Under a Watchful Eye – Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @michaelpconsoli)
August 23rd, 2011 6:19 pm

Balance is a difficult thing to achieve in a video game, especially in one that lacks any beta testing. My games for the Ludum Dare thus far have turned out to be unfairly difficult to the point of being unbeatable. My game for the LD20 actually had no win scenario because of a bug. My new game, Under a Watchful Eye, is so incredibly difficult that only a handful of people were able to make it out alive.

In this game, you are the captive of a giant floating eyeball that is patrolling a mountainous region. You cannot leave its immediate vicinity without it firing a laser at you. In order to escape, you need to use the terrain and rocks as cover while making a mad dash for it. At this point, the eye will rise into the sky and begin hunting you. The player then needs to reach a control point in the middle of the map to deactivate the eye’s hostile mode and survive.

The problem is, there was only one real escape route in the whole level, and even then, one needed to think just like me in order to make it through. Some people would run into this route backwards, unable to see the obstacles ahead. Others were unwilling to get hit by the laser at all (you can survive the laser for a few seconds before dying). Most just couldn’t find the exit, dying in a hopeless rush and giving up.

I spent Friday on the concept, Saturday on the basic code and art, and Sunday on refining the code and AI. I should have put some time into the actual level! I’ve leared a great deal from this past weekend’s competition. It was an exhilarating experience and I loved every minute of it! Next time, I’ll be sure to complete the whole game before devoting so much time to art.

I’ll be working on a post-compo version of my game to have a little something for my resume. I wish to break into the game industry, but it’s tough being a solo act! I’ll be incorporating some of the things I learned this weekend into my main project Against the Wall, which is itself a giant learning/portfolio project. I’ll see you at the next LD!

Under a Watchful Eye - Postmortem

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