About netmute (twitter: @sier)
Ludum Dare 26
Ludum Dare 25 Warmup
Ludum Dare 24
Jam o'Clock #01
Ludum Dare 23
Archive for the ‘LD #23’ Category
Now that a week has passed, it think it’s a good time to summarize the experience that has been my first Ludum Dare.
My very first attempt at making a game a year or so ago kind of failed. The text-only action RPG was basically just a fighting engine. It was playable, if you were able to install and run the thing. Ruby was the language I knew well, and so I made the game in it. But distributing Ruby games is a pain. Installing it was almost impossible without deeper knowledge of the Ruby ecosystem.
Fast forward to one week before Ludum Dare 23.
After having read one of the books for a couple days, I felt I wasn’t really learning anything. I needed a project.
Luckily the 10 year anniversary Ludum Dare was that very weekend. I always wanted to participate in Ludum Dare, but never had the guts. I finally came up with the crazy idea to jump head first into a 48 hour game making competition, using a programming language I’d been barely exposed to. Even if it would be a complete failure, I would still learn a ton.
My girlfriend was visiting friends on that weekend, so I had plenty of time. My plan was getting a good nights sleep, get up around 9am on Saturday, read the theme announcement, and then think about it, while having a shower and breakfast.
Then I would start coding around lunchtime, be finished with the core mechanics when I go to sleep, and have the whole Sunday for sound, graphics and polishing.
Overall that plan kind of worked. I started panicking when, after a couple hours, I still had no idea what to build. The time constraints put immense pressure on me and I felt way too stressed. I had to remind myself that I was doing this for fun and it wouldn’t matter if I failed.
After calming down, I decided to just start coding without having a concept. Looking for level generation algorithms, I stumbled upon recursive backtracking, and started implementing that. Turns out implementing algorithms in a language you’re not familiar with is quite a challenge.
By saturday evening I had a pretty good maze generator, a way to draw the maze on the screen, a blue rectangle that I could move with cursor keys, and collision detection. But still no idea what the player actually had to do.
The best I could come up with was an exit you had to reach in the shortest amount of time possible. Maybe a few powerups and obstacles along the way.
When I stopped coding at around 11pm, there was a timer and an exit, which would stop the timer when reached. I looked on what I had and was quite happy with the output of one day. Before going to bed I spend an hour playing my game. And realized it was fun. I couldn’t have been more happy at that moment
Unfortunately I overslept on Sunday. After breakfast and showering it was 12am.
I opened Pixen and started drawing animation sprites for the player and exit. I figured the reason the player needs to run around in a maze was that he desperately needed at toilet. I gave the walking animation some urgency, which I think turned out quite well. Especially since I had never drawn sprites before in my life. I made the sprites 8x8px to pay at least some credit to the ‘Tiny World’ theme. Then I made the start and exit screen in Pixelmator and built a very basic main menu.
It was hard to focus after my girlfriend came home at 5pm. So I decided to ditch powerups and sound, and instead fix the remaining bugs, wrap the whole thing up, and submit it.
Play and rate my game here:
What went well:
- I drew a little pixel dude and love the outcome.
- After the first stressful hours, I enjoyed the weekend.
- I finished a game!
- The game is actually fun to play.
What could have been better:
- I couldn’t build all the ideas I had into the game.
- I wasn’t able to come up with a good game concept that matched the theme.
- Concept and name of my game are the most uncreative anybody could come up with.
- I need to be alone to be able to really focus on something.
- Building games is awesome.
- Have a basic idea what you want to build BEFORE the theme is announced.
After the compo
What really stuck with me is how awesome and friendly the Ludum Dare community is. Almost everyone had something nice to say about my game, even if it isn’t much compared to the other entries.
I will definitely participate again.
I continued working on the game, to implement the missing powerups and sound. And I made sprites for the walls as well.
You can find the improved ‘after compo’ version here:
Thanks for the awesome experience everyone!