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    Post-mortem of Soul Hellscape

    Posted by (twitter: @RudyTheDev)
    August 23rd, 2011 9:43 am

    My first post-mortem for my first finished game for my first LD (entry here). Those are all stand-alone firsts. I have never actually finished a game to a point where I post the .exe for others to play. It’s just never good enough for me (we’ve all heard that one before). Anyway, post-mortem:

    Idea

    Not much to say here really. My first thought was — who wants to escape the most? Well, trapped souls from the depths of hell, obviously. In retrospect, that being my first answer says something about me. I also knew I’m not doing a platformer. From then on, I just kept adding random ideas/features with a promise to not go back and redo stuff.

    I think the idea/concept turned out fine (or at least we’ll see after ratings ^_^). I didn’t expect to come up with any groundbreaking ideas and I didn’t have all day to think of one either. I saw a few people bail out and rewrite their code, so I’m happy I managed to stick with mine. I also saw too many people going “need more levels”, “need more level ideas”, “I only have 524 levels, help!” One of the reasons why I did not go the platformer route.

    Schedule

    Day 1
    10am (5h in) — wake-up
    10am-5pm — code
    5pm-6pm — break
    6pm-8pm — code
    8pm-9pm — blog post
    9pm-1am — Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood

    Day 2
    10am — wake-up
    10am-3pm — code
    3pm-330pm — break
    3:30pm-4:30pm — code
    4:30pm-7pm — beach
    7pm–12:30pm — code furiously
    1am-1:30am — blog post, submit

    That’s a total of 9h+11h=20h out of 48h. Sure, I could have spent more time coding. But if my overnight Uni reach-the-deadline coding sessions have taught me anything, it’s that I don’t like them.

    Gameplay

    I think I oversaturated the game with features, especially since they all are accessible at once (if not usable). I didn’t think it was possible to have too many features for a 48h game, but there you have it. I have a nice tutorial screen to introduce everything though:

    Only now do I realize this, but there are 600 games and finishing every game is near impossible. You have to keep it simple, stupid! Who has the time to read all that verbal diarrhea? I foyu skip the “help” button, you have no idea what you are doing. That said, there is nothing bad with complexity, in fact many games are known and praised for it. But you have to take it step by step. Introduce gameplay elements as the player progresses and plays, not throw everything at them at once. I think this may have be my biggest design flaw (besides lack of music). But then again, an in-game interactive tutorial in 48h? Moving on…

    “Art”

    Let my art speak for itself! (more likely growl out “kiiill meee”) Here’s the entire sprite-sheet:

    I’m not an artist, I’m a programmer. All my units are either static of flying, so my “move” animation is 1 frame :) One thing I did wrong is make all the terrain colors too dark. Units and props stand out OK, but the terrain itself has too little contrast, and it really shows in screenshots. My Holy Light could have been more impressive too. I wanted a magnificent beam of shiny and awesome, but all I got is this lousy flashlight.

    Audio

    I’ve done very little with sound and games, so this wasn’t my strong side. I did decide to try out sfxr, which was a super-easy and quick way to produce relatively awesome sound effects. Ended up with 8 different sound effects. Obviously, I have no music and I couldn’t make any myself anyway. I’ve played around with Fruity Loops or whatnot in my day, and concluded I have no musical hearing. Not that my music teacher hadn’t made that perfectly clear back in grade 3.

    Dirty code

    Spaghetti code! Argh, my eyes! Not a single useful comment, dirty inefficient hacks, integers instead of constants or enums, … That’s K.I.S.S. and time limit for you! *shudders* I don’t think I could go on working with this code much longer. Then again, I’ve seen much worse too.

    What I do appreciate in my coding style is the object-oriented design. Even with the number of classes spanning into second dozen, I didn’t get any game-breaking bugs that were more than careless copy-pasting.

    In conclusion

    Can’t say anything went terribly wrong. I probably would not have done much better with any other themes anyway. I could have spent more time coding/drawing, but then I would just exhaust myself beyond “fun”. I’m proud of myself for sticking with this till the end, even if my first thought was “Escape? What bollocks!”.

    I love C#, XNA, and ReSharper and the speed at which I can chunk out code/features. I also know how many raters I’m losing by not having a “Web” play link. It would’ve been better if I had a Flash or Unity or something entry. But then I would have had to learn it first :)

    Ludum Dare has been great so far, I love the community activity, and I can’t wait for the super-secret-October-make-a-buck type challenge.

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