DOE / LD26 / POST MORTEM
Hi everyone, so here we go, time for the Post Mortem. My game is called Doe and playable here :
Just to set a bit of background on the LD26. I’m a 3d artist in my everyday job and I code as a hobby on my spare time. This 26th edition was a good opportunity for me because my last finished LD was the 23rd and since the beginning of January I jumped to C#/XNA, then on C++ where I started my own 2d/3d game engine a few weeks ago. So I got back on AS3 with the idea that I would work better now. We’ll see that in the conclusion.
Here’s a quick breakdown on both days:
Saturday: I wake up with a theme that I completely dislike at first, but there you go, huge brainstorm. Some ideas started to flash and pretty quickly I had a “universe” in mind. Then ideas for the gameplay, it was enough to start coding. By the end of the day I nearly had the 3 first levels of the game set up which was really cool. I was able to play it with decent length and different mechanisms.
Sunday: That day was much longer than I thought, the game was running well but the last level is more “story-driven” and even if it’s really short I used a lot of time. And it’s far from what I imagined. But still I managed to finish the complete gameplay elements something like 12 hours before the deadline so I had more time than usual to work on better graphics, make music, menu screens and all of the details that seem endless.
So, let’s conclude:
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- Coding: As I said earlier, I work now on C++ so getting back to AS3/Flashpunk was a breeze. Had to recall a few stuff but the game never suffered of any major bug or problems. The code structure began to “fall” somewhere in the middle of Sunday where I did a lot of temp/dirty stuff to be fast and not change previous code. So I could have been much cleaner on this side but I still managed to move forward without getting lost.
- Concept: I guess the theme is hard to find inside of Doe, we’ll get to that later, but the brainstorm started from that word anyway and I’m really happy with what came out of it. The whole universe that I imagined is in the end much bigger than what is exposed in the game. So that leaves me with a new story inside of my head and something that could be crafted into a bigger game. On the other hand it also gives the result a new dimension. My previous games in LD were usually boring because the mechanic was simple and repetitive (every time it’s better in my head but can’t do it in 48h), here it’s I believe more interesting and it’s not just one mechanic but more that fit inside of the story.
- Prototype approach: It seems obvious to work this way, but as an artist I always like to do a bit of art. I can’t stand to work with just shapes. I did it anyway this time for the simple fact that I had a lot to code to get the full game even without art. That leaves me room afterward to make the whole graphic overhaul. I’ll come back on this on “what went wrong” also.
- Art: It greatly comes to the fact that I worked on a prototype first, so I was able to have the full game and be less stressed about taking time to make cool graphics music and all.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- Theme: As I said earlier, the theme is kind of blurred inside of the game. What I wanted to express is the story of a man that want to fight minimalism with his dreams. And as he is seen as an enemy he is kept captive by the order in charge of the society and is prevented to dream anymore. It’s a metaphor on my creative process for this LD, I disliked the theme and was horrified to see a lot of people going with Mondrian art (like, really). So I wanted to get away with that, so as Doe. But I think I failed into telling that side of the story, maybe because I ran out of time, maybe because the scope of the game is too little and didn’t want to have too much text.
- Narrative: A bit like the previous point, I do believe that I’m still bad at telling stories. Not just the theme, but the complete Doe story, and the universe. The two soldiers chat at the beginning is an example. I love how game like Bioshock tell you the story with an indirect way, and it looks easy but in the end I’m no writer and it feels. You have to pick the right words without being too direct. I still have plans on story driven game so I’ll definitely train on this part.
- Prototype approach: I told you it was wrong also. The dark side of the approach (to me, on this LD) is that I was out of any planning. I managed to finish the game, but at some point I started to go off and wanted more and more and more. The final version for example miss a lot of sound effects, because I tweaked music, I tweaked graphics, etc. I missed some kind of structure or time fractioning to advance in a better way.
Stay tuned, the dramatic conclusion to this epic weekend right after a new screenshot !
Doe leaves me this bittersweet impression that it can be more, but in my artist work I always feel this way. It’s disturbing and sometimes frustrating but that also the sign that I’m interested in what was made and know that I can progress on my skills. My two previous games were bad, I was happy to complete something, but they were hollow and I was able to recognize that as soon as I published them. I think this time Doe shows something more, it looks more like a game. To me, it’s also the result of what I explained in the beginning of this long text (is there anyone still here ?). I was more confident in my coding skills and it really felt like something I know well with art, that moment where the tool starts to fade, when you know it and you can stay focused on the game itself. It’s the first time I felt that and it’s amazing. Last but not least, I’m working on my own engine and it was great to get out of it a little bit and come back on another library, Flashpunk. It helped refocus on my own work, see what are the strong points and maybe the weaker one. And it gave me that real motivation to work on it as much as I can to be able one day to craft an LD game with it.
Thanks for reading, hope you liked the game and see you next time !
(if you haven’t played it yet, let me give you the link again : Doe – Web/Flash)
Et voilà !
Two in the morning here, I think it’s time to call it a day. Loooots of thing missing, some sounds, some animations. I would have worked days on it to make it better but I’m more than happy for the 48h run anyway.
I won’t talk much here, except to show a small screenshot:
And you can find the game here :
To those who are still under fire: keep it up ! See you tomorrow all, let’s go sleeping while hoping the game won’t break in the meantime !
So, things are going really well. The game is fully playable, it was achieved 3 hours ago so it leaves me time to work on the graphics, music, sound everything.
I’m really happy in fact, even while I think that the link with the theme is really thin now. Minimalism really led me to this idea and this story but I’ll think players won’t see it. It doesn’t matter, I still get a game that I may expand later ! Here is a screen:
It’s the very beginning of the game and there is a lot to discover beyond that !
See you later and once again a warm thumbs up to everyone working out there
End of day one for me, I think I could code a few more stuff but it might be a better idea to go to bed after a nice day.
Just to elaborate a bit on the game: Doe is a dreamer, someone who can dream so much that what he can imagine would modify the world around him. And for that, as he represent a danger for the people around him and for the Order he is emprisonned in a small room. One day, someone changes, and a new path opens to him.
So the game is basically a small aventure where you control Doe, someone who fights against control and minimalist rights (kashing) to dream in colors. It’s the first time I try to make a game with that much of a story, I hope it’ll work well. Nearly all of the elements are coded and it’s more than 50% of the initial adventure that is made now. I’ll be able to finish 40% more pretty quickly tomorrow morning, before tackling the last 10% which are the last scene of the game with a lot of stuff inside. The dream situation would be to spend half of the day doing all the graphics, try some effects, music/sfx and maybe make the adventure longer if I can.
A small screenshot:
So for those here in Europe who are going to sleep, have a good night. A good day for all of the others and see you tomorrow !
Hi everyone, 13PM here and already 3 hours in.
I woke up earlier than expected, you know excitation and all. Aaaaand, at first, “Minimalism” made me say loud “Nooooooo”. Honestly this is the theme I was afraid of, but it turned out really well. After a bit of brainstorm I had quite an idea of what I’d like to do and right now I’m super excited about it.
I can’t really explain what I’m up to because this time Doe, my game, will be much more than before about discovering the world and the story. So it would be bad to spoil it. However, I have a first screen to show. It’s a mockup of where I’m heading on the art style, but the tiled level and character is the actual game. It already moving with collisions so it’s a nice foundation to go with. Not sure about the character design though.
What a great opportunity to get back on this LD. I missed the last one, didn’t finish the 24 but I haven’t stop coding in between so it’s a nice test. Doe still seems a bit ambitious to me but I like it, we’ll see tomorrow night how it turns. Still, now that I have this mockup I’ll spend the rest of the day coding the mechanics and designing the adventure. It would be awesome to have a really basic playthrough by tonight. Seems a lot of work but that looks like a nice planning to achieve it.
A good day to everyone out there and see you soon !
A warm Hi from France !
It’s that time of the year again and after some time far from the LD world I’m very glad to get back here. For this edition I’ll be using:
- AS3 / FlashPunk with FlashDevelop
- Photoshop CS6 / Pickle Editor
- Ogmo Editor (depending on theme)
- FL Studio
See you in a few days, I can’t wait !
Hey all !
It’s been something like 7 hours of brainstorming, coding, drawing, living and here is the project I’ll be trying to finish. It’s by now called ProjectDungeon (a proper title will arrive later I guess), and it’s a dungeon management game. You’ll start with just a small room in a cave and your goal will be to make this dungeon evolve (ka-ching). The whole mechanic will revolve around 2 game times, the construction and the action. While constructing it will be possible to shape the dungeon in any way, adding traps, and everything will cost money. And in the action mode, some heroes will try to go there and get the loot in the chest, a dead hero means money so here goes the whole progression. Better heroes will arrive along the way and so on.
Right now the map works, it’s possible to dig new rooms, the chest can be moved around, it will be up to you to put it in the right place, and I have a basic pathfinding that don’t work really good but it won’t be bad in the end. The next step will be to enhance my basic hero that walk along the path right now. The goal will be to make him walk around the dungeon, it would be a fail if he just know where he have to go, giving him a sense of exploration will be the challenge by now.
Finally, here’s a screenshot:
See you later and good luck to everyone out there !
time for a new coding weekend ! I absolutely can’t wait to get it started, it seems that we will break new records here once again. It will be my third LD and I really hope to go further, the answer is not too far away.
Graphics: Photoshop, Pickle, Ogmo Editor if necessary
Music: FL Studio
Sounds: Not sure right now, we’ll see
See you soon everyone !
Hi everyone !
Some people commented on the art of my game. It’s super cool, and I really wanted to share a little tutorial with all of you. The goal of it is to show you how I made the planets in my game and you will see that it’s ultra easy and ultra quick to do it. If you didn’t play the game, you still have a chance
(Click for full size)
Back again with my first post mortem !
If you don’t know what I’ve done, here your chance :
Let’s get a bit of background, I’m not a coder but I’m an “artist”. But a vfx artist, so I’m more a technician, and I’m bad at drawing. I’m making Ludum Dare because I still like to code on my spare time and it’s a good opportunity to train myself and in the field of games which is something I love since I’m 7/8 (I’m 24 by the way). That’s it, just some stuff so you’ll know a bit about me for what comes next.
For now, let’s get a quick review of my week end (all hours are European/France time)
- 9:00 : After a good night, time to know what theme is on. LD started 6 hours ago (3:00 in the night in France)
- 10:00 : Still reviewing photos, game reviews, trying to get an idea but I’m a bit nervous as I can’t seems to find ANY-THING
- 10:30 : Got an idea about a company that would recruits Gods to help little planets, could be cool, freedom would be given to the player to watch different reaction happens on the planet
- 12:00 : Had to take some time out, it gave me a bit of opportunity to think more about my concept.
- 16:00 : Going through the first classes of my code, I worked on a first prototype with one planet. I did a first mockup for graphics, and had a great boost from that as I was able to make something that I really liked with just few clicks and tricks on Photoshop. I’ll be focusing on making one functional level, which would ideally be the hardest of the game with all the features.
- 18:00 : Lost some times trying to make some procedural was a complete waste of time that could have been avoided with just a few more thinking time.
- 01:00 : I have a basic prototype, the planet have 3 Tribes that you can feed using Farms, you take food here and give it to a Tribe. Tribes don’t interact with each other and I’m really disappointed that it’s not here. But I’m tired, I wanted to have a working prototype so let’s just say something can happen with this basic game mechanic and we’ll see tomorrow.
- 9:00 : Back to work, the mission is clear, I have to make basic menus, first levels, so let’s do it !
- 13:00 : I now have a title screen, a level selection menu, and two working levels with introduction text/panel, tutorial, and objectives. I now know I won’t be able to put more features here so I’ll be focused on the feeding part of the game design.
- 15:00 : Two more levels, a total of 4, and I want 8 of them, time to work harder.
- 18:00 : Still on more level to do, the last one, so let’s take a break and make some sounds and music. A bit of work has been done in the level selection menu, planets are now displayed instead of just rectangles.
- 19:00 : Music is ok and coded, sounds need to be integrated, I made a logo for the title screen and enhanced it also.
- 20:00 : Sounds are here, last level is ok, let’s add some polish.
- 21:00 : Still polishing, title screen is ok, and also took some time to add an important feature, a progress bar on the levels, because it’s too easy to forget the goals.
- 22:00 : My best friend arrived on Skype and is actively beta testing the game, awesome help but he found a bug that prevents people to go through level 7 and I can’t understand what’s happening.
- 23:00 : Bug finally cleared, still polishing some stuff, finishing the end screen.
- 00:00 : Gods Inc. is finished ! Time to wrap stuff, create the entry, and LD is over.
Now, we can take some lessons about this:
- Concept: My first LD 6 months ago was just a basic platformer, nothing really original here and it was pretty far to be really interesting regarding the theme. I had a hard time to find something and I took the first good idea that came in, it was a risk but I felt it was good. In the end it was more fun and encouraging for me.
- Code skill: I never actually finished any game or any project, which is a shame, but I tried a lot of stuff and gained a lot of knowledge in AS3/Flashpunk. I was more confident and was afraid of nothing, it’s great to put code stuff on the side and be able to think more about the game itself that the tool.
- Time planning: Having something playable on the Saturday night (just a bit before 24h into LD) is for me a good goad. It wasn’t what I really expected at this time but it was a working prototype with a simple mechanic that could be turned into a game for the entire next day.
- Graphics: The concept itself made graphics easier and thanks to my good abilities on Photoshop I was able to create any planet I wanted in no time with a lot of variations. I also used one background image for all the levels and just a line of code let me have random variation each new level launched with different colors. Everything was made in time and started early so it went smoothly through the weekend.
What didn’t work:
- Concept refinement / Ambition: I was okay with the concept, but maybe too much. I lost time and opportunities because I let joy overwhelm me. Too much features to code, it results in a drop of confidence at some point, about my coding skills, my speed, and the final game.
- Code planning: Levels where hard coded, with Tribes and Farms placed by code on the levels. No structures or external files to read levels seemed okay to me at first, but in the end it was a mess. I lost TOO much time implementing the victory conditions that were just if statements. And I had to rewrite this with my progress bar class because the information wasn’t readable. Next time if it happens again, I’ll clarify technical requirements a bit.
What to learn:
- Think small: Having ambition is cool, having a good idea is cool, but in the end you won’t lose time thinking more. My whole game revolve around the feeding tribes mechanics, but it can feel boring after some levels (4/5 out of 8 it seems), because it wasn’t my only trick in the game at first. If I said from the start let’s concentrate on one idea it would have been better. Instead of multiplying mechanics I would have tried variations and twists around the feeding stuff making it more interesting in the whole game. I still feel that it was a necessary error, it feels natural to me now, but it wasn’t in the process, it was something I needed to experience. Even the whole scenario idea got completely lost in the process, just no time to do it.
- Put some structure: I never wrote technical stuff as I didn’t consider myself as a real programmer. With this LD things were more serious, and I need to act with more preparation. First for the levels, they were handmade because it wasn’t tilemaps, it might not happen again, depending on the theme, but if it does, I’ll at least write some proper class to implement victory conditions, text assets etc all inside. Victory conditions are not just variables but there’s always a way to work something to make it better to integrate and communicate with all the code. And secondly for the classes, I never extend basic classes, it’s something I need to work on. Multiple classes existed here while being quite similar, it’s a waste of time, this is a method I don’t really use but I could use it.
In the end I have a game that I like anyway, and I feel I could take it to a new level, making a kind of 1.5 version. Or even try to create the real idea I had in mind, that would let the player experience the whole planet concept in a full freedom play with interacting tribes etc.
Surely LD was something big to me this weekend, I learnt a lot, and I already feels that it could be even better next time.
Thanks for reading, and see you next time !
Hey, I hope everyone got some rest after this long weekend !
So I’ve made a game, Gods Inc., you can play it here :
I’ll write a post mortem about it probably tomorrow and post it here if anyone is interested. Meanwhile I uploaded my timelapse for those two day :
See you later !
Voilaaaa, game’s done !
God Inc. is not quite the idea I had in mind, it’s not “really” difficult (no real challenge) etc, but it’s a finished product anyway, and that feels good.
I’ll make a big post mortem tomorrow, because I think it will be really positive to make it with some rest time in between, and I’ll share it here.
Can’t wait to play a loooot of games in the next days, good luck to everyone still coding !
A new day, new challenges and a first beta !
This comes with a name, God Inc. (scenario elements to be here later), and a first easy tutorial level. If you have a minute to give it a try and maybe give some feedback I would be REALLY happy.
Good day to everyone of you, stay tuned !
Time to sleep, and this is where I am :
Well, I was hoping to have a fully playable prototype before the night and of course, it’s not really there. A few new things since the last time, tribes have a lot more life, could change their size, working resources, a bit of graphics, etc. The prototype was still about one of the last levels, things started to get there but as a bad bad bad game designer I felt it was too much struggle and it began to be hard for me to see where it could go. So I have quite the idea of what this level would be (as on the screen, three tribes, a lot of differences between them etc) but I think it will be better to start some new levels tomorrow. Now I have some stuff working, the whole planet system is ok (including graphics), tribes can grow or shrink, depending on population and food, so I’ll make the first planets with easier situation. I’ll get a better visibility to where it could lead.
AND I also have menus to do, a bit of scenario, music, etc, loooong day tomorrow. Hope everyone is having fun ! Good night to european time people !