged endings.

Closing Remarks and what could we improve on?

As mentioned above, we really believe that this has been the smoothest Ludum Dare we’ve participated in, and as such, we’re really proud of our effort and of how the game’s been performing. The game has quickly beat the amount of total views of our previous project in a much smaller time-frame.

Before closing this post-mortem, of course, we still want to leave some closing remarks summarizing the points above, as well as lessons to take present as we move forward:

  • Focus on an idea right from the start and and focused on replayability can give enough of a time-frame to focus on expanding and adding content to the original idea of the course of the jam.
  • Build a system which allows for easily adding new content, so if you have time to spare by the end of the jam, you can use it to keep adding additional content into the game. Remember, one thing is new content and another thing is whole new features. For the latter, it’s preferable you save them for post-jam versions if you’re closing in on time.
  • Check out previous technologies you might have developed (especially if you’re participating in the Jam instead of the Compo) and check if there’s something you can re-use from them that can help you save time on your newest project.
  • Even if gameplay is important, try to leave a small time-frame to give some extra polish to the game. Some small polish here and there can really improve the first impression the player gets when they play your game! ?
  • Try to spread tasks around if you’re participating as a team. Assuming the previous points have been taken care off, have team members help out in other sections (such as writing, planning or preparing descriptions for submission hours), or have them make extra content. It’s better to have left over content, than missing content.
  • Make sure your player gets an intuitive experience. The player should understand the impact of their choices or the reason why a specific mechanic is in-game. Give them space to experiment without them thinking “That’s it?”.
  • If you’re game could be easily and quickly adapted for other platforms, such as Web or Android then try to support them. It will allow your game to be experienced for another great number of players which might have different preferences when it comes to the platform they play games in.
  • Samurai Jack will end in two weeks. It’s sad we know, but it’s was well worth the ride. Watch Rick and Morty while you’re at it too.

Some of the improvements we’ve got planned for possible future iterations of the game, and which we look forward to getting feedback on the upcoming weeks include:

  • Make it clear which type of actions is which and explain if an action is a repeatable action (which means the tasks can be repeated multiple times) or unique (tasks that can only be picked once, branching out into new choices).
  • Consider adding the effect of an action when it is selected, giving the player some insight regarding the consequences or unlocks of picking their action. This can allow the player to better plan for the next round or playthroughs.
  • Add more variables and encourage players to tailor their playthroughs towards a very specific planet proficiency.
  • Add more replayability incentives, like obtaining an ending on a specific playthrough leading to more actions being unlocked on the next playthroughs.

Again, most of these things and improvements we came to realize regarding the game was only possible thanks to the feedback everyone has been posting in regards to the game and what they believed were the strong and weak points of the game. We seriously take all the feedback into consideration, and we try to reply to everyone who comments on the game in order to strengthen discuss about what could be improved. You’re the reason we keep going forward and improving, so thank’s a lot for everyone who has given us feedback so far, and we look forward to playing more of your games soon. ❤️

Thanks a lot for reading! We know that’s quite the extensive post-mortem, but once again, we hope that there are some lessons that can be of use for you and your team, or that you’ve at least enjoyed reading it and know more about the highs and lows of our development process during this edition of the event.

Experimenting with this new game in specific has been a blast for us, and we really like the direction the game has been going, and the overall reception of it as we explained. Now that this post-mortem has been finally posted, one of the thing we got in mind next is having the community (either developers and players) get involved with future developments of the game in case we go through with it. We hope you look forward to it! ?

Once again, thanks a lot. If you haven’t already, and wish to keep up with our future development, give us a follow at our team’s twitter at Whales And Games and if you still haven’t already, give Petty Puny Planet 38 a try of your own! We’re curious to see how your pet planet will look in the end!

Petty Puny Planet’s Coverage Appreciation

Hello, fellow pet planet aficionados! Hope that you enjoyed yesterday’s Star Wars related goof. As you can see, we’ve had some good laughs sharing around our game, Petty Puny Planet, which you can play on your browser, download or even play on Android devices.

But today, we’re not going to do the talking. Instead, we want to say thank you to the people that have featured us in their YouTube channels. They took their time to showcase our game, so we’re going to return the favor!

Mind, you’re entering a spoiler asteroid field here. Some of these videos feature some endings of the game. There’s still some more though!

Steven Cookies

Randomise User

The video also features Polyorbis, Snowed In, Small Golf and Hibernaculum. Consider checking their entries as well!

Gamesena.com

The game was also showcased by Alpha Beta Gamer. All of this sharing has given us very good feedback, and we’re looking forward to making an improved version sometime in the future! Also, streamers from Dare to Play posts have been playing it as well. We’re achieving global outreach here!*

In behalf of our team, I also want to thank the people who have played, reviewed and/or commented on Petty Puny Planet. We’re replying daily to the comments we’re receiving, and we’re keeping track of the feedback. Thanks for helping us improve!

If you’d like to get some more insight of Petty Puny Planet, you can always check Jorge’s timelapse video or my art related post.

Thanks once again. Whales and Games wishes you to keep enjoying the post-Ludum Dare 38 days. Go play some more games! ?

*Not actually achieving global outreach, but our dreams are bigger than our Puny Planets.

Happy Star Wars Day!

We see everyone is having a great time judging and rating each other games, but let’s not forget there’s also another very important event going on today! Of course, it’s May 4th – The Star Wars celebration day! Hope all the fans are having a great day! To commemorate we even have a poster to celebrate!

If you’ve got a break between revisiting the movies or what you might be doing to celebrate, check out Petty Puny Planet 38! There’s no actual Star Wars stuff in-game though (for hopefully obvious reasons). But it has a moon, just not a space station one. ?

If you’re curious about the game’s art process (such as the way the poster above was also designed), Moski has posted a post earlier today about how we uses Krita to make the our project’s art. We also still have our post-mortem to do and post, so if you’ve been keeping tab with us, we hope you look forward to it!

Thanks! And have an happy Star Wars day from Whales And Games! ?