Pigeon Ascent - Trading edginess for humor
Hello, I'm Delta-Key, a bad coder, designer, and I am also bad at creating music for games. Still, I have tons of fun developing, so I keep practicing!
For the latest Ludum Dare, me and Sucraiso made Pigeon Ascent, an autofighter about taking care of your own pigeon, making sure it grows strong in order to defeat everyone of its oponets and lastly, the Pigeon God.
The idea is pretty bizarre and strange, but the game did pretty well overall! We managed to be on the top 30 games under the humor category (it is not the overall category, but hey, it still is a category :) ).
The game theme did not start as a pigeon based autofighter, however. When we read the theme, "Keep it alive", we had many ideas, and one of them was an autofighter where you had to make sure your character won't die while fighting: the "it" in "keep it alive" gave us the impression that the player shouldn't be able to directly control the character, therefore an autofighter was a reasonable idea.
Still, autofighter are pretty simple games... that's a good thing for game jams, since minimalism is a safe path to follow, but the game could very easily become boring, and no one likes a boring games!
Polishing the game more than usual should help with this, so we just tried to keep working with this idea in order to see if it would work.
However, we still had to work on the theme now. The first, obvious idea was a game with a roguelike style, with all the usual stuff, such as warriors, mages and thiefs as possible classes, and some dungeon crawling, along with permadeath and random generation of the maps.
This idea quickly was turned down when we thought about programming the randomgen: I don't have lots of practice with randomgen, so it was very risky to go with this idea on a 72h jam.
The idea then was changed, scrapping the dungeon crawling but mantaining the permadeath. Keeping the idea with humanoids would make it too similar to La brute, a game that was a inspiration to us, so we thought about using monsters (more specifficaly, kaijus). This also gave us the idea of allowing the way you raise your character to change its appearance. Focusing on strength would give you a monster looking a certain way, and focusing on speed for instance, would give it yet another look.
You see, the Ludum Dare was some time before MTG's Ikoria expansion was released, so kaijus sounded pretty cool on our heads, specially with the Godilla Alters!
Still, Sklaiser jokingly suggested to use pigeons instead of monsters in the game. Some time before we thought of making a "Super Trunfo" game with pigeons, but the idea didn't get very far. Before that, we already had a very strange experimental game featuring pigeons. I guess we really liked the idea of using such a common animal as a character.
Anyway, at first I was very reluctant, but since I was pretty busy making some spaghetti code, I decided to leave my friend to keep experimenting with pigeon designs while I worked on the code. If it turned out to be a bad idea, we would go back to the default kaiju design.
Sklaiser seemed to really have tons of fun drawing the sprites, and finally, the next day, I saw that pigeons could really work when he sent me this:
A winged pigeon.
With high enough speed, the player's pigeon would grow extra wings. It might be goofy as heck, but soon after, he sent me this:
A winged pigeon with wings.
It was extremely goofy, but funny as heck! At this moment I thought "okay, this game might not be the coolest, but damn, it will be tons of fun to make."
A game with kaijus fighting and evolving might sound super cool and edgy, but still, by going the Pigeon route we had something very fun, and in my opinion, this was very helpful in not making the game boring.
It also helped the dev process. By making something we would like to make and play, instead of something that might appeal more, helped us to feel more motivated and have more fun developing. I think that going with a cooler approach would make us feel a lot more bored by the end.
We finished the game with no spare time, and not even sure if people would like it. It would be fine if nobody liked (after all, we liked it, and that could matter the most... I'm not sure yet!), but it would be great if someone liked, and even better if more people liked it!
Happily, after some lukewarm initial days, we started to get lots of feedback and positive comments. The game had its share of glitches, but gladly the players were very understanding and explanative when reporting then. We uploaded a version with bugfixes, but still left the first version online, in case someone wanted to play the real first upload.
In the end... we got the following results (the game was in the jam category, with ~5000 entries I believe):
We and our friends were amazed, and very happy with the results! I mean, it might not be the greatest game in the event, but we made it, and it was positively received by a lot of people. For us, each feedback is something helping us to become better game developers, and making something that people like to play, and was great to make as well, is a really great experience. One day, we might even have a game under itch.io's featured games. I think it will take quite a while, but who knows!
Finally, thanks for reading! I hope you had fun reading this postmortem, and maybe could learn a thing or two. If you are interested in playing Pigeon Ascent, you can do it by clicking here.:
Also, any kind of feedback (be it on the game or even in this text) is very welcome! Once again, thanks for reading, and I hope you have a great day :)
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