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Mouse Trap – Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @n0namedguy)
August 26th, 2011 3:23 pm

Mouse trap got “done”, many people have played. rated and commented it. So let’s get to it!

What went wrong:

Art:

I consider myself a programmer, and I really dislike doing art. But it had to be done. Besides disliking doing art, I am also way too perfectionist. Because I had a semi-working tile engine made, I used it.  So I’ve gone straight into doing the artsy stuff. But I ended up spending too much time on drawing a nice mouse.

The mouse:

I only realized that when I watched my project timelapse (see links at the bottom). And all that detail ended up unneeded. I was going for a zoom-able camera, so when a level started it would make a “dramatic” zoom out. To do that, I needed “high enough” resolution pictures and tilesets. No “great” zoom effect was done, so there was some good work wasted.

The mouse

The mouse in all its glory.

Reinventing the wheel:

After doing the mouse, I’ve put it to test on the tile engine I had. And because I was bored of art, I ended up doing some code in the engine itself. I modified the way the tiles were stored in memory and  squashed some bugs. But the thing that I shouldn’t start doing, was implementing in a dumb, heavy, and ugly (both visually and technically) way the Fog of War. I tried to ease it up with some alpha blending, making the game running like a snail. Then an easier way, that would take 10 minutes of my time, come to my mind. Threw the old code away, wrote the new one. Even more wasted work.

Fog of War

The easier to implement fog of war

Sweet but short:

Because I spend way too much time on the things above, I really didn’t gave enough time to level design. As another “artsy” thing, I don’t like doing it. I had a level designer in place for this engine, but changing the way tiles were in memory and the way levels got loaded, the level editor simply got broken. I even spent one hour or two to fix it, but then, I neglected it, and made the levels by hand (check out the levels’ source code in the links below.). The first one had to be ultra easy to ease on new players (I made the game so my mom could played it). The second had the traps, whose code and drawing were rushed. The labyrinth was made in the way of a “random walk”. While “walking randomly”, I made up a story in my head, that I kept writing, directly in the map tileset source code. After that I didn’t know what to do next, and I had only 2 hours left, and way too sleepy.

Level 2

Level editing, like a boss… (or like a propeller head)

The typos:

“Freedoom[sic] and cheese”. Let’s just leave that in the way it is.

RTFR:*

Those were the bad parts during the compo. After my game was published into the wild for ratings and reviews,  a guy on IRC asked me  if the soundtrack I had used was made by me. I said no. It wasn’t mine. Then that guy pointed out that I couldn’t use content created outside the LD48. I panicked. I didn’t want to lose my entry, due to forgetting one simple rule. The fix: rename the music files on the server, effectively removing the music from the game (the music’s link is below).

No updates, no news:

Another thing that I forgot to do was to keep a nicely updated journal, to keep people posted on what was I making.

What went better than expected

The reviews:

Well, the reviews were all awesome. Better than expected really! There were people who felt that this game was an analogy for life… My initial reaction was to laugh at it… My breath was taken by those comments. Then I replayed the game, and tried to look it in their point of view… In fact, maybe they are right! That is probably a good analogy for life!

Code reusing:

It really sped up my development. It sure is much easier to write from a known codebase than from scratch.

TaslemGuy says: I thought the game was neat. The sorts of comments the mouse made could easily be interpreted as the mouse's internal emotions OR metaphors for life. A bit brief, though.

Conclusions

People loved the game and I feel I put them in the mouse’s shoes. In my spare time, I’ll probably enhance it, with more levels, a deeper story and more kinds of traps. I would love to get doors and some animated enemies working on the game. Also a nicer intro screen and a great ending screen wouldn’t hurt…

Links

Glossary

*RTFR: Read the F…ine rules

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