Before I start talking about the ups and downs of my game and its creation I want to talk a bit about Ludum Dare itself.
This was my first time participating in a Ludum Dare or any kind of competition / game jam for that matter. The decision to participate this time sort of came out of the blue, I heard that the LD was going to be that weekend only a few days beforhand and just thought to myself: “Why not enter?”. But I also didn’t expect anything to come out of this (more on that later).
Overall I had a great time that 48 hours. Seeing all the blog entries, people building games from scratch in only 2 days, and then playing them was really cool. I really felt like I was participating in something greater, not just sitting alone at home making some game.
It was also, of course, very exhausting. All I did was basicly work on the game and sleep. I only took about a one hour break every day to eat and fulfill basic hygiene standarts and some very minor breaks in between.
But I think that in the end, it was worth it. And I’m proud to say that I made a game for Ludum Dare.
And now to the exhumation of the game:
Making a game
When I started on saturday morning (about 7 hours after the LD had started) I was certain that I wouldn’t get anything done. I know how I usually develop games and that takes a lot of time and revision.
So the first few hourse I couldn’t come up with anything good and I was sure that by the end of sunday I would have no more than a buggy, half-done prototype with missing art and sounds. But when I finally got a good idea everything seemed to wokr a bit smoother. The first thing I did (as usual) was to make a little mock-up in gimp of how the game would look, after that I really had hope that I could finish something.
And I think that everything turned out really good, I’m quite happy that I got almost everything done that I wanted to. I never do any schedules or structure my time, I just do stuff. But the process worked very smoothly and it was a lot of fun.
Super Mario Super
I remember playing the little minigame, which was a remake of the old arcade machine, in Super Mario Bros. 3 a lot of years ago. And for the making of Super Robocade I played a little faithful remake of the arcade version.
I am very glad how my new ideas for leveling up and shooting worked together with the old classic game mechanics to create something really cool. It all fits nicely and feels great to play. And I’m also glad I could make a tribute to these old days.
I am really, really happy with how the graphics turned out. The color pallete, the little intro screen which is a homage to the old Gameboy start screen and other little details like having pipes as a reference to Super Mario. I especially love then Super Robocade logo on the title screen. It has a little flash/reflection animation on the “Super” which reminds me of old Nintendo games for some reason. I love putting little details like this into my games.
Also the sounds work well with the graphics and overall the game really brings that oldschool Gameboy feeling across.
Sticking to the theme
I like the way the game turned out in the end, but I also feel like I was a bit to loose on the theme. I think that Robocade is more about upgrading than evolution in a strikt sense. But after I was already halfway done there was not much I could do against it. I improved the concept a bit later on by making the enemies evolve and changing some stuff with the player evolvement mechanics but I still think that most other games of this LD kept the theme in mind better than I did.
Super Mario Ripoff
Here is a little contra to the point above, where I describe how I adapted and improved the old Mario arcade mechanics. Because that also means that I didn’t really think up the whole game in 48 hours. Most entries are completely original with innovative and cool new gameplay mechanics and ideas. And even though I like how I could add the evolvement idea onto the old foundation it still somehow feels wrong to take ideas from another game.
Improvements that could have been
After playing Super Robocade the day after the competition ended I noticed a few thing that I could have done better. If you are working on a game 48 hours straight it gets really hard to look at it criticaly and from a distance. As I already said, I think that evolvement should have played a great role but also I only realized after I day away from the game that the difficulty curve would have needed some improvements. It feels to slow and boring in the beginning (at least if you already played it a few times) and gets really hard to early on so that you can’t actually reach the last stage of the characters evolution (where it looks really bad-ass). Also the weapon should be a bit faster and overall the upgrades should be more noticable to the player, so they actually feel like they are getting stronger. I might be overexaggerating a bit because these would have been really minor tweaks to a few variables, but I think that they would have made the game feel much better.
And the Ugly:
As always sometimes I like doing the coding of game features and sometimes I absolutly abhor it, especially if it involves bugfixing or I get stuck with my limited knowledge. I just don’t like the programming part of making games but since I am solo there is no way around it.
I used SunVox to make the music of the game. And even though it was the first time for me using the program I think that it really awesome and powerful. But what I did realize during the creation of the 2 music files is that I just suck at composing, I just can’t get anything good out of it. Music cost me a lot of time, almost the whole evening of saturday and also quite a few hours on sunday. In the end the music turned out to be ok, but not really that much fitting and how I wanted it to be. That’s also the reason why I don’t have any music playing in the main game, because the music would become irritating really quickly.
So, that’s it. My postmortem of Ludum Dare 24. You can still play and rate me game here: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-24/?action=preview&uid=12412
I don’t know yet, if I will be participating in the next LD but I will definitly consider it!