Ludum Dare 31
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Walker – a post-feedback post-mortem

Posted by (twitter: @PirovanoMichele)
May 5th, 2012 4:06 am

I wrote a post-mortem for Walker just as I finished it, publishing a small series of thoughts in the middle of the night (here it is!). I thought that the game deserved a bit more and thus the traffic signs in the streets in these days, looking at me and judging my conduct, made me realize I needed to write a bit more and in a less sleepy moment.

So, here is its real post-portem!

 

This is Walker! Play and rate here!

 

What is Walker?

Walker is my entry for the Ludum Dare 23 Jam.

The game takes place in the early XXI century in the busy streets of some metropolis.

There is a tiny world just before our eyes. It is the world of the traffic signs, of which we can only catch a glimpse through small round, square and triangular windows. You are the Walker, a man who lives in the tiny world of the traffic signs, able to travel in this world but not in ours. This means that he is able to jump from sign to sign, but our world is off-limits!

In this time and place, the traffic signs have it hard as the GPS is slowly making all of them useless!

Enter the roadroller.

This enormous and scary machine is determined to squash all traffic signs in our streets and, without remorse, it will squash the Walker and his friends too!

Flee from the roadroller, escape to the Exit, save all your friends and score high to win the game, currently sporting 12 levels!

 

Why did you… Whyyy!!!!!!

Who are you?

I am Michele “Catman” Pirovano from Politecnico di Milano and this game I created in three days with the help of  Federica Tana (for the game concept and some 2D art) and Dario Campanella (for the drawn background and the “Hello-o” voice). This is our first Ludum Dare and we had a lot of fun!

The beginning

I live in Italy and thus the theme was revealed at 2.30 in the night here. Needless to say, I was sleeping by that time. In order to be prepared for the loss of the initial hours, I brought pen and paper Friday night so that me, Federica and Dario could throw in ideas for all the twenty themes-to-be.

Needless to say, I arranged the list alphabetically and thus “Tiny World” was the last one. Obviously, when we reached it we were tired and sleepy and it was past midnight, hence we gave it little thought.

Thus, I woke up Saturday at 7 o’clock and opened the web to find out that we were wasting time! (or were we? It was fun and we did get good ideas to use next time! J  )

I started working on a game idea which later got scrapped: two aliens on a single round(ish) world, one is happy and the other is not. Not-happy-alien wants to bust the other out of his planet! This was a play on the “this place is too small for both of us”.

Then, at around 10, I went to meet Federica and she told me: “Well, I had an idea, what if the tiny world is the one in the streets?”. She showed me a few doodles of traffic signs, we threw a few ideas for each one and ta-da! I scrapped the other idea altogether! We would do the Walker!

Behind the scenes!

The development

Development went good, steady and without surprises. We spent saturday and sunday at my home and at Federica’s, then I finished the polishing during Monday. The game was made with Unity free. First, I created a few signs and the Walker, playing around a bit with the controls. Then, I started adding the roadroller (since I wanted more tension in the game!) and a lot of different signs. I spent a good while trying to get the platforms right (if you notice, you can enter from below but you will stop on them if jumping from above), althought the collisions still have problems.

Well, I don’t want to waste time with useless details, so let’s go straight to the good & the bad!

The good

The game concept

I am really fond of the game concept and I think it is quite original. Comments seem to agree thus far and that makes me and Federica happy!

Lots of signs!

I had fun creating the traffic signs and I think there is a good variety in them. Try them all out! I think there are around twenty of them!

You will notice that the plane doesn’t really do much, here is why: I planned to make it follow the player and push him down, and it still does that. HOwever, I had no time to tune its speed and fix some bugs, so I tuned it down. I left it inside because it is fun! (Wooooooooohhhhssss)

Lots of signs in here! Where is that plane going?

 

The art style

This was easy to achieve, yet I am really satisfied with the result. Me and Federica just took the most iconic traffic signs and recreated them in 2D and 3D. Paired with Dario’s background, a 90’s urban style was born! (I remember keeping telling Dario: “More graffiti!” :D)

 

Yes, the walker is a 3D mesh, I cannot quite draw so I prefer to do everything in 3D!

 

The sounds

I got scared when I realized I had to do sounds and that I could not use anything from freesounds or similar. I panicked and tried out bsfx only to find out that I did not like its really electronic feel.  Then Federica suggested we did everything by voice. I was skeptical at first, then we tried a bit of “boings” and “swoshhs” and it easily became fun! Suddenly, we found ourselves wanting to add sound to anything.

The best one yet is the “Hellooo” done by Dario when you greet the Hat Walker.

 

Hello-o-o-o-o. T’is a nice day, isn’t it?

The menu

I liked how the main menu turned out, with its smooth movements. I think that the Walker jumping out of its sign as the game starts is a nice touch, since it tells the player that he can do that! I could however have spent less time on it to fix the controls… oh well!

 

Unity

I really like unity for how fast you can be if you know what you are doing. It still is a hassle to optimize games for phones and tablets (I do know something about it :( ) but I like how many features it has!!!! All in all it is a great framework and I will use it again next time.

The community

I was surprised at how kind and tight the Ludum Dare community is, I love reading the postmortem and I really like how people are always making constructive comments! This is a nice environment to work in and the IRC people are kind too! I will definitely participate in the next one too! (well, maybe the one in December!)

I also really liked the game I played so far and I plan to play more during the week!

The bad

Little time to do music

I was not able to allocate enough time to the music. I usually pay a lot attention to the sound of games, being a keyboard player myself (And loving music in general! The main game I am working on is a music game after all!).

Too bad, I wanted to give Walker a memorable track, but the end result was kind of repetitive! Especially since I forgot to not reset the music between levels, so people only listen to the first few measures! Try to listen to the whole song if you can! (Well, not in the menu, that was an old version!)

 

Controls and collisions

This is my fault, I am sorry. L I did pay enough attention to controls and collisions and, I must say, Unity’s collision system still sometimes eludes me (I never remember what collides with what!). Controls are sloppy and, although a few really like them, most people find them bad. I will surely modify them for next version, but not before the competition finishes (I think it is fairier that way, so that people can really rate what we did with these few days).

 

Proper planning ahead

I think I should have allocated time to everything and, althought I did finish everything, I released the game at the last time (20 minutes before the deadline!).

Next time I’ll make sure to plan ahead how much time I’ll need for each part and not spend too much time on one feature while neglecting another one!

 

The release… where???

I panicked when releasing, didn’t know where to put the game and I had no internet space. In addition, my connection was going slow! I went to IRC and the kind folks there told me how to use Dropbox with its public folder, thank you guys! :)

Watch the video the folks at IndieVault.it created!!

 

Last words

So, get out of here and play our game if you didn’t have a chance yet, I am still looking for feedback!

Thank you for reading!


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