Nibbler postmortem

Nibbler was my first Flash game, and more or less served as a learning project. I’ve made it public on various sites however, and closely monitored how people reacted to the game. Here I present you a little postmortem. I’ve gone through the development and publishing process once now, so why not learn from it?

The good…

The game was polished. I’ve spent some time tweaking the menu’s, making it all look consistent, stylish and, well, just trying to think of all things that a Flash game needs, like a pause and mute button, and so on. This was noticed, luckily – although it also looks like I could make some things more obvious, like which hotkeys map to what actions.

I’ve actually finished it. I’m a perfectionist by heart, and that’s why I’ve only released a handfull of levels in over 6 years of amateur level-design. Auch. For this game, I was determined to just get it done. I wasn’t happy with all of the levels, and I wanted the game to be longer, containing more gameplay elements, but at some point I decided enough was enough.

The bad…

Simply put, the game is boring. The first few levels are a slow-paced Snake. Nothing interesting. The later levels are more fun, with the moving walls and speed lanes, but without an initial hook, few players ever get there. Of course, I’ve playtested the game, but there’s the problem: I playtested the game. I didn’t let someone else do it, someone fresh, without any previous exposure to the game.

My development process was bad. I wrote sloppy, quick code, which made things harder at the end. I didn’t backup consistently, and that caused trouble in the end: when I uploaded the game to Newgrounds, I accidentally uploaded a test version where you started in level 17. Oops! Even worse, it turned out that I didn’t even had a correctly working, up-to-date version anymore. Add some late bugs to the party and you’re all set…

I used Adobe Flash CS3. It’s a great tool for vector artists, but not for a programmer: the IDE just isn’t very power-user friendly. Besides that, it gave me some semi-random trouble: text disappearing in the game on some days, but working fine the other day… now I’m fairly new to Flash, but those kind of things are just weird.

And the conclusion…

Nibbler has certainly been an educative project. The result isn’t that bad, but it’s not really great either. However, I’m sure that my next game will benefit a lot from the lessons learned here.

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Nibbler postmortem

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