Flash and Flex programmer and game maker in Los Angeles
About mimshwright (twitter: @mimshwright)
Ludum Dare 23
I just wanted to share with everyone the stats from my last game (LD23). I used Google Analytics to record events from within my Flash game. It was very easy to set up – it only took a few minutes – and while the numbers are not very impressive, I think it was worth it to see how my game was being played. For example, I see that only about 10% of players clicked the restart button and that each level of difficulty had about half as many completions as the previous. For a throwaway game like this, this info is not really important, but for a real game in the wild, this can be very valuable. I would encourage everyone to add some kind of tracking code to your game even if it’s only for the practice!
After the compo I decided to clean up and make available the Vector utility functions I have used in some of my games. I hope you find this repo useful for your future projects. Please let me know if you see anything that is broken/wrong or that you’d like to have added.
I thought I’d upload a few of my sketches from the game design process.
I hope you guys find this helpful and interesting!
I finished my game for the compo yesterday. It’s called “Stampede at Crooked Thorax Ranch”. I had a really great time making it! I’d love to get some feedback and votes on it here!
Here’s a little postmortem…
About the game:
The game is Stampede at Crooked Thorax Ranch. In it you play a cowboy the size of an insect who is caught in a stampede of wild beetles. The original concept I had was for some kind of tower defense game which involved tiny creeps the size of a pixel that were hard to see but easy to kill. Those pixels would grow as they approached you becoming easier to see and harder to kill. In envisioned a top down view of a mountain with ants climbing up the sides. Since that didn’t quite seem in keeping with Tiny World, I decided to switch to a magnifying glass metaphor (Unfortunately, I never got around to showing the glasses coming into frame which I think would have helped the player visualize them.) I combined that concept with another idea I had for cowboys riding bugs. The result was beetles that crawl towards a cowboy all viewed under a stack magnifying glasses.
- FlashPunk. It was my first time using the engine. I really like the style of FlashPunk’s approach. It seems much more structured that Flixel to me.
- I tried my best to focus on aspects of the production that would make the game feel like a complete game. I tried to fix all bugs as I went along so I would always be ready to launch. Even though there are things I would like to tweak or improve on, I succeeded in making a complete game.
- Schedule. I spent friday night devoted strictly to coming up with ideas and doing sketches. Then I got a good night’s sleep and started coding Saturday morning. Sunday was mostly spent going down a prioritized todo list of things that would make the game feel more like a game. The game may not have been as complete as it might have been if I had stayed up that whole time but the pace kept my head clear and I was never burned-out. I also got some exercise and took some meal breaks and that helped me not get bogged down.
- I included Google Analytics to track points in the gameplay such as player’s score and how many times they hit replay. This was very easy to do and I look forward to seeing the results!
- I added the story / intro at the last minute because it felt like it wasn’t clear what was happening. I’m not sure how much clearer it is now but I think it added a lot. Next time I think I would start with the story.
What didn’t work:
- I spent too much time putting polish on things when I should have been focusing a little more on making the game elements work. As a result, I had some pieces that look very detailed and some that are very slapdash.
- Digital paintings look crappy as sprites. Purple laser explosions look like peonies. You can barely tell there’s a cowboy riding a beetle. In other words, I am starting to see why people go for 8-bit style art.
- I tried to make an intro in the Flash authoring tool and combine it with the FlashPunk code (done in FlashBuilder). I usually stay away from the timeline but I wanted it done fast. I ended up having a bunch of problems.
- Unpreparedness. I tried to get my environment prepared but there were a few tools I was using for the first time or that I hadn’t used for a long time.
- Tweeting and blogging during contest hours. I should have saved all that stuff for afterwards.
I’m doing my first Ludum Dare game competition! I’m very excited and have been trying to get my system ready to go before the theme is announced at 18:00 Pacific time. I’m running down my pre-flight checklist now.