Asteroid Defender Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @BakamoStudios)
May 15th, 2012 10:07 pm

I had a lot of fun participating in my first ever game jam and making Asteroid Defender. Now that judging is over, I don’t have to hold back my real thoughts about my game anymore. It’s postmortem time!

I also made a post-release gameplay video. I recorded this when I showed my friends the game for the first time.

Innovation (2.67, #549)

I made a shooter that adequately fits the theme, so I’m sure the gameplay didn’t surprise anyone. I didn’t play any other games where the tiny world in question is an asteroid, but otherwise, everything in the game has been done before. I saw a lot of other developers come up with more creative types of games to fit this tiny world theme. Oh, and the title, Asteroid Defender, was the biggest afterthought of them all. The game didn’t have a name until 1 hour before the deadline. The repairing mechanic was good, I guess, but I could have done a lot more with it.

Fun (3.17, #239)

When I make a game, I start with getting the core game mechanics and make them rock solid and fun. I feel like the shooting turned out really well and the movement was enough to do the job nicely. I put a lot of time into tweaking the equations for little things like your gun’s spread and the spawn times for enemy waves, and I think the game gets frantic at all the right times. However, I ran out of time to give the game the depth I wanted. 30 seconds into the game, you’ve already seen everything there is to see.

Theme (3.25, #314)

It’s tiny, but is it a world? My plans for this game involved defending several kinds of structures on the asteroid’s surface. You’d need the turrets to help shoot down enemies, but there was also living quarters to repair your tank, the mine which gives you the resources required to do repairs faster, and solar panels that boost the speed that the other structures do their jobs. The different structures working together would make the asteroid feel more like a self-sufficient world with its own infrastructure, so I’m sad that I had to cut it down to just turrets.

Graphics (2.58, #593)

Um, yeah…I’m no artist. The art in this game is only a little bit better than placeholder art. Maybe I meant to re-do some of the sprites before the end, but I don’t know how I could have learned to do much better in such a short time. In my opinion, the graphics didn’t bring the gameplay down, so that’s good enough for me. The radar was definitely worth the time I spent coding it. I had some difficulty getting Game Maker to draw sprites where I wanted them, so I couldn’t get health bars in the game in time. Now that I think about it, a basic player health bar would have been simple.

Audio (3.00, #216)

Here’s the deal. On Saturday morning, I had just decided what kind of game I was going to make. I made the mock-up image, and I decided I’d get my VGM Music Maker ready to make some music. I wrote the first 8 bars and decided I’d come back to it once all the gameplay mechanics I wanted were in the game. That time never came, so that 8 bars is all you get. I was, however, really pleased with my first time using sfxt. Whenever I got an idea for a sound effect, like a quiet “pop” for your gun or a deep “boom” for your turret getting destroyed, sfxt could generate a good one very quickly.

Mood (2.36, #626)

Shooters aren’t exactly the best place for emotional content. I wanted to create some tense moments for when you’re down to your last structure and things are finally falling apart, but the loss of the other planned structures took away the game’s ability to make this happen. I still like the panic that happens sometimes when you look up at the radar and see a red cloud of doom descending on your asteroid as you run for cover under a turret. I spent the last four hours of the compo tweaking the game to give it these frantic moments, and the game is much better for it.

Overall (2.92, #452)

For what it’s worth, I think Asteroid Defender turned out OK. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I could get a playable game out at all in 48 hours, and this competition pushed me to make the sacrifices necessary to get it done. This game clearly isn’t complete. There’s only 6 seconds of music, one type of structure, and one type of enemy, the minimum to make it work. Next time, I should start smaller so I don’t have to scale things back at the end to get it out on time. I want to use the shooting mechanic in another game in the future, but it won’t be this one.

Coolness (20%, #1007)

In the three weeks following the competition, I had a couple major things happen. I started a new job the morning after the compo, which required two sudden schedule changes that took a toll on my energy to do other things. I also had an email account cracked twice by spammers, so I spent quite a lot of time dealing with all the domains they spammed links to and coming up with new passwords for everything. I didn’t have a ton of time to play many of the games, but it’s fun to see how other entries tackled the theme. Next time, I want to play more games!

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