Alone In Space – Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @yorgle)
January 6th, 2012 9:00 am

It’s been a while since the coding portion of the compo, but I think that this will give me a better perspective on the overall picture from the weekend, rather than focusing on the details of it.

My game is“Alone In Space”

Last time (LD21) I did an iOS game. In the process, I spent a lot of time on just the boilerplate to get it working, and then the final product was only playable by people who had the iOS SDK. or a week later by only people with iOS devices.

The timelapse for this one covers the overall flow of creation, as well as the order that I made things.
Alone In Space — Timelapse

What went right

This time around, I decided to focus on game physics/feel before entirely fleshing things out. I think this worked out well for me, because it meant that I would end up testing the physics every time I tried out a new feature I had added; giving me time to hone it a bit more, making it more fun and playable.

After doing a mini compo with some friends; creating a clone of “Asteroids”, I realized a few important things, which I believe I got right this time around. First of all, I got ship physics that “feel” good. The ship has a nice bounce and pep to it that makes it more fun to play. Secondly,

The design of the ship was originally going to be more like this: But due to limitations, it ended up the way you see it. It was only then that I realized that with a very little bit of tweaking, it would look like a kitty. So I went with that. Blue Cat Ship!

This was my first time using an image file as a “map”. Once I got the first one in, it was trivial (sort-of — see below) to add more levels, just by drawing them up in a paint program. It made it very easy to add location-based features to the levels. A+++ WILL DO AGAIN!

I originally wasn’t going to display the map on the board, but after having it up for debugging, and my wife mentioning that it would make it more fun, I left it on there, just tweaking the display a little, to be more “finished” and less “debuggy” ;

I really like the way my “lightning” effect looks. The quick solution on how to accomplish it was spot-on, but my effort was clumsy. (see below)

What went wrong

I wish I had more time for level creation, or at least didn’t have to futz with multiple paint tools to figure out one which would work. I just assumed that Pixelmator would work fine for me, but it was too cumbersome to use for this project. I fell back on Grafx2, which I’d never used before, after Deluxe Paint failed me. Now, i’ve set up Deluxe Paint 3 for MS-DOS in a Boxer/DOs Box, so that’s ready to go for next time.

3 levels i think gives you a good idea about how it works, but isn’t really a “complete” game… whatever that means 😉

As always, I could have used more time for balance. I knew that I wanted to have 3 gauges; red, green, and blue… I’m sure I could have worked out some other concept other than “food” and the way it affects the other two is… weird. I admit, that wasn’t thought out very well.

The Processing IDE is good, but once you get a lot of tags, it gets in your way more than it helps. I think I should have put similar classes all in one .pde file each, rather than one .pde file per class. The software engineer in me wants to have them separate, but the HCI designer in me wants them joined. heh.

Lightning. I spent a stupid amount of time to get the lightning working. I think this was mostly stubbornness on my part. I knew a way to make it work, but I just kept on having misstep after misstep… and after a while, I had devoted so much time to it, I HAD TO finish something just so that the time wasn’t wasted. I ended up coming up with an implementation that I think looks pretty cool.


In all, I think I did pretty well this time, considering time restrictions (helping care for a 2 year old, other family stuff). I’m happy with the accomplishment, and happy with the game as it is.

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