Ninox the Nightbringer – Post Mortem

December 28th, 2012 4:56 pm

Pointed at LudumDare by Frozen Fractal in the week before the Jam, my girlfriend and I decided to give it a shot.

Concept

I was absolutely convinced the theme would be “End of the World”, but it turned out differently. It took us about 4 hours to come up with an idea that would be simple enough to implement. A trainride forced us to think about it a bit longer than we would otherwise have. The player walks around on a grid, of which certain parts are occluded based on the player walking over “switch”-tiles. Stepping on a “spike”-tile restarts the level, so these have to be avoided, which can be hard in the dark. The goal is to black out the entire level (cover the land in darkness, following the theme). You can check out and download our game here!

Screenshot of Ninox the Nightbringer

Screenshot of Ninox the Nightbringer

Process

I really liked Python after some recent experience with it, and although Java and C are in general my stronger suits, I expected Python with Pygame to work better for this game (I had created a simple brickles game two days earlier to practice). My girlfriend did all the rest, i.e. graphics (in Inkscape), sounds, music (in LMMS and Audacity) and most of the level design (in Notepad). We took it easy: baking cookies, eating all of them, taking a walk, sleeping enough and finishing on Sunday. Despite this, we finished the game surprisingly fast, having a working game on Saturday evening. Sunday was mainly leveldesign and the imho boring polishing (graphics, “repetitive walking”, fullscreen-mode, intro and outro and of course testing). Half my Sunday was eaten by a futile attempt to create an executable from the Python code on Ubuntu.

The Good

We had fun, and thought the concept was original. Dropping the initial ‘pedophile searching his dungeon for a little girl’ made the game acceptable for my girlfriend’s mother, too. :-) We divided the work well and finished the game on time, with an intro and ending. The number of levels was okay (though some of them should have been left out). Both of us learned some (more) Python.  Drawing the graphics was great fun, and since they ended up so small, here’s a bigger version of our owl “Grog”:

Grog

The Bad

The biggest problem was deployment. I had no experience with putting stuff online, and the game required Python and Pygame to be installed, which most people don’ t have. Some programs exist to create a Windows executable, but it took us two weeks (combined >20 hours, ridiculous) to make PyInstaller work. The main problems were reluctancy to work from Windows, font, missing .dll files (for audio) which we manually included in the end. Maybe next time I’ll try Javascript. Anyway, we have an EXECUTABLE! 😀

Next time we could be a bit more ambitious. We were planning on adding more game elements (doors, walking goats), but with a working game, our motivation (aka pressure) wasn’t as strong as when we started. Also, see the previous paragraph.


One Response to “Ninox the Nightbringer – Post Mortem”

  1. “Dropping the initial ‘pedophile searching his dungeon for a little girl’” – haha, good thing you did! The current theme is so much more charming!

    Regarding executable – at least for windows, I can recommend this: http://www.pygame.org/wiki/Pygame2exe
    Works out of the box, no need to install or config anything to make executables. You only have to point self.script to your starting script.

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