‘Alone’ hot air balloon game Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @uzimonkey)
December 19th, 2011 11:29 am

This is my first time taking part in Ludum Dare or any other game competition or jam.  In fact, this is really the first time I’ve ever finished and published a game that anyone will actually play.  I work sporadically and much too carefully, every line of code is fretted over.  Also, prior to this game, I’ve never been able to draw my own assets but, knowing Ludum Dare was coming up, I learned Blender.  The time restrictions of Ludum Dare really keep moving you forward.  I’m not happy with the code, but I think the game itself came out quite good.

The storyline behind the game is a bit odd.  It’s probably the only submission about a murder/suicide.  A man pushes his wife out of a hot air balloon so he can be truly alone, only to face the wrath of karma.  He dies, and ends up in limbo where he will be alone for eternity.  The funny thing is, he likes it.  He’s finally at rest.  But there’s more to it than that.  He’s insane.  And not in an interesting and quirky way, in a “I painted a portrait of you with my feces, but I ate it before I had a chance to give it to you” kind of way.  There is no hot air balloon, he just pushes her out the window and runs into the street.  Those are not birds, they’re cars.  Those are not fighter planes and UFOs, they’re police.  Under it all, this is a pretty dark story about a man who murders his wife and commits suicide by cop.  But that’s depressing and hard to draw, so you get clouds and balloons.  I thought you’d enjoy that more.

 What was good

  • Graphics with Blender.  I know a lot of you have an affinity for pixel art, but I just can’t draw pixel art well enough for my own standards.  Even my “Ludum Dare standards” are too high for my miserable pixel art.  Rendering the graphics with blender turned out really well.  The hot air balloon was fun to make and, while they were tedious to make and render, the clouds turned out really pretty.
  • HTML5.  This is my first time putting something together with HTML5.  I was concerned it wouldn’t work on some browsers, or might be too slow (I’m using 640×480 sprites), but from the feedback I got it seems like HTML5 worked really well.  I’ll definitely use it again.  I used ImpactJS, but not in a way it was intended.  It worked the way I did it, but it was a little clunky.
  • Story.  I began thinking about where on earth you could be so completely alone and went from there.  I think people will get a little chuckle when they first see the man’s wife plummet from the balloon in such a happy and serene scene.  And the ending was important, I’m glad I had time to get that in there.
  • Tools.  I use Blender as I mentioned above, as well as The Gimp, bfxr, and the Sublime Text 2 editor.  All were great, except for The Gimp (see below).

What was bad

  • My code.  I know I need to keep moving forward, but really, that code was bad.  I don’t think I can improve on it.  It is what it is and it stays that way forever.  This game is “done.”
  • ImpactJS.  ImpactJS is great, but I used it in ways that it really wasn’t intended.  It was really clunky and I really should have went with something else for a game like this.  But I knew ImpactJS and didn’t want to take the time to learn another way of doing it.  It worked, and in other stuff I’ve started (but never finished), ImpactJS is great.  Don’t let this being in the bad column influence your opinion of it.
  • The Gimp.  I’ve used The Gimp for a long time.  It’s a free and open source graphics program.  However, it doesn’t run well on Windows.  Its 3-window interface is and always has been an utter pain.  It was slow and generally bad.  I tried a pre-release version that had a single window interface which did improve the usability, but it was even slower and buggy.  I’m looking for a free/cheap alternative now.
  • Music.  I have no idea how to compose music.  I tried an autotracker by GreaseMonkey.  It produced some interesting results, but nothing that I’d like to use in the game.  Next time I’d like to be able to compose music, so I’m going to learn how to use a tracker and about basic music composition.
  • Sound.  I used bfxr.  It was OK, but I’m tired of this “sound chip from the 80’s” kind of sound.  I’ll have to find something better to do sound effects.
  • Being sick.  I have pneumonia.  It sucks.  It did not help me in my game.
But I really had fun with this, I’m really looking forward to next time!

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