Circus Flea: Complete!
My first Ludum Dare, and it was a (minor, personal) epic. Years of game dev in the trenches prepared me well.
When the Tiny World theme was announced, I had nothing. No ideas, no leanings, no figments. I just knew what I wanted to avoid: guns, exploration, and standard videogame tropes. Then I asked my kids and my wife. Boy, talk about a brainstorm! Ninja Mice who steal cheese from around the world (my son, 6), you’re a giant and therefore the world is tiny (my daughter, 9), me (tilt-shift photo effect and a hobby train table, 35), and my wife (flea circus, age undisclosed).
The flea circus idea got my juices flowing. Originally, it was going to be a collection of minigames: cannons, tight ropes, clown cars, etc. But I started with a diving board simulation, and after I abandoned in (3 hours later) as hopelessly complex, I realized I needed to take that single idea and milk it for what it’s worth. So I simplified, and fell back on a spring algorithm that I’d used before (pulled from here: http://processing.org/learning/topics/spring.html).
I joined the IRC channel, and even though I was using Java, I started a Unity-specific channel to foster support, as I have a lot of experience with it. At one point, we had people from Oregon (myself), Massachusetts, Sweden, and Italy in our channel, which never really exceeded 5 or 6 people.
After 24 hours of development (except for two hours of my son’s soccer game), 36 hours of waketime, and 3 large energy drinks, I crashed with a version “0.5″ that was fully playable. I woke 9 hours later. I discovered (via IRC) that the public domain images I was remixing (including a kick-ass flea in a Speedo) were invalid for the compo, so after a short panic I took new shots with my camera and made new images.
The Speedo-wearing flea never made it in the final game, because I didn’t have time to re-draw him. (but if you press ‘m’ in the game, you should see the prototype mode he would have been used in)
I finished up the final crucial bugs before heading to church for two hours (with the potential punch-hole in my submission very much in the back of my mind).
In my timezone, 6 was the cutoff, and I still hadn’t achieved my version of an audio “drama” playing out in the background and responding to the player, one that involved my kids and wife. By 4 I had myself in there as the “Carnival Barker,” by 5 I had everyone recorded, and then it was a mad dash to the finish line. I stopped development 3 minutes before the shutoff, with a handful of unused lines on the cutting room floor, but the initial “vision” mostly intact. (it was a small and humble vision)
Whoosh! That was a fast 48 hours.
I developed Circus Flea on a MacBook Air running OS X. I wrote it in Processing, a Java IDE. I used Photoshop, Audacity, a Canon Digital Rebel XT, and daFont.com.
Thanks for the chuckles and cheers, folks. I’m looking forward to playing the results. Like Mike Meyer said, Ludum Dare is now measured in Kilogames. Congrats.