Archive for the ‘LD #21’ Category
Now that I’ve had an evening to gather my thoughts, I wanted to write a bit about the game I built for LD21. I submitted my entry into the Jam so that me and a friend could work together on it. That said, we limited ourselves to 48 hours and followed by the rules of the competition the best we could.
Overall the project went smoothly from start to finish and didn’t encounter any major issues, so I’ll go over some of the things I think went well for our project.
When we first got word of the competition’s theme, we just sat there quietly for about 10 minutes. I pitched the idea “You’re an escaped prisoner or something, piloting a ship down a corridor, where you have to break down these gates and dodge bullets while being chased by a big bad guy. Maybe with giant saw blades or something.” The game was more of a ‘chase’ game than an ‘escape’ game, but escape is a pretty broad term, and we figured we could hit the theme if we provided a little background to the characters prior to going into the gameplay portion of the game.
We used Unity for development. I must admit, while unity is awesome, the best part of it is the rapid prototyping. We took our idea and made a playable game within 3-4 hours of the start of the competition. We identified a lot about what would, and what wouldn’t work about our idea. You can see the prototype HERE.
We ditched the idea of gates, since we liked the idea of constantly accelerating gameplay. Gates required you to be able to shoot, something we got rid of, and also required to slow down, which we felt would probably break the flow of the game. The obstacles in the test version were entertaining enough, so we kept them around. We thought the game was way more interesting when the enemy was on screen rather than off, so we made it so that the enemy couldn’t fall too far behind.
The way I set up the game’s movement (as in the speed the stage scrolls) is kind of interesting. The speed the game was moving at was handled as two values; the target speed (the speed the player should move at) and real speed (the speed the player is really moving at). Getting hit dropped your real speed by a % (in the final version you slow by 10% for bullets, 15% for obstacles), and you recover speed by a set amount per second. That actually let us increase the difficulty by simply adjusting the speed the player moves at, since getting hit while moving faster would penalize you more. The enemy, his speed remains at 98% of your target speed, until he hits the bottom of the screen at which he matches it 100%.
Some really interesting things happened with this set up though that we didn’t originally intend. Getting hit just once didn’t really set you back very much because you recovered the speed you lose almost immediately. Consecutive hits would slow you down more, and more importantly, for much longer, which penalizes you much more. This meant that we didn’t have to make a game where your goal wasn’t to get hit… we could make the goal to try to avoid getting hit multiple times in a short period of time.
I was a little disappointed that actually slowing down was not noticeable. In the final version, even hitting multiple objects in a row, you won’t actually notice a change in speed, even though the scroll speed slowing down is what lets the enemy catch up to you. I think the shaking that occurs when you get hit hides the slowdown, but we needed the shaking to make it obvious that you got hit, since the explosion audio queue also sounds when an obstacle is destroyed by the enemy.
The enemy creeping up on the screen had gameplay implications that we hadn’t really foreseen, but once we saw it we kind of ran with it. I didn’t really notice much until a player mentioned on twitter that he enjoyed the way that the enemy’s position acted as a health bar of sorts. That made my day, and allowed us to make it a bigger part of the game. As you make mistakes, you’re given less room to work with, which makes further mistakes more likely. It reminds me of messing up in a game of Tetris, as the blocks pile up, you now have less time to plan your moves. It’s kind of invigorating, and while it wasn’t originally in intended feature, it was just one of those things that we were like “heey, that’s pretty interesting, lets see if we can make this a more important part of the game.”
It’s kind of amazing just how much a game, even one as small as a weekend competition game like this one can change over the course of development. We kind of had an idea where we wanted to be right from the start, as the prototype we built at the start looks fairly similar to the final product, but the actual gameplay was refined a considerable amount to make an interesting experience.
So yeah, I guess the take-away was that because we had our plan and working game so early, almost the entire 48 hour process was polishing and tweaking to make it more fun. That’s a really good way to do it I think, it would have been much more stressful if we hadn’t had something running early on.
I want to thank Mike Paulson for helping me out with graphics, his art added a lot to the the game and it would have been a much uglier game if I had to do it all!
I hope you enjoy the game, let me know what you think! Web/Windows/Mac version are available, as well as a timelapse and source code.
Well, I’m going to pack it in tonight, even if it’s just 4 hours in, it’s time to get some sleep today, so I figured I’d share what I had so far.
Being my first Ludum Dare, I wanted to start off small. I’m doing the Jam since it means I can have a partner-in-crime. I’m programming in Unity3D (I love you rapid game development), and my friend is doing the art and game models. With the Escape theme, we tried to make it match what we’re familiar with. So this is what we came up with:
Your main character is a prisoner on a prison world, who manages to get free and hijack a small shuttle. You lift off into a corridor on your way to escape, while you are chased by a massive menacing security craft. From a gameplay perspective, your ship continually gains speed while traveling down a corridor, while dodging fire and collisions with small security drones. getting hit only slows you down, but if you lose too much speed, the great big menecing object chasing you will catch up and take you down.
So really it’s a chase game expositioned as an escape. I wonder if that’s cheating, they’res an awful lot of overlap between the two themes. Oh well.
So far, our game looks pretty unexciting with just stand-in graphics:
At this point it’s already playable, although it’s lacking a bit in the fun department. The exposition part is also completely abscent. Still, I think it’s a promising start.
I have a playable build up right now, feel free to try it out and let me know what you think!