Ludum Dare 31
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Posted by (twitter: @EricOlsn)
September 11th, 2011 11:32 pm

This was my first real LD, after having done miniLD 28.

Like a few others I’ve read about, I knew I was going to be a little short on time — getting about 12 hours of coding in since we were driving for much of the weekend.  Future LDs might also be cut short, but I’m encouraged by the people who finished something in 3 hours, or did full games in 10 hours.

I had a few ideas before the compo.  Once I saw the escape theme, I thought about possibilities while watching a kids movie with my daughter.  Before going to sleep I mostly settled on a smash tv like idea.  I always liked that game in the arcade, and the basics seemed simple enough that I should be able get something working.

Difficulty!

Good things:
– I finished something that was playable.

– Even if it was only for a few minutes, I actually got to the point where I was creating stages of attacking enemies.  I quickly typed in a couple of arrays and didn’t get to tweak them, but it was somehow thrilling to at least get to that point.  My miniLD 28 entry had no ending nor obvious objectives, so this was an improvement.

– From reading about everyone else’s LDs, I’m learning that if I can be ready for tweaking and level editing after the first day, I should be in pretty good shape to finish well next time.

Things that could have been better:
– I spent the first couple hours with framework/learning box2d problems — lining up and scaling graphics to match the physics.  Before the compo I didn’t realize my simple framework needed more work, but at least it should be better for the next miniLD.

– Control bugs
It turns out that having working controls is really important!
I didn’t test the game in native Windows with the mouse, just with the keyboard.  This made it unplayable for many people until I fixed the bug.  Personally, I like using the keyboard for both aiming and moving, but that’s a problem for some keyboards where simultaneous key presses interfere with each other.

– Controls were not clear
On-screen directions would have helped.  I’ll try to add this next time if I have non-standard controls.  Actually, maybe I’ll just use more obvious controls for one game :)

– Difficulty
After a few minutes, the game eventually becomes unbeatable.  There are just too many enemies appearing for the firing rate.  There other things that could have been added, but fixing this would have been an quick big improvement.

– Graphics and sound
I need to make the characters more complex next time, but for this LD, I was just happy gameplay worked at all.  I’m going to try some sprites for the next miniLD.  I’d also like to get sounds and music in, but let’s not get too crazy.

– Timelapse
Since I was conserving laptop battery for a part of the compo, I started a timelapse for a couple hours, but I didn’t get to continue it.  Even for that short time, watching your own timelapse is pretty fun! — and it was mostly just lines of code appearing on the screen :).

Wrap-up

After submitting, I wished I had gotten more done and felt a little burnt out.  My expectations were a little too high at the beginning.

The feedback is very helpful.  Also, it’s helpful for me to play the other games and read about their development.  I didn’t get to rate as many games as I did in the miniLD, but I’ve learned quite a bit from playing the other games.  While trying to finish up my miniLD 28 entry this weekend (hopefully I’ll post about it later), I’m realizing that it’s a lot easier for me to see which things need to be improved.

I haven’t decided if I’ll finish my LD21 entry yet.  It’s third on my list of mini games to finish, so if I think of a good story + graphics (that can be made by this programmer) I will spend some more time to finish it up.  Here is the compo entry: Escape Run, but no pressure to review, I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback already.

Hmm, this post mortem feels a little long-winded.  Like my ld21 entry, my next one will also get better. :)


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