Firstly, this is our game. If you haven’t played it yet, give it a go! These are some thoughts from our team members about how the jam went.
Andrew Beasley (Design + Tileset Art):
Ludum Dare was a fantastic experience for me! I had participated once before but my part then was minimal. This time around I created the majority of the art assets and level design for our game, as well as helping in the conceptualization of the game and design of game mechanics. I’m very proud of what we have acomplished and I am now a lot more confident in my development skills. Before the Jam I didn’t think I had any of the skills required to make a game whatsoever, but now I am looking forwards to doing a lot more game development work in the future.
I think we did an excellent job on the game but we didn’t get everything done that we wanted to. My biggest regret about the game is the implementation of the teleporters. There’s a lot that could be done to make them feel right such as adding sounds and animations, and fixing the mechanics as there was a significant design flaw with them. There was also a fair bit we had to cut from the game such as a Volcano level, more puzzles, and opening and closing cutscenes. I am looking forward to working on this game a bit more and getting something out there that I can be happy to call truly complete.
My favourite part in the making of the game was definitely the level design. I do not really consider myself an artist so it was really good to be able to take the art assets that I struggled on for hours and put them together in such a way that turned out working quite well. Game design has always been a passion of mine and it was a great relief to be able to put down working on the art for a while and get to work on what I consider the fun part.
My favourite part of the game is probably simply how it all came together. The different mechanics of the game ended up fitting together quite well and I’m especially happy with how the pushable boulders worked. Not only do they feel right to move around but it was a great idea from our programmer to make them able to squash the slimes.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to play our game and especially those that gave feedback. I had an amazing time this Jam and will absolutely be participating next time!
Brendon Byrnes (Audio):
What went right:
Choosing a musical ‘style’ – As soon as we had a game idea locked in, the overall musical style began to take form in my head. With our game being, in my mind, a flashback to Zelda, Commander Keen and other early games, I knew immediately I wanted to use music that felt authentic and sounded like it belonged in an older game.
Building ‘repetitive’ music – This was one of the things that went both right, and not to plan. With the game style, I wanted music that could loop easily and wasn’t too complicated, yet with time constraints it wasn’t long enough to keep from being ‘too’ repetitive. In the finished project I would like to see it go double the length, perhaps even triple before it loops back around, but I’m reasonably happy with the end result. It suits the game, and while repetitive and looping, still fills the gap for audio and helps convey the style of the game.
What didn’t go to plan:
Limiting Chord usage – I’m a musican, not a composer. My composition work before this jam had comprised mainly of arranging background to other pieces, or re-arranging a piece to fit the makeup of the group I was working with. This does tend to leave my composition work itself quite undeveloped, and give me a tendency to use ‘safe’ base block chords. Listening to the music now, I wish I’d used a larger pool of chord types.
‘Writer’s Block’ – I find writing, both music and language, on a schedule difficult. I rely on inspiration to write, which meant the jam environment didn’t suit my processes at all. The melody, speed and sublety of a piece actually started to take form with the tilesets, as I saw pixels and started to build themes I felt suited them. I also managed to get distracted several times for extended periods of time after I’d stopped working to ‘clear my mind and gain another perspective’.
What I learned:
I need to practice composing more, especially composing through ‘writer’s block’. Next time I’d like to create things that are longer and more varied, using multiple chord types (I’d really like to start using sus4 chords in something, just because I like the sound of it). Also need to practice with my tools to find how to build varying tempos more easily. This is so I can change rhythms, and generally get out of building simplistic music.
Patrick Beasley (Programmer, Map Screen Art):
What went right:
The team worked together really well. The pieces of the game fell into place nicely and without too much stressing. We ended up with a really polished product given the timeframe we worked in, and our relative inexperience with game development (two of our members had never jammed before, but performed really well).
There were no major bugs in the submission (though there were a few minor ones that have since been fixed ready for a post-jam version). I coded the game in such a way that I could test it the entire way through, constantly checking everything that I was adding. This took quite some time (because I could have been adding new features instead of testing) but I think was worth it, because I was able to adjust everything to make it more fun.
The game was fun. It’s a great feeling to have played through the game maybe a few dozen times (testing) and still enjoy playing it.
The game was complete (though short). I’m really pleased that we managed to get a proper title screen, map screen, credits, full sound, music, and all art done to a good standard.
What went wrong:
The game required way too many art assets. This is just in the nature of a tile-based adventure game (especially with multiple zones like we did). I think that in future jams we should probably consider this a lot more in the initial concept. We should probably pick a game that doesn’t require any where near as much art to be created (because none of us are dedicated artists).
There were a couple of things which I knew weren’t quite perfect before the submission, and that drove me mad. Things like the fog of war not being a perfect circle (the circle algorithm that I implemented was always off by one horizontally), the hitboxes not being fine-tuned, aliens being able to walk through pots, etc. They turned out to be trivial fixes, but I ran out of time (and I was in the mindset of “this isn’t important to getting the game ready to submit” at the time).
The game was too short. This ties into “too many art assets required”. There were so many things that we had planned that would have been absolutely fantastic to add, but we didn’t get to. We had plans for a volcano zone, some more gameplay that utilised the fog of war that we had, interesting weapons (a fus ro dah gun?), more enemies (mobs in the volcano that left a trail of fire behind them), traps, etc.
What I learned:
I learned that we were capable of working as a team and finishing (somewhat) a game for release. We had never worked together on a project like this before.
A lot of the code was new to me, this is the first real game that I’ve done in Java (last LD I used Actionscript + Flashpunk, I like to mix things up). There were some things that I hadn’t done before the jam, such as XML loading (for the map file format), audio in Java, etc.
Thanks to all that played our submission. It was also great playing through a lot of the submissions for the jam. It’s a real shame that we couldn’t rate more, there were some really awesome games this time around!