Pink Haze Post-Mortem

Posted by
May 5th, 2013 4:24 pm

Pink Haze

Pink Haze is the minimalist third-person cover-based shooter I created for LD26.  This was my second Ludum Dare, and I feel I created a much better game this time around.

The goal was to do everything required for the genre (shoot things, hide behind cover to not get shot) and nothing more.  Your interactions are limited to moving around, firing your gun, and most importantly NOT moving or firing your gun.  When standing still your character automatically ducks, letting you hide behind cover and out of the enemies’ line of fire.  You’ll also recharge your health and ammo after standing still for a few seconds.  Aiming is handled automatically as well; you’ll always target the nearest enemy with direct line of sight.

Pink Haze work in progress

The second room of Pink Haze, complete with navigation graph.

What Went Right

Being agile: The first part of this is to get the bare minimum game up and playing as soon as humanly possible.  In the case of Pink Haze I had movement, ducking, shooting, and very basic enemies done within a couple hours.  After actually playing my game, I reassessed what needed to be done and it wasn’t what I predicted it would be.

For example, my original plan didn’t have auto aiming but instead both you and the enemies shot straight ahead while moving around to aim.  This wasn’t much fun because it was extremely easy to avoid shots (why duck behind cover when no one can shoot you?) but extremely difficult to shoot anything (If you can hit them, you’re already in the line of fire).  Being able to play my game very early let me fix many of the troublesome spots I hadn’t thought of.  The reloading/healing mechanism, the status indicator on your back, and the character design all came from addressing problems as they came up rather than from initial design decisions.

Knowing my tools: I had a much easier time getting things done this time than I did during LD24.  This was due in large part to being more familiar with Unity.  It took me just a few minutes to add particle systems, sound effects, etc instead of spending hours trying to learn how to do it on the fly.  I also created a quick game for the Warmup Weekend, which made sure all of this was fresh in my mind.

Designing around my abilities: There are some aspects of game development that I’m very good at, and some that I’m just not.  Personally, I think I’m a very capable programmer, and I can do some simple 3d modelling, but I’m not terribly artistic in general.  From the very beginning I ruled out texturing/2d art, making my own musix/sfx, and having a story-driven game.  These kinds of guidelines kept me from trying to tackle something I’d have no chance of completing, and probably wouldn’t be happy with if I did.

Using content generators: SFXR and Autotracker are simply amazing!  As stated above, creating sound effects or music aren’t in my range of talents so these tools are the only reason my game has music and sound effects.

What Went Wrong

Pink Haze work in progress

Creating the player character in Wings3D

Working harder instead of reassessing the situation: My original plan for the characters was blocky (Minecraft-like) humanoid characters instead of the floating ones that ended up in the game.  I spent over two hours failing at creating a run animation before giving up and designing something simpler.  In the end my replacement approach only to 30 minutes, and actually works better with the theme, but I still wasted a few precious hours struggling at a task that could easily be worked around.

Last minute additions: Up until an hour before the competition ended, the game had 6 rooms that randomly repeated until you died.  This was a bit repetitive, but entirely sufficient.  Instead of leaving things well enough alone, I decided to add a final room and an ‘ending’.  Unfortunately, after creating the final room I had no time to create an ending, and it simply fades back to the title screen.  The never-ending rooms would have been much better than such a crappy conclusion.

Not explaining things well enough: It was pretty clear from some of the comments I received that players weren’t always sure how to play the game, and the blame rests on how poorly I explained it.  The mechanics of my game aren’t as self-apparent and easy to understand as they seemed after working on it all weekend.  Standing still isn’t something you commonly do in shooters, so players were just running around instead of taking cover and not getting very far.  I added more descriptive instructions to the game’s entry page and haven’t heard complaints about it being confusing since.

Conculsions

Overall I’m extremely pleased with my Ludum Dare entry this year.  I accomplished almost everything I hoped to while designing it and I feel it was a huge improvement over my entry for LD24.

If you haven’t tried Pink Haze yet, you can do so right here.  Enjoy!


One Response to “Pink Haze Post-Mortem”

  1. LTyrosine says:

    This game is amazing, one of the best of LD26. Thank you for it

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

[cache: storing page]