I’ve had a week to reflect on the Ludum Dare experience and when I think back on what was the most fun aspect of making Hug Monster the answer surprised me :
It’s the title screen and ending
What could possibly be so compelling about the title and ending that makes me rate them as my favorite part of the experience? I think it’s because I wasn’t really expecting them. The desire to have them came out of nowhere. I honestly didn’t even think I’d have the time for them so I didn’t really give them much thought. When I realized that I would in fact not only have the time for them but that I would even have the time to make them fancy I decided to stretch what I’d already made for the game itself and see if it could be used for my very own machinima title and ending screens.
What I ended up with was programmatically generated motions for all the characters. There isn’t a keyframe or a baked animation in sight in either the intro or the ending. The same code that powers the game’s core mechanics right down to the Hug Monster’s player seeking behavior are all used to give the illusion of a movie sequence in which the characters are making intelligent decisions. So I went from having no concept at all of a title screen or ending to having fully animated ones that illustrate and enhance the concept and theme. And there you have it, the biggest surprise and possibly the most unexpectedly fun aspect of the development process for my game.