Phobius post-mortem

Posted by
May 11th, 2012 4:03 pm

Hey there jammers! It took a while but we finally found some time to sit down a bit and reflect on all that went down during the LD jam. It was our very first attempt. We had no idea what to expect from ourselves or the community and we couldn’t be happier with the experience. That being said let’s get down to the matter!

 

Check him out here!

       

IDEA

Since we basically had no experience making games, we tried to aim for a platformer which seemed, at the time, the simplest way to make something viable in 72 hours. Looking back, not so sure it was the brightest idea. Although we defined this early on, ideas went crazy and at some point we had to stop and settle for the one that fit our skills best. Luckily enough it was one of the favorites almost from the start of the brainstorm.

Regarding the theme we thought of the most obvious topics and discarded them right away to try and make something different. By thinking about various interpretations of world, we came to the inner world of a being or how he perceives it. And so, Phobius deMelt was born!  An overly phobic boy who sees his world close on him as he gradually panics from claustrophobia. It seemed to fit the theme just right and also provide room for a cool mechanic. It would also be very dependent on the audio to set the mood for the character which was a plus.

Pretty fast a story formed around phobius. He’d be going on some kind of a tour to a building with his family but fearing closed spaces he gets scared at the entrance and is left behind. The rest of the time he’ll spend trying to catch up to his family growing ever more phobic with the fact he’s now also alone.

     

WHAT WENT RIGHT

We managed to have a team where each member was focused on each main area of the development which went pretty smooth and also granted a really fun working atmosphere.

audio

– Using as3sfxr generator for some of the simpler sound effects

– The music ended up reflecting the character’s anxiety, his psychological fragile world and at the same time setting a steady pace for gameplay.

– A mixture of jazz and rock beats along with an 8-bit sampled atari melody was ideal because of the pixel art direction of the game.

– Recording our own voices for the sound effects.

art / game design

– The animations contributed a lot to set his personality.

– The resolution seems right for the puzzles we’d be designing.

– The panic meter/mechanic was a nice feature.

– The overall weirdness / humor of the character.

– The funny ending to a short game.

programming

– Picking up flashpunk which turned out to be great.

   

WHAT WENT WRONG

Not saving some time to polish what we had.

audio

– Spending some time trying royalty free sfx that in the end were eliminated because they wouldn’t fit the mood we wanted.

art / game design

– Too much animation, too little level design –  it was my first time doing animations and i got carried away because i was loving it. I think I’d get away with the character’s, but the pill, the key, the intro letters melting were just small details and the time spent on them could have gone to level design which came short of what we imagined.

– We couldn’t include the losing condition – The idea was that, once the panic bar reached max the screen would go nuts and start flashing or something to make it really hard to progress and express his burst of panic. You’d have to play with the melting / unmelting (pills) mechanic to be in the melted state just enough time to get through some platform and then transform back before you lost total control.

– Lack of experimenting with sprite sheets – This turned out to be one of the major issues that we encountered later with the hitboxes, since his normal and melted state vary in width and are not quite centered. I used an iPad app for the sprite work (Sprite Something) and it was kind of hard to center every frame out. Had i done it on the pc it probably wouldn’t have been an issue.

– Not experimenting with level editors since we had already decided to aim for a platformer.

– The character’s relaxed state color was too similar to the normal one making it harder to understand he could jump higher.

– We forgot to explicitly say that the ‘R’ key goes for restart which might have made some give up before the end

programming

– Not learning about flashpunk prior to the competition weekend

– Lack of polish – There are some nasty bugs in there and some sweet details got cut out.

– The collisions when the level changes can get him stuck more often than not – Again we kept pushing this problem to the later hours and it was left unsolved.

 

Bottom line, we loved the experience and learned an awful lot! And let me just say this community is really great, we got a lot of constructive feedback :)

We’ll be sure to come back for more next time!

And if you can spare a minute go meet phobius!

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