Post-Mortem: Captain Robert

Posted by
August 26th, 2013 11:23 pm

Captain Robert

First, this was an awesome experience. That was an intense 48 hours. I’m so glad I did this and actually finished the game I wanted. I’ve seen quite a few of these post-mortems here on LD so I decided I should end this experience with my own.

Just a heads up, I go into spoiler territory below so if you have any desire to play this game, do yourself a favor and click the link below. Play it first and come back here after. Don’t ruin it for yourself! I’ll wait. I promise.

Captain Robert

——–STORY SPOILERS BELOW!!!!——–

So without further ado, Captain Robert’s POST MORTEM.

THE GOOD.

  • The story (3/4 of it anyways). I made a story that I liked to watch and read. Parts The Thing (80’s version, people), parts Lovecraft, parts every other sci-fi movie I grew up loving, this game was a kind of love-child to all those great movies and books. I put a large portion of my time into making these characters and their reactions somewhat grounded. I think it turned into a solid (if unoriginal) tense sci-fi mystery. I guess I was banking on a decent story overcoming some the other shortfalls of the game. The end product’s tense atmosphere, the story unraveling before the player, and Julie’s tragic story are my proudest moments.
  • The gameplay. I’ll be the first to admit that old metroid games were a huge factor in developing this game. It didn’t start out that way. I started with making a general list of gameplay elements I could develop within 48 hours and it wasn’t much. AS3 and Flixel are still a pretty big mystery to me (More on that below) so I had to carefully choose what I could develop well. It just so happens that the majority of the exploration elements of a metroid game were things I thought I could pull off well.
  • DAME. This tile editor is amazing. Without a doubt, the final ship would not be what it is if it weren’t for how easy it is to pick up DAME and incorporate it into a Flixel project. Any compliments to my jumping and collision detect? All the handy work of the boys behind DAME and Flixel.

THE BAD.

  • Captain Robert. Not quite him but his sprite (or lack thereof). This was one of those things I meant to get to, after I finally got the core game and story down. The core game and story were completed less than 2 hours before the deadline and I had to pick and choose what was going to make it into the game. In the end, I decided that my best programmer art for Robert (Let alone what I could produce well in such time constraints) wouldn’t do him justice and just distract the player from everything else on the screen. So, a solid white rectangle for you, Robert. (Besides, Thomas Was Alone pulled it off pretty well IMO).
  • No radar or map. Sorry guys. You’re just going to have to slug it out, old school style, with no sense of direction. If I had the time, the player would have at least a static map of the ship. On a similar note, I wish I could have added a better indicator of what keys the player had and what doors he had access to at any given moment. This general confusion only hurts the pacing setup in the game.
  • The theme. Put this inside the ‘not enough time’ bin. Originally there was a lot of dialogue explaining why 10 seconds would mean the world to our Robert. How the potential to not be yourself and the thoughts that follow that can define or redefine someone. What makes a person and how the creature kind of ruins that. Instead of refining these cool concepts into the game, I was cramming all I could to make the story being told coherent and fun. Given the time, I would follow up on this portion with an expanded final quarter of the story.
  • The music and sound. The music was added in within the last hour of the dare. I thought it connected the world together and still think when the music stops, your palms get a tiny bit more moist, but the fact is that it was largely untested and was almost cut from the game after I couldn’t fiddle with it enough to get it working properly. What stands is a buggy music system that plays when it’s not supposed to and vice-versa. Simple things like footsteps for Robert and the banging coming from the storage room would add volumes to the game but with time being a premium here, all sounds that made it into the game were luxuries that I’m happy worked out.

THE UGLY.

  • The code. I’m so sorry for that poor excuse for structure in my source files. You may need bleach for your eyes after looking at my code. Mega-blobs and unused code lurks in every corner there, rivaling my own game’s horror elements. The worse part about it was that I thought this would be a learning experience with AS3 and Flixel. I only dived into developing with Flixel and AS3 earlier this week. After learning a portion of the fundamentals, I completely shifted gears and jumped into making the game with that limited knowledge and fudging my way along. The only redeeming factor is a cautionary tale. NEVER MAKE CODE LIKE THIS AGAIN (until the next dare that is!).
  • Of course. That ending. Two things went wrong here that I can see:
  1. First I saw that some people were confused to whether it was supposed to end there or whether there was another key on board the ship. The escape pod key was a dropped concept that I left in the game as a sort of red herring (that it was the ‘right thing to do’). No one would actually look for it because everyone would want to see what’s inside the storage room, right? Well. People actually looked for it. Sorry about that. It should be clearer now.
  2. The other issue with the ending was that it’s incomplete. All the dialogue I intended for the game is in there but a followup of that door opening and a little closure after that would have made sure that it was unambiguous what I intended as ambiguous and leave a slightly different shock to the player.

I was going to end this thing with a list of features I ran out of time with but now that I’m seeing some of the response the game has had with some people, I’m thinking of putting out a ‘Director’s Cut’ of some sorts that clears up the timeline, fleshes out the story, adds more background, adds the missing compartments, adds an item or two, maybe even adds the intended ending(!). Who knows? Robert may actually end up with a sprite after all.

I think I’ve gone on long enough. Let me know if there’s any desire to see more of Robert in the comments. Lastly, thanks to everyone for playing. I’m loving the theories so far. You guys and your responses totally made it worth stressing out, losing sleep, giving up, restarting, giving up again, cursing myself out, then finally making that mad dash towards the finish line. Sincerely, thank you. If you have any questions about the making of the game, please ask away! Otherwise, see you in the next dare!

   -GK

Tags: , ,


7 Responses to “Post-Mortem: Captain Robert”

  1. Jason says:

    Since you put spoilers in your post, I’m going to assume its ok to talk about the ending. If you’re reading this and haven’t played the game yet…SPOILERS!

    So I’m a little confused about the ending. Maybe I’m missing the point, but when I opened the storage room door, the game just restarted. Is that supposed to happen? Am I missing the deeper meaning here, or did you just run out of time (totally understandable!).

    • koe415 says:

      What’s in the game is a large part of the ending I originally intended. The player would never get to see who/what is in that room and it would leave it open to interpretation about what happened immediately after opening that door. Unfortunately the time just wasn’t there to polish the ending off and avoid the confusion of people saying “Did I just break this game?” when it suddenly jumped back to the main menu.

      Anyways, thanks so much for playing and I’m glad you played it through to the ‘end’ 😀

  2. nemomoo says:

    SO…
    I get out the ship. That’s one crazy maze. I’m not sure if I found it all. I ended up floating into space and being stuck(?) Is there anything else out there?

  3. nemomoo says:

    The secret pickup. I can see it out there. I can get out of the ship but I can’t get to it. I got too immersed and it’s driving me mad that I’m missing out on the secret.
    Loved the game, and I would like to see more of robert.

    • koe415 says:

      I can’t bring myself to spoil the game for you but someone in the comments on newgrounds lists the steps to access that last note! It’s not story related so you’re not missing out on too much. If you still try it, good luck!

  4. Jackal33 says:

    Don’t change that ending! Sometimes ambiguous endings feel like the writer just got lazy and gave up. Other times it leaves you wondering WTF was going on as it fails to conclude the story.

    This ending is perfect. The story is still complete for those who care, and the ambiguity we’re left with is the perfect note to end on. What we subconsciously expect is some kind of climax and denouement to go with the gameplay; however that is completely unnecessary in this case as the story is being told after-the-fact (and you tell a complete story about the events prior to the games-beginning). It really made me think and reflect on the game, as it was a engrossing story told through a different medium and felt as such. The complete lack of closure made people come back to it time and time again to glean more, almost all that played this are have discussed this and their interpretations of it. In other words, this is one of those flash games that breaks past mere entertainment and elevates the medium to an art-form. It made me think hard about the story, I, like many other players, came to my own conclusion; it made me think hard about the game, beyond simply wondering why there wasn’t more action and violence in the gameplay to go along with a cheap unoriginal sci-fi/horror plot.

    Please do not change the ending.

  5. alautar says:

    Here’s what you should do: remake the game as a first-person exploration-type thing. Flesh out the story, maybe add a few characters, but KEEP THE AMBIGUOUS ENDING THE SAME! I would love if you did that.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

[cache: storing page]