For my first ever LD event, I played it safe and used a concept that I had been thinking about at the time, rather than make up a new idea on the spot. This idea was to make a little robot that had to get from one area of a lab to the other, using equipment that the player places within the level to get from point A to point B. (Sort of like Lemmings meets the Incredible Machine, or Kirby Canvas Curse in spots.) Simple enough in concept.
What went right:
~Using a limited palette helped out when making the art. Rather than muddle about with what color something should be, I already had two sets of colors separated for the FG and BG and simply selected from combinations of colors with 4 shades. Metal? Make it a cyan blue color. Need a reddish color? Make part of it orange to make it look lighter than red. Etc. Etc.
~Likewise, using a gameplay style that doesn’t require player input at all times really helped with making the engine. I didn’t have to focus on whether or not the player would be at a certain running speed, because speed was constant. All I needed to worry about was making sure that placing objects was smooth and wasn’t a test in frustration. It worked exactly how I wanted it, so no real complaints there. Collision with walls could have been better, but oh well.
~My idea to stream myself working on the game proved itself useful in motivating my to work on the game. I don’t know what it was about it, but I just felt REALLY motivated while doing so. By day 2, I already had almost all of it finished. From a gameplay standpoint, the engine was solid and working properly. Graphics wise, I was completely done. All that was left was to polish and work on the levels. This was really where I believe the problem sets in…
What went wrong:
~The problem with a game like Lemmings, or The Incredible Machine, is that you need to not only need to think of levels that are clever and challenging to get through, but they also need to be fun and allow the player take whatever path he wants to try and beat them. For example, there was a level that used bouncy springs to launch you over pits. If you placed the first spring a little to the right, you’d only need to place down one other spring in the location the robot lands. However, if you placed it a little more to the left, then you’d need another spring so that you could make it all the way.
~I also mostly kept to only programming while streaming. While this may seem like a problem, and I DID stream throughout almost ALL of Day 2, I took breaks to do things that I should have taken care of before the event started. (Things like chores, and other boring things)
~To top it all off, Day 3 was held up by a real-world event. An hour of work was lost for nothing more than seeing a bunch of parents act worse than elementary school students. I could have stayed home, but I went because I wanted to make sure my mother was not in any danger. (The fight that went on was apparently supposed to get violent, and I didn’t want my mom involved.) Day 4 was also delayed for another hour of work, though this delay was actually important. (College application work.)
~Night of Day 4 rolls around. I’ve been struggling to write up creative and interesting levels for players for the entire day. The time starts drawing near. I decide to cut my losses and just publish the game with less levels then planned. I hit compile in Game Maker 8, and it starts slowly compiling. I get the file uploading sites ready to upload the game and I start working on a post for the LD site. I check the program, and it’s hung. I wait around to see if it’ll start back up, but it doesn’t. In fact, the program crashes and I have to open it back up. By the time I got it to open (PC lags when opening things), it was already too late. 11:59, and already well on the way to 12:00. It was at this point that I just quit. It was clear that it wasn’t going to work in my favor.
However, I’m not going to let this get me down. I’m going to take the time to actually finish a demo for Paintshop Panic, and release it in due time. In the meantime, someone told me about this site called CompoHub, so now I can be informed about future jams and events. Going to try for Cyberpunk game jam and One Game A Month in March, and hopefully I will be available to try and tackle Ludum Dare in April. (Provided school doesn’t get in the way.)