So one Ludum Dare later, and now the world has “Disgruntled Paddles VERSUS Evolution“.
I’m not quite sure yet whether that’s a good or bad thing.
More or less it’s a pong game that evolves based on active (none of that behind the scenes passive evolution or adaption here) into different play styles.
This is the first game I’ve completed since the 5th grade (it has been in layman’s terms a veeeeeeeery long while), I’m glad to finally not feel guilty when I tell people I make games… (“Awesome! so can you show me anything you’ve done?” “…um well, I can show you about 13 unfinished projects, 25 if you count unutilized sign documents.”)
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- The Design / Scope: I took the time to think about what I was doing, I got up saw the theme and started spit-balling. My initial idea was to do pretty much what I ended up doing except that instead of evolving PONG / Breakout clone I was going for evolving jRPG clone, but threw it out almost immediately due to excess of scope. I spent an hour drawing blanks after that, but eventually I realized I could maintain the unique aspects of my initial idea and maintain a smaller scope simply by switching to a simpler Genre, the “first genre ever” came pretty quickly, then I realized I could go crazy non-liner by adding breakout (and for a short period of fantasy space invaders) elements (which is something that didn’t exist in the original jRPG idea). What really helped me with all of this was how modular everything was, excising elements from the design (as I did with plot mutations, visual mutations and a space invaders evolutionary path) didn’t effect the integrity of any other element, just the game variety.
- Slick / Java: I come from a background of trying to handle very “abstracted” visual programs, Game Maker, Stencyl, and RPG maker which I could never quite get a hold of given the amount of “workarounds” needed to implement certain features or genres I desired, Java more or less gave me complete control. Slick was just great to work with, simple and intuitive and with a wealth of tutorials, I went in knowing nothing about the framework and by day 2 I felt I had enough knowledge to tackle any (2d) project I desired.
- Food: I had some leftover pasta, which I ate each day for lunch. I used a store boughttomato based sauce which I spiced up with some ripe freshly cut tomatoes, olive oil, “chunky” sea salt, and parmesan. For dinner I’d eat either a combination of veggies and meat balls or low fat yogurt and something bread based. Throughout the whole jam I felt satisfied, full, and digestively undisturbed.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- Planning code structures: Not really something I won’t repeat next time, but I spent about an hour planning my code structure day one, but as it turns out this is a big no-no when you’re walking into a framework / library system you’r unfamiliar with. I’d have probably made the same mistakes had I not planned out, but having to dump all the code work on the first day and lose that hour probably wasn’t good.
- Slick: As I said slick was awesome, but -turns out- new technology is not your friend during a game jam. As I mentioned I made a drastic mistake on my first day in regards to how I understood slick’s structure, and I ended up having to dump most of the coding I had done that day. Not to mention I had never ever exported a project out of Eclipse, which was troubling once I figured out whatever I exported didn’t work. I still don’t know the reason why, but a series of (probably redundant) workarounds later I finally got working, and three hours almost ended up going down the drain. All in all the lost time ended up costing me balance testing, AI, and Sound.
- No Testers Lined up: Sure I ended up barely making the deadline, I’m not referring to basic bug testing, but even afterwards I had no way of knowing whether the mac or Linux versions were working at all which as it turned out weren’t, I think I’ve got it fixed, but I have no way of knowing until someone with Linux or OSX comes forward with a confirmation. Having some testers lined up from day one could’ve cleared this up earlier.
- No Kittens: Seriously guys. This one is on you.
So, thar you have it. My first java game, my first game Jam. To many more! Hopefully I’ll get time this weekend to fix some annoying glitches, balance and speed things up where needed, add sound and post a post-LD version for y’all to enjoy. Till then: Toodles! (I’ll be playing other entries now. Forever.)
-Sam (you can find Disgruntled Paddles VERSUS Evolution over -> here)