ANtopia Postmortem

Posted by
April 27th, 2012 8:46 am

I guess I should do one of these, huh?  If you haven’t played ANtopia yet, you can check it out here.
I was pretty excited about doing this LD, not only because it’s Ludum Dare’s 10th birthday, but because It’s my 4th Ludum Dare.  And 4 is, like, a really importatnt number.  I was pretty happy with how my games turned out in previous LDs (17, 20, and 21), but my last attempt, in December (22), was a dud.  I just didn’t have enough time to do anything worthwhile.  For LD23, I knew I’d have most of my weekend open.


For all my previous LDs, I used Game Maker.  This time around I decided I wanted to make a Flash game.  I felt I was finally comfortable enough with AS3 and the mess of libraries I use that I could work through any potential problems on my own.  We all know Flashpunk is pretty great.  That’s what I would use to handle all my gameplay and graphics.  I also decided to use Christian Corti’s Flod library to play music.  Since I could play .xm files I could keep the file size low, and wouldn’t have to worry about looping MP3s.  For sound effects, I chose to add the Bfxr synth directly into my game… Just copy the parameters into your code and it makes noise.  I think I only used 2 MP3 files in the whole game.  Of course, I made sure all of this was tied up neatly and working before the weekend started.  Shit, did I just write a whole paragraph about code?

Tiny World

So I waited and the theme went live and.. I liked it.  Tiny Worlds is a good theme.  It’s evocative, but not too specific.  It could be about limited space or resources, seeing familiar things from a new perspective, or about isolation.  I decided to make a game about insects.  I thought about how an ant colony is like a tiny city.  My original brain-vomit of the game was pretty ambitious, actually.  I imagined this huge city to explore, maybe the ants go to war with other insects.  I thought of giant earthworms digging tunnels.  None of that stuff made it into the game, of course.

So I pared things down to a game with just one goal:  “The queen is sick. Save her.”

What Went Right

I think keeping it simple was a good idea.  I used game mechanics I was familiar with, so there were really no surprises coming up as I was coding.  THe story was… paper thin.  I actually think that was good, becaue nobody playing a Ludum Dare game wants to sit through long cutscenes full of exposition and world-building, right?  I like to leave more to the imagination.
Graphics worked out well too.  The tiles are pretty sloppy, but I think they work.  I also used a limited palette– 9 colors that I’d picked out before the competition.  That helped to keep everything consistent.  Music and sound effects were easy– I think they’re my favorite part of game design– and FLOD and BFXR worked great for playing everything in-game.

What Didn’t Go Right

Surprisingly, not much!  I had a few minutes of frustration setting hitboxes, but that’s because I didn’t understand how they worked in Flashpunk.  I also had some trouble with OGMO Editor not saving room properties and entity values, but I just added them to the XML in Flashdevelop.

I was also kind of disappointed I didn’t really do anything new gameplay-wise.  It’s pretty straightforward Zelda-style gameplay: Find a sword, kill some monsters, find a key, open doors.  I started edperimenting with doors opening in domino-style patterns to unlock enemies and stuff, but I didn’t have time to really explore that mechanic.

Oh, I guess I drank too much beer.

What Now?

I don’t really feel like expanding on the game right now, but I could definitely do more with it.  Different enemies, more characters, more rooms to explore.  I just finished working on a bigger project, though, so I think for now I’d rather focus on doing more small games.  Maybe enter some more game jams.

One Response to “ANtopia Postmortem”

  1. Suese says:

    Great game. Over-all very complete. I look forward to what you can accomplish if you didn’t drink so much beer!

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