Establichment Post-mortem

Posted by (twitter: @nddrylliog)
April 24th, 2012 10:13 am

Well, it’s been a wild ride, but I’m happy to present you my LD23 entry:

Establichment

It’s the second time I enter LD: last time I created Lonely Planet with Einat Schlagmann and Sylvain Wenger.

This time, I was alone, but I still tried to learn the lessons from my last try. Here’s a little run down of what happened!

What went wrong

  • Pivot – My initial game idea was a simulation game where you would control banks and real estate and optimize your profits based on curves, variations, supply/demand, devise various strategies etc. Halfway in I realized 1) I had no idea how to expose that UI-wise, 2) It would take way too long, 3) It wouldn’t have been fun! ie. I was not looking forward to make it or to play the resulting game.
  • Time – Oh god, I feel like I have done an “LD 23h” entry! As opposed to LD22 where I spent almost all the 72h productively, this week-end was loaded socially, and with road trips: I was so impatient to hack that I stopped at gas stations on the highway to add features :)
  • Graphics – I did placeholder graphics in the Gimp by painting, with which I have almost 0 experience 😀 I ended up with a tree I like, though, and the final version of the portals doesn’t look too bad. Also apparently the aliens make people laugh! But overall, I wish I had a lot more time to spend on that. For next LD I’ll settle on an idea a lot faster and spend more time doing art and coding.

  • Morale – It was a lot harder to find the motivation to go on, compared to the last LD. I think it’s because working alone really takes a toll on you. I did have a few supporters on Twitter, but no testers or people to collaborate with.
  • Gameplay – Most of the game elements were hacked together in the last 3 hours, as a result some levels are cool and some are a bit more boring/too hard in the beginning and then too easy.

What went right

  • Tools / Game engine – Like last LD, I’ve been using a stack I have almost entirely created myself: the ooc language + library bindings (SDL, cairo, OpenAL, libvorbis) and of course custom code. I extracted some of my LD22 entry’s code into a new library called ldkit. Right now it’s mostly code rushed together with little design, and there’s still a lot of code that could be reused in establichment itself (intervals, all the isometric stuff, things being updated, having positions and that can be found in a certain radius/rectangle, etc.). Hopefully I’ll be more prepared for the next LD, but isn’t what we all tell ourselves? 😉
  • Music – Like everything else, I had to rush it, but I’m actually happy with how it turned out! I recorded the full theme by myself (playing the piano / guitar + singing 2 voices) in my home studio using Ardour, with good mics and preamps and a Yamaha keyboard, and I think it gives the game a dreamy ambiance, I loved it! You can listen to a high-quality version here.

  • Sound effects – I had to record most of them on the spot with the crappy built-in mic of my laptop, so I had to use Audacity’s “noise removal” feature, which makes them a bit weird.. but overall, it has sound! Something most people complained about in my LD22 entry. So, yay! (Also the “You don’t have enough money to buy that item” sound, aka “nope.ogg” is fantastic, a bit Nintendo-ish!)
  • Windows build – For LD22 I worked under Linux and it took me a day or two to come up with a Windows build. This time it only took me an hour or so, it was all very easy, ooc starts to be a friendly language to code games in! The resulting zip is a bit larger than the Linux version because most .dlls are packed in, so it runs out of the box. I have given up on the OSX build for now though, since OpenAL is a pain in the ass on OSX, and since I still don’t know how to bundle things correctly. Oh well.

Conclusion

I think the resulting game is pretty average, it could be vastly improved by spending only a few hours adding new gameplay elements and adjusting level design. If there’s interest, maybe I’ll do it!

But on a personal level, I’m pretty proud at the achievement, it’s my first isometric game, and in the time that I had I think it’s still pretty impressive.

Download Establichment 0.1 now for Windows or Linux, along with the source in ooc :) (Note: assets live in a separate repository).


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