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Ludum Dare 26
Ludum Dare 25
Ludum Dare 23
Ludum Dare 22
Ludum Dare 20
Archive for the ‘LD #22’ Category
More than 48 hours have passed since the weekend and I think I now have enough distance to my creation to write a post mortem about it. I will look at different aspects of the experience rather than do a general “What went right, what went wrong?” list. So here it goes:
Initially I wasn’t very happy with the theme. “Alone” may seem to offer a very deep and “indie” setting for games, but in reality it limits the narrative possibilities. On the other hand, this is true for almost all suggested themes and may be a good thing (see “Lessons Learned”). Anyways, after my two past experiences with game jams, I tried to structure the design process a little. First, I simply wrote down the different meanings of “alone” as well as syno- and antonyms and tried to work from that. Next I compiled a table with “Theme”, “Conflict”, “Core Mechanics”, “Pro” and “Contra” with different ideas. “Theme” would set the general framework of the game, while “Conflict” captured what should drive you to play the game and “Core Mechanic” described in a few words what you should be doing while playing:
- Deserted Island
- Survive and get rescued.
- Core Mechanic
- Gather stuff, build tools and shelter, make signs to be noticed. Preserve energy, stammina and sanity.
- No need for AI. Wanted to it anyway. Fits theme well.
- Needs graphics. Complex. No experience with these type of game.
The middle contra – “Complex” – should have set off some sort of alarm and it probably did, but I set it to snooze. My next favourite idea “The First(Last) Zombie” would have been a zombie sneaking game where you, the Zombie, would have to get past hordes of armed humans to feed on their young ones. I ditched it because the need for neat graphics, some sort of AI and the overuse of Zombies in general. In retrospect I probably should have sticked to it.
After that, I went to bed (around 4:30 am local time) to let the idea rest. I did not do any code or graphics or sound, which was a good idea.
Overall, I am pretty satisfied with the code. Of course the quality could have been better, but it is amazingly clean for being yanked out in 48 hours. Counting the line of code using cloc reports 1393 lines of Lua or the equivalent of 5572 3rd gen code. That excludes blanks, comments, libraries I used and the code I deleted in the process. I also implemented a tile engine (with automatically computed tile transitions) which I had never done before. This turned out to be a good idea, since it helps speed up the design process a lot, and you can use tools already available for level design (I used the gimp). I will invest some time to learn more about tile engines in the future.
Well, what can I say? Graphics are not really my strong point. Diagrams and technical stuff I can do just fine, but anything else is a disaster. Part of it stems from my lack of understanding my tools well enough. I will need to learn how to draw stuff and the proper usage of Gimp and Inkscape (or some other graphics program).
Audio turned out rather nicely. Though I have no idea how to do music, “Alone” begs for very minimal or even no music. Instead I focused on ambient sounds which I created using Audacity, my crappy laptop microphone and a little bit of bfxr. Making the sounds was a really fun experience, which I hope to repeat next time.
Because an active mind needs a lot of energy, I tried to eat healthy this time. Cooking the food
also helped to take my mind off immediate problems and to see the big picture. This I will do again. Unfortunately I ran out of snacks pretty quickly. I greatly underestimated the need for this stuff. What I did and probably shouldn’t have was drinking a lot of coffee. It sure helped to focus and stay awake, but once the effects wore off, I felt even more exhausted than I would have without caffeine.
The first and foremost lesson I took from this experience is that I need to impose limits. Limits not only on the game design (i.e. make it simple), but also on the inputs and graphics. A LD game should be playable using Gameboy controls, which means two buttons plus 4 movement directions at top. Better just one button and two directions to move. This will have two effects: First, the game needs no real explanation/tutorial, and secondly, the game mechanics have to be chosen accordingly. Graphics wise I will probably use a 16 or less color palette next time. Other lessens learned: Less caffeine; Tile engines are useful; and Sound design is great fun.
See you next time.
Well, the game is not going so well as I have yet to reach the productivity sweet spot. This wont happen without energy though. Time to refill some.
Looks awful, but tastes awesome: Somen with tofu, carrots, green peas and fennel in soy-ginger-garlic-sugar sauce. Got to stay healthy, you know?
After one hour of brainstorming and seven hours of sleep last night, I still haven’t decided on the theme yet. My brainstorming progress so far:
Interpretations of “alone”:
- isolated: want to be alone, but somehow isn’t
- isolated: is alone, but doesn’t want to
- “leave me alone”
- solitary: love story (blergh)
- alone as in exclusive
- alone as in unique
- Conflict: You want to be on your own, but others won’t let you
- Mechanic: Beat em up
- The last/first Zombie
- Conflict: You are the last/first of your kind.
- Mechanic: Sneaking game/tactics. Go infect people, but don’t be seen.
- Cameras/Big Brother
- Conflict: You want to have some personal space
- Mechanic: Platformer, doge cameras
- Water World
- Conflict: You are Kevin Costner. You are alone.
- Mechanic: A Shooter or something.
- Lonely Island
- Conflict: You are stranded.
- Mechanic: Build stuff. Get noticed. Don’t die.
I think I’ll go with the last one, but I fear it might be too complex. Especially since I suck at graphics. But oh well… You can always add kittens.
… well probably, if there is time. My fingers are itching to write some code anyway.
This will be my second Ludum Dare. Last time I did some sort of platformer, which was a big mistake: At the end there was no time left for level design. Or bugfixing. Hopefully, this will be different this time.
The tools I’ll be using stay the same as last time:
- LÖVE (because lets face it: it’s awesome),
- hump for all sorts of things,
- Probably HardonCollider for collision detection,
- bfxr and Audacity for sound. Maybe LHC too,
- LMMS for “music”,
- Gimp or Inkscape for graphics, if there’s the need,
- vim for editing, and
- Drop brewed coffee for the right dose of caffeine.