I'm a student working on an M.S. in Nuclear Engineering. I sometimes program games. I'm learning Japanese. And I have worked as a cook at a Vietnamese/French/etc restaurant.
Ludum Dare 21
Seeing as this is my first blog post I’ll include a preface about my first LD48 experience!:
I’ve been waiting to do a Ludum Dare event until I had 1) Spare time, and 2) Recent experience with a game programming language/library. The second point is important because I do programming entirely as a side hobby. I haven’t had much experience with the art in the past 4 years. I’ve taken swings at SDL, LWJGL, and Allegro before… but this time I had been learning to use Flixel.
Cut to the night of the competition–I was checking my email in bed on my netbook and decided to check on the LD website and HOLY LUDUM they’re having a competition right now! Man, this is cool stuff… what would I do for the “escape” theme if I were participating? Actually, what can I do? Well basing it on Flixel what if I made the main character an extension of the FlxTileMap class instead of the FlxSprite class? Hey this is an exciting idea… let’s actually do it! So I opened up FlashDevelop and started typing away in bed. I ended up coding the whole thing on a netbook. The graphics I did on my old old desktop simply because I wanted higher resolution and I already had Paint.net installed on it. It was crashing on me but… I frantically got my desktop stable again and pressed on. In the end I learned a lot more about Flixel and even came up with something good enough to submit! My only regret was not having enough time to squash bugs.
So on with the blog entry thing. Results!
Here we go in reverse order:
Humor: No ratings at all? I must be super un-funny. I wasn’t really going for funny but the game itself is a bit corny. I expected a low rating for humor but got none at all. *shrug*
Community: I could probably benefit from posting once in awhile. I didn’t post before the competition because I didn’t register until a few hours into it. Plus there was no planning whatsoever. I didn’t make a post during the competition because I couldn’t figure out how to even navigate the LD website (and it was down mostly). I’d like to put a lot more effort into community stuff next time…
Fun: Well this was sort of expected. But I am surprised it got this low relative to my other scores. I knew it would be low because my game is confusing and buggy, and those make games very un-fun. On the other hand it’s fun in a innovative/schmup/puzzler sort of way. I guess my gameplay is also quite nitch and suffers from being something I want to make and not what others want to play. But I don’t think that’s not a bad thing.
Overall: Okay. Not much to say. Overall is sort of each individual’s weighted average. johnfn pointed out that Overall is closely linked to fun, so this score makes sense.
Audio: It’s nice to get a score in audio since the last time I touched game audio at all was with Modplug back around 2001. I only included a Level Complete Jingle for my game. I tried to have various pitch sound effects for when blobs hit you but my attempts didn’t sound right and I was wasting time. I’ll take a swing at sfxr now that I know it exists (thanks community!). I’d like to try including music when I’m comfortable believing that I can make something that actually sounds like music.
Theme: I was hoping to do a liiitle better here. Simply because my game was about escaping a prison, and each level involved you escaping off the top of the screen. I even included the line “Escaped!” as a possible level-win message. Plus I used the word “Prisonbreak” (not a “real word”, this is intentional) in the title, which I thought was a little more creative than games that simply used “Escape” in their titles. But I’m not complaining here so much as nit picking.
Graphics: A pleasant surprise to score this high on graphics. I did throw out my first colorful floor tiles in preference of a simple brick pattern after my roommate complained that they looked like shit. I guess it paid off.
Coolness: Ah yeah! My game is so cool! Oh right, this is about how many games I played. I made a point to avoid the overly-popular games during the voting. I played a mix of what looked interesting and those straight from the rate games page. My favorites were:
|Dystopian Future Underground City – j_peeba|
|Bunnies, Back Into Your Cage! – ratking|
|Planetary Mission – NMcCoy|
|Towering Inferno – tenpn|
|Snake Plissken: Surfin’ U.S.A. – vandriver|
I pity the fool who can’t beat Dystopian Future Underground City and Snake Plissken: Surfin’ U.S.A.
Innovation: I’ve been disappointed at myself that I couldn’t polish my game more or weed out bugs before submitting it. I was thinking, “well, at least I might score okay in ‘innovation’”. Turns out I did pretty darn well, and I’m really happy about it! I think most of us wouldn’t work on a game at all if we didn’t think it was innovative in some way. Why make something if it already exists? This i’s especially important to me because I spend a lot more time thinking about game ideas than actually making them (I don’t program for a living). Plus this is the first time I’ve made something public. So I couldn’t be happier with this result. I even made the Top 25 Categories page!
While I think my game does have potential, I don’t have plans to develop it much further. I think it would have to be reworked from the ground up. I would up the tile size to 16×16 and try to make gameplay smoother. My original plan didn’t have movement locked into a grid, and I’d still like to try it without the grid (which would need other changes for balance). Balancing could already use some work to improve the strategy aspect… things like reducing the color count to 4 in the earlier levels or changing the floor tile algorithm for better color clumping. (Without clumping there is no point to the bullet-adopts-the-color-of-the-floor-tile mechanic.) Ultimately I think my time is better spent on a randomly-generated platformer I’ve been tinkering with for some time already. I might start another separate short-term project or just wait until the next LD48. But until my “fun” rating becomes decent, I think I have to focus my time on real life concerns.