Aha! I’ve now reverse psychologically tricked you into reading this. You shall all now do my bidding. Mwahahaha. I mean… You won’t do my bidding. Yeah. That’s bett- …worse.
Continuing on with my established style for postmortems, I’m going to go through this thing first with a development summary, things I succeeded in, and lessons I learned to end it. So, let’s begin.
Summary- Just before going into this one, I felt pretty good. I’d just finished my second game ever, Placeholder, for the warmup, and that was a pretty good boost of confidence. During the time the competition began, I was at a car dealership with the family, which was fine, because I was just going to brainstorm anyway for an hour. I was trying desperately to get a signal so I could read the theme on reddit, and when I got it, I was hit with a bombshell. EVOLUTION. WHAT?! THAT WAS NEVER SUPPOSED TO WIN! I had mentally prepared for all the themes, quite literally, except for evolution. In the end, I think it was McFunkyPants’s book that pushed Evolution over. He mentioned it, saying “maybe it’ll win” with a wink, and, albeit unintentionally, rocked the vote a bit. Well, it was gonna win sooner or later, I suppose.
So, my first idea was beating up Charles Darwin.
My REAL first idea was a game that evolved depending on how you control it. The game would start off with a rectangle that would become your character or something else entirely… It would be vague to allow transition to other genres. Epic, but was it something I could make? I immediately told my brother and mom the idea anyway, though. My mom’s reaction was, “That’s impossible.” It was, wasn’t it?
So, I went with a choose your own adventure platformer. Fun, right, and sort of evolving as in evolving thought. Here’s that mind map:
After a while, I realized this was boring me to death.
So, I decided to go back and think through using the other idea. Risky. But, as I said in another post, I realized throwing away that first idea was a tip for people who wanted to be winners. And I knew I should do what felt right, regardless of whether something would come out of it.
So, I mind mapped that. I no longer have the same map from those early stages, but it involved several games the final version did not include, such as an asteroids clone branching off the shmup if you kept up held down (you have to in asteroids), a more open metroidvania coming from going right instead of left (get it?), a short grue-related text adventure, a game where you threw the block against the walls to try and cause a certain amount of damage within a shot-clocked period of time, a point-and-click adventure where the rectangle is a keycard, and a few others I’m likely forgetting. I was in love with the project’s concept.
On the first day, I began by making all the arrow-based gamestates work in their basic forms, without level design. I did this to an extent. The first day was wrapped up with the platformer working, the rpg character moving, and the ship moving around the screen with its rocket. The bullets were still buggy when I went to sleep.
Day two, I got the ship mode working first and foremost, fixing the shots (I’d like to thank Michael James Williams’ tutorials for teaching me how to make bullets work right in the first place) and making the ships spawn from the ceiling. I also designed a few platformer levels and called that part done. But the turn-based rpg was the killer. It needed a lot of work. I wanted it to be like the one in the LD23 keynote, where you avoid the enemies, then get a sword to kill ‘em with. At the time, I envisioned rooms connecting all of the different parts of the map. But I didn’t know how to leave the enemies in memory, so they’d still be there when you returned to the room. Bugs galore were getting in the way of things, and by the end of the day, I realized I had an incomplete game to submit.
With only a flicker of sadness and that feeling of failure, I went for the Jam with a happy, relaxed attitude. When I went to bed, I thought of just using a camera and one big room for the rpg. It worked marvelously, although it was a bit of a trouble to traverse it quickly, I realized. But I couldn’t fix it, speeds were hardcoded. More on this later.
I spent the last few hours working on the topdown shooter and recording some extra sound effects. (BEEEEwoooaw “FAILURE.”) In the end, I had about two and a half hours left for one more mode. After almost starting on it, I decided to submit. I’d rather not break something last minute.
Comments immediately showed that the game is way too slow. Indeed, this is true. You see, in the beginning, everything moves a set speed. This speed was designed to create a realistic jump, blast off, and rpg move all in the same key presses. I decided this speed so early on that it was going to be impossible to change without editing the values of all these other gamestates. My numbers were hardcoded, and it was not a smart move. I had no room for tweaking.
Other than that, comments have been positive on the overall concept. (Not counting RawBits, who apparently sees no connection with evolution here.) There is a glitch on certain systems with entities not updating at the same speeds (thus causing bullets to lag behind ships), which I apologize for, these bugs are not present on my computer.
All in all, I’d call this one a grand success.
- I made a game I thought I could never finish. Sure, it took extra time, but who cares?
- My first experimental title. I call it this because… Well, it has that feel, man.
- I got that old entities system to do something it’s worth using for. (Previously, I’d been using it in ridiculous ways, like in Empty, for example, make the player move. That’s what main.lua is for! Kinda.)
- In fact, I used a lot of libraries in ways they’re supposed to be used for the first time.
- This isn’t directly related to the game, but I feel like a lot more people know my name by now. Like I’m starting to become a recognizable person instead of another newbie to ignore, you know?
- It’s okay to pull back to the Jam. I don’t know how many people I’ve seen who say “I ran out of time” in their compo entries. The Jam’s there for a reason, people!
- Tips and guidelines are for people who don’t like having fun.
- Make sure things are tweakable. You don’t want to get trapped into a game where the variables just don’t work in your favor and you can’t fix it.
- Mind mapping does rock after all.
Some Inconspicuous Notes
Alright, I don’t want a firestorm to start in the comments over this, whether it be good or bad, but something should be written. A while ago, I made that post about Mohammad. I asked people to help him out with his dad, but he ended up getting help on a lot of other things, too. He got pretty mad at some people, and returned some pretty enraged comments. PoV then threatened to have him banned for this, and causing all the commotion in the community. So, PoV called for everyone to calm down and reset. The next day, Mohammad posted something else off topic, people still got mad at him, he got mad back, and some people said he ought to be banned. I got mad at him over this really bad move, and he then asked if it would be better if he left. I said yes. I figured, at the rate this was panning out, he would be banned anyway. And so, Mohammad said his goodbyes, and that he would keep communication to a minimum until the ratings were over and then just disappear. I was prepared to write a whole post on this decision to tell him to leave, until I realized I was really just frustrated. I took it back today, and now Mohammad’s here to stay with a better attitude. And I even got him to write with capital letters. In summary: PoV, situation neutralized, reset complete.
So, I have a lot of plans for the future of Puzzlem00n Development. I’m going to focus on branding myself and the site, but details will be withheld until I have time to make a post on the subject. Until next time,