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    Postmortem – Elefount 2: The Elementalution

    Posted by (twitter: @icefoxen)
    August 27th, 2012 9:04 pm

    Now available here! 

    All in all, a rousing success!

    Well… there’s some graphical bugs.  And… some non-graphical bugs.  And it implements about 60% of what we wanted.  And each member of our team spent at least a full day either short of sleep, reading silly things on the internet, coding things that will never be used, or otherwise being unproductive.  So taking all that into account, a rousing success!  How to summarize my thoughts?

    Pro’s: I, at least, find the basic gameplay quite fun (and it is basic).  The art is beautiful in a neon sort of way (I loved the black-velvet-painting level from Psychonauts, too).  And incomplete and buggy as it is, it actually works.

    Con’s: Now that I look at the finished product, it looks like we were HIGH AS KITES when designing this.  Not the case!  We had no drugs, only sushi!  Also, it’s begging for a soundtrack but we have no composer, and it turns out our original plan to crib Creative Commons music is against the rules.  And, while working, it is incomplete and buggy.  It’s kind of easy to get lost in all the shiny abstract art and lose track of what’s going on.

    Theme: I personally found the theme somewhat uninspiring, but I actually quite like what we came up with. I couldn’t think of anything really interesting to do with Evolution.  We came up with a few ideas and tended to like the ones that involved the environment responding to your actions, so we went with the simplest scheme we had for that.

    Tools: This was my first non-trivial project working with Unity3D, and while it has some weird bits and issues, it is all in all a great force multiplier.  Much better than working with pure SDL and OpenGL, or even Love2D.  Making it play nice with our source control system was a little hairy; we need to work on making that better.  C# is clunky but still probably the best more-or-less-system-level programming language there is (Go might be nicer, but is immature yet and has some bits I don’t like).  Alas this also means that we can’t make a real Linux release (though it might work okay under Wine), at least until Unity version 4 comes out and includes Linux support…  *drool*

    Teamwork: This was actually fairly challenging, as it was our first time seriously all working together on a small project. I was unfortunately unable to participate in the last day due to having to teach a petrology lab, but David manfully shouldered the burden of two and pulled through admirably.  Doing a Jam actually might be harder than doing the normal LD competition.  More time means more time to burn out, and working with others means that you have to rely on other people more and coordinate with others.  With one person and 48 hours you just come up with something and then bum-rush your way through it as hard as you can.  With two programmers we had to figure out how we could each work on separate parts in a reasonable fashion, then put them together once we had something; I mostly did engine and AI code, while David mostly did UI and graphics code.  Paul doing art worked well once we all got a handle on what was possible and what was not and sort of got on the same page in terms of style.  When not doing art Paul did high-level game design which was actually very useful; I didn’t need to stop coding and think about game design decisions very much because I could just look at the design doc.  (Though sometimes it held me back because I’d ask Paul for a design decision and he’d say “I dunno man, whatever you think is good”, so you still have to be able to be flexible.)

    So, once again, a rousing success.  We will definitely be cleaning up this game and turning it into something more complete, once we have recovered.

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