Voting is over, Results are out, and it is time for some introspection. LD25 was a really, really good LD for me, so take a sit and let me tell you all about it… whether you want it or not! Mwahah!
After two pretty terrible LDs I knew, when I put the keyboard down, that this time it had been different. I had a pretty decent idea from the get go. And even if I had troubles with parts of the execution, I was able to sneak in a lot more polish than in previous LDs. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here are the scores (LD22 positions are multiplied from 891 to 1400 entries).
I’m pretty happy about theme. This high score means that I was able to pass the image of my game to the players. There were quite a few “reverse-x” games in this LD — but the thing about reverse-games is that, for you to feel like the villain of the original game, the reverse game must be as close to the original as possible. This was one of my design guidelines – score, gameplay, graphics, whenever I was able, I tried to mimic the original Pacman.
Graphics and Audio are as expected. Not super high, but higher than my previous entries. I feel more confident with my toolchain, and I’m happy with the result. It is worth noting that although Audio was my lowest score, it was not my lowest placement. This shows how audio making is one of the largest barriers in this competition.
I was expecting Fun to be a bit lower, since many people complained about the controls, and the AI frankly sucked. But I guess when people “like” the game, all the scores go a bit higher together. That also goes for humor – I have no idea why I got a 3.14 score, since I did not include anything humorous in my game.
I would love if anyone who voted in my game could comment on the “mood” score. I usually rate mood based on the “consistent feel” of the game (which mine wasn’t quite there), and the “not done by my nephew” factor (does not feel TOO amateurish – decent opening, transitions, desktop behavior, etc).
LD23 and LD24 were two failures for me. In both cases I had quite pretentious ideas that didn’t live to their full potential. So even before the theme was decided I decided that I would go with a simple action game, probably a shooter. As the LD approached, the idea of making a QiX game was growing in me.
When the theme was announced, I quickly decided to make a “reverse-classical-game”, and sat down to think which classical games would be a)realistic to make and b)fun to play. Pacman and QiX were at the top of my shortlist. In the end, I decided to go with Pacman because since QiX is a really old game, I was afraid many people wouldn’t “get” it.
Making the game
This is the fourth time that I make a game using the JAVA + SLICK2D combo. Even though I hadn’t programmed in a while, I was still familiar enough with the basic API, which helped. I’m starting to feel some limitations on the SLICK2D library though. If I did this for a living, I would probably start to look for a new library about now, but I want to get a bit better at short game jams before worrying about that. I would probably get more bang for my book by learning how to properly compose simple songs, or getting a more consistent graphics style.
Development was pretty straight. I managed to add some bells and whistles such as transitions, pauses, high scores, etc. I wasted a LOT of time on the Pacman AI. My BASIC idea about how the Pacman AI should work was wrong, and instead of realizing that I should redo it from scratch, I tried many different small adjustments to it. All in all I lost a lot of time here that could have been spent on other things.
Another thing that was bad in the development is that I couldn’t get people to playtest my entry. Playtest is SUPER important. Many of the comments from the reviewers mentioned that it was hard keeping track of which ghost was selected with which number. Many simple solutions were suggested. This is the kind of stuff that a little play testing by someone other than me would have caught quite quickly.
Positives and Negatives
- I was familiar with Slick2d, and that made a lot of stuff faster. Even if I didn’t know how to do something, I knew where to look.
- I started using Inkscape a lot, which is good for non-pixel drawing (such as the game board).
- “If it is not moving on the screen, it can be drawn on the background”
- I started to get used to mixing sound effects in BFXR, for some cooler results than using single samples.
- Simple fade-out transition: draw a blank square on the screen and mess with transparency
- The simpler your game idea is, the more time you have to refine it!
- I should have written cleaner code. My code was so messy that it was hard to add simple things such as a difficulty progression based on changing pacman’s speed/power length.
- I’m starting to get tired of autotracker’s music. People who have never heard it like it, but it gets old really fast.
- Using Angelfont in a Linux environment is really hard – I will have to find some other library to use/package fonts in my game.
- It seems that java applets are unreliable in Ubuntu. I can’t even play my old java applet entries anymore in any of my ubuntu boxes :-(.
- Not getting anyone to playtest my game was REALLY bad.
- I lost a lot of time banging my head against pacman’s AI, when I should have done something simpler (Greedy search?).
This time I added the title music of my game to the time lapse! It is so much better than a silent timelapse!
Curse of Goats
Finally, a little bit of a rant. I think the goat thing went overboard this LD. I saw too many games where goats were pushed in, without thought. I think this is because the optional theme was put in the announcements this time (unlike kittens in LD22, which was mostly a thing spread through word of blogpost). Since it shared the same space as the official theme, many people might have thought it was also obligatory or something. While I love silliness a lot more than the average people, forced jokes get bad real quick. I suggest that the joke theme is not supported officially in LD26.
Anyway, see you all in LD23!