So ludum dare 24 is over and The Lost Laboratory finished. It’s time for a retrospective.
A quick overview of what went right and what not:
What went right:
- Planning the game
What went wrong:
It was really motivating to only have 72 hours to make a game. I worked 33 hours in total on the game.
It was really fun to explore the theme. At first I didn’t like the theme because I could only think of generic approaches to it. But after an hour of idea generation I finally found something which made me think “This might actually be really fun”. After having a closer look at it I noticed that it might be a little too ambitious. This brings me to my first what went right point.
Planning the game
To get something playable in the 72 hours I had to cut features. The goals that I set for myself have been: 1 animal, 1 ability, 1 other room and the core mechanic which included the Genalyser, the Dnapter and a visualization of the progress. I had all this done by the end of day 2 which was really good, as I could spend the little time I would have(I could only work at night on the last day) on polishing the game.
Another thing that went right was the coding. I knew allegro, boost and C++ very well and having a basic framework also helped a lot. I didn’t run into any problems. Bugs got fixed pretty fast and no crash issues. I haven’t done a game like this before but I could use my experience to solve all coding demands. I didn’t have to make any workarounds either as I made the engine myself so I didn’t feel like I was pushed in a direction I don’t want to go. I like to use the new C++11 features especially auto. I also found out that I could combine an stl map with an enum class and have an array with a readable index which can’t go out of bounds this way without using defines or casting to int. I love it when I discover a new way of using something
For everyone who’s interested here are the tools and libraries I used for coding:
- Code::Blocks (svn 8248)
- Mingw 4.6.1
- allegro 5.0.7
- boost 1.48
I’m really happy with the graphics, although I could’ve done a better job with the tiles. I don’t do graphics that much but it worked out pretty well. The style I choose for the graphics is pretty simplistic which made making the assets a little easier. Still it took me around an hour per asset, with some exceptions. It was really relaxing to do art from time to time. Animating also went really well. I like Paint.Net more and more now. But I still wish there would be some features from the normal Paint and from Photoshop, but it’s ok. I just need to learn the hotkeys. It’s annoying that I can’t select multiple layers and work on them.
- Paint.Net (for pixel art and animation)
- Paint (for quick pixel art)
- Photoshop CS4 (for larger art)
This is one of the things that went reeeeeeally well . I guess this is the case because I had a dedicated sound artist. All sounds were done in the last two hours or so. He did a really good job. He even dished an amazing background track out in no more then 10 minutes. I wonder how the audio would’ve been if he had been there for the whole 72 hours. Here’s a little post mortem from him:
Hey guys, i’m SeniorHeuser.
I’ll just add my two cents about the audio editing and sound design (well, 2 hours aren’t really sound design but whatever ). I was sent a textfile by Kayelgee listing the sounds he needed with information about frame delays and frame counts, a working build of the game and most importantly the opportunity to replace the files „live“ while working on the sound effects and music. That helped a lot and that’s one of the many reasons i like to work with Kayelgee. The sound effects were put together in Adobe Audition 3.0 using free sounds from the internet. The background music was scrammed together in a sugar-induced 10 minutes creativity flash using Mixcraft 4 and my good old Yamaha Clavinova CVP-35 which apparently went quite to his satisfaction So THAT went well.
What went wrong:
I was not happy about how the effect for the bunker door sounded but time was not on my side, so… I never did sound effects in such a limited amount of time. That said i was shocked how fast one can run out of ideas and sources for sounds. Note to self: Gonna need a good outdoor mic! Definitely a field i will spend more time on ’cause it was a lot of fun being time restricted in a creative manner. Really looking forward to polishing the game post compo!
Having a few friends who tested the game helped a lot. The feedback I got fixed a few issues. Different pc configurations, different knowledge and different gaming behavior helped me to fix bugs, typos and awkward design decisions. Yet some design decisions weren’t questioned and ended up being left in the compo edition even though they were bad, BUT ludum dare people are also testing the game and pointed out some interesting sutff. I’m really grateful for every comment you leave.
It’s time to get to the bad guys. The things which went wrong.
As the project was so ambitious and I only really had 2 out of 3 days to work on it the content ended up being a little thin. I would’ve loved to have multiple abilities, multiple rooms, multiple animals and more . But time was short so I decided to have a minimalistic content, but enough to show how the core mechanic works. So it’s one of the few things that I would’ve liked to work a little more on.
Yes the Interface went wrong. I was so focused on everything else that I made a few design decision which made the interface a little awkward. You have to click multiple times on the Genalyser when you’re holding a cat even though you can’t do anything else then decompose the cat once it’s inside. The Dnapter is missing a List where you can choose which ability you want to upgrade including a indication of how far your research is. The player has an interaction range, yet it’s not shown. Even though the player has to get close to something there is no keyboard button to interact. That’s everything which should’ve been fixed or didn’t exist in the first place. I should have thought more about these things. But at least these issues can and will be fixed in the post compo release at some point.
So much good stuff a little bad stuff. Overall I’m really happy about how the game turned out. I like it’s idea. It has so much potential I really want to take it further. As this ended up being so content -poor I’m not expecting too high scores except for audio. I’ll be happy with everything that gets at least 2 stars
If you haven’t played The Lost Laboratory yet head over to the game and play it, rate it and leave a comment. I’m happy about every feedback. If you like the idea then stay tuned and watch out for further releases. If you want to be one of the first to get new informations then follow me on twitter @cp_kayelgee .