Post Mortem and an incoming change post-voting.

First jam in a while, and I can say for certain that I've missed the experience. This was a fun and engaging prompt--a game unto itself in a way. I had a few ideas that sounded good in the X without Y format, but 48 hours wasn't enough for me to come up with an RPG without characters, for example.

Pong But You Can't Move turned out to be just the right size, and felt like one of those ideas that sort of fleshes out itself. That was the good part. I did get a little hamstrung, though, trying to get the literal corner cases in the physics to work, so I didn't have time to test the engagement as much as I wanted to. More on that later.

Originally, I thought of the idea as "Pong Without Paddles," but in retrospect that seemed inaccurate. The fixed blocks replace a single movable paddle, and a dynamic game of reflexes and skill becomes a more patient game of planning and and anticipation. I didn't change the scoring condition, but the win condition felt better as a differential than a point tally. Something about the start of the game involving very few blocks on the board makes those first few points feel... well, pointless in a tally system. I thought considering the overall "momentum" of scoring would fix that. If you think a differential system doesn't capture momentum, then, in retrospect, I agree with you. I'm considering a shift to a streak system, pending some other gameplay changes. More on that now.

As I playtested, I found that whenever I was winning I cared less about the game. My placement was ostensibly smart or skilled, and I was, in a way, punished for it. Some keen feedback from a friend perfectly articulated the problem: there's nothing for the scoring player to do; they've stopped playing the game. In fact, Mat suggested the solution I ended up going with: the player that scores should be able to aim the shot next round. That patch will be uploaded once voting closes. I think it does wonders to maintain agency and engagement for the winning player.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for playing!

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Sep 02, 2018

Get Pong But You Can't Move (GMTK Jam)

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