Postmortem, Globe Hacker

Posted by (twitter: @rasmusrn)
December 17th, 2012 8:42 am

This was my first ever game jam. And surely, it won’t be the last one.

Several months ago I decided to devote the entire weekend to this competition. And I’m glad I did. If you are going to do something, you might as well do it 100%. And I think I did. I hope to be able to do the same thing next time.

Also, I’m glad how I managed my sleep. My plan was to get just enough sleep that I’d still be able to think clearly and creatively. For me this was around 6,5 hours.

The result was 48 productive and intense hours. Last night when I submitted my game (with 1,5 hours remaining) I was VERY exhausted. In a good way. I had the feeling that I really pushed the envelope and had given it everyhing I had. I love that feeling.

After around an hour of idea brainstorming I had a favorite idea: A game where you play a hacker who wants to take over the Internet. I imagined the gameplay as a mix of Uplink, Galcon (by Phil Haynes) and another game I’ve made myself, Takeoff.

During the entire period I took screenshots of the game as it developed. In the beginning I focused on getting something playable as fast as possible. Here’s one of the first screenshots:

Screen Shot 2012-12-15 at 15.54.02The first day I ended up spending several hours struggling with a path finding algorithm. I’ve implemented several path finding algorithms before (even the “hard” A* :)) but only with respect to grids/fields. For this game, I had to do it for graphs.

At some point I considered changing the gameplay altogether because I couldn’t get it to work. But I gave it another shot and it paid off.

Then I started working on the graphics. I took inspiration from the dark blue colours from the hacker game Uplink and came up with this:

Screen Shot 2012-12-16 at 12.14.46

After implementing it I wasn’t really satisfied with the big numbers. Why use when you can use figures? And the numbers didn’t convey the total capacity of each “mainframe server” (the circles).

So I came up with this:

Screen Shot 2012-12-16 at 22.10.24I made the sounds with my own voice and a couple of Audacity filters. The sounds are OK but I don’t think they fit well with the desired mood of the game. But I figured it was better than nothing.

I made the first draft for the music on the first day. I wasn’t quite satisfied. I blame my tool: GarageBand. It’s just a toy – but it was all I had. I especially struggled with GarageBand’s string instruments and their way to slow attack rate. The next day I listened to what I’d made. With a fresh mind, I suddenly had ideas on how to improve it. I’m satisfied how it turned out.

I also spent some time making special ambient music for the menu screens, but due to the time constraints, I decided to scrap it. It wasn’t important.

Then I wrote the story and implemented the menu system. The latter was rather borring, but I know it had to be done in order to make the game feel complete.

Lastly, I made the splash screen. I decided to throw in a photo of myself to make it a little more personal :-)

Overall, I’m really happy with both the product and the experience. Today I’ve been flattered by the positive feedback I’ve gotten. Thanks!

I’d like to thank all (voters, ludum dare admins, players) very much for making this possible :-)

This Thursday, I’ll be giving a talk in our local Javascript user group about my participation in Ludum Dare and Javascript game loops in general.

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