A belated post-mortem!

Posted by
September 10th, 2012 3:24 pm

Hi, awesome people!

So I made a game about flight a while ago. Umm, where is it? Is it in this pile of dust? Where did I put it? Excuse me, it’s been a while–almost a month actually. Between passing out after Dare weekend finished and the start of fall semester, I haven’t really gotten the time to sit down and contemplate it. Oh, here! I think it’s this one. Now without further ado…

[~ Pretty snazzy stuff ~]

I finally made my first shump, including a boss battle. It’s kind of been a dream come true, ever since the terrible Space Invaders I programmed as my first game over six years ago. It’s far from the best shump, but that doesn’t matter. For me, this is the heart of Ludum Dare: learning lessons, kicking impossible’s buttocks, and sitting down on a weekend to weave childhood dreams into reality. It’s been on the “I just don’t have the time…” list for years and I just got to cross it off, experiment with AI formations, and even design a boss. (insert Fyeah meme here)

It’s a game about flight. Weeeeeee! My first idea was something about monster battling and evolving characteristics. It was probably a lot of people’s ideas, and those people likely made much better versions of it than I could have, haha. I pitched it to my girlfriend who promptly told me to GTFO and come up with a better idea. A few hours later, it finally hit me. Evolution doesn’t have to be about mutating and gaining new attributes. It could refer to a great deal of things. The evolution of film, the evolution of games, and even aviation!

Speaking of which, the most awesome girlfriend ever. Jams aren’t about just the jammer. It’s also about the incredible people who are willing to endure their 48hours session: keeping the house clean, reminders about sleep, showers, and food, going on coffee runs, playtesting, and being honest whenever a game smells like butt. Remember to thank the awesome people around you who, for two days, wholly supported you and stuffed you with leftover pizza. If they didn’t suffer playtesting the rough spots of your game, make sure they have the experience next time around. And if they did, be sure to treat them to a drink.

[ ~ Eww, what the stank? ~]

Shoddy particle effects… This goes hand-in-hand with the following point, but I wish I did a lot more with the particles in my game. Really nice and lovely people compliment on them, but I still think they’re just mostly there being all opaque and not doing much anything on the snazzy side.

Disappointing art… Chunky pixel art has been my fallback for years now and while this time around, my Dare entry lucked into better graphics than most of my previous games, I still could have probably done a much better job with them. Competitions are about wrestling the better self out of my normal-day’s complacency, and–when I look at all the beautiful pixel art entries–I feel like I dismissed another opportunity to do that.

Minimal feedback… Shumps usually come with explosions, booms and screen-shakes, brilliant lights and surges of agency. Mine, unfortunately, was among the other kind. My favorite game designer quote boils all games down to the repeating three seconds of gameplay. Good games are freaking fantastic repeating three seconds of gameplay. Feedback, audio and visual, is the difference.

Nooo! Not another game that put narrative on the back burner… With my theme, I had the opportunity to develop an interesting tale about the Wright Brothers in this alternate universe. But features and setbacks and bugs all took priority. Then after I finished with that, I added more features which lead to more setbacks and then more bugs when those features were finally implemented. By the time I looked up, it was already the final countdown and nowhere near enough time to scramble together a meaningful story. Stories give reason to why gamers game, and good ones celebrate the game long after the controller is put down. Portal would have been fun without GLaDOS and the lovable companion cube, but… there would have been a void in my heart.


Anyways, those are my fondest and most evil thoughts. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to be awesome. Cheers!

2 Responses to “A belated post-mortem!”

  1. mdkess says:

    I really liked your game, and I was quite impressed by your art. When in doubt, make things more pixilated. It would have taken me the entire contest to make things half as good as your art. While I agree that more feedback would have been nice (and make the particles fade out!), I think that you got the background really right – the subtle changes in color created a nice sense of progression without getting in the way.

    I especially liked that your ships all felt really different. You went from the glider – which was quick, but pretty crummy in terms of firepower, since it couldn’t even move and shoot, to the blimp, which was great in terms of firepower and yet couldn’t move at all. Then the next guy could move around freely, and the last one was really powerful. Simple, maybe, but it really worked.

    As an aside, I’m really happy with how the simple art in my game turned out. I had two ideas going into it: squares, triangles and circles (idea #1), and a pastel color scheme. The main ship – a triangle, with a smaller triangle drawn inside of it. Stupidly easy, but it worked I think.

  2. AaronYip says:

    Ahaha, thanks, mdkess! I really appreciate your compliments.

    Maybe I just like being hard on myself, lol, but I really think that LD is a wonderful opportunity to push myself beyond my artistic limits–write fancier algorithms, take a chance at music composition instead of randomly generating, focus on producing better pixelart faster, design something fun to implement, and just take chances. In my “normal life”, I’m working with 3D environments or neck-deep shifting through code, and that’s hardly a creative place to start honing 2D art skills, haha. I just regret taking the competition for granted in some ways, forgetting that it’s a creative outlet rather than another “deadline” to finish, and falling back on things I’ve been getting too comfortable with. 😛

    On the other hand, I thought your geometry particles were genius and I gave you pretty high bonus points on graphics so I wouldn’t feel bad about stealing it in the future. ;D

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