Software Development Engineer by day, Indie Game Developer by night. You can find my blog at http://iarke.us - I post regarding my projects... And stuff.
About arkeus (twitter: @arkeus)
Ludum Dare 26
Ludum Dare 25
Ludum Dare 24
Ludum Dare 23
Ludum Dare 22
Ludum Dare 21
Ludum Dare 20
The All Posts Hearted Award
Awarded by karnakgames on August 26, 2012
The YOU MADE ME HUNGRY Award
Awarded by SonnyBone on December 22, 2011
It’s been awhile since I’ve done a post mortem for one of my entries, so I felt I should do it this time. This time around I made a skill based platformer where the main concept is the ability to switch between a white and black dimension, which is required to avoid obstacles and solve jumpy puzzles. If you want to skip the wall of text and just play, check it out here. Otherwise, read on!
I’m extremely satisfied that it feels less like a competition entry and more like an actual game. I also enjoyed it enough that I never felt like it was tedious to playtest as I went along. On the contrary, I often spent more time than I should have to test a feature, since I’d test something, but then just continue playing until I remembered I was working under a tight deadline.
Graphics. At the start I had terrible tiles. I normally don’t spend time redoing anything once I’ve completed it, but after I got the autotiling done and realized how bad my tiles looked, I redid them from scratch, and I’m extremely happy I did. The end result let me easily add cool effects such as the tile swapping. I also randomly got the idea to add noise, which I think ended up looking really neat and enhancing the visuals in a very short amount of time.
Content. I was able to get quite a bit of content into the game. I feel like the game is long enough that if you like it, it keeps you interested for a while, without being too long. The length also lends itself well to trying to speed run if you’re so inclined.
Difficulty. Some people will hate it for being hard, but I feel that it hit my goal of how difficult I wanted the game to be. There are some rooms that are unnecessarily hard, and some that are quite easy, but overall the difficulty will keep you smashing your head against the wall on your first time through, but due to skill based rooms you’ll find that once you get better all the rooms end up being very easy. In the post competition version, I’m creating a higher difficulty mode, which is many many times harder. You’d be surprised how much harder a room can become when adding 2 or 3 enemies. This lets me make the normal mode a bit easier, without taking away the experience from the more hardcore players.
Theme. As usual I got quite a few comments complaining about the theme, but I personally loved my take on it. I listed out a bunch of ways to interpret minimalism, and eventually settled on “limited palette”, and further narrowed it down to “black and white”. But instead of just making a black and white game, I based the entire gameplay mechanism around this small concept, and I really enjoyed how it came out. It borrowed a lot of ideas from past projects I’ve done, but I feel it still came out feeling quite unique.
Library. Using Axel was a great choice. There’s always times when I’m tempted to use something else, but I always feel satisfied that Axel lets me create a high quality game in a short period of time. There’s always the slight downside of alienating those who are running on hardware without stage3d support, but in a community like this where the people playing are also developers, there are very few players who can’t play the game.
Inconsistent feature set. Initially the game was heading towards a kind of ikaruga-meets-platformers style, where there was going to be a lot of bullet dodging and absorbing. This was the main cause of the gun and shooting aspects of the game. However, by the end it was more of a VVVVVV if you swapped colors rather than gravity. Unfortunately, the gun had become an integral part of the game, so it would have been hard to remove (and by that point I’d become somewhat attached to it). But if I had to the chance to start over, I probably would have completely foregone the shooting and put more emphasis on timing jumps and planning routes. I feel that the areas where the gun is used don’t fit in all that well, and sometimes it just feels like a waste of time (eg. “each time I die I have to sit and rekill that snail, ugh”).
Lack of secrets and achievements. I think secret rooms would definitely increase the sense of exploration. Also, I think achievements would give more you another reason to play around and explore, rather than simply moving straight forward. Speaking of…
Linearity. I feel like I didn’t get a good balance of linear vs exploration. The very first 2 items require you going back and forth between the same room, but after that there is very little backtracking, and you simply follow the path straightforward until you reach the end, then turn around and take the 1 side path you passed that you couldn’t reach before. There definitely could have been some improvement in this regard.
Controls. Apparently a lot of people want space to jump, but that ended up not working too well. I think the biggest issue is that I really wanted to allow the player to shoot with the keyboard if they weren’t using a physical mouse (it sucks with a touchpad), which severely limited the amount of keys I could reasonably use. I feel that once a player gets used to the controls, they do fine, but it can be a bit jarring. If I had more time I’d probably have added a couple alternate control schemes.
Music. This is a given. I dislike creating music, it just doesn’t interest me. I don’t expect to ever be able to create the really nice soundtracks that some of these other games have, but this is something I have accepted.
Tutorials. I had originally wanted to go with instructions written on the wall, but I ended up dropping it for the sake of time. That’s a kind of thing that I can end up spending too much time making it so it doesn’t look terrible, and by the time I needed instructions in game there wasn’t much time left. The way it ended up was that message boxes would pop up, and completely destroy the immersion you had. This was one of the things that I managed to fix for the post-compo release.
Planning. Something I don’t know whether I liked or not, was that rather than planning out my full feature set and figuring out exactly how I wanted the game to play, I instead dove straight into code after figuring out the core concept of black vs white platformer. I designed enemies as I went along, and came up with new features constantly. It wasn’t until the last 18 hours or so that I actually knew what I was expecting the game to look like at the end. I feel that the end result was good, but most of the way I felt like the game was going to turn out terribly. And while I was satisfied in the end, I don’t know if it was worth the anxiety during the competition. However, the data point of trying it once makes it hard to determine whether this is something that is worth it going forward.
Sounds. I feel that while the sounds are okay, there could definitely have been more dynamic sounds. Since there are so few actions, the sounds don’t really do much to fill the gaps in the bland music. I feel perhaps things in the environment that make noises as you run by them, for example, could go to great lengths to help. But on the other hand, things like that take quite a bit of time, and typically I’m afraid to spend too much time on sound, so I’m unsure if sacrificing something else to improve sound (which many people may not even have enabled) is worth it.
Post Mortem. This thing is really long and after skimming over it I feel like I’m trashing my own game, when honestly I feel quite proud of it.
I’ve almost completed work on a post competition version which fixes a lot of the difficulty issues by evening out the normal mode, and adding a harder mode you can play after. I’ve fixed a lot of minor things (tips on the walls at the beginning to help players realize they need to backtrack instead of simply going forward, saving of your progress, better mute/quality controls, etc). I’m trying not to rearchitect or spend too much time on it (as I’ll never actually end up finishing it if I do), so I’m leaving things that change the core concept for a future game if I feel so inclined.
Anyway, here’s the related links. Enjoy!
The world has been fractured. Entities are scattered to one of two dimensions. A small group has been working to find the source of the fracture and restore the world to it’s former (admittedly more colorful) glory.
You’ve managed to infiltrate the source’s facility and obtain a set of armor allowing you to pass between dimensions at will.
Now all that remains is finding the source of the fracture and destroying it.
Pretty much complete. Right now I’m just playing around with trying to find bugs and fix some performance issues (which seem mostly related to Pepper Flash being annoying). Feels good not rushing at the very end! I was originally aiming for 10 minutes of content on your first playthrough, but apparently it takes about 45-60 minutes to complete on your first try (and after playing all weekend it takes me about 9 minutes with ~20 deaths). Wahoo.
It’s time to meet your maker hear the tollin’ of the bell…
Yay we have a title screen. And I’m awake. And time is almost up! There’s still quite a few things I want to do. Here’s hoping I get to them!
Was playing around with adding some kind of overlay to the game, and I found one that I really like:
I’ve got a nearly-complete game. I’m mostly just missing a bit of story, and the final boss. Not sure why I’ve put the final boss off until the very end, but hopefully after some sleep I’ll be able to make an epic battle.
I love using photoshop as my map editor. With the exception of the boss room, the “content” is now done. I still need menus, music, some background story, etc. But making great progress! Hoping I’m going to get around for some of the things I wasn’t planning on getting to such as a world map and such, since I’m sure it’s easy to get lost.
So I was making a gif, and I’ve been wall sliding all day and didn’t notice that the gun points the wrong way until I actually watched it. Useful!
Surprisingly I’m almost done with all the gameplay content. One more mechanic, and the last section of the map and I should be be able to start focusing on things like a status menu, title screen, music, sounds, and story.
Can’t be a game without particles!
Making good progress. Trying to cut down on what kind of content I want. Hopefully I can just keep it simple this time.
I still don’t have the best idea of what my end goal is, but I have a bunch of ideas that I’m just throwing at it hoping that in the end it’ll be fun. Here’s what it currently looks like:
The premise is that you’re in a fractured world where things often exist in only one of two dimensions, the white dimension and the black. You can swap back and forth at will to help you avoid obstacles and reach new areas. Each realm gives you different abilities (after you’ve collected the necessary items), such as being able to double jump in white and wall jump in black. I also want to tie in some ikaruga with needing to match colors as you fight monsters and dodge their attacks.
Here’s hoping I can get to content tomorrow.
So we’re about 5 hours in and here’s where I’m at:
I went with the whole black and white minimalism idea (that I’m sure many people also went with), but I’m doing it ikaruga style where you swap between the two colors. I still haven’t quite figured out totally what I’m aiming for, right now I’m just trying to get all the basic gameplay in before I worry about that.
PS: Livestream: http://www.twitch.tv/iarkeus
I’m in. Same as last go. Was thinking about something browser based with rails and/or angular, but decided against it.
Language: AS3 using Axel (with FlashBuilder as my IDE)
Music: Random music generation tool from googling (probably the one I used last time).
Looking forward to it.
For anyone who isn’t set on what tools they are using for the upcoming LD, I wanted to offer up Axel, a hardware accelerated flash game library.
I started Axel about a year ago, as a followup to Flixel. I loved working in Flixel, but with the moving times and Flixel’s lack of updates, I wanted something more modern. Mainly, I wanted a library that supported stage3d, such that I could easily port games to mobile with good performance, and so that I could take advantage of the GPU on desktops in order to make cool things that weren’t possible before (hundreds of thousands of particles, for example).
If you’re familiar with Flixel, you’ll have no problem getting up to speed with Axel. The API was intentional kept very similar such that the transition is as easy as possible (and I very much liked Flixel’s way of doing things). For the last two Ludum Dares, I’ve created my entries using Axel, and it’s proved itself. If you want to check out the code for the entries to see if it’s a good fit for you, check out From The Black and The Legend of Elzad. For the beginners out there, you can also find some tutorials on the official website.
Regardless of the tools you end up using, good luck in Ludum Dare 26!
I’ll probably make some more in depth posts later, but I’m excited so I wanted to post saying I’ve completed my game! Two hours early even. It feels good not to be rushing up until the deadline.
If you’re interesting, click here to check out my entry and play.
Quick checkpoint post. Got a pretty intense boss battle… I think I need to tone it down a bit. But I have a Story Mode + and a Story Mode ++ that are going to be intense.
I’ve been hard at work. I’ve got the vast majority of the necessary gameplay working. Working on tying everything together before I add more content. After that I can start adding polish, music, etc. Hoping to get close to done before I sleep tonight.
The menu looks the same as pretty much all my games, but I’ve gotten used to that. I’m really enjoying how everything is coming along though! Need to spend less time playing and more time coding…
Making good progress. I still don’t really know what my goals are with this, but I got basic gameplay working. Flying around killing enemies and stuff.
Just trying to figure out how to make it fit my vision.
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?
Still not entirely sure what I’m doing, so I’ve been making ships.
Sugar… Spice… And everything nice…
These were the ingredients chosen to create the perfect little spaceship.
But Professor Utonium accidentally added an extra ingredient to the concoction…
Thus, <Insert Ship Name Here> was born!
Think I’ve decided to go with a space game. I have some ideas; dunno what to name the ship yet though. I think I’m going to try to keep it simple this time, a game that is beatable in a short period of time.