Whale of a Retrospective! Whales And Games History through Ludum Dares!

With the end of the year coming up, television and news sites are flooding with yearly retrospectives and the most marking events of the year, highlighting both the positives and negatives of the past months and what’s bound to be remember of this year for history.

With the end of judging for this Ludum Dare coming up, we thought to do something similar, only instead of it being just about the year, we’re looking at the history of our past Ludum Dare entries from our latest game Super Sellout all the way back to Colossorama! Sit comfortably on your chair (unless you have a standing desk in which case just stand there) and prepare for the history of our Whales And Games team through Ludum Dare editions, how it shaped us, and what we learned from each edition respectively! Leggo! ??

Ludum Dare 36 – Colossorama

If there’s a game that we have to thank for and which was the reason why our team exists nowdays, it is Colossorama. Created for Ludum Dare 36 (August 2016)Colossorama was a simple hack-and-slash sidescroller where you were forced to swap weapons every round to defeat as many enemies as you can while attempting to stay alive on your own.

Colossorama broke what was essentially a two-year-long creative-block towards games for me and Moski, and has since evolved tremendously receiving multiple updates since it’s original debut, being showcased in multiple events, and even gaining a following of its own. In fact, a third major expansion to it is planned to come out early next year, and we are already looking at some other plans we have ready in-mind for beyond that!

Ludum Dare 37 – Hyper Holomayhem

While we ocassionaly make the joke that it’s the game that should not-be-mentioned, Hyper Holomayhem taught us some hard lessons regarding how we should tackle future Ludum Dare editions after Ludum Dare 37 (December 2016). In essence, the game was also a side-scroller free-roaming shooter, where you’d have to tear-away levels by shooting at it’s tiles in order to collect gears that would power the room and regenerate again.

The game, while it obtained good judging scores, taught us a few things regarding how we should tackle scope and design decisions. Always make sure you come up with a pre-set idea as you come out of the brainstorming phase and make sure mechanics are well established so they can be quickly ironed out and improved during the jamming time. Unfortunately, there’s still some one or two-offs where we fall on the same trappings, but overall, it taught us a lot about how to handle things going forward.

Ludum Dare 38 – Petty Puny Planet

With the hard-swallowed lessons from Hyper Holomayhem, our next entry, Petty Puny Planet for Ludum Dare 38 (April 2017) was a complete turnaround of what had happened during the previous game’s development, and, in the opinion of many of our team, might be our best take-away from Ludum Dare so far. Petty Puny Planet was a pick-your-own-adventure type of game where you’d pick different actions to determine a planet’s development, and be faced with random-consequence events that could undermine (or be undermined by) your previous choices.

Rather than teaching us harsh-lessons, Petty Puny Planet instead served as a confirmation of many things we had done right this time around. Keep the scope conformable and well-defined, allowing you to focus immediately on what’s important and establish mock-ups and mechanics so that the rest of the team is able to immediately know where the game is headed. Samurai Jack was also airing at the time, which probably helped the team mood a lot.

It’s also noteworthy that Ludum Dare 38 was the point we officially founded our team under the name Whales And Games which we’ve been using since! ?

Ludum Dare 39 – JouleThief: Charge Your Phone

JouleThief: Charge Your Phone is an odd-one-out when it comes to this retrospective, being the only game in this list that wasn’t originally planned as a Whales And Games title. Rather, the game was originally developed during Ludum Dare 39 (August 2017) as an attempt for Moski to work with a different team while other members of WAG were busy at the time. Taking the role as Joulethief, you’d go around attempting to charge your phone as much as possible while avoiding guards attempting to arrest you for disturbance.

The game noticeably has it’s own noticeable quirks, utilizing 3D physics in a 2D game and even featuring an unfinished level editor. Later on, Kroltan, the game’s programmer, would end up joining the Whales And Games team and has since collaborated with us on two other projects featured on this retrospective. After some recent internal talks, we have finally decided to crown JouleThief as being an official part of the Whales And Games collection and hope for one day to be able to put the game on the limelight it deserves!

Ludum Dare 40 – Jazzy Beats

Following the momentum and good spirits of the original team preserved since Petty Puny Planet, the next game to come out of the team would be Jazzy Beats, an indirect beat-em-up where you brawl against an opposing idol’s fans to convert them to your own, created during Ludum Dare 40 (December 2017).

The game extended on the lessons learned through a Petty Puny Planet, continuing on with the trend of defining the games vision right on the first hours, increasing the project’s scope to involve more mechanics, and allowing team members to experiment and implement their part directly on top of the project files (while previously, all the project setup on the engine side was made by the programmer).

Jazzy Beats was also noticeably our best performance in a judging phase as of yet, both in terms of how many games we’ve rated as well as how many ratings we have received. It has since become our staple goal of what we want to achieve with each consequent judging phase and edition.

Ludum Dare 41 – Wizsnooks

With a new Whales And Games setup and the core team growing, the torch started being passed around the different team members depending on the occasion and availability of the team. The first project to test having different team members on the lead instead of the usual suspects happened with Wizsnooks during Ludum Dare 41 (April 2018). Mixing two incompatible genres, Wizsnooks was pool meets RPG, creating a pool game where you’d have to defeat enemies either using your gear or pushing them into pits.

Wizsnooks turned out to be a nice revelation, being surprisingly innovative with its mechanics mixing both the genres, making it one of the games we have considered giving a revamp too for the longest time, especially considered the different ways the game could be expanded. Overall, it served as a perfect example of the capability of the team to adapt to different team setups and how they can affect the ideas behind a specific game.

However, it still followed the typical three-people team formula we had been using during the previous jams, and that was something we wanted to break with the next edition.

Ludum Dare 43 – Super Sellout

After skipping Ludum Dare 42 as a team (not so much for Moski which had a catastrophic experience instead) we finally reach the current live edition with Super Sellout being developed for the current Ludum Dare 43Super Selloutpitches a runner-game with having to sacrifice mobility and visibility by choosing sponsors as to achieve an higher highscore.

Super Sellout‘s development was somewhat similar to the development of Hyper Holomayhem, with it’s own sets of ups and downs, but at the same time, it was somewhat expected in advance. The jam was the first time we experimented with having most of the team (that’s five out of six people) in a single jam, rather than going with usual three-people model. In essence, it was a team exercise, and we have certainly gotten some good pointers about how to manage future editions and projects when they involve more people than usual.

While we could go into more detail regarding the lessons we learned, we still have our usual post-mortem coming up in the following days detailing both what went right and what feedback and experiment taught us.

And that wraps it up! While the judging of Super Sellout is still going on, it’s always a nice lesson to go back and retrospect through our history as a team and jammers, realizing the different lessons we learned throughout the different editions. We believe that the next jams will continue evolving us as a team as we tackle different genres and experiment with different ideas and as we keep refining our formula and identity.​ ?

As the year comes to a close, we have a bunch of new ideas and experiments we want to make, but we’re yet to see how our team evolves. From adopting a new roadmap, to attempting to build a more complete experience, we’re sure the time between this and the next edition of Ludum Dare is going to be surprising. It’s quite sad to see the event reduced to only two editions a year, but we’ve already got our scopes sighted for other events we’d love to join!

If you’d like to keep up and join us in the wild ride the next year is going to be, we totally recommend you to follow us on Twitter and join us on Discord where we’ve got an active community of developers, artists and even just traditional gaming peps. You’re also obviously free to share your Ludum Dare games over there! ?

Wizsnooks’ team wants to thank y’all!

Team Whales and Games is, once again, very happy for the reception that we got with Wizsnooks, our game of pool with extra steps. It’s our second game to make it to 100 Overall ratings, and I’d say that we got very encouraging results!

Our highlight this time around was Innovation. Based on ratings, it’s by far out most innovative game! Who knew that there were things yet to add to an old classic genre of games. There’s still things we can improve, like always, and we’ll continue to strive to do bigger and new games as time goes by.

We’re glad that so many talented people made it through the rating period. We played some amazing games, like Sebastian’s and co’s Super Slime Slasher Ultra, which actually got me to draw a bit of crossover fanart of sorts.

On a more personal note, I’d like to thank the team for being a team at working as a team! Go, team, go! Game couldn’t have been possible without Kroltan‘s vision and programming, along with Robin‘s headbangeriffic tracks and design support. I’d like to also extend my thanks to Jorge for additional management support, and PonchoGuy for emotional support.

This was an excellent jam, and we’re hoping to seeing more of you in the future. If you’d like to chat, come check our Discord server. And if you’d like to read our post-mortem or other articles of interests, I’ll link to them below. But for now, this will be it. Whales And Games wishes you the best! Kudos! ?

Wizsnooks • The Wizardly World of Postmortening

It’s time for the final sprint for Ludum Dare! It’s the last week, and people are going full-throttle commenting and rating! There are a lot of games with less than 20 ratings that deserve some more attention, so be sure to keep contributing to the community! Lots of people here have worked hard to make it through the crunch!

As for Wizsnooks, our loot-frenzy pool action game, we got a post-mortem ready for you. It took a bit longer than anticipated, but we’re still glad that we get to share this with you!

Wizsnooks is a roguelike loot pool hybrid where you clear tables with different layouts by defeating all of the enemies present on it. Enemies are defeated by attacking them with your white-ball, Snooks, or by pushing them against one of the lava-filled holes spread across the table. Once all the enemies are defeated on a table, the game will randomly pick the next one, filled with all new enemy balls to defeat.

When an enemy is defeated, the player is awarded a random piece of equipment of varying rarity which alters Snooksdefense and attacking stats, making it progressively easier to defeat more and harder enemies. Equipment can also be dischanted as to heal some of Snooks health and inventory prioritization is a must. However, no amount of equipment will save Snooks if they fall into a lava-filled hole!

Although we kept our same team formation (one programmer, one artist and one composer) for this Ludum Dare, this time-around, the team was mostly composed of members which have recently joined our team at Whales And Games , with the exception of Moski, returning as the game’s artist. Kroltan, which had previously participated with Moski on the creation of JouleThief: Charge Your Phone joined as the team’s programmer, and Robin, which had participated with us on previous Ludum Dare entries, such as Colossorama and Jazzy Beats returned as the game’s sole audio composer.

Tools Used

Wizsnooks was developed with a mix and match of programs which we normally use during our daily game development workflows, along with our vision and sweat. Some of these tools, as well as some of the plugins for each respective tool, that we used include the following:

Game Idea and Design

Because of timezones and availability, not everyone on the team was present at the announcement of the theme. Shortly after the theme was announced, some members got into brainstorming, then one left and another came to further discuss more ideas.It wasn’t until about 12 hours after the theme’s announcement that the game’s concept of “Snooker but with roguelike elements and loot” finally materialized with everyone agreeing on it.

With pool mechanics in mind, the programmer was able to make snookers, enemies, and even random level progression (which some people have mistaken as procedurally generated levels). The musician delivered some of his best tracks to date, and the art was among the most cartoonish the artist has done. The team played to their best strengths and in the end, we were all satisfied with what Wizsnooks became.

The Best Parts of Development

Scope of the Project

The idea of Snooker+Action+Roguelike was accepted almost immediately by the whole team. It was initially created with themes of pool mixed with a medieval setting (which, later in development, was shifted to sorcery). Because of it, we were able to quickly debate about what to add, what to remove, and which direction to take the game to. Many ideas included bosses and enemies taking turns to attack, but we ended up heading on a direction on which skill and inventory management were more important than hoping to survive being thrown into a hole without the player’s input.

The project had it all. A core gameplay loop, attacking and healing mechanics, inventory, enemies, and many levels. Discussing a plan, grounding the possible ideas and dismissing those that would need a lot of tweaking or playtesting.Having a direction made it possible to polish the game, make it as little confusing as we could, and still manage to have a wide arrangement of loot and levels.

Labor Structure, Division and Cooperation

Our core team was composed of 3 people, with a few special mentions of a few others that assisted us with feedback, help with code and moral support. Because of the tools used, the group was able to stay communicated with each other, update the project almost seamlessly and discuss changes and directions. Overall, we all had something to do almost all the time.

Because some of us had the knowledge to work with Unity at the same time, towards the end of the jam, we were making many levels at the same time. While the artist kept preparing stuff for UI and the title screen, the musician was able to import weapon and helmet assets, which allowed to double the loot. Finally, the programmer was able to improve the overall gameplay of the game.

What Experience and Feedback Taught Us

The Physics Could Be Improved

Wizsnooks was made with Unity’s recently added tiling system, which allowed us to create a multitude of maps in little time. However, one of its core problems was that the game’s physics ended up not working as intended. Balls would lose a lot of momentum when touching each other, bounce in weird directions or bounce back when hitting a wall, displaying a weird feeling of friction at times, making it hard to tell where something will end before you hit the cue ball.

Likewise, we should also have given the players the ability to preview how their shot would behave, allowing them to navigate around much easier.

The Camera Shouldn’t Be an Obstacle

With so many levels, there should be a way to be able to look around before hitting the ball. Otherwise, when starting a new level, the player would need to do small hits to avoid hitting a dragon orb accidentally or falling into a lava pit by shooting somewhere without having knowledge of the level’s layout. A common suggestion we got through feedback was to allow the player to look around the map before taking a shot.

Closing Remarks. What Can We Improve On?

It’s been a fantastic experience to work as a team again this Ludum Dare. With Wizsnooks, we adhered to a simple idea and increased it with concepts that were within our grasp, which allowed us to deliver a polished and fun experience (sans a few rough edges) which is what Whales And Games always strives for when creating new projects.

Like many projects in the Ludum Dare, we’d love to see some post-jam enhanced edition of sorts. Pending availability of the team, we’ve discussed things that we’d like to add to Wizsnooks, a lot of which is based on the feedback we’ve gotten from the comments. Some of the changes that we’d make include:

  • Tweaks to the behavior of physics, intending to have something more realistic and intuitive.
  • A common complaint with the game were the odd physics of hitting a ball into a wall only for it to go in an unexpected direction.
  • Add more visibility to the game, since early runs involved people either taking leap-of-faith shots or doing smaller ones to avoid accidentally going into a lava pit or dying when crashing with a dragon.
  • Encouraging trying to take as few shots as possible, possibly by giving a maximum number of shots or giving an extra reward when finishing under a par.
  • More additions like extra levels, items and enemies are a given, but we could consider adding extra obstacles, objects, power ups and the like to add more to the “Wizard” theme.

What’s Next?

Going forward, The Whales And Games team is planning on touching up some of our projects that we have previously shown around (such as on our Twitter wall). Since it’s a growing team, some of the members want to work on updating Wizsnooks, while others want to throw a few surprises in the coming months. There would be some extra touches here and there, and hopefully a few releases. We also want to start interacting more with players and better incorporate fan-feedback into our workflow. If you’d like to join us in this process, feel free to say ‘Hi!’ through our Discord server!


Making the post-mortem was an eye opener for us, and we hope that you can find this insightful as well. Doing an hybrid of snooker and roguelike was something that we couldn’t have even dreamed before the gamejam, and seeing it exist is just amazing. The team is proud of the project we made this time around and about the effort of not only us, but those that supported us from start to finish.

If you’re interested in checking it out, Wizsnooks, could welcome some last minute ratings. It’s been fantastic to once again participate with incredibly talented people at the Ludum Dare, and we’re hoping to stick around for some more in the future. We’ll be crossing fingers and hoping to see you all around! Cheers! ?

A Knight in a Wizard’s Snooker Game

D’oh no, I said Wizsnooks. That’s how I call Wizard Snooker.

So you call it Wizsnooks despite the fact this is obviously a knight.


Okay, this is time for a more abstract post. We’ve made some posts before about Wizsnooks, our roguelike loot plundering pool hybrid, but we haven’t touched the idea of the setting yet. That we waited too long to get to it reflects how it happened in the development cycle: We pretty much left the title and setting development to the end.

On the first night, we brainstormed like crazy, with the idea of a pool game with enemies and loot being the outstanding one. With that in mind, I made the cue ball, a sword, the enemies, and we went from there. The first weapons were all swords.

During the last day, I had the duty to make the logo of the game. The problem was that we still had no name for it. The brainstorming began shortly, with names like Medieballs (because of the setting of fantasy enemies and weapons). To add more flavor to the game, I was asked to make some hands for the cue ball, with armored gloves to further reflect the setting of the game. However, Robin told me that, since the hit sounds were lightning bolts, it’d make more sense if the hands were wizard gloves instead.

That’s when it hit us: The actual setting of the game. Our game would be about wizards meeting at a tavern to play a magical game of pool. Hence, the fire pits, enemies and loot. It sounded fantastic. But we still needed a name. We actually ended up with a lot of them. Here’s a list, including some that didn’t even have anything to do with wizards:

  • Bil Liard in Pool Land
  • Lord of the Orbs
  • The Elder Snooks
  • Tavern of Sorcery and Snookery
  • White Orbs Tavern
  • Poolgeons and Dragorbs
  • Billiard Dweller
  • Snook&Pool’s Tavern
  • Wizorbs Tavern of Potions and Billiards (Quickly rejected because Wizorb is an actual game)
  • Witchery, Poolery, Adventurly
  • Magic-8 Lounge
  • Witchcraft Inn
  • Orb of the Pool
  • Snorb & Bilial’s Tavern
  • Mana Snooker
  • Tavern for Magic Cats who play Magic Pool
  • Wizsnooks (Which kinda sounds like a cat’s name, but we still went with it)

The list is… not complete. There’s many variations and even some that didn’t have to do with wizards at all. The story of this development is not necessarily complete. But one way or another, we finally had a name.

That pretty much covers up the story behind the name. I quickly made up more things like wizard hats, more variety of weapons, and so on. There wasn’t much time left to go full wizard, but we still managed.


It this read got you interested in, Wizsnooks, click here to play! It’s available on your browser and downloadable for Windows, Mac and Linux. If you want to chat, this Discord server is where it’s at. And last but not least, here’s the Whales and Games Twitter, so you can keep in contact with us.

There’s lots of games being shared in the main page. Keep reviewing! Lots of people need the ratings! We’ll continue to check more games as well! Let’s keep pushing! Cheers! ?

In a billiard table far, far away…

My pal and I celebrated this glorious day last year, during LD season as well, so the team thought, why not? Let’s do it again!

And another quickie, since we already had the assets anyways.

Happy Star Wars Day, everyone! If you enjoyed this goof, consider playing our entry, Wizsnooks. If you want to chat, we may nerd out at our Discord server. And here’s the Whales and Games Twitter, just in case!