So the game that I’m working on (Along with partner in crime Ian Snyder) is a reverse-platformer, you design the level and then the game’s hero has to navigate it. Hopefully dying in the process. So that means making all the art for a platformer, along with other things.
Man I feel like I should have more, but I did end up sleeping until…11…
But there’s also walk cycles that I ended up making, plus attack animations. I figure I’m about half way there. There’s about 40 art assets in total. and this is probably less than half of them.
ART IS HARD
Lesson learned: if you can’t beat em, burn em to the ground
This theme had me stumped. I basically needed something that could be “arcady” and “simple to do” while encorporating “Evolution” somehow
In some flash of inspiration, I went from changing animals, to Knights/people, to…spaceships. The game is going to be a Gradius style shooter, and as you fight, your behaviors will “Evolve” your ship. Your enemies should do the same: kill them right away and they become faster, start moving differently, ect. In code, it’s easy to switch a bunch of variables, but I need visual change too.
To accomplish this, I created some bits of ship, and then tacked them onto each other, right now it looks like this: Off to a pretty good start.
This is my third ludum dare. I’ll be sick this weekend, so that’ll be kind of hard, yeah?
Weapon of choice: AS3, Flixel, Flashdevelop, etc etc.
Time to kick butt.
My first crack at the LD48 and I have….Dead Party!
Dead Party was originally going to be a dungeon crawler, where you play the sole survivor of a raid gone wrong, but during playtesting I found that NPCs that followed you did so in an amusing manner, and I though “I should make a game around that” so I did. And there’s lots of cats.
I describe it as “Ico meets Diablo meets SmashTV” but with none of the quality.
quick post mortem
what went right
- I knew the game library, and I had made games with the language before
During the warmup weekend I had tried to learn more about Love2D, and while I managed to make half of a game it didn’t sit well with me. A friend of mine suggested I stuck with what I knew, which was AS3 and Flixel. It turned out to be right, I spent nearly the entire period making stuff rather than trying to wrangle technical issues or learn a new library. I also used Flixel Power Tools, which made several things, including bullet managment and aiming, exceptionally easy. Flixel is great at taking care of a lot of game related things, and the Power Tools made things even easier. I’m used to code structure more than I am with other scripting langauges, so I could structure (or not structure) things to work.
- I knew what to cut and when
Originally the game was going to be and RPG, complete with an overworld and a dungeon level, plus a battle system. Then that just went to an overworld system. I was also going to have multiple weapons, plus melee weapons, each with different characteristics. Needless to say, it didn’t turn out that way. I had to cut 2 levels and a few more features near the end too.
- The Level Editor!
Probably the biggest help is the DAME level editor. Normally I would have to hand-code where certain things are, or have to create my own level editor, or make my own CSV for things. This time I was able to build and design levels with ease and get them into the game quickly. Granted the workflow process was really weird (I’ll get to that later) but I was able to make non-super-ugly maps quickly.
- Got some sleep
After 3am I hit a brick wall when it comes to productivity, and continuing on doesn’t make sense. A friend of mine said that I wouldn’t win if I slept, but I beg to differ. The last 5 hours were the worst, and I began to make simple mistakes while fatiuged, had those happened earlier on it would have made the rest of the dev process much harder.
- never give up, never surrender!
With 24 hours to go I was still working on the dungeon crawler, but I felt really crappy about it since I felt it wasn’t a very good game. All I had was a level loading at that point and it was just shooting enemies. And then I thought “It may be crap, but I basically made a Smash TV clone in under 24 hours, so be a little proud”
WHAT WENT WRONG
- Making levels
Oh God. I mentioned this in an earlier blog post, but to make a level and put it into the game, I had to do a 7-8 step process. I had to make a new .dam file for each level, re-import all the sprites and tiles, draw the map, rename the groups, export it, fix certain .as files, and make a whole new playstate for the level. If I had made a saner structure and had just 1 playstate for all the levels, I could have simplified things and made more levels. I was mainly interested in making things work, rather than make things easy, and in the end it was probably 5x more work to import the levels the way I went about it. It also meant that I had to cut off features at a point, because i would have to add them all to the seperate playstate files and test them induvidually. Real smart, me.
- The theme
I had trouble with the theme, since I could only think of sad things, and I was so concerned with starting I didn’t really take time to consider another idea, just “start coding right now OMG” and, maybe if I went with something else, I could have skipped a lot of headache and felt better about going with the stated theme.
Well, that’s it for now. I’m really tired so, I’ll probably go to bed *before* 3am. ha!
“One more level” I told myself
Getting hard now. Making a level is a multistep process. I’m using DAME and it goes like this:
- make a new level file in DAME
- import all the sprites and tiles
- draw the tiles in
- rename the groups it creates
- fix the .as3 files that it generates (there’s 3 lines, and I know where they are, it’s trivial but annoying)
- make a playstate to fit the level in
So yeah. I originally wanted like 7 levels, but I still need to build a HUD, fix the movement system, and do balancing if I want sound. The pragmatic thing to do would be to cut the last 3 levels and the other enemy I had planned to make.
Tomorrow I’ll do what I think this needs in order to be a game, which is a HUD, fixed movement, and other things, and if I have time I’ll make the last few levels and enemy.
I keep neglecting sound, so easy to overlook yet so important. Will I have time? probably not.
I guess worse case, I could try to wrap this up as a game and ship as is.
next time I need to uncomplicate the level design process.
So during playtesting I realized that the NPCs sort of follow you around and I thought it was cute, and the original intent of the game was kind of grim, so I thought:
“what if you had to collect NPCs that follow you out of the level, and…um…if you shoot them they die”
that’s where I’m at now, aside from some clunky movement it is actually almost “fun”
Going to add new enemy types (turrets that fire, umm, maybe one more) and additional levels. As well as stats like accuracy and how many cat ghosts you save.
I was sort of beating myself up at first because I didn’t think the game was innovative or great, and then I was like “You know, I wrote a Smash TV clone in under 24 hours, that’s something”
I also had a bunch of coffee, not sure when/if I’ll sleep tonight. I have a buttload of features to add.
Once I get levels hacked out, I’ll do the HUD, Level ending stats, and nearing the end sounds and music.
I couldn’t think of anything else, but I decided the game should be about you in a group of some kind, and early on everyone dies but you, and you have to get them revived somehow.
So that evolved from a Final Fantasy style rpg (which I don’t have time for) into a top down Zelda style thing. Right now I have levels loading, and a player who shoots and moves around. I’m using the Flixel Power tools and the DAME level editor, and I’ve made tons of progress.
DAME has some quirks, there are a few lines that I have to fix every time I export, but it’s been mostly cooperative.
Tomorrow I’ll focus on creating enemies to shoot (or today? hmm)
I also want to crack at having the player start with the Ultimate Weapons and Loadout (since he’s using his fallen comrad’s weapons) and then downgrading as the game goes on. I think Yatzee Ben Crowshaw postulated that this would be an interesting mechanic, instead of aquirering gear you give it up as you go along.
I also want a crack at having something on the level of Ico, where it’s linear but at a key moment you’re given a choice and you simply MUST choose the hard path. While it’s required to take it, it’s appears to be up to the player.
ha, I’ll probably not get that far.