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    Earth Is Dying! Post Mortem

    Posted by (twitter: @attrition0)
    April 24th, 2012 8:02 am

    This will be a pretty light post mortem, as I only released what amounts to a prototype. I had only some of Friday night and some of Saturday to work on the game, so I focused entirely on just getting something playable out, sans audio and niceties.

    My entry page is here.

    Because my game itself is pretty short and doesn’t have much in the way of mechanics, I’ll begin instead with a description of my process, how I managed to get “at least something” out in about 7-8 hours work.

    0 Hour: Tiny Worlds

    This wasn’t my favourite option on the list. I had mentally examined the theme choices and mapped out some game ideas before the reveal, but I didn’t have anything solid for Tiny Worlds. My first thoughts involved ants, maybe an ant tower defense. I figured the first few ideas I came up with would be the most common so I tossed them.

    First Concept

    Working on the angle that planets themselves would be tiny, my first real concept was a simple RTS, where you controller a massive planet harvester. It would slowly eat planets but have no defense of its own, instead building defense ships. As you eat planets with the ship, you gain score. You build defense ships to make it easier to survive planetary defenses, but use resources to make them, lowering your score. Strategy being to limit the defenses you have to just what is needed to keep a higher score, managing the risk vs score.

    I still think this is pretty interesting, really. But knowing I probably wouldn’t have a lot of time on the weekend, I tossed it for something simpler.

    Earth Is Dying!

    Keeping the focus on planets and resources that must be balanced, I changed my focus to a simulation. Still real time, but requiring no fancy pathing or a large number of mechanics. Now you are in our solar system, and Earth is quickly running out of resources due to a massively growing population. You must evacuate as many citizens to neighbouring planets as you can before Earth is completely dead and everyone along with it. Oh, and you have, like, 3 minutes.

    What Went Right

    • Got my concept down in about an hour and a half
    • I finished my basic game prototype (but really only that)
    • The time I did have was spent pretty effectively
    • Tooling: Unity is fantastic for fast iteration.
    • Almost no artwork: Almost everything was just a sphere or cylinder in Unity, with a set colour. Only the Rocketship was modeled. I’d never used Sketchup before so it took me about an hour to get even that simple model together
    • Actual gameplay seems like it could be interesting, if expanded
    • Mercenary approach to design: Include only the very, very basic┬ánecessities, expand only when it’s clear it’s needed
    • I actually released something, and seeing peoples comments is extremely rewarding, even though I’ve only a few ratings yet
    • Scale of the solar system mostly maintained, visually interesting, simple and smooth controls

    What Went Wrong

    • Did not have the whole weekend to work. This cut out the graphic polish and audio features entirely
    • Balancing is hard. I had a number of variables to tweak to keep the gameplay pace and difficulty, I’m sure it could be better
    • Not much in the way of a GUI
    • Needed more mechanics to be truly interesting

    Release

    On Sunday I finally uploaded my windows build and my source. I can build my game for OSX (or Flash, but Unity builds require no dependencies anyway), though I only link a windows copy. My source is also available, just under 400 lines of C#.

    Overall, a very fun experience. I’m really looking forward to the next Ludum Dare now! I may take a look at the MiniLD’s in the meantime.

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