Hi there! We’re chikun, and we made a game called Star Turtle 64. It is the sequel to our Ludum Dare 29 game Turtle Simulator, which rode on the wave of ‘simulator’ games at the time and came first for Humour in the Jam with 4.58/5.00.
We are an eight-person group, and have competed in many game jams, as illustrated by the table below:
We experienced our best reception from Turtle Simulator, which has outlandish writing and strange characters. So we decided to continue that theme in this Ludum Dare. Sadly, our main writer had prior commitments, and we underestimated the extent of these commitments. As we realised this, and also realised that we were relying on our writing, we decided that we needed to focus on other aspects of the game. Here I will break down each part of the game and list what we did right and what we did wrong.
Let’s start off with an obvious one. The main menu was created almost entirely by Chris, one of our programmers. All of the code was written by him, and the final redesign was by Josef.
This was a major success. Not many negative points to mention, except for potentially a better background image. The ‘scale mode’ and ‘volume’ options were little flairs that we hadn’t included in a game before.
We hadn’t written a combat system like this before. Random enemy spawning was calculated by Mark and refined by Bradley, who also wrote the player’s weapons, inventory, and enemy movements and attacks.
As a positive, it was an interesting new system which was implemented quickly. Bradley’s code was effective and powerful, even though it was messy and structured strangely. The inventory animation was smooth, and the weapon-switch hotkeys on Q and E, though not widely used, were appreciated.
As for negatives, there were too many enemies according to some comments. This was a common topic of discussion, with some people praising the ‘fight or run’ battles, and others feeling overwhelmed. The final boss was also unclear, which makes sense. (The final boss has its type above its head instead of health – you have to shoot it depending on its weakness). Some people didn’t like enemies respawning upon leaving a room.
Ryan wrote a script with most parts fleshed out (intro speech, Garfunkel speech, level introductions and Broodmother), and Josef filled in the rest. Ideas were bounced around constantly, and a prominent one which stuck was the Michael Jordan basketball planet (originally the Air planet).
The dialogue was well-received this time. We planned to include so much more, along with many NPCs, but we had little time to complete anything substantial. We originally planned to have planets which were ‘at war’ and which hated each other, but that could not have existed without NPCs.
Our map designer Mathew decided to approach this Ludum Dare with a greater focus on backgrounds than on tilesets. This may have lead to our maps being larger than we’d previously anticipated, though much more detailed.
The largeness of our maps is a common criticism. We also originally planned to add much, much more into our environments, including collectibles to open up other puzzles, and small villages. A more concise and better developed script and vision would have lead to better maps. There were a lot of last-minute decisions which meant we didn’t have time to change the maps either.
Only one member of the group didn’t contribute to graphics at any level and that was Cohen, our dedicated musician.
- Bradley recoloured the knights and also designed the spaceship. He designed the weapon sprites and also created the inventory screen.
- Chris designed the original main menu.
- Gage designed the pulsating planet links and the hell gate which appears in the middle of the space pentagram. He also designed the on-screen controls of the Android port.
- Josef edited the main menu and added HP above enemy heads. He also chose fonts and wrote the credits menu. He implemented animations and dialogue.
- Mark designed most of the sprites in the game (including the main character). His pixel art was impressive, and also very quickly produced.
- Mathew created all of the maps in the game (backgrounds and borders). He also designed all of the planets, except for the basketball planet.
- Ryan designed the ‘cover art’ for the game.
Our graphical style was mostly criticised. One person claimed our graphics were disturbing. Why would they think that…
One reason that people didn’t like our graphics was perhaps that our backgrounds had more detail than our moving entities. Seven people working on graphics also creates a certain level of inconsistency, which was probably a problem too. I suppose a dedicated sprite artist and greater attention to detail is what will help us next time.
Most of the (rather expansive) audio production was handled by Cohen, with Josef creating a few tracks and Ryan creating the main theme. We used Psycle, Cubase, Audacity, sfxr and an electric guitar.
This is the most work we’ve put into background music in a game, by far. It has resulted in a 21-track soundtrack. Some people wanted music to be improved, but most people enjoyed it. Not all sound effects were implemented due to time constraints, however.
Prior to this game jam, we used Dropbox. This was mostly terrible. We used Bitbucket and git this time, which was vastly superior, especially for a group as large as ours this time. We highly recommend it for even small groups. We created a framework before the Ludum Dare started which was highly helpful.
We also used bit.ly to track link clicks this time. This was useful to see who is clicking what:
We believe we performed well this time, however we feel there were many areas where we could have improved. We probably weren’t used to working in such a large group.
This time, we may do well in Humour again, but we aren’t sure exactly how we’re going to do in rankings. Hopefully we do well, and we’re confident that we’ll do well in -some- area, but we’re not sure where.
Thank you for reading! Please check out our game if you haven’t already. Here are some photos from the development process as well.