Hi all,

I found that a practice of self reflecting after project is completed is very fulfilling. That’s why i wrote this short summary of lessons learnt during recent Brackeys game jam.

As a result of that one week i finished my second ever game - Yin and Yang in search of Harmony (Play here).


Spending time to make sure all elements are in harmony (pun intended) pays off big time. Visual aesthetic, theme, topic, gameplay, effects, music and sound - all play vital role to create a feel of the game.

What went well:

  • Significant time was spent just to find a gameplay and fun elements. Most of Sunday was about messing around with different ideas until this game mechanics was found - to move characters with one set of controls.
  • Significant time was spent to work on visuals, colors, characters, finish elements (even if you barely notice any work behind it because of its simplicity - but it is the point actually).
  • Significant time was spent on story (even you do not see or read it). I wanted a complete story and it did not click for many days. Literally wrote a script (several drafts actually). But when it had clicked after many trials - the path literally became clear and since then i had a guiding element for all aspects - music (do you hear loss and hope there?), visuals, animations, etc.
  • Significant time was spent on main menu and on making it feel right and in harmony with overall game concept.
  • Using source control! My Macbook pro battery ceased to operate on Thursday in the middle of me doing Menu - i had to switch to another computer only loosing about 1 hour of work (still painful though). Use source control!)
  • Spending time between jams to learn the craft / elements of the craft - i spent 2 weeks learning Adobe Illustrator(mostly) and Photoshop, doing all possible tutorials and messing around with Adobe->Unity workflow. I wrote last time that i installed inkscape and gimp for the first ever(!) time 1 day before jam deadline - and it did not work well of course. this time i at least managed to create my simple elements for my simple game and choose colors wisely too.
  • Being consistently brutal on scope and my abilities (i wrote about it here in my postmortem from previous game (https://createev.itch.io/greedy-honeypot-in-rock/devlog/219130/greedy-honeypot-in-rock-postmortem). Unfortunately i did not manage to try many new things i hoped but important to note that it was intentional: gameplay, fun and overall feel were put to priority.
  • Using my existing strength - music. It turned out pretty well especially knowing i composed and recorded it during last 2 hours before submission deadline.

What went not so well:

  • Time! It was a crazy week on my day job and in my family - i spend 0 minutes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and only couple of hours overall on Monday/Thursday (and had to redo my menu because of macbook’s battery…). By only keeping north star and brutal prioritization game was brought to life in a complete way.
  • Motivation. I also was kind of demotivated at the stage when gameplay was found but overall story and concept were not yet (end of Sunday to around Saturday morning). Did not feel the potential in the game with 2 little cubes jumping on platforms to reach finish cubes (which looked like formula 1 chess-textured finish line at that time => far from final aesthetics). For example i decided to work on Menu on Thursday out of desperation - cause i had no idea what to do in the game itself. It actually helped in overall concept and story cause menu is kind of cover page for the game.
  • Level design - it is science and art and it is hard! So hard that i was avoiding this work for the whole week. Levels were created very quickly and i had until very end a card in my Trello board to go through and make them progressive and more interesting - it turned out i had no time for it (or i made it this way that i had no time))).
  • Gameplay and variety - it is a pity that i could not manage to find time and motivation to try all different design elements in levels and gameplay - maybe next time it would a good idea to spent more time on trying many different elements before going to production (it actually worked better for my previous game - Greedy Honeypot in Rock - where i tried much more different ideas and mechanics than what ended up in the simple game).
  • Story telling - also mention it here cause it was not easy at all. I have a feeling that working to master this element is a crucial step to learn game design.

New game development skills i tried for the first time in this Game Jam:

  • Overall game aesthetics and design - it was real fun at the end to make a complete experience and big important learning for me.
  • Adobe Illustrator - my first (very simple) vector graphics in the game.
  • Choosing colors wisely - no, this are not just black and white colors). #1D1D1D and #EEEEEE if you are curious))
  • Level design - i can not claim i succeeded - but i never did it before
  • Main menu UI and level selection
  • Animations events
  • Crunching - unfortunately i had to do weekend crunch - an experience for me

Lessons learned:

  • Creative process is hard - you need to show up every day even if there is no motivation, and focus on most important thing (in my case it was a story which when was ready clicked and cleared the path for final crunch).
  • Story and overarching concept is important - it is much more pleasant to look and experience game as a whole if all elements are in sync. And it also hides some flaws and even bugs)
  • Use your existing skills and strengths - in my case it is music, programming and project management skills (to make sure this lazy game developer (me) finishes right work on time)))
  • Find unique fun and gameplay element (even tiny) first and expand on it - using story to explain why it is so, or gameplay elements, and everything else.
  • Do not afraid to learn new skills, learn the craft - you can’t imagine how proud i am of using my art(!) in the game. even so simple as it is.
  • Use source control! )

And finally (I should not say this of course and/or recommend) - crunch if needed, but finish the game.

Thank you all for your support and I hope you find my reflections and thoughts valuable for you and maybe you pick something for your own gamedev journey.

Of course i will appreciate if you check my game and provide feedback and rate it too Yin and Yang in search of Harmony.

All the best! Andrey “Createev”