Psychiatric Evaluation’ Post Mortem

Posted by
September 2nd, 2012 5:58 pm

Before I start, if you haven’t tried our game, please do it here. If you already did, continue reading :)

The introduction

This was the first ludum dare we entered as a team. Shadow and ilovepixel had previous experience in this competition, me (elmismopancho), on the other hand, it was my first time. So, I’ll try to tell an awesome story, about how three guys built an even awesomer game.

Planning Phase

We decided to do all the work online. So the first thing was to prepare and decide what tools we would use. We ended up using skype, assembla and google docs. It worked out quite well, we did a trial run on thursday so we were up and running on friday. For the code, we used APE, a 2d game framework we built for monkey, a game programming language.
What we learned

  • Working online is absolutely possible
  • Try the tools before friday. We tried google hangout on tuesday, but one of our members didn’t have a very good connection, so it didn’t work that well.
  • Use a framework, don’t start from scratch if you want create a well polished game.

How the game looked in our minds. True story

Time to make some decisions

Friday night came, and with that the theme: “Evolution”. We started talking about game mechanics, ideas, blah, blah. We saw that the obvious use of evolution was the level-up mechanic, but we wanted to go further. We realized that games have evolved during time, and one clear example was the dungeon crawler genre, that started with text based adventures like Zork, then the rogue-like games, with “ascii art”, and finally the full graphics adventures. Everyone loved the idea, so we finished the friday session and went to sleep.
What we learned

  • Find a good idea, a simple game mechanic to play with, don’t try to decide on all the aspect of the game, keep it macro.

Game engine and cutting

If you want to make a great game (not a good one, a great one), you can’t expect to do everything on code, you need to build a game engine. That way you separate the job of coding and level design. We used tiled, which is great for 2d games, it allowed us to design the entire level, add npc’s, doors, keys, and quickly modify it. It’s a great investment of time. You can find the level file here if you want to take a look. (You will need tiled to open the file)
So saturday night we had a playable version of our game, all the evolution modes were there, collisions, room descriptions, doors and keys, basic “chasers” enemies. But we still missed combat and all that stuff.

Look at those beautiful skeletons!

On sunday morning we decided on a deadline, about 6-7 pm we would stop adding features and start to polish. We ended up removing combat. We changed the npc to be static, it made it easier to code, and to animate. The console mode allowed us to easily add a lot of features, we put the game menu there, the ending, etc. We finally started polishing the level, adding sound effects and music. At sunday night, we had the full game finished.
What we learned

  • Less is more. Don’t try to add a lot of features to your game, and know that is better to cut things, that to end up with incomplete features. Little things make the difference between a good game and an awesome game.
  • To sum up: Polish! Set a deadline and polish your game.

The evolutions of a ghost

Testing

If you have the time, and friends, make them play your game, find the problems, see their reactions, are they doing what you expected? are they lost? is too easy or too hard? All these questions can only be answered by playtesting.
What we learned

  • Even with a full day of testing, there will be bugs.

Final comments

In the end, the thing that is most important, is to be happy with your game. And if people like it, even better! We have received very nice comments, and we really appreciate it.
What people are saying

  • “That was definitely AWESOME. And I really don’t write in all caps often!” – grifdail
  • “This game was incredibly well made and I love how it forces you to think outside the box. I just wish it made more use of the last two modes.” – BenW
  • “Awesome game. Love the unique gameplay.” – CappaGames
  • “At first I was like, “Oh this is a simple game it’s probably boring”. And then I was like “Oh this isn’t so simple”. And then I was like “Wow this concept is brilliant”. GJ!” – Shmarah
  • “one of my favorites so far. amazing work!” – tastelessnudes
  • “Fantastic. Don’t know what else to say. Just fantastic.” – pjchardt
  • “It’s a brilliant idea to mix genres like that. I didn’t like the graphics a lot, but the music was good and has a mood related to the game! The gameplay fits the theme perfectly anyway, so good job there!” – Fififox
  • “Freaky. The text adventure part really made me feel insane. I love feeling insane! hahahahahahaHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH i’m not mad… don’t you see it… LOOKAT IT!” – Puzzlem00n


So if you missed the link, please try and rate our game here!
Thanks everyone!


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