Late Post Mortem — TGWSDI10S

Posted by (twitter: @ChronusZ)
August 28th, 2013 5:52 pm

I’ve finally decided to collect my thoughts about the game I made for the Ludum Dare 27 Compo: This Game Will Self Destruct in 10 Seconds.

The day before the competition started, I was incredibly ill and pretty much certain I wouldn’t be able to do anything. When I woke up the morning of, I was still sick, but I decided to participate anyways. So for the next eight hours I sat on my couch with my trusty laptop and learned the syntax of ActionScript3, how to use Flixel, the and basics of music theory and foley sound effect making, none of which I had any experience with before. By the end of those eight hours, I was feeling pretty good, and had learned basically as much as I needed to know.

When the competition first was about to start and I saw the theme candidates, I was desperately hoping for “Death is Useful”. I didn’t know what I would do with it, but it sounded like something I could get behind and make some puzzle game with a neat mechanic, or maybe an action game with special techniques. I most certainly did NOT want “10 seconds” to win.

And then it did. And I was sad, because I thought I was going to have to do some lame minigame style game that would bring nothing new to the table. But within about a half-hour, I had the trolly and brilliant idea that spawned TGWSDI10S. I was playing Skyrim to try to spawn creative thoughts (The best way to spawn creative thoughts), when the game crashed. This wasn’t exactly unexpected, and I’m used to it by now because I have about 70 mods installed that don’t mesh perfectly with eachother. But it got my thinking: “What if a game actually INTENTIONALLY crashed?” And so spawned the idea. I would make a game that crashes after 10 seconds.

Now, originally, I was just going to make it a completely generic game that you can’t beat because it crashes after 10 seconds. It was just going to be a joke game to troll people. But I quickly scratched that idea as not great, and decided that I would make the game save your progress every time it crashed, so that you could continue the story if you hit refresh.

So I started work on making the platforming engine, and very early on decided to make you be able to move super fast. At first this was just to make debugging the map easier, but it felt very much right to be able to move that fast in a game that ends so fast. So from there came the major design choice that every aspect of the game was based on: This game needs to be fast. When I got the combat working, I made it insanely fast. I added a very slight delay to the damage so that the timing is just awkward enough to make the game very difficult without making it impossible to time. I then made it so that once you punch, you can’t punch again for 1.5 seconds. I feel that this makes the combat very stressful because if you miss, you’re basically screwed. So button-mashing is about as effective as trying to kill your enemies Mario-style. Next I worked on the enemy AI and made the enemies follow a simple but very fast-paced movement pattern. Basically, they run towards you, attempt to punch you, and if they miss, run away until the can punch you again, at which point they run back towards you. From the very first time I succeeded in killing an enemy, I felt giddy with excitement and couldn’t stop giggling at how great the combat felt.

From there I implemented the saving, the timer, and some other minor mechanics to flesh out the gameplay before I delved into level design. I added some small tutorial texts and followed the course of my dominant design choice by making the text stunted and feel like it’s supposed to be read really quickly, like in FEZ. I carefully looked over every piece of text I added and removed every unnecessary syllable.

I finally got to level design at the very end of the first day. I was planning on making it a very short game that ended in the generic “Your princess is in another castle!”, but I decided to keep adding levels until I ran out of ideas to make them feel variated enough from eachother. I ended with three, and decided to change the ending to slightly less used used satirical joke (Play to find out what it is 😉 ). I made every level just in text form editing the tile array directly and then testing it out in game, and it worked well enough. I got the levels done fairly quickly.

I went to sleep after finishing the levels and woke up with the idea to add the ray-traced shadows. The fact that you could see the enemies through walls ruined the suspense a bit. After fighting the evil forces of frame-rate drops for a few hours, I ended up with a result that worked, but was a bit ugly and I wasn’t entirely happy with.

After doing that, I realized belatedly that I had no sounds or music whatsoever, and the competition was going to end in less than 4 hours. I hurriedly put together some foley sound effects and then jumped into FL Studio to try to make an 8 bit theme that felt fast-paced.

That failed miserably.

I wasted an hour and a half trying to make the 8 bit theme sound good before I switched off to working with a drum loop and within half an hour it sounded pretty dang good, in my egotistical opinion. I added the beam last based on a dream I had whilst sleeping the night previous, and got that as well as the church organ piece (Just major 3rds and a Dracula-esque down-step) in about twenty minutes. Last thing I needed to was set up the HTML page and embed the flash element within. Two problems were realized at this stage when I had only 45 or so minutes ’till deadline: I completely forgot how HTML works, and I had no website to host it on.

The first problem was quickly solved through the might of Google, and I made a simple HTML page that embedded the .swf in record time. The second problem was a bit more of a challenge, but I called up a friend and he was nice enough to give me access to his ftp server for his website (It’s a fantastic website, check it out: jimmymack.org/world.html), and I solved issue number two in time to meet the deadline. Looking up at the clock I realized that I had made the deadline with less than 5 minutes left.

And so, after the stress that had enveloped me for the past two days, I did the only thing a man can do when faced with so much relief.

No, you pervert, not that.

I ate a bunch of fudgesicles. Seven of them, to be precise.

And that’s the story of This Game Will Self Destruct in 10 Seconds. Big thanks to Skyrim for the idea and Jimmy for allowing my game to be uploaded to his site. I’m gonna go take a shower.

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