Things that went well:
- Core gameplay. I was pretty happy with the way that the shooting and movement turned out. It’s generally quite fun to kill enemies.
- Art. I was inspired by the graphical style of Another World (mainly for the bullets and crouching) as well as Sword and Sworcery (for the long limbs). This is really the second game that I’ve tried my hand at proper game art (after last LD’s entry, Stray Whisker)
- Movement. I spent a fair bit of time tweaking the movement in response to feedback from people in the IRC channel (thank you!). I had a lot of people say that the movement was initially too ‘slidey’ and ‘fast’. I slowed it down and tweaked it a lot. I think changing this made the game more accessible to a wider group of players.
- Flash exporting. I developed my game in Multimedia Fusion 2, and I used the Flash runtime to make the game web based. I wanted to do this to allow a larger group of people to play my game. As I know from past as well as personal experience that web games get played much more in LD than those which have to be downloaded. It’s much easier for someone to simply run a flash game than it is to download one. Not to mention that flash is also cross-platform. I had intended to build Mac/Linux/Windows versions as well, however I decided it wasn’t necessary in the end. The only advantage would have been giving the player fullscreen.
- Storyline. I am quite happy with the storyline in my game, even if my sense of humour is quite strange. I’m glad that I got around to putting in an ending with some dialogue. A fair few people have said that the game is quite funny, so I’m glad that it entertained a few people. I was proud of the way I weaved the theme into the end dialogue as well.
- Kittens. The game contains at least two!
- The Ant. I put the ant on early in the game, it was actually one of the first features right after shooting. I liked the way that the ant’s role changed in the game’s development. I wasn’t sure if there was going to be more than one player ally ant or just the one. What I think is cool about having the ant is that it’s not necessary for gameplay, yet people will often stay on it because they feel they should. You’re able to run through the whole level without him, and it’s really up to the player what they would like to do. I intended for this sort of freedom, though I’m sure it will go unnoticed by many (just as the ability to run faster with the ant by crouching on him).
- Different playstyles. In addition to using the Ant to your playstyle, I also purposely made the death the way it is to allow a wide variety of players to play. For more ‘casual’ players, death isn’t much of a deterrent, and they can still complete the game and reach the end storyline. For more ‘hardcore’ players, they are able to collect all of the stars and try to play for a highscore. Death brings a penalty of 300 points. I have still not seen anyone get 50/50 stars, which does in fact display a very small Easter egg – please screenshot and post in the comments if you do!
Things that could have gone better
- Music. If you watch my timelapse you’ll see that I spent a lot of time trying to make music. I had a fair few attempts in a variety of programs. I even pulled out my old Gameboy and Gameboy Camera and tried to use the tracker on that for chiptunes! In the end I used FL Studio with some free VSTs and created a short looping track. I think it was better than having no music at all, however it still wasn’t a very good song and it took a while to do. I mainly just wanted something that didn’t make people’s ears bleed, so I think I achieved that
- Camera. The camera works in the finished version, but that also took a couple of hours to get right. It was the only thing that actually frustrated me while making the game. I had a lot of glitches with it (jumping around too much, not being smooth) but it worked out okay. I wanted a camera that looked ahead, but also took into account how fast you were moving. I think that since you don’t really notice it in the finished game then it must be okay. I would have liked to spend much less time working on this.
- More levels. I would have liked to do one more level. I had intended some sort of running out of an exploding base scenario, but time being what it is, got the better of me. I think the level design was quite successful in the levels that were completed though. There is a fair bit of variation, and I would have liked to explore different types of enemy placement.
If I did this game again, I don’t think I would change the way I made it. I used my time quite well and I think I made a fun little game that is entertaining for a short coffee break. I am interested in taking the idea a little further, perhaps taking the main character and putting him in another setting.
I had HEAPS of fun during this Ludum Dare. The IRC channel and Twitter were especially exciting, I felt there was a constant buzz happening and I talked with a lot of cool people about their games. It was a really fun experience.
I hope this Post Mortem helps other players in developing their next game!