Make It Black Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @zenmumbler)
December 18th, 2012 7:05 am

This was my 1st LD and my first entry in any kind of coding competition ever. I had a lot of fun and I was luckily supported by my wonderful girlfriend who made sure I actually took in food at normal times.

First off,  play and rate the game                    > Play Make It Black <-
Can you ignore this guy? I don’t think so.


What went right

  • I heeded the tips given by others here and kept a working, interactive product throughout. This allowed me to quickly try out ideas I had. My “design document” was one sketch of the floor and a hooded dude and 10 bullet points in a text file.
  • Crucially, I did not implement some things that one part of my brain said were mandatory. In this case, I wanted to add flying cherubs with ranged arrow attacks. Though good in concept, I knew that I would have difficulty balancing issues, AI issues and more that can add up to hours of tweaking quickly. Instead, I focused on polishing all aspects of the game that were there already.
  • Which brings me to polish, I’m quite satisfied with that, there is a difficulty curve, introduction of gameplay elements over the first 2 levels, interactive background elements, a not completely herp-derp AI, and a lot of subtle things like plants dying randomly if their floor tile is corrupted, a cool dying animation, smooth transitions between levels, etc. I like it.
  • As for graphics, while thinking of what to do, I discarded all ideas that would hinge on pretty graphics because I Am Not An Artist. “Retro” scaled up 8×8 tiles are really just a way to hide your non-existent drawing skills :) I compensated in other places by making cheap but good looking effects using code and math (POWAH) like the clouds and the nice and, in retrospect crucial to gameplay, background sky transition.

What could go better next time

  • I spent a lot of time on the core platform game code. This was actually a goal. I never made a platform game before and I like to know how stuff works so I was not going to use a library for it. I did get lost for too long on some details I should have postponed until later, like some collision corner cases.
  • I had looked at Tiled (the Tile map editor) before but had not made anything with it nor used its data files in anything, so I could have saved about 2 – 3 hours of time just by practicing a bit with it beforehand.
  • Sounds were added in at the very end and are rudimentary but functional. Again, a tools thing I had played with cfxr but not with Audacity and had to download that to make a simple change to one of the samples with 30 mins of time left. Not recommended.

In all, I learned exactly what I wanted to learn: the basics and problems of a 2D platform game and I had a great time. I’ve been rating other games and it’s great to see the variety and skill shown in all the entries. See you all next time!

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