Post ortum

Posted by
August 31st, 2012 8:22 am

I don’t like the term “post mortem”. It means “after death”, but actually I perceive it more as birth than death when you finish a new game. So I write “post ortum”, for ortus being the Latin word for birth.

I went to the Internet on Saturday around 10 am and saw the theme “evolution”. First I thought I would not participate in this compo, because I had hoped for another theme (preferably “creation and destruction”), and I could not easily come up with an idea fitting the theme evolution. But then it occurred to me that a game in which you would play different types of animals, starting as a rather old life form and gradually becoming something newer from a biological point of view, would fit the theme. Since however there is a time limit of 48 hours, I abandoned the idea of covering many life forms, and instead opted to have only two stages of evolution.

I fired up MS Paint to draw some sprites and started with a dinosaur, then a fish, a kraken, a seastar, a jellyfish, a crab, and was quite pleased with my results since I am well aware that I am not a talented painter, but the images looked better than I had expected. So I copied the files onto my netbook, started MS Visual Studio 2005 and copied the base code which I had posted to the Ludum Dare blog earlier into a new directory. Using this base code I spent about 8 hours, interrupted by lunch, coding the fish stage. I do not remember having had any major difficulties, basically everything went smooth. I had some ideas on the behaviour of the individual characters and was pretty pleased when I tested the result. I decided that this would be stage 1 of the game, and you would pass it by surviving 5 minutes. First I made the player start with 3 lives, but I found out that the game is rather hard and so I increased the number of lives to 5. As a matter of fact, I have still not managed to survive 5 minutes myself. Sometimes I almost managed it, but in the last minute I was killed.

On the second day I implemented the dinosaur stage. I started with coding the random level generator, then I implemented the movements of the dinosaur (I remember having had minor problems with the jumping behaviour), then I fired up MS Paint and created sprites for the two types of enemies that appear in this stage, some kind of worm and a lion. I implemented the algorithm whether and what enemy appears, the enemy behaviour, and then I found out that in some cases it was inevitable to lose a life because of the placement of the enemy. So I changed that by adding the rule that an enemy must appear only if the platform he is located at is either above the previous one, or if several previous platforms have had the same altitude. Now this stage of the game is perfectly fair, you can complete it with zero life loss if you are a good and careful player. Work on this stage took me about 4 hours. This makes 12 hours of work on the game altogether.

In the feedback I received mostly collision detection was criticized: the rectangles around the enemies are sometimes pretty large compared to the area the sprite seems to occupy. OK, the next time I make such a game, I’ll improve on that. Apart from that the feedback was mostly positive and I am very happy about that.

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