Posts Tagged ‘postmortem’
This is my entry for Mini LD 50: Demakes inspired by The Legend of Zelda.
Play as Rink and save Xelda by finding a magical artifact in forgotten ruins. Jump, Shield and Attack. It is a web game – a real web game: You can play it right now in your browser without any plugins!
What went right
- The graphics and the music were very easy to create I use GIMP and beepbox.co.
Actually the sprite of Rink was done quite some time ago and i finally wanted to make a game with it.
- Thanks to Tiled i did not have to write my own Map-Editor, instead i googled for a way to load Tiled maps to JS and display them on a canvas and found a tutorial at: http://hashrocket.com/blog/posts/using-tiled-and-canvas-to-render-game-screens
- I used circles as a collision detection which is very easy to code and still very accurate. You can see the collision system at work by pressing [ENTER] ingame.
What went wrong
- I dont know if this qualifies as wrong, but it took me a little longer than 2 days, because i worked on the game during normal week days and not the weekend. I hope 3 week days equal 2 weekend days. Also working on the game reduced my preferred sleeping time by some hours, but that was already out of order and so i just slept as much as i did before the MiniLD.
- The interaction mechanics are not introduced ingame, so you have to know from other Zelda games, that the electrically charged slimes should/can not be attacked, and you have to find out yourself, how to use the shield (Press down ).
- I did not have enough time to create a challenging boss ai
- The Game is short.
- Google Drive seems to have a hidden download limit, so i had to delete and reupload the audio files multiple times. Maybe that was because i reloaded the page too often during debugging. Is Dropbox better? – AHRG! It happend again. And again…
Oh, look, someone wrote something about me I feel important
Mini LD50: Xeldas Saga demakes Nintendo’s famous action adventure series
This is the first time I don’t submit a game for a Ludum Dare
I have participated in 3 jams (LD #26 Jam, MiniLD #46 and LD #28 Jam) with a friend and they were fun experiences, at least the first two. This time my friend didn’t want to participate, so I asked another friend for help. We were very excited with the Ring of Legends idea, especially my friend, since League of Legends is his favorite game!
I, on the other hand, like League of Legends but it’s not one of my favorite games (hey, I’m not a Dota guy either, my favorite game is Portal). I was thrilled to make a multiplayer game! Everything was in position, I set up a server last week and Skype’d with my friend about the game. We were going to keep it simple, only 6 champions, 4 skills, no items, no inhibitors, no runes, maybe minions and maybe spells. Also, we were going to start on Friday to have the option for 96 hours instead of 72, because it was my first multiplayer game.
Friday, 21 March, 2014
My friend had a few things to take care of before the jam, but we were going to start in the afternoon. We agreed to start at the same time even though we had different things to do (graphics/programming). I was waiting for him until 10:00 PM, I called him and he was playing League of Legends (he totally forgot the jam). There goes one day
Oh, he also made some plans for the Saturday’s morning!
Saturday, 22 March, 2014
We finally started working on the game at about 4:00 PM. I wrote a short post, ran the script for the live screenshots page and started programming My friend designed a simple grass tile, the background image for the health/mana HUD and four (!) different versions of Garen. That was the first problem. Every new image was better than the previous one, but even the first one was good for a 72hr jam. I tried to explain that to him, but he wouldn’t listen! He had 72 hours to make about 175 images (96 of them were about champions) and he only made 3 in the first 24 hours. That’s the end of day one.
Sunday, 23 March, 2014
Unfortunately, Sunday was the last day of the jam for us I worked until 7:00 PM, I was done with the really core features. Champion movement, health/mana progress bars and of course the world (aka map) of the game. We were Skyping so I asked him if he could send me an image showing the whole game map (with just color filled tiles) to test the map loading / world rendering with the real game map, so I could start working on the multiplayer. He lost about 4 hours trying to decide how many different tiles to use and where to place them on the map. At about 11:00 PM he panicked and asked me to give up
It was the first time I don’t submit a game for a Ludum Dare and I don’t like that feeling. I was waiting for this theme (demakes) for a while now
UPDATE (2014-03-25): Even though I wouldn’t call it “playable”, I submitted it anyway. You can play it here: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/minild-50/?action=preview&uid=22762
So, I submitted a “not-actually-demake-but-tries-to-be-retro-style” game. Took me actually less than 48h.
Used: Eclipse with JDK7, GIMP, sfxr.
Why did I do this? When I heard about LD, I thought that only “pros” can do a game in 48h. I wanted to take part in December compo, but I had uni stuff to do. However, now I took part in MiniLD and… I’m fascinated. I created a game, simple, but playable (buggy ;d). Even with sounds (I forget about it too often). What’s more, now I have something worth to put into my portfolio (no matter which place I get) ;p. No matter what you create, you train both skills and creativity. (Still I think, I should practice more, by comparing myself to others [very bad].)
(Stuff in bold is about motivation for readers ;p).
What next? Maybe, I’ll port this to JavaME/Android.
The “motivation” imagery (already posted before):
For the past couple of months, I’ve been working during my spare time on a project for the Stemfuse Got Game Competition. This competition is specifically for middle and high school Game Maker games. The RTS genre has always intrigued me, and I was very motivated after seeing the 7dayRTS challenge, so I figured a low stakes competition was a good opportunity to try to make my own. With some help from my friends for graphics and music, I finally finished the game, 1800. 1800 is a historically based minimalist RTS that takes place during the Napoleonic Wars and War of 1812.
Anyway, now for some thoughts on the project. First of all, RTSs are hard. Very hard. I was constantly attempting to optimize the game, while throwing on new features to add to the “strategy” aspect. I had a fairly decent vision of the project from the start, but it definitely evolved as I worked on it. The main pitfalls I fell into were not knowing what I was doing, resulting in some highly questionable design choices at the beginning, creating an AI that wasn’t terrible, and reducing lag. Unfortunately I waited until the end to add the AI, and that caused some problems. First of all, it was much harder than I had expected. I really had no clue how to do it and began piecing it together as I went along. Additionally, the AI made the game start to lag immensely as large amounts of units were on the map at a time. This is an issue I never really fixed, but instead tried to minimize in the level design. The original plan was to have 5 countries actively moving units as well as multiple others that were neutral. I maintained this original vision for the most part in the free play mode, along with the warning that it will lag on most computers. For the campaign mode, the American campaign being the only one I actually made, I removed all of the unnecessary countries. This reduced the lag significantly at the beginning of the game, but after playing for a couple of minutes the lag still gets pretty overwhelming.
Overall, I think the game ended up being fairly mediocre in terms of actual gameplay. However, I think that this was a great experience for me. I have learned a lot about what to do and what not to do when making an RTS, and would be able to approach things completely differently in the future. That being said, I’m really sick of RTSs right now and can’t imagine making another in the near future . I think had I chosen to to a turn based game instead, it would have saved me a lot of trouble with worrying about the lag, so I’ll keep that in mind for the future.
Now for the part where you can help me. Here‘s a link to my entry in the competition. If you could spare me about 2 clicks to upvote the entry, that would be greatly appreciated. Even if you don’t think the game is very good, I hope you could just take a moment to appreciate the effort that went into making this and support me. Currently the entry leading in the popular vote has over 500 votes, and is a simple and nearly broken maze game with one level. The effort that went into making that is so minimal that its number of votes is mind boggling. My goal is to get at least 100 votes in the competition, and with your help I can do it.
Thanks so much everyone!
Thoughts on this Ludum Dare -
- I’m kinda disappointed, but the results seem fair.
- Best ranking: 50th for humor.
- I didn’t focus on a concept and the theme enough.
- My concept was you have 1 arm but multiple tools, you have to find ways to carry tools without your arm.
- Didn’t have enough time to do that!
- Instead I spent time on other things:
- I wanted to include palette swapping and NPCs.
- I’m happy I included them, but I should’ve focused more on a concept.
- I coded everything from scratch, which made things take longer. I’m happy I did that though.
- I received a lot of nice comments
- Thanks to the 71 people who rated my game!
- If you haven’t played it, check out The Visitor.
Thoughts on previous Ludum Dares -
- My best Entry is Mondrianism, doing well in everything except humor.
- Second best would be my first entry, The Good Ship Higgs Boson.
- Super Space Goat Thief Standoff!! is definitely my worst entry, but I only spent a few hours on that.
- My best category has been different every time, interestingly.
- As you can see, there’s a clear trend of… um… well…
See you next Ludum Dare!
I feel like I learned a lot from my experience this past LD. Or at least it’s gotten me to think about things.
One lesson I learned, or at least experienced yet again, is never to undervalue time management and planning for the unexpected. For the first 12 hours I dawdled not doing much at all, then for the next 24 hours spent too much time obsessing over details and putting off important stuff (sounds, music, level design). The last 12 hours were super intense and sloppy, and as a result the game didn’t turn out as good as it could have been, and it was unpleasant working that hard.
After I submitted the game (here and on Newgrounds), I got really discouraged by a few comments providing fair and useful criticism. I obviously knew my game would be nowhere near perfect, but I was being really negative about it. I thought that I shouldn’t have even submitted it, because it was a waste of time for people playing it. I felt ashamed and guilty. Deep down though, a part of me knew that these feelings were irrational, and that I was blowing things out of proportion, but I felt sad anyways.
I spent a week or two pouting and thinking about the situation. Idly browsing tumblr I came across this blog post by Edmund McMillen about growing as an artist. Reading this post kind of brought me back to reality. It’s normal to make mistakes and learn from them, and that’s one of the main reasons that game jams like Ludum Dare exist. I learned a bunch about myself emotionally, which I’m not eloquent enough to write about, but they’re in this general domain. Lots of self-reflection, etc. Hopefully I’ll become a more mature person after this whole ordeal.
I don’t know if any of you guys reading this have had similar experiences, not just in Ludum Dare but anywhere in life, but I guess I’m just documenting my experience. I hope this post might be relevant to someone. Sorry for rambling and awkward wordings (it’s late, and I don’t write very well anyways), and thanks for reading. I might participate in the Mini-LD if I have time, but either way, I’ll definitely be back! Thanks to the staff and the community for creating such a great event.
TL;DR: Ludum Dare taught me that life is a learning experience. The blog post I linked above puts it nicely.
“Ermahgerd! 188th for Humor in #LD28.”
Thank you to everyone who took the time to try my game. I am humbled and glad to have taken part in LD #28.
Only scored low on innovation; which let’s be honest, is no surprise. My main goals were to complete a game and learn from the stats and feedback given, which you have given and I have done and will continue to do. Thank you, truly.
Again, thank you; thank you thank you thank you.
“… And why should I care?”
Good question. Let me tell you a short story to give it to you.
Spark: De Sacrificio is a little project that stemmed from an old ludum dare entry I created for LD27. I was very excited with it back then, and had it all planned in my mind: a puzzle/platformer with exploration components. It felt like a cool thing to play, so I did a smallish implementation for the compo. I wanted to develop a complete game from the small prototype I created back then, but because of a few personal problems and my inability to focus on one thing for more than 48 hours, I dropped it.
It would have been the end of it if I didn’t get a hold of a copy of GameMaker back in November. I was curious to test this platform, and decided to brush some dust off Spark to recreate it in this bright new engine. I was really excited, and got a lot of work done in a short time. It started to look really amazing for what I was expecting. The game felt just as I wanted and it was interesting to play and explore.
But for some reason I felt reluctant to wrap the game up and send it on its journey through the Internet.
It took me a couple of weeks to pin down what was this dark feeling I was having towards releasing this small game. In the meanwhile, development got very slow. Staring at the game, replaying the same parts over and over started to feel painful. I caressed the possibility of leaving it in a drawer and forgetting about it more than once. The reason wasn’t that I didn’t like the project, but that I loved it way too much.
I was scared of what people would say about it. I’m not new about getting feedback on stuff, and I have a thick skin for hrash comments. But the reality is that I had put a lot more of myself in this game than I would have ever expected. It’s no use to have a thick skin if you have your most vulnerable parts of yourself out in the open. Spark isn’t just a game for me but more of a piece of myself I digitalized and put in a form that others can experience and live. As someone who is extremely reserved, this is terrifying: it’s like living an open door on my soul.
I knew that I had to push though it. On December the 30th, Spark: De Sacrificio was finished. I knew it wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t matter: I knew I had to close this loop and go on. So, here it is. Spark.
So, going back to the original question: why should you care about Spark: De Sacrificio?
Because it’s sincere.
I put all my passion and knowledge in this game. It’s not a great game, I know it. But I know it is unique, in its own weird way. As I said, even if you won’t notice, there is a lot of me in it.
Oh, and it’s free. But that was a given. See it as a present to other developers who really love this medium as much as I do.
Thanks for reading these ramblings.
It’s maybe too late but I feel like I’m missing something if I don’t write a post mortem for my first LD entry – Tough. Post mortem is a kind of new term for me when I join this community, hope that I can make it correctly. I will prepare timelapse for my next LD entry too.
Joining this LD was an awesome experience for me. I didn’t like this theme. I think it’s too wide because most games can be explained that they fit the theme. But in the end, I think this theme worked out pretty well. A lot of games did take on this theme with their very innovative ways.
What went well:
- Finished the game in time. It’s the best thing since making this game was a new challenge for me.
- Picked a simple idea and built a game around it: a platformer with unexpected ending. Everything was in a reasonable scope for my first game jam.
- Did follow the theme and made a good twist: You only get one life, but the goal is not to keep it.
- Had a fun first day making the game. Even though I were working on the game until 6am of the next day, I felt no stress.
- Learned the first game framework engine (Phaser). I’m just a web developer and a gamer. This was a very motivative way to help me become a game maker too :).
What went wrong:
- Too much time lost on making assets. But in the end, it’s still completely not as I imagined on my head. I intended to make a Franstenken-like character and some brutal wolves.
- Did not use the remaining time to polish up the game.
- The fun was hidden because of the vague gameplay.
- No sounds or music either.
- Did not pay enough attention to the rules. I were using assets of Phaser framework for some background of the game. I felt really bad about this and replaced them all one week later.
- With the lack of experience with basic game design and game framework usage, I got some troubles with the camera, didn’t know how to use tile map, failed to make an endless map generation and made a lot of hacky things.
- The source code of the game was really bad base on my own standards.
What is next:
I’m satisfied with this game. I hope it will be a good starting point for me. I will stay with this idea and make it a clearer goal and a smaller map. The mechanic will be the simplest one for platformer so I can try to create a same game with a lot of game frameworks quickly. And of course, this game is an open source project.
Since there’s less than a day left until ratings are finished and I haven’t gotten around to doing it yet, I figure I might do a little post-mortem of my LD28 Entry One Jump (not to be confused with a couple of other entries with the same name). This was my 2nd Ludum Dare game but the first submitted for the 48 hour compo.
My primary aim during the weekend was to avoid some of the mistakes I did in my last entry (such as time management) and submit something playable in time for the 48 hour compo. Prior to the competition, I decided I wanted to use Unity (specifically the new 2D tools) for a couple of reasons:
- Familiarity (I’ve used Unity before but not for a Ludum Dare entry) instead of trying to learn a new language/engine in 1/2 weeks
- More widespread deployment: Compared to my last entry (which used XNA), using Unity meant that I could easily deploy my entry to the web as well as create standalone versions in one go.
I also decided that I wanted to create a platformer (mostly because I haven’t made one before and also because I didn’t want to create a top-down game where you move something in 4 directions and shoot stuff). The day before the actual theme was announced, I did jot down a couple of ideas based on some of the themes that made it to the final round of voting (although I didn’t actually have an initial idea for the one that eventually chosen). After the theme was announced however, it took me some time to think of a core mechanic that would fit it (To be honest, I didn’t really like the theme although ironically, due to the primary mechanics, my last Ludum Dare game would have been an absolute perfect fit for it). Eventually, I decided to interpret “You Only Get One” as being able to do something that you can normally do many times only once. In the case of a platformer, the primary mechanic is jumping hence the main objective of my game: To simply reach the exit but being only able to jump once per level (which led to some rather strange and interesting level design)
What went right:
- Planning and Time Management: Compared to my last entry, I actually made much better use of my time thanks to the Unity workflow and managed to submit my entry in time for the competition.
- Levels: A common complaint with my last entry was that there were too few levels (about 4/5). Thanks to Unity, I was able to rapidly prototype levels in the editor without having to recompile and restart the game and created around 8 levels for my entry.
- Mechanics: Initially, I thought that being only able to jump once was too gimmicky (trying to design levels based on that mechanic was pretty hard as well as I wanted to make the player use their only jump at the right moment). In the end however, I was pretty satisfied with the end result.
What went wrong:
- Graphics: I’m not a very good artist so I decided to use simple shapes again for my entry. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to change those shapes into something more plausible (but still somewhat crude).
- Lack of background audio: I initially created a small audio loop for my entry but I wasn’t able to get it to loop properly in Unity.
- General Platformer Physics: Although the game generally worked, some of the primary platforming mechanics were a bit buggy (having to create some momentum in order to jump, unintended wall sticking etc.). Some platforming elements such as the moving platforms didn’t work as much as I had hoped.
Feedback for my game so far has been fairly ok (and better than I had originally anticipated) with level design being praised the most and some platformer physics/controls being the main criticism.
Overall Experience and What I’ll do in the Future:
Compared to my last entry, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I’d hoped (mainly because of the theme) even though I managed to submit something in time for the compo. I did have a fun time however and if there was anything new that I’ve learnt during that time, it’s that I shouldn’t be afraid of submitting to the jam instead (rather than treat it as a place where I didn’t submit my compo entry in time): if my entry needs one more day of polish then I should take advantage of that extra day. During the period of time before the next dare, I will try to make at least some improvement with my graphics skills (or failing that, just collab with an artist friend for the jam instead).
You Set Us Up The Bomb is chain-reaction style game with lots of explosions. It takes place on a military robot base, and you know what? Robots are dicks. It’s time to bomb their metallic rears back to the industrial age. You only get one bomb, but you get to drop it anywhere, and as luck would have it, pretty much everything on a robot base is darn explosive.
What Went Wrong
Time ran out
Oh, this old chestnut. There’s always a list of what I intended to get in there. I’ve never not run out of time in a jam, it’s just a question of will the game be playable before I finish. Even as an old coder I still have trouble with time management. I’ve never been the fastest coder on the planet, so it’s a wonderful feeling to complete a jam. But complete is relative. My first jam I didn’t even submit it; I had these monks walking around an empty procedurally mapped abbey with nothing to do. Since them I’ve improved my focus and priorities, and also my workflow (see what went right), so games get completed, but damn if I’m not jealous of those people who knock out these home runs with time to spare. I feel like I’m getting better, though, but I have to wonder if jams are like speed chess? In Searching for Bobby Fischer, the chess coach Bruce Pandolfini chastises the student for playing speed chess in the park because it’s teaching him all the wrong things: tactics and intimidation, rather than long term strategy. Will Pandolfini yell at me for learning all the wrong things from jams? I actually took a chess class in college and he was the instructor, but this topic didn’t come up…
Bugs in the base code and libraries
You only get 48 hours, you don’t want to spend any of that time fixing bugs in your base code or third party libraries. I must have spent about 10 hours tracking down numerous issues. None of these issues were the fault of my game code – that’s not to say I didn’t have bugs there, but those bugs resolved themselves rather quickly. First I had to isolate the code in my game, and if that didn’t reveal a bug in my game, I had to test Flaxen, my base code which relies on two other libraries. I found some bugs there that were head scratchers. But worse then I had dig deeper into my dependencies and found several issues in HaxePunk, which I either fixed or made a work around. That’s 10 hours I could have used polishing my game.
Didn’t hit all of my core feature list
Remember I said I had a list of what I intended to get in there but I ran out of time? Well, first, I wanted to have trucks go on patrols between tents, bunkers, and stockpiles, but instead they just wander randomly, which actually makes some of the middle levels a little harder than the early or late levels! I intended to show damage on all objects, and set them on fire if they were going to explode. The robots themselves were supposed to run screaming before exploding, and I wanted their body parts — notably their heads – to fly up toward the camera with some funny quips before landing. I also wanted shrapnel – when something exploded, parts of it could fly randomly a large distance, potentially hitting another object and setting that one off. It’s still playable without these things, but I think the game would be much more exciting with them. Also the game should get harder – each level requires like 65% of all “points” to be exploded to pass to the next level. That number should rise as the levels rise.
What Went Right
Sticking with familiar tools
I think I’ve finally got my process down. Photoshop and Filter Forge for the art. Audacity, a mic, and bfxr covered my sound needs. I would have used Renoise to compose some music had I the time, but with five minutes to spare I sang an improvised song about not having time to create a song and hooked it into the main menu. Hey, you gotta move quick in the last hour! I used Sublime and Haxe 3 for development. Flaxen, the framework I used preciously for LD27 came to use again here, except this time I separated out the code base and put it up on GitHub. Flaxen ties together an entity component system (Ash) with a game library (HaxePunk). It’s actually really fun to start throwing components and systems together.
Focusing on the making it playable first
Several times I stopped myself from going down tangents before the core idea was even playable: polishing art, tweaking sounds, working on higher level code elements. And it’s a good thing, too, because it took me much longer to get the core idea playable than I anticipated. This was the difference between a incomplete but playable game, and a more fleshed out idea that’s not at all playable.
Explosions are furn! Ehrmegerd!
Despite everything that didn’t get implemented, the core explosions and destruction are actually fun to behold when you get a good chain going. The effect turned out pretty well, I think, layering a randomly rotated explosion image (shown at the top), applying a layer of fire particles, and then after a pause a layer of smoke particles over the top. It’s especially fun when you get beyond level 14, where the game starts repeating with the maximum number of objects on the screen. Why are you waiting for the perfectly timed bomb drop? Just drop it already, the game gives you another bomb if you fail to meet the quota, just destroy some shit already, will you???
You can play You Set Us Up The Bomb here.
As before, here’s the link of the game http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-28/?action=preview&uid=11311
What went right
- The idea of shooting and having to get back your own weapon I had been inspired by the indie game that I watched at the RockLeeSmile channel, called Heavy Bullets, a game that you have a gun with limit shots and have to get them back, because there are just the few you got.
- Next, the “arena idea” was inspired by the game Super Crate Box. To make it different, I made them shot instead of running, and spawn all over the place, instead of just the top.
- The music itself was completely accident, but I hope get more “accident” more often as I get more experience. xD
- Something unexpected, is that people related everything being killed with one hit with the theme. Well, I’m glad it happened!
- The preparation to the jam also work very well! I felt much more secure with the project, so I could work without many worries.
What didn’t went right…
- Had to skip a time that I saved to sleep to be able to do the art. I’m sorry guys, but I don’t think that “don’t sleep” is something to be proud of and I always try to avoid when possible. Makes you do bad decision more often, hard to think and makes bad to your health.
- Somethings are still broken, for example, if two big guys spawn at the top, they will just shot fire to each other and you can ignore them. I planned a change, but at the moment that I am writing this, I didn’t updated yet. As a possible solution, maybe they could get stronger after some time?
- Is not really a miss, but now I start to think that better animated>detailed art, I guess? I don’t regret, I miss do detailed pixel art, but maybe a “artistic freedom” would be welcome.
- DAMN WALK-CYCLES! My main problem with is not even the difficult, but time spend on them. Even with just 2 frames, it barely worked and add more on the updated version was a pain. So, here’s the lesson here, always stylize your walk-cycles or at least, think well if they are really necessary.
What was my evolution till now
So has been a year since I first participated the Ludum Dare and I can’t say anymore that I’m a rookie anymore.
I just noted after the jam, but unexpectedly, Blue Harpoon game ended up very similar to the first game that I submitted, Skydef.
Analyzing all my games up this far I can say:
- I’m more worry if the people will understand my game.
- I’m more focus and calm during the jams.
- My games usually don’t have a explicit narrative, but the characters and the world that the game takes place seems original and has potential of growing up or derivative other game/stories about them. This can be bad actually, it is easier to absorb something that we are familiar with. Also, I still miss be able to develop more the world and characters personalities…
- The games are very unfinished, unpolished and lacks feedbacks. This is another serious issue and even worst, make my games look unprofessional.
- Made 4 games that are “arena-like”, time to think other possibilities of gameplay.
Still not sure how to deal with these things, but sure they are things to look forward.
As a personal achievement, was the entry that I most had work on it. Skipped a day of sleep, rated more games, work harder on the updated version and write more about it.
About the time spend, after jam, I may have my doubts if was really worth the updated version, but on the jam, the work that I had, I have no doubts that was my, or near of my, limit. I don’t see myself don’t sleeping two days in a row, I’m sorry, seems wrong and even dangerous to do it. But I’m also glad that I did, I think I can endure working more time now, in case I need and also I glad with the result, but as I said, if possible, not sure if I want do this again…
After all these games, lessons I can definitely give to rookies about game jams
- Your game will be better if you do it more simple than you think.
- Be smart, focus the core of your game and think well of how you can add the details.
- Think twice about that walk-cycle or fancy animation, it can be very time consuming to do it.
- Reach the main mechanic of the game as soon as possible.
- It is already very tough make a game, make one with very limit time is almost impossible. Be proud of your work.
- Think if the player will understand what was your goal when he’s playing.
- Have fun!
If you haven’t already, please play and rate our game, Match Girl!
This is my 6th Ludum Dare entry, and the 2nd time working as a two-person team with my artist xellaya. Our previous game was a psychadelic side-scrolling rpg about a crazy cat, Hyper Furball.
This time we went in a totally different direction, and created something dark and creepy. Here’s what the game looks like in action:
Like last time, let’s go over what went well and what didn’t.
What went well:
The Game Concept
The concept actually came really easily this time, unlike last time where we had to go through a number of different ideas before finally settling on something. The theme this time (“You Only Get One”) was a good one–pretty open, but also restrictive enough to focus you on something specific. Doing a “you only get one life” game definitely felt like it would be a cop-out here, so we definitely wanted to stay away from using that idea. Like always, we were busy on Friday night, so we didn’t really start to work until Saturday, but I actually had the initial concept of an “only one light source” platformer while trying to get to sleep on Friday.
We’re veterans at this by now, so we don’t really have many kinks in our process. Especially on my side with the coding–I don’t really have to figure many new things out by now because I can just look at my previous projects and I can just copy-paste code as needed. Instantiating new objects, making timers and counters, doing screen flashes, doing the jukebox screen, that’s all easy stuff for me now. And of course, cranking out music is second nature to me now, after doing so many of these. That’s always more of a “break” for me than actual work, to be honest. Working together with xellaya is pretty nice now as well. We definitely don’t think along the same wavelengths, and generally don’t share the same vision for things, so it’s fortunate that we manage to find a way to make things work out. I think we’ve managed to strike a good balance, such that I allow her a good deal of freedom in making artistic decisions, while still pushing back when something could be reworked to better fit the game. I think it’s important to make sure that there’s enough communication about the needs of the game, while not just being super-controlling and nitpicky about everything. In the case of Match Girl, we ended up redesigning the enemy graphics, which initially looked like this:
Which was cute, but not quite what we needed. The redesigned enemy looks like this:
Which is definitely more creepy and obviously harmful. To make it pop out more, I increased the saturation, so in the end we have this:
Initially I had the match as the only light source, and in order to get that working I just took a big fat black texture, painted a transparent circle on it with a gradient, and pasted that onto the screen. Then I got the idea for the candles scattered around the levels and realized that I needed a better solution. I spent a little bit of time going into the rabbit hole trying to work it out with blending modes and getting into FlashPunk’s drawing engine, but then found some dynamic lighting code that someone else had already written up (https://github.com/SHiLLySiT/Lit). I tried it out and it worked! I remember making one or two tweaks to how it worked (probably changing the blend mode), but it ended up working great and I’m really thankful that I found a quick and easy solution. This was really key to making our game work well!
Now, this was actually something I really worried about, because level design is really tricky to get right for a puzzle platformer, especially one that you haven’t carefully tweaked and refined and playtested. I also wasn’t confident whether or not our mechanic would work well enough to make for good design. I knew in my head that the match concept was a good idea, but whether it would actually translate to fun levels was something that I really couldn’t know until I actually sat down and tried it.
During the initial planning/prototyping phase I also thought that it would be nice if we had at least one other mechanic other than the matches and the enemies/obstacles that kill you, so I thought of the moving blocks and implemented those (was still using placeholder graphics for everything at this point). It was later on when I was making the spotlight for the exit door that I thought of the concept of candles/torches that would be pre-placed in the level, and that actually worked really well for level design, since they function in so many ways. Not only do they illuminate tricky areas, but they also serve to give a sense of atmosphere, and they also serve as good reference points while memorizing level layouts. They also work nicely with the moving blocks in some levels. The fake white blocks were the last thing I thought of–the idea for that probably came while I was color-shifting the block textures for the different worlds.
Initially I had single set of 25 levels — 5 for each world. After I had all of the different mechanics nailed down, I knew I wanted each world to introduce something new, except for the last world which would pull everything together. I also knew how I wanted world 1 to flow: Introduce movement and the goal, introduce matches, introduce jumping, and introduce restarting.
So I had my 25 levels, but I realized that some of them were probably too difficult for inexperienced players. So I dumbed down some of the levels, made them easier to memorize and execute, and added more torches. Then I set out making 25 new levels for hard mode, where I tried to really be aggressive with the difficulty. This was the very last thing I did, and I was rushing frantically to design all of hard mode in about an hour or so. I’m really glad that it turned out so well the way that it did. I’d say that I’m a bit lucky that I managed to get such decent level design even though it was squeezed in pretty last-minute.
What went not as well:
Not being in the right mindset
This didn’t end up really hurting us that badly, but I was actually feeling really lackluster and discouraged on Friday night due to just being in a bad mood in general, as evidenced by a post I made that night. Luckily I still managed to come up with the concept while trying to sleep, and ended up shrugging it off and diving in with a good start the next day. I don’t really think there’s much I could have done about this, but it was one of the worrisome things that happened this time around.
Underestimating the amount of work
I should have learned by now, but I guess there really is no such thing as a Ludum Dare that I finish early and don’t spend 100% of my effort on. I keep on trying and telling myself to be less ambitious each time, but somehow I always end up pushing all the way to the deadline, almost without fail. I think that’s a good thing–it’s part of the reason my games have become so polished–but at the same time, I need to prepare for it and expect my entire Monday to be taken up. (and ask for that day off from work in advance)
Story and plot
We kind of slacked on this this time around, but that was sort of a conscious choice, as again we were trying to be less ambitious. I think it was also that we didn’t actually really have any good ideas for plot and storyline that would explain things well. xellaya wanted the ending to be open-ended, and I thought that was fine by me as well. I certainly didn’t have enough time on my hands to do anything more about it anyways. ^^; I don’t think this really hurts our game much, as I feel like it doesn’t -need- a story this time, but it is true that this is something that we missed out on.
This one is a little debatable, actually. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the music in our game, actually. I think it’s really effective, for the most part, and I’m proud of it as far as soundtracks go. I mean, who doesn’t like a kickin 8-bit fakebit NES-style chiptune soundtrack? We’ve already gotten a bunch of positive feedback on it, and I’d recommend you check it out too.
However, it might not have made the most sense for me to limit myself to 2A03 instrumentation and try to be really pure in terms of using only 2 pulse channels at a time, etc. I think I just happened to be on a 2A03 kick at the time and wanted to do this fakebit style, which is fine, but perhaps it would have been more appropriate to go with a more “9-bit” approach, with darker soundscapes and non-chip sounds in the mix. Who knows–maybe the melodies wouldn’t have turned out nearly as memorable if I had gone that route, but it -is- true that some of the later tunes are a bit “energetic” as opposed to “spooky”, which is probably the one qualm I have about the OST. Really a minor point though, as I’m still really proud of it.
All in all, a really great success for us this time. It doesn’t have the “raw”, unadulterated fun that Hyper Furball did, but it’s a “cleaner”, more solid game, I think. I’m really happy with how it turned out. I’ve only gotten to watch one person play through it, but it was super awesome to see how they handled the different mechanics and got through each level. I hope you guys all enjoy it too
If you didn’t played, please, here is the link http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-28/?action=preview&uid=11311 /o/
Don’t forget to play comp and the updated version!
Because it got so big, I decided to divide the postmortem, so, let’s get started:
How it was made:
Before the jam
The thing is, work alone is all about time management, how much time you will spend at which task will set how good will be, but in other hand, get more time to certain task makes the other tasks have less time, so, get the equilibrium is the real challenge here.
Before the jam started, I made a graphic to more or less know how to use my time and a list with when I should do what. The goal wasn’t to roughly follow these things, but to just make feel save to switch tasks, because I would know that if I took more one hour at some task, I would have less with some other and not just mindless (which WORKS with some people, just making it clear) do everything I can, until the deadline for example.
Having the planning, I could feel save and wait for the theme came out.
As soon the theme came out, I started thinking in what I could do, so I made a mind map of theme using mindmup.
Mindmaps, working relating everything you can think with the theme, this is very useful to not get stuck with the first idea and speaking of which, I almost did about a guy that would fight for a coin to a cola machine, crazy isn’t?
I abandoned the idea because for the idea work, I would necessary do some cutscenes to the player understand that he’s fighting for the last coin to the cola machine, because the coin itself would not make part at all of the gameplay, so, if I couldn’t make the cutscenes in time, I would be with a confusing game, that I would have to explain with some other way of what is going on, which is not ideal…
In other hand, the idea that I took worked very well, you would have a weapon and would have to throw it AND take it back, because you only have that ONE weapon. It would make it clear why I choose this idea because it would be clear just by playing it, even if I did less things, less art, one enemy, no sound, the core of what I was thinking would be reachable much faster. I think, the ideal thing that you will try to do when making a game, is to reach that “core” as soon as possible. Your game will work without that fancy menu that you thinking, but will not if the player don’t get it what you tried to do.
The idea being set, I started to do…
So, was still the first day, I decided to program a little before go to bed, that because if I had a trouble with it, I could think in a solution before and after the sleep. It is good to do this because you will have a fresh mind about the problems that you had before, also, I didn’t want to sleep very much at the end of that day.
The idea of being a 2D arena was because I wanted to study the new features of the unity. Every jam that I work alone I have a goal of what I want to learn, usually on the fly.
I had some troubles to do the controller and with the 2D layer system of the unity, but, the 2D animation system is wonderful, one of the best I had seen I think.
However, I could not do the program isolated, mostly because of the mecanim system that unity uses, so I started to do the…
Do a pixelart game was because had been a long time that I wasn’t doing and be a demon at some kind of ritual was just because…well, I wanted to do demons. lol
Yeah… I started to get nervous that I wouldn’t be able to make the art of the game…
When I started to make I took references like Frogatto and manly, Savant.
However, it didn’t worked as I planned. For some reason, I think small pixel art character in a big scenario looks wrong and because I didn’t want to lose time making a camera control, I wasn’t even sure if it would work with the gameplay, I didn’t zoomed.
Also, hard to animate. I liked what I achieved but maybe it would be better a simple art but better animated? I don’t know for sure…
Having the art and the programming I hoped to make the…
Music and Sound Effects
This really made me happy. Music and SFXs were always, along with animation, my weak spot. I saved a good amount of time to do this, but really, I didn’t expect to be able to do something.
At day two, last day of comp, first I tried to put a bunch of samples together, but didn’t work. Then I tried again to compose the music, looking tutorials but mostly trying things out and for my big surprise, this time it worked!
Being the first ludum that I was able to compose the music and sfx by myself.
The SFXs were made by using free generators. I’m not completely happy with them, but at least, they are there.
Having everything was time to submit! Yay!
Wow! Are you still here? I will try to do a part 2 as soon as possible, telling what went right and what didn’t.
Thank you so much for reading and for playing!
If you still in 2013 when reading this, good holidays!