President vs Eevol: Design Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @SunShiranui)
January 4th, 2013 6:32 pm

Hello everybody! This is the first of a series of four postmortems for our LD25 game “President vs Eevol“. Every article will cover a different aspect and point of view on the game’s development. The following post-mortem is on the game’s design and is written by team lead Sun Shiranui.

President vs Eevol
Postmortem #1 of 4: Design & Team Management

Hello fellow LD developers! I’m Sun Shiranui and I was the lead designer, team lead and one of the programmers working on “President vs Eevol”, a small stealth game that was our first entry in Ludum Dare. I’ll try to give you a little insight on the development process, our expectations, what went right and what went wrong.

1. The birth of Team OR

When I first decided to participate in Ludum Dare I didn’t think I would be joining the Jam in a team project, but that I would be participating in the 48H compo as a solo developer. This was because I didn’t know much about the Jam, and I thought that the Jam entries weren’t voted. Of course one of the reasons why I decided to participate was to obtain feedback on my work, so I was pretty much set on joining the compo based on a wrong assumption.
Luckily, the guy who later became our Art Director, Daniele Piscitello, convinced me on joining as a team and upon further inspection I finally realized that we could get feedback by joining the Jam.

At the start I thought that it was going to be just the two of us, since the only person I knew that could help us, whitesora (our second programmer), hadn’t made a game before. However, the day before the Jam I asked him to join us anyway and helped him understand how Flashpunk (our framework of choice) worked so that we could develop things without any major issue the following day.
And so Team OmniàRing was born… or so we thought. If you played the game, you probably noticed that there are four people in the dev team. That’s because our composer, Matteo Gagliardi, didn’t join until the second day of development!

The game features stealth mechanics.

The game features stealth mechanics.

2. Choosing an idea

The day Ludum Dare started we all met up on Skype to start our brainstorming session. If we had done this a year earlier we could’ve done met all in the same room, but since we now live in different cities all of our development communication was made via internet.
I thought the theme was going to be “End of the World”, but to my surprise “You are the Villain” was chosen. We then began discussing ideas… wait, let me go take a look at our notes… here they are. Many of the ideas that we thought up were eventually developed by other LDers, so that was nice! We thought about making games where you have steal stuff to help a sick loved one, evil god games, a village simulator where you have to scare people to raise your power, prison escape games… and a game based on the idea of “President Evil”, where you had to kill the president that was later revealed to be a goat.

Now, that idea was the one that eventually made it into the final game. After a bit of discussion we decided to go with the president idea, mixing that with some of the relevant other ideas.
So we decided that President vs Eevol was going to be a game about an evil man who wanted to kill the president to retrieve his precious goat. It was going to end with a crazy boss battle with some nice cutscenes and a short discussion on whether Good and Evil truly exist. The end result was a bit different, though. Let’s see why.

 

The protagonist needs to find the key to proceed.

The protagonist needs to find the key to proceed.

3. Our expectations

I’ve been messing around with game development for quite a while. I’ve had a passion for videogames since I was little, so when I was about 14 I was doing stuff like ALTTP clones on Game Maker. I’m 19 now, so even though I’m not that much older a lot has changed, and I’ve started trying to make better stuff. I studied a bit of Obj-C programming and published a couple of apps, and recently got into Flashpunk and started doing random stuff with it.

So what were our expectations given our previous experience with gamedev?
Pretty much this.

Luckily, we were wrong, and we managed to do what we find to be a pretty interesting game. We met most of our goals and only fell short on one thing: the boss battle.

4. Designing the game

Given that this wasn’t supposed to be a big game project, the design process was a bit simpler than usual. Our design document was basically a list of features, kept updated by Daniele, who also handled the task of taking notes of all the important matters we discussed. My job was also made easier by the fact that the idea we ultimately chose was mine, so I had a bit of an easier time figuring out how the game would work. I decided that the game was going to be a 2D top-down stealth game, and pretty much decided from the start that we were going to implement a dash mechanic, which allowed the player to quickly move from one place to another in a short period of time. This later revealed to be a very good decision.

Your only weapon is a teacup bomb.

Your only weapon is a teacup bomb.

This is how we decided the game would work: the protagonist was infiltrating the president’s mansion, and for that reason he had to run around sneakily trying to reach the next room, finding the keys necessary to open the door. I initally thought about having multiple weapons, so the player would’ve been able to find a pistol later on in the game. However, in the end the only weapon we decided to put in the game was a remotely controlled bomb, hidden in a tea cup. We thought about allowing the player to place more than one bomb, but settled on having just a single bomb that exploded when you pressed the bomb button a second time. These choices helped keep the game simple and at the same time created a really nice stealthy mechanic.
We were going to add some more elements to the game, such as breakable walls and some way to recharge your life, but we kept those to the list of things to do if we have any extra time.

5. The development process

So the development process went pretty smoothly for our first game. We were able to implement everything we wanted in terms of core mechanics, and everything worked pretty well. If we had more time we could’ve added some of the extra features and some more levels, but that wasn’t the case. The only thing we really didn’t managed to fit into our schedule was the boss battle. In the last hours of development, I worked on implementing a preloader, a title screen, some of the last animations and fixing some bugs. At the same time whitesora worked on the boss battle. Unfortunately we completed it just a few minutes before the deadline, so by the time I got my hands on it I could only fix some bugs (the boss didn’t really die at all) and nothing of what we planned for the boss battle was truly implemented. It’s a pretty buggy one and definitely our only regret.

For our first Ludum Dare project I think this went quite well. Our work definitely exceeded our expectations and I can’t wait to start working on a new project.
I hope you enjoyed this first in-depth look into the making of our little game. Make sure to play and rate President vs Eevol!

Tags: , , , ,


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

[cache: storing page]