Phares Postmortem

Posted by
December 21st, 2011 6:11 pm

I came into this Ludum Dare with one clear objective; to develop a game using HTML5 to evaluate the Impact Game Engine (it passed with flying colors, tho I’m still hoping that someone ports Flixel to JavaScript). Besides that, I had no further plans, so when I saw the theme, I was a bit troubled, how can I make a game about being Alone?

So I decided to think about job occupations that lead you to loneliness, and while I went through the list the weirdest one was “Lighthouse Keeper”. So I scoured the web searching for a Lighthouse with a cool name, but I found none that I liked, so I decided to create a fictional one, that somehow made this idea pop into my mind:

My "Game Design Document"

Yes my notepad is rainbow colored


“You are the Lighthouse Keeper at Styx River, your job is to persecute souls trying to escape hell, it can get lonely, but jumping on ghosts sure is fun and it’s pretty comfy.”

For some reason, I saw the tarot card “The Tower” and I felt that it was fitting, so I dropped the idea of being the Keeper, and the player became the Lighthouse itself. For the mechanics I concieved Space Invaders meets Hop & Bop platformers. Sounded pretty easy at first, but the execution proved difficult and it does need a lot of playtesting to get right.


What went right:

a.- The Music: As usual I took a public domain music score (Danse macabre, Op. 40, by French composer Camille Saint-Saƫns.), recorded some sound effects (cards shuffling and hitting the table), and a public domain fireplace sample that I looped. I was very pleased with the final product, I think it properly represents the core concepts: We are all alone and the same in death (Danse Macabre), We all share the same destiny(Tarot), and the fires of hell that served as setting. Once again I used Audacity, Aria Maestosa and GXSCC.

b.- The Framework: Impact Game Engine was pretty intuitive to use and extend, even for a first time user, I only missed per pixel collision.

c.- The Concept: The idea is great, I’ll keep working on it.

d.- The Art: I loved the Art. I drew on paper, then took a picture with my webcam and painted in Photoshop, it went smooth as silk but…


What went wrong:

a.- The Art: Spent too much time on Art creation. Last time I think that no one realized that my Art style was Atari-like on purpose (I even implemented a Pixel Bender shader to simulate screen ghosting after the screen flashes), so this time I decided to go for a painterly style, that also happened to be more labor intensive. In the end I could have used a couple more hours on coding.

b.- The IDE: I was too stressed out to properly install and configure Eclipse, I was stuck with Komodo Edit.

c.- Server Stuff: Spent too much time trying to configure PHP on my laptop to run some tools.

d.- Platform: HTML5 audio support is not there *yet*, had to implement a quick hack with SoundManager 2.

e.- Language: I had no prior game dev experience with JavaScript, I was left wondering how to implement a global variable registry. Also, I got to find an IDE with proper code completion, Komodo did not autocomplete variables I had declared on the same *.js file.

f.- Execution: The concept was hard to execute successfully, I should have playtested more, and also I should have investigated prior implementations. Now I have homework: Why does Mario bounce off enemies the way he does?

Phares, Jam Entry

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