10s Paparazzi: Postmortem

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August 26th, 2013 7:28 pm

After a well-deserved rest, it’s time for the post-mortem of my fourth LD entry, 10s Paparazzi.


I was travelling back home on Friday night when I learned about the chosen theme. I’d been brainstorming a bit with the final list, and for “ten seconds” my main ideas revolved around choice-fate (resulting in more or less convoluted/pretentious concepts such as “your life could change in 10s”, “10s to meet/lose your soulmate”, etc) in addition to more straight approaches (i.e, “you have to do X in 10 seconds”).

After translating some of these concepts into gameplay, I ended up with four main candidates:

  • A shooter with waves of enemies appearing every 10s.
  • A tower defense with waves appearing every 10s.
  • A dungeon crawler, mixing elements of FTL and The Binding of Isaac, where you had 10s to fulfill whatever was required of a dungeon room, and then would have to pick an exit with no possibility to backtrack. I even had a title for it: “No time to explore!” (an obvious reference to the game “No Time to Explain”). I really liked this idea, but sounded as if it could go out of hand quickly.
  • Last, a glimpse of the landscape through the window gave me the idea.  A game where you had to scroll through the scene and take a picture of something (rather than hit him as in a Whack-a-Mole game)  seemed approachable, and there were several compelling mechanics that could work fine with it. As you may imagine by now, we had a winner here.


What went right

  • Reusing the codebase from previous entries. The less time you devote on setting the application, defining game states and the basic engine functionality, the more you can use to polish, balance and create assets.
  • Simple concept. You can just pick the game from scratch and start playing immediately. Unlike my previous entry, where I made the mistake of not providing enough feedback or instructions to get the hang of the game quickly, the controls were intuitive enough for all players to know what they’re doing.
  • Backlog. I decided to create an exhaustive list of tasks to help me track my work, plan and prioritize. These are skills I’m working hard to improve (I think that I’ve become better with each Ludum Dare :D), and keeping the backlog updated turned out invaluable. Also, there’s the dopamine shot when you begin to see large areas of green ^_^
  • Potential to further develop it.

What went wrong

  • Missing features: The opposite to the “dopamine shot” previously mentioned was to see in the backlog how many tasks you still needed to do. While I managed to finish the highest priority ones, there were still lots more, which could have helped immensely with the game experience. Some examples are:
    • Better character behaviours
    • Camera “skills”: The idea was that some objectives required a bit more than  just “have this little fellow photographed”. For example, we could have a more complex “take a picture of a smiling red ventolin with a blue one next to him”, and to achieve that we might have some “freeze” or “move” skills to manipulate the scene.
    • Livelier environments
    • Multi-layered scenes, with parallax.
    • Photo gallery
    • Secondary objectives
    • Sound and music
    • Etc, etc
  • A series of unfortunate events: As I’ve said, I ran out of time for features, testing and polishing. I could blame my poor planning skills, but this time I ran into a couple of handicaps in real life that made me waste some hours, too. First, as I said, I was travelling by train. It was supposed to arrive in Barcelona at 9:00, but due to some forest fire in the northwest, it arrived with a delay of almost three hours. Secondly…I had lots (I’ve counted around 50 between legs and arms) of mosquito bites which seemed almost cured by Friday, but then started to itch again like crazy and swelled insanely the next day, reaching the point that I was starting to feel pain and/or numbness in some areas (this freaked me out). They still look pretty terrible today, but it’s nothing compared to Sunday, when I had to leave my desk 4 hours before the deadline to find an emergency centre, covered with large patches of burning red skin. >_<
  • Dat scroll bug. I wasted several hours trying to smooth the camera movement. I improved it a bit, but introduced new bugs, some of them resulting in nasty camera shakes. As I’d got stuck and still had some high-priority tasks, I decided to start working on those first, think about something else and then go back later to polish the scroll. This, sadly, never happened.
  • Character art: Most backgrounds look quite nice in my opinion, but I can’t say the same of the characters. I’d hoped that I could add more animations, and give different appearances to each creature, rather than just changing colours, but once again time had its way.
  • Way too easy: The first screen is meant as a tutorial, so the creature appears close to the camera to teach the player. As for the other ones, the implemented behaviours were insufficient to pose any challenge, so the game can be completed in less than a minute.

In the end, I’m left with a bittersweet feeling. The game looks nice and shows promise but the compo version is way too simple. Still, I’ve learned a lot, as it’s been the case with my previous entries. As always, I love the experience! 😀


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