Black Knight Blockade – Post Mortem?

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December 18th, 2012 12:58 pm

So, the past weekend has been a blast. Ludum Dare 25 has been the first game jam I’ve ever taken part in and to be honest I surprised myself a little bit.

Working on Black Knight Blockade has been a blast and the most fun I’ve had coding since I’ve done another mini-game back at university. If you haven’t done so, I’d suggest you give it a try – or I’ll send the Black Knight after you!

Black Knight Chasing

I didn’t really expect me to finish the game in time. Especially people liking the really simple gameplay concept (poke people but lose anyway!) were quite unexpected. I usually tend to overthink stuff a bit, dependencies and data structures for example. In the past, this lead to things getting stale, due to too much back and forth without anything to actually play with (i.e. framework stuff, entity handling, etc.). This project started out similar, but early Saturday evening I decided to go a different way: screw good practices and software architecture, I want a complete game within 48 hours. And this played out nicely.

Game Screenshot

Considering his rage so far, this is going to be his last stand…

To avoid boring you with long paragraphs or anything similar, I’ll just stick to a few bullet points like most people here:

What went well

  • Finding an idea: I had this idea literally within seconds. I’m not sure why, maybe because I’m a huge fan of Monty Python and Mel Brooks movies, who knows…
  • Getting the framework done: Window creation, main loop, event handling, etc. has been rather trivial thanks to SFML.
  • Graphics looking better than expected: I’m a big fan of the old Zelda games, and us such I thought trying to catch their style might be helpful. I think this one succeeded, without making the game look like a clone.
  • Sound creation being a blast: I’m no great artist. Call me code monkey, but not painter, artisan or musician. I’ve never heard of sfxr before, but it’s been an awesome tool to get everything I needed.
  • Creating entertaining gameplay: The basic idea was simple, but at first I couldn’t think of any real goal or fail condition. In the end a simple “get as far as possible” approach felt like the right choice.
  • Adding some fun: I really have to be honest here. I didn’t expect anyone to find the whole thing ridiculous or funny. The basic idea, yes, inspired by a movie, but other than that? The last minute effects and sounds really made a difference!

What went not so well

  • Wasting time on program architecture: I should know it better, and should have kept in mind that this isn’t going to be a project you want to make money off and expand over years. You don’t have to make everything perfect or only use best-practices. It can help, but Saturday afternoon I rewrote some parts of the code several times, cause I weren’t happy with my interfaces/dependencies.
  • Some parts of the code became quite ugly (see previous point).
  • Not believing in “programmer art”: Hey, I didn’t expect reading that people that find my pixels adorable or just love them. Seriously!
  • Lack of variation: I lacked the time to add some more variation, e.g. different peasants or enemies (well, they have different health and speed, but they all look the same!) or weapons. I thought about having King Arthur as a boss-like char you must not touch (or he’d cause you some flesh-wounds). Also – as some comments noted – the bridge is just another tile in the background: I should have add some mechanic for the water tiles, even if it’s just a tiny slowdown.

So, what now?

  • Due to the positive feedback I’ve received since making the project public, I’m definitely going to upgrade and extend it further. There’ll be different ground tiles (not just different appearance), maybe even random maps, more enemies, more weapons, etc. If you’ve got something you’d like to see in the game, tell me and I’ll try to add it.
  • I’ll try to get the game ported to Android devices. It’s already cross platform and should run on almost any decent PC running Windows, MacOS or some kind of Unix. I think this is the kind of game that could really shine on mobile platforms. Maybe even on the upcoming OUYA console as well! Only downside to this is the fact that SFML doesn’t support Android yet, but there are people working on this and I’ll definitely try to help them. After all I’ve got something to port now, too.
  • I’ll definitely participate in future LD Jams and Compos. I just can’t wait for the January MiniLD (hope spare time will be plenty)!

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