I am Jonathan Whiting, a games developer, keen climber and part time geek.
About Jonathan Whiting (twitter: @whitingjp)
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Archive for the ‘LD #17 – Islands – 2010’ Category
So, a small collection of post-compo stuff here, timelapse, post mortem + bugfixes.
My timelapse is up at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ2UFsvPK4k if anyone’s interested. Looking back I spent a *lot* of time creating levels, but I kind of knew that already. It’s kind of fun to see them grow, though with the benefit of hindsight, taking more screenshots, and producing a ‘highlight reel’ after the event would lead to a more satisfying video.
What went right:
Had a clear design idea. I was lucky enough to start Saturday with a very clear idea of the game I wanted to achieve. It was (overly) ambitously large, and relied on being able to do a large amount of decent level design in a short space of time, but having such a clear vision of what I wanted kept me on task, and prevented me from wasting much time simply trying things out.
In-engine editing. I’ve been converted to the idea of doing level design in game ever since playing around with Cube god knows how long ago. So early on I wrote a system to support editing of levels without leaving the game (I didn’t even have an edit mode to flick into, editing happened literally at the same time as playing). There’s simple no way I’d have been able to design as many screens as I did if I’d had to keep flicking between level editor and game (or, worse, text editor and game).
Simple mechanics that interacted nicely. The 3 core mechanics (springy things, ice, and rocks) were chosen mostly on a “what can I implement quickly” basis, but I was very happy with how well they ended up slotting together.
What went wrong:
Too damn big. Whilst having a clear idea was great the specific idea I had committed me to making waaay more content than was comfortable within the timescale. There are 40 screens in the final game, and nearly as many puzzles, and this is *after* I’d scaled back my original vision significantly. I took a huge chunk of total time, probably approaching 8 hours on pure level design. I ended up having to cut other things I wanted to put in (extra animation, localised fauna etc.) as a result. Having said all that it was really cool to realize something on that scale.
My music is dull, repetitive and quickly annoying. Just a combination of of it being a generally a weak area for me, and having very little time to burn on it (1hr fairly late into Sunday, when I was completely knackered). I came very close to not bothering including music at all though, so I guess overall I’m glad I managed to put something in. More practice required before next time though.
Less testing time than it could have done with. There ended up being some significant and unpleasant glitches (infinite-loops, an inescapable area etc.) that I just didn’t have enough time left to find. Ties pretty heavily into the “too damn big” point, with that much content there’s going to be problem areas, and it’s going to take hours to find them.
Not taking Monday off work. Simple, but regrettable, trying to do a full days work after a 36hr game development marathon was not fun!.
So, all in all, I shot pretty high, way too high in fact, so it feels pretty great that I managed to realize my original idea fairly convincingly.
The glitches + bugs have been annoying me a lot, so I’ve been working on a fixed up version, available to play at http://jwhiting.nfshost.com/ld/17/islands_better.html. So far it has fixes for all the specific glitches people have reported (thanks for the info!), as well as a few I found myself. Also I’ve put in code so that if anyone does run into an icky infinite loop situation it should at least recover from it fairly gracefully. I also plan to add some sort of progress saving system, so that it doesn’t have to be completed in one session.
Anyway, that post was pretty epic all told, congratulations if you made it to the end
Now I’ve just got a lot of games to play
I mentioned in my final I’m-Just-Gonna-Write-This-Then-Go-Pass-Out post that there was a bunch of stuff I wanted to write up but was too tired to at the moment. So:
Yesterday afternoon/evening was a real struggle. I’d done most of of the level design by then (a pretty herculean task in it’s own right), and early afternoon wrote two lists of the things I needed to do to make it a game, and the things I wanted to do to be happy with the result.
The first list read:
- Finish level design.
- Put in overarching game logic.
- Add intro and ‘outro’.
- Test that all orbs are reachable.
The second read:
- Add sound.
- Add music.
- Add ‘epilogue’ levels
- Add map
- Add sound + music toggle buttons.
- Add reset button
- Save game progress to cookies
- Test Test Test.
.. and I only had about 12 usable hours left. Obviously my work was cut out for me. So I put some music on, stopped blogging, stopped eating (not wise, I just forgot I needed food) and got my head down.
Somehow I managed to get everything on those lists done aside from progress saving (oh and possible one or two of the three ‘Test’s). Hard, but, I think/hope it was worth it.
Just worked out that I spent approx 18 hours each day actually working, so, 36 total, ouch! Had a really brilliant time though, cheers everyone for making it the event that it is, particularly everyone on irc. Being able to chat to people going through the same stuff really buoyed me up when I needed it most.
There’s a timelapse video coming (it should be moderately entertaining as I spent so much time on level design), and I’m sure I’ll write up a proper postmortem at some point once my thoughts have settled a bit. Will have to get voting too, over 200 entries!? jeez!
Finished. Finito. Over at last.
That was a truly epic weekend. Apologies for the lack of interesting posts this afternoon, but I was having to crunch like crazy just to get the damn thing done. There’s a bunch of things I want to say about it, but I’m stupidly tired, and can barely focus let alone type, so I’ll leave it for a post tomorrow.
For those still struggling on, good luck!
Took a break from the level design for a bit, and went to the shops to get some milk for breakfast and other supplies.
Then I did some work on tidying up some of the most irritating sticking points, as it was making the game a little unplayable. Finally I’ve just finished doing some little two frame animations to give my hero a bit of life.
You can check out the animation in action here, because of my bug fixing it ought to be a lot more playable than the last version too.
Well, it’s been a little while since I last posted. I’ve mostly been working on level design. I slept for a little, but was feeling very restless (I even got up again having turned my computer off for another hour or so). So i’m running on less than 5 hours of sleep which is less than ideal.
Level design is being fairly interesting and enjoyable, but boy is it taking a looooong time. I’d figured on spending around 3 hours on it total, and I’ve put in at least that amount just to get to the halfway mark. I kind of knew from the start that doing something so level-centric was going to be a tough call though, so there’s no-one to blame but myself. I *think* that’s a good thing.
Part of me wants to keep plugging away at the levels, but I think I’m probably best fixing up the many quirks and rubbish things, thinking about sound etc. now. I pretty firmly established last night that I can do the level design bits whilst v.tired, so I should do the harder things whilst I’m fresh.
Time to go and find some breakfast.
This is important, honestly, no, really!
Also, I made myself some chorizo and red pepper pasta for tea. Which was pretty great, and I made too much of it, so I’ve got some left for when I undoubtably get peckish later.
I’ve just been putting in sokoban-like boulders in (although it might not be obvious yet I do have a plan here!) It was pretty irritating to do, and it was something I’d picked as “oh, that’ll be easy”, so also somewhat annoying.
The difficulty came from having sokoban-like elements in a game that has smooth-ish player movement, complicated further by wanting the boulders to be affected by the ice and springs in the same way as the player is. In other words, “Now entering Special Case City, population YOU!”
I expect there’s a few odd cases I’ve not caught yet, but I think (hope) the worst of it is over now. Check them out in this build.
I spent another hour or so pluggin away at things (collision/player control always seems to need endless tweaking to get right). Then stopped for a bit to cook a worryingly healthy spicy vegetable soupy thing for lunch.
The weather was so good I couldn’t just bolt it down and get straight back to work, so I spent a quarter of an hour dozing in the sun and listening to music. Waste of time? Possibly. Worth it? Definitely.
After that got back to work and started putting some gameplay building blocks in:
Check out the latest build to check out what’s actually going on. Still looooooads to do, so time to fetch yet another cup of tea and get back to the grindstone.
Okay, I’ve been plugging away for a few more hours, putting player movement + collision in, adding stuff so I can load and save levels in some way.
Annoyingly I wasted about half an hour on a completely silly bug that I really should have spotted sooner. If you’re relying on a variable to be different in each instance of a class, make sure you haven’t made it “static”.. Grarghh..
Liberal application of tea and ginger biscuits got me through it though.
Feeling rediculously hungry already, but it’s only 11am here (UK), so I’m going to try and hold off on lunch for a bit longer.. In the meantime, more tea and biscuits!
You can walk around, between screens, and can’t walk of the islands.. There’s a few glitches still, but nothing horrific.. Next step is probably to add some actual gameplay mechanics, might need to do some design work first though, my ideas are still a little vague.
Woke up earlier than intended this morning (5:30am rather than 7:00am), probably due to excitement x). This might mean things are going to be a bit harder later on today, but, hey, it also means I’ve got an hour and a half headstart.
The theme is Islands, this makes me happy, I had an idea what I wanted to do for islands.
I’m a good couple of hours into development now. The first hour was mostly spent getting getting a rough visual look sorted out, and then splitting it up into useful sprites.
Then I got myself some breakfast (leftover sausage sandwhich and a mug of green tea).
Since then I’ve been getting cracking on the actual source code, putting in some tile based functionality, and code to make those tiles render prettily. It currently looks like this:
In my into post I mentioned I’d be trying to post lots of builds along the way to really show the evolution of the game, so in that spirit, here’s build no 1 (you need flash) http://jwhiting.nfshost.com/ld/17/build01.swf
You can click around to toggle between land and sea. This isn’t how the gameplay will work, it’s just my game’s going to be a bit level design centric, and as such I’m going to be putting in in-engine level design tools as I go.
So yeah, feels like a lot of time burnt already, but on the other hand, I guess I’ve done quite a bit too
I’m Jonathan Whiting, aka/formerly MrPiglet.Â Haven’t done one of these seriously since LD13 (Roads), though I’ve often meant to other commitments kept getting in the way.Â Seems I’ve got a properly free weekend coming up though, so I’m in!
Flex is my platform of choice at the moment, and seems rather suitable.Â So I’ll be aiming for a Flex + Gimp + other random things approach.Â I’m going to useÂ home rolled base code that has support for blit-style rendering, simple animated sprites, truetype text, and the highly useful as3sfx. It also has little bit of very lightweight generic game/fe framework so I can hit the ground running on Saturday morning.
My work enviroment looks like this:
If you’re getting ‘corner-of-a-bedroom’ vibes from it, that’s because that’s exactly what it is. Not much exciting going on, two screens, well-used notepad acting as a mousemat, ever-present mug of tea, and some highly macho desktop wallpaper. So, basically it looks like I’m pretty much set, roll on Saturday, I’m ready!
Will probably be lurking around on irc (as JonathanW) for most of the duration, and I love to see other people’s creation process, so I’ll try and keep this well updated with what I’m up to and why. I’m actually really rather excited.