Jam Release Devlog! Hours spent and plans!

Hi everyone!

This post will be more of a blog-post style:


My boss rush game for the LowRezJam 2021 is finally complete! Like my last few projects, I decided to time every minute I spent on this project so I could get an idea of how long it takes for me to finish a short, reasonably polished game.

Total time was about: 39.5 hours (spread out over the 2 weeks of the game jam)

I didn't time how long I spent on individual features, but if I had to estimate:

Music: ~9 hours
Art: ~4 hours
Coding and playtesting: ~26 hours


This was my first game using Love2D, but surprisingly using a new framework didn't really impede development much. Love2D tends to get out of your way by having a pretty simple interface. This let me hack together a pretty quick Entity-component architecture for my game.

Difficulty Tuning

One of the main challenges of this jam was tuning the difficulty. Since only my close friends have played the game so far (and most of them love very difficult games), they all breezed through TRYH4RD. One of my friends went deathless on his first try, while the other two had 1 death and  7 deaths respectively.

In a game jam, people are only likely to play your game for 5-10 minutes. If a player gets stuck on a piece of content, they'll likely give up and move onto the next. This is why my most well-received game jam games (AAA_Groove and Forbidden Love) had no failure state. If you messed up, the game would simply reduce your score and keep going.

TRYH4RD has a clear failure state.

 When you run out of health, you 'get knocked down'. However, to prevent players from getting stuck on a boss, I decided to prevent bosses from fully regenerating their health when you fail.

Instead, bosses only regenerate 50% of the health they lost on this current attempt. If you dealt 30 damage to the boss and died, the boss now has 15 health missing. On the next attempt, if you deal only 2 damage to the boss, the boss has 15 + (2 * 0.5) health missing, or 16 health. 

If you deal at least 2 damage to the boss on each attempt, you will eventually beat the boss. This cheapens the experience a little, because if you keep dying to that one attack, you can still beat the boss without learning how to dodge that one attack. However, it also opens the game up to a wider audience, which is what I think game jams are all about.

Unskippable Cutscenes

I made the cardinal sin of including unskippable cutscenes in the game. My rationale for it was: Every music track in the game has about 8 bars of "transition" between the "phase 1" version of the music, and the "phase 2" version of the music. To ensure a smooth music transition, I basically needed to distract the player for 8 bars worth of time. I decided that a short cutscene where the boss and player exchange some dialogue would be the best way to do this.

In retrospect, adding a skip button would have been pretty easy, but there's at least one music transition (the final boss's music) that I really really wanted people to hear.


I am not a visual artist. If we go by "Hours practiced", I'm still pretty new to pixel art. I can put out some passable animations, but they take quite a while. As a result, I had to cut a lot of corners in animation.

The first boss has only 1 animation: Idle.

The second boss has 4 animations (each of which range from 2-4 frames total): Idle, clap, throw, and punch.

The final boss is where most of my animation "juice" went. I can't remember how many animations she has, but she has more frames than any other character in the game (including the player).

In general, Animation was the thing I was most stressed about. If I couldn't make convincing sword slash animations, it would not only look terrible, but it would also be unfair to the player. If it doesn't look like the enemy is about to swing a sword, then the player can't reasonably expect that to happen.

Anyway, I was very lucky to be given the LowRez restriction, since animating 8x8 and 16x16 characters is a lot easier than moving to higher resolutions.

Closing Thoughts

I think TRYH4RD came out a bit too easy in my opinion. I don't think most players will get over 10 deaths, and I think a decent number of players will actually go deathless on their first try. This was my intention, since I really really want players to see all the content the game has to offer. Ever since my first gamejam game, D4RK and the Small Worlds, I feel a little traumatized by releasing difficult games. In D4RK and the small worlds, I think only a handful of players made it to the best part of the game: the final boss. Putting so much effort into a game only to see most players be turned off before they get to the best part feels really bad.

But, it's also very motivating. I think I've gotten better at teaching players mechanics, and having smooth difficulty curves. I hope you enjoy TRYH4RD! I plan to release a few more devlogs about the game's development as the jam continues.

Future Plans

My biggest priorities for now post-jam are as follows:

  • Allow cutscenes to be skipped
  • Add a 'web' version of the game
  • Add a new "HARDCORE" difficulty that makes the game significantly more difficult

The above are subject to change based on the feedback from the jam, but a web version and skippable cutscenes are a must-have for my post-jam version, since I eventually want to post the game to various web-game communities.

Anyway, thanks for reading this! I hope you enjoy TRYH4RD!



TRYH4RD_V1.zip 10 MB
Aug 13, 2021


Leave a comment

Log in with itch.io to leave a comment.