This is where Game of Rows was conceived and designed. Not in bytes but in paper. Some big, some small, some you use to clean yourself after a meal.
I wasn’t planning on entering this Ludum Dare, my first Ludum Dare. I would only have two days to make a game! I had seven to make a game for PyWeek—a Python game-development competition not unlike Ludum Dare—and I didn’t have anything close to a full game when the time run out. There was no way I could make something for Ludum Dare. One day before the LD, however, I thought ‘what the heck. Let’s give it a try’.
The competition started Friday night while I was playing Monaco, a fantastic indie game. I wasn’t very interested on participating so I wasted my very first hour stealing gold and knocking out guards. I spent the rest of the night coming up and discarding ideas for the game, discussing them with my boyfriend and my best friend. One-button game? That’s too hard! I can’t think anything that would use one button only. How about I make a universe, and you grow smaller and smaller; into a planet, a person, a virus, a proton, and the mechanics change slightly each time? I ain’t got time for fancy! Maybe I can start with a beautiful looking game that gets more pixelated and retro as you progresses. No, what did I say about not being fancy! Maybe I can make a timing game. The player is in the centre of the screen and colour dots come him from all four sides: you have to change your colour to match the dot so they pass over you without harming you. That sounds simple enough!
I later thought of giving some more control to the player by allowing him to freely move and making rows of dots the player can shift to find his way around. Let’s start coding!
I made my first prototype. It would display white dots over a black background and you could rotate them around and have different patterns. And then I got an idea. Maybe these dots are walls you can shift around! And lo, Game of Rows was born.
I started working on the mechanics. Brick walls would soon replace the white dots, a player would follow as well as a goal. Then came obstacles, like deadly spikes, and dirt that would fall on your head. That last one may have been inspired by Minecraft, and I admit that I used Minecraft’s textures as a guide for my game’s final textures. Pixel art is still new to me. I planned on adding a rotation mechanic and some lava but I did not have the time, but after the compo I do!
In Game of Rows you play as this rough, nasty, angry pirate feared around the seven seas. Wait, no. You play as this silly, goofy pirate who hid his treasure in a dangerous cave, collapsing with every step you take, filled with traps. But how are you going to get your treasure later? What were you thinking! Better go get it now before it is lost.
I think I did a fantastic job with my game. Perchance if I had been more organised and I didn’t distract myself so much I would have created a more polished game, added more and better levels, or added a message for whenever the player wins a level and a menu.My only true regret is I didn’t have the opportunity to add some ambient sounds, like water drops, rain or thunder. Since I was entering for the LD48—a strategic decision because Jam entries could be done in groups, probably resulting in better games I alone could do—I had to create the sounds myself. I spent a few hours recording water falling on a pot and shaking radiographies, and then editing those recordings, but I didn’t get anything that sounded nice. That is all right though, I’m happy with the way it turned out and I have received some overwhelmingly positive response! Besides, there is always time to add more things later. I also greatly enjoyed myself playing other people’s games and I hope to participate again in… September, is it? I got to play, rate and comment (!) on over sixty awesome games (I was originally shooting for 100); Ludum Dare has a fantastic, amazing community filled with nice and creative people! ♥
And now, go play my game before the timer runs out!
You can visit my blog (currently a work in progress): The Fox Lair
Follow me on Twitter: @ZimDaFox
Or write me to zimthefox at gmail.com