Richard Was Afraid of the Dark – Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @atmospherium)
August 27th, 2013 8:29 am


Richard Was Afraid of the Dark
Richard Was Afraid of the Dark

 

This was my first attempt at completing a game, and I’m pretty happy with the results.  I came into the challenge with a very limited skill set, but found myself learning a lot over the course of the weekend and finding creative ways to implement the things I learned.  “Richard Was Afraid of the Dark” is definitely something I’m proud of being able to create, and that I’m planning on developing further over time.

 

What went well:

Graphics – I am definitely not the most artistic person, visually, so I was dreading coming up with graphics for the game.  For all of the world elements I kept the design simple, mostly black with simple bump-maps to enhance the lighting, and very little color (green for the door, red for fire).  Allowing the light/dark contrast to be the primary focus really seemed to work out well.  The game ended up looking way more polished than someone with my artistic ability should have the ability to create.

Level Creator – I spent time early on making a way to instantiate objects based off of a bitmap file.  I wasn’t sure how necessary it would be, but as I neared the deadline, it was my saving grace.  As I got within an hour of the deadline I realized that I only had a couple playable levels.  In spite of the time constraint, I was able to pull together the rest (i.e. most) of the levels within that final hour.  I was able to do basic playtesting and iteration fairly quickly, although a few bugs did rise to the surface in the later levels.

Music – I am definitely more experienced with music creation than game creation, so this was far more comfortable territory for me.  I came up with the core music idea and then split up the layers so that the music could progress alongside the player.  I had several ideas that I didn’t have time to implement, but I think the basic result was pretty effective.

Story integration – I’m really happy with the mechanic I implemented for storytelling (not necessarily the story itself).  I wanted to make the story feel present and relevant but never force a player to pay attention.  I think I found a decent balance between giving the player freedom to stop and read the text or to just run straight through.  As I was developing the game, this was the element that really made me feel like I could add something unique to the compo.

 

What went poorly:

Time Management/Theme – I had come up with the idea for this game in response to the 10 second theme.  I had gameplay ideas in mind as I started the process, but I got bogged down by all of the other stages of development.  I ended up not having time to develop any of the theme-relevant elements and was unable to do anything other than a brief allusion to the theme in the story text.  That’s a pretty significant failure.

Gameplay – The core ideas for the gameplay worked (running, jumping, getting to the exit) but all of the larger gameplay ideas (obstacles, the ten-second gameplay mechanic, control refinement, etc) went completely unrealized.  I had created the fire blocks with the intent to use them as obstacles, but ended up only using them for aesthetic purposes.  In the future, I’ll definitely need to prioritize the necessary gameplay elements earlier on.

Animation – As with the graphics, I dreaded the animation process.  Unlike the graphics, this didn’t work out quite so well.  I spent quite a while working on getting the animation together, but eventually decided to scrap most of the ideas I had worked on.  As the visuals developed, it seemed most suitable to allow the character to only be a silhouette, which glossed over how bad the animation really is (although if you stop right before a door, it still looks like the character is doing Gangnam Style).  This is my least favorite part of the game.

 

What’s next:

Overall, this was a great experience for me.  I learned a lot and gained have a much better idea of my strengths and weaknesses as a game designer.  I’m definitely planning on continuing work on this game, add the elements that I didn’t have time for, and see if I can release it during the October Challenge.

Thanks everyone for all your feedback and for making so many awesome games.

 

-John


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