Wandering Villain postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @AlmostMatt)
December 18th, 2012 9:59 am

I entered as a Jam entry, instead of a compo entry in order to get more time but I only actually ended up with around 6 extra hours on the third day because I had to sleep and work for most of the extra time.

The entry page is here: (Click)

There is a windows executable or a .love file, so if anyone on mac or linux knows how to compile love2d games, that would be really cool.

What went right

I created a pretty cool isometric rendering engine, which seems to be pretty capable.

I put a lot of effort into tuning the terrain generation, and it ended up looking quite good in my opinion. I haven’t done much world generation before so I had to experiment a lot to determine what variations would look natural and interesting.

The art style is 100% geometric, with everything being some composition of primitive shapes and it looks pretty cool. I would’ve liked to add a bit of detail to the “people”, but even as cylinders they feel lifelike enough when they are moving.

The splatter and shadow effects turned out quite well because of how they interacted with the tilemap.

I learned a lot about world generation, isometric rendering, and object oriented lua programming, so I would be more comfortable working with similar concepts in the future. It turns out lua allows you to define your own concept of a class and there are multiple ways to implement inheritance. I also now have a name for a “pigeonhole sort” which is a concept that I have sort of considered before but not properly executed.

What went wrong

I spend most of the first day trying to figure out how to get objects to draw in the right order (back to front) until I realized that I had to make each object no larger than a single tile size or else you could get a circular loop of objects that are above, behind, in front of, and below each other.

Performance issues: I put a lot of effort into making the game as efficient as I could, so objects that are far away are forgotten and things like the front faces of a tile are only drawn if the tile is taller than the tiles in front of it, and shadows are only drawn when the object is not on the ground. However, it still runs relatively slowly on my own machine and I assume even worse on the machines of some of the people that will test it. I added a few options at the end of the jam time to change the screen size and thus how many objects are drawn so that hopefully it can still be experienced even on lower end computers, but it is hard to get a sense for performance on another machine.

There isn’t really much to do. You spend more time exploring than being a villain. I was planning on adding cities, farms, castles, and heroes for you to fight, but it all seemed so complicated and I ran into time constraints.

Next time

I think I will try to work with a more complete rendering framework prior to entering, as I had to write a lot of drawing functions during the compo time. (cylinder, prism, sheared circle).

I will also try to have a better idea of necessary gameplay interactions and try to get them in place before anything else, so that the game is 90% playable within the first day, instead of being 90% pretty after two days but still missing a bunch of gameplay elements.

I know that my game idea was a bit too ambitious and so I set myself up for failure, but even so I think that having a challenge forces me to experiment and learn things that I wouldn’t otherwise have tried.


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