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    Experience with developing “Entourage”

    Posted by (twitter: @jprogman)
    August 30th, 2012 1:21 pm

    First off, thank you everyone for your reviews on my first LD entry “Entourage.” I was meaning to participate for a while and I am now glad that I took the time to enter. It is ironic that I entered at the same time the theme “evolution” finally got its light of day after many years of voting. Lucky me heh! Keeping an open mind during the theme voting, I was pondering on the gaming ideas for each and every popular theme. When “evolution” was announced, I figured I could develop a game with parasites that have their own set of instructions that they could follow after certain things happen. Glad I had finished it, so now I would like to share how my development went!

     

    Things went right…

    Objective — My primary goal was to take control on parasites and give them commands to eliminate the bad ones when certain conditions were met. When that happens, it will execute a command with or without the selected target. Overall, I believe my objective was presented clearly, but there are still some clarifications needed to be presented. Although, more could have been added to improve the idea of “Entourage” to give it more depth.

    Stability — I did put a good amount of effort for bug checking. The logic for looking through instructions were complicated, but, after taking little steps of a time, I was able to pinpoint the cause and found a work-around. As of now, the commands were executing correctly, there are no problems adding new instructions.

    Structure — The parasite’s instructions seems to be running as it should; although, not 100%. More needs to be done to allow certain conditions to be executed properly without cancelling other executed instructions and so on.

    Focus — Considering how complex the game was, I only focused on getting the game play finished while keeping graphics and audio at the very least priority. Regards, I wanted to get the user interface prepared so everyone could play the game easily; even if the graphics were a bit plain.

     

    Things went wrong…

    Execution – Sort of a hit and miss depending on how you play the game. For me, I take one parasite and add instructions for attacking the bad, and then program the other parasites to follow that parasite. Tedious? Yep. Of course, I was keeping it simple and keeping my focus on finishing the main objective.

    Preparation — Unlike other game programming tools, BlitzMax leaves you with nothing other than a few modules. So in order to make information windows and buttons, I had to program them by scratch. It wasn’t hard to do, but it did take some time to get them working properly. Another thing too is using some new things such as using the mouse to zoom in or out and move the field around. It was supposed to be simple, but the math has gotten to fuzzy. After several hours of trail-and-errors and drafting, those procedures seem to work basically well. I could had worked on a few small BlitzMax products before participating Ludum Dare, but I was feeling the need to challenge myself!

    Using BlitzMax — I would say that I’m experienced enough to use BlitzMax at the fullest. However, because it had been while since I last used BlitzMax, there were some problems that appeared during development that I had forgotten. One example was to add images with transparency. While I know in general how to add pictures with transparency, “Entourage” doesn’t want to keep the transparency. After trying a few methods, I was already taking too much time doing that. Therefore, I’ve left the background black and added the pictures with black backgrounds.

    Performance — It is not a major factor in this case since the game was made on a small scale. I did adjust the number of good and bad parasites to 200 each — making a total of 400 parasites — too see how the game takes it. Yeah, it was pretty slow; so that was why I maxed each parasite to 100 each. I sort of expected that since it was looping through every existing parasite 5 times. I could have definitely find a more efficient way of updating each parasite, but due to limit time obviously, I just let that be.

    Too many ideas — Each parasite has its own HP and EXP, but they weren’t used to their full potential. EXP was supposed to make a parasite better at many things, but I didn’t give it much time to work on. At least HP was working as it should, with an advantage to recover after certain hours were passed. Definitely a lot of ideas were cut at the last few hours, but my main purpose was to present the game’s idea. So many ideas at a very little time, making the game watered down to the very last bit.

     

    What’s next for me?

    “Entourage” seems to have potential according to you players. Although, I do have another game that I wanted to get through first before I move on. I’ll just say that I’m returning back to my original ways of developing new games and actually enjoy it for once. Meanwhile, I’ll keep “Entourage” stored away and come back when I feel the will to fully construct it.

    If you like to see my other games that I’ve made in full, check out… http://www.acoders.com .

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