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Caved In – Post Mortem

August 21, 2011 Leave a comment

(originally posted on the Ludum Dare blog)

It still amazes me what someone can accomplish in 48 hours, especially when it comes to making video games. There is so much that goes into make a game – artwork, sounds, game design, programming, etc – that I am surprised what comes out of Ludum Dare is even playable. Nonetheless, most of the games I’ve looked at so far are awesome! I’m going to try and not touch any more though until the ratings open up. Anyway, this is supposed to be a post mortem.

When I was first presented with the theme, I immediately thought of rouge-likes. Mostly because in such games, you are always put in situations where your two options are fight or flee (escape). Not to mention, once you get to the bottom you have to escape all the way back to the surface with your prize. This how the ascending from the depths mechanic came about.

Of course Minecraft and Terarria had some influence here, but just because I wanted some sort of destructible terrain. There really isn’t any sandbox elements present unless you like channeling water and lava away from you. Either way, going in this direction allowed me to explore tile maps in Flashpunk/AS3. I have used them before in a couple of my past games, but not to this extent. Prior to Caved In, I only used tile maps for platformers or any games with some sort of pre-defined level. In this case, I am procedurally generating entire levels that the player can interact with – every single block is manipulable.

In my first LD game, Voyage of Discovery, every tile was an individual entity which caused some pretty bad frame rate issues but since it was turn-based, it wasn’t too much of a problem. Obviously the same technique wouldn’t have done too well in Caved In as there are 875 blocks per level, but the tile map technique does wonders! Yet, as expected, the code is VERY messy since I was sprinting through the whole thing. I always want to add more than what I can comfortably do in 48 hours.

The rest of the game was the usual, nothing new. I will be revisiting  this someday as I want to make a graphical, simplistic, and user friendly game similar to dwarf fortress. Until then…

Ludum Dare Entry [ORIGINAL]

Play Caved In [POST COMPO]

Categories: ludum dare, post mortem

SpaceJunk Post Mortem

June 5, 2011 Leave a comment

I started work on SpaceJunk back in March with an idea from my desktop background at the time. I had originally intended the game to be a month long project in order to get my feet wet with Flash development and selling games on FGL. It ended up turning into about a three month project that I put about roughly 60-70 hours into. When comparing the original idea with the current, feature complete game I realize how much it has evolved. I had imagined the game to be an endless, but I had soon realized that the game play became quite stale. A few friends made jokes about battling other planets, but I took it to heart and added them as bosses. As with my other games, SpaceJunk started out with a very steep difficulty curve that I slowly brought down after the months of development. Even now there are people still complaining about difficulty, but statistics show that at least half are reaching the end so I am content (as most could not even beat the first boss before!) All in all, I’m very happy with the way this game turned out. I’d like to once again thank Chris Sinnott for working with me through the last leg of the project and writing some kickass music. The both of us plan to continue our work together on future games. I’d also like to thank my friends who did a lot of play tests while I was working on the game, especially Eric Liaw.

What I Have Learned (Aside from the various technical things related to Flash)

  • Record the hours you’ve spent working on the game, its more important than you think.
  • No matter how harsh feedback can be, you need it to make the game please a wide audience.
  • Really do think about how the code will be organized beforehand as proper organization is key to an efficiently and sanity.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask others for help, other developers were once in your shoes.
  • No matter how hard you work on obvious tutorials and in-game tips, the majority will not read them anyway.
  • Pace yourself while working on the project as it will help prevent burn out.
  • Create to do lists and goals to help fuel your motivation.

Torch – Post Mortem

May 2, 2011 1 comment

Torch is my Ludum Dare #20 entry. The theme was “It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this!” I had already set my mind to making a platformer prior to the competition. Once the theme was chosen, I immediately started thinking of a companion cube like object to give the player. A torch actually came to my mind first but I was scared that the lighting system would take too long. After about an hour into brainstorming I figured a torch was my best bet at an interesting game.

I first tackled the physics which took a bit of time as I had never worked on a platformer before. After a few hours I got to a point where it was acceptable even though it’s still a little buggy. The lighting system must have taken me the longest. I first tried using a similar system to Voyage of Discovery, but it didn’t fit well with a physics based platformer. I then tried the standard circle gradient but it looked way too tacky. What you see in the final version is a few hours of tweaking and browsing forums posts. I’m quite proud of the effect outside of the torch’s radius which distorts the level yet still allows the player to see what’s around them.

After the lighting, all that was left was to add hazards and create the level. After getting through a few creatures, I realized I wouldn’t have enough time to finish.  I ended up rushing the level design and only doing a few play tests. I’m disappointed that I didn’t have more time to add a few more creatures and detail the tileset before I submitted it. Nonetheless it turned out to be an interesting little game that I plan on polishing up for a post-compo release.

There’s one thing that I’d like to point out before I wrap this up:

A few people left comments about the blind jump near the end of the level. It took me a minute to realize they were talking about the ‘forked path’ section. In the image above, players who complained about the blind jump were following the red line. To actually get past this section, you are supposed to follow the green line. This was a bit of a design flaw on my part because the hidden route isn’t quite visible enough, but I figured players would see the path once they tried jumping down and dying.

For the post compo version, I plan to add fall damage, particle effects, sound effects, a sound track, more creatures, more detailed tileset, and a proper ending. Most importantly the latter. Until then…