YAHG – Small post mortem

Posted by (twitter: @EggDestroyer)
May 1st, 2013 2:43 am

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All right. My entry, YAHG, was my 2nd LD entry. Last year, I worked on this, which was also my first game made alone, my first “Jam” game, the first time I made graphic & sound assets for a game… it was a lot !

But anyway, this time, I was up for something a bit different. It was mostly a technical Jam for me, not really a fun one. Let’s get into details !

 

What happened ?

I had two main objectives in mind for this LD : learning how to use Wwise and code something. 

The Wwise part is obvious : I never used it, only watched some tutorial videos, and I really wanted to learn, as this engine totally blows my mind. Fortunately, an alumnus of my school, Cédric Liaudet, created a Game maker plug-in… which happens to be one of the only ways I know to efficiently create video games.

I could learn how to use something else (like… Unity), but leaning both how to use Wwise AND a new engine in 48h seemed too much of a task for me. Plus, I didn’t take the occasion to code something finished, even with Game maker, for almost one year, and I didn’t want to loose one of the few technical skills I have. So yeah, Game maker studio was a natural choice.

I worked 36h. I actually had some ideas about the concept before the LD, something in the lines of “let’s make a game with creepy robotic narration with very minimal graphics so I can pretend I’m a hipster” (whatever that means). So when I saw the themes, I was like “okey, let it NOT be minimalism, because I would be stuck with my idea”. Well, there was no way around it.

 

The successes !

* Wwise ! WWISE ! – Well… Yeah. My main goal is a success : I made a decent use of Wwise engine, with some RTPC’s on volume and pitch and a random container. I learned how the whole thing works : post events, soundbanks, all that stuff which were abstractions 4 days ago. As I put everywhere, I owe a lot to Florent Dumas for his help on how the thing works.

Here’s the best part : I heared my very first Wwise-generated sound RIGHT on the CLIMAX of the music of this scene, and my God was it epic. I’ll never forget it. 😀

* I can actually code ! Somehow. – I don’t think there’s anything really complex about the game. Maybe the “line drawing” part was a bit tricky, but that’s it. Nevertheless, I was pleasently surprised that I was able to add more and more fonctionnalities with everything going on smoothly. I’m able to create as many levels as I want with minimum extra coding ! So even if I’m not an ace programmer, I feel like I may be able to use another technology next time.

* It’s sort of finished – It obviously lacks some polish (see : “The failures”) and is quite short, but the game is playable, has a beginning and an end, and I reached my objectives. This feels good. I even had the time to make some tests thanks to some friends of mine, which revealed several big weaknesses, part of which I could adjust (not everything unfortunately).

* Looking at it isn’t unbearable – I’m a terrible artist. My graphical choices are mostly bad ones, it takes me a lot of effort just to draw basic things, even making something sober yet not desperatly ugly is a miracle for me. I don’t say the game is beautiful, but I feel like it’s style doesn’t fuck up the global experience by its ugliness, and that’s a lot to say.

* Some people enjoyed it ! – This is my biggest success. I didn’t expect anyone to say they’d enjoy the experience, mostly because of the failures described afterwards. I don’t know if it’s because I was too much into it to be objective or if I took it too much as a technical exercice…

 

The failures :(

* No music – The other points are way, WAY more important, but the absence of music is my biggest disappointment. I’m quite sure it would have brought something, even if it was a simple 30s chiptune loop. But I simply didn’t find any place in my “pipeline” to create it, as I always either found something more important or wasn’t in the right condition. That’s even more ironic for a game using a sound engine !

* Barely understandable voice… and game – Yeah, well. I had several feedbacks of people not understanding either what’s the goal of the game, how the volume system works, or just what the goddamn voice is saying.

I couldn’t do anything for the latter as I only had very basic Text to speech softwares on which I had little control. Plus, the whole technology seems to be not so accurate, which is quite understandable. Having no decent microphone (this is bad), I couldn’t record & modify my own voice, so I had no alternatives but to take 2nd speech center.

The game understanding is much more concerning. I tried to put one extra indication on the title screen, but the voice control system is quite messy and confusing, and many people don’t understand it. I’m not sure what I should have done unfortunately. Any ideas would be appreciated. 😀

* Weak use of my gameplay system – So, here was the idea : you have to use the voice volume to make good use of the voice.

Sometimes it gives advice while it’s too low so you have to up it. Sometimes it’s too high and threatens to kill you, so you have to lower it. In fact, I tried to add an extra “analysis & reflex” challenge component, hindering the player while working on the core gameplay experience (finding the exit), along with the moving spikes.

I really believe it’s a decent idea… Unfortunately weakly used, mostly because of my low level of control on the voice changes (I had to use Game maker timelines : it worked, but it’s quite annoying to do) and my lack of time. So the game may have this boring feeling due to the weak gameplay. :(

* I wanted to do 10 levels… – [SPOILER ALERT] – 7 is a dumb number. I like round numbers, like, 10. And I had extra ideas for 3 more levels, so I was a bit sad no to have the time to make them. Actually… I sort of “had” the time, as I had 2h remaining before the end when I submitted the game. But I was too afraid to fuck something up, even more with my high level of tiredness, so I didn’t even try.

* Minimalism ? Where ? – Yeah, well, I thought “Minimalism” could be a very weak theme for the LD, basically because I was afraid to see too many “whatever the game is, it has minimalist graphics with geometric forms so it’s OK” entries, even if there is a lot of great things to do, as some games I’ve already played so far showed me.

And guess what ? YAHG is exactly this kind of game. :p

* No HTML5 export !! – Little disappointment here. I have GM:S with HTML5 export so I was excited to be able to export it for web. But Wwise makes this impossible due to the DLLs. So… no HTML5.

 

Would you have any feedbacks, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment here or on YAHG’s voting page. :)

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