Finally have some time to sit down and write a post-mortem for Teleportant.
This was my fourth time entering the Dare, but only my second time entering the 48 hour compo. I was moving the next weekend, but instead of packing, I sat on my ass and made a game while my family packed around me. I also have a full-time job this time around, which made recovering from my all-night programming sessions harder but still do-able.
Step 1: Design
I did very little on the first day. I came up with the concept, design and had a guy moving around on key presses by the end of the first day. That’s it.
I had a hard time programming because, although I was working my ass off, it didn’t look like that to someone carrying boxes up stairs.
When I make games, I don’t start until I have a very clear vision in my head of what the final product is going to look like.
I decided that I wanted a visual style similar to Canabalt, so I opened that up, played it for a bit and studied it like a book.
Then I set about designing and animating my main character. I almost always do pixel art because drawing with a mouse does not work out too well for me.
I use Photoshop to draw all my pixel art, but it falls short when trying to animate sprites. For that, I use Pickle, which appears to be made by a fellow Ludum Darer! It has a neat animation preview panel so you can “feel” your animation while you make it, but it lacks some of the precise controls Photoshop has, so I find myself switching between them often.
Soon, I had a run cycle that looked a lot like Gangnam Style when viewed as a single image. It looked alright in game though, so I left it.
When I had him all done, I started programming. I decided on a twin stick shooter control scheme, and got him running around the screen and shooting bullets by the end of the first day.
Step 2: Engine
On the second day I did the bulk of the programming. I added enemies, death, blood and random level switching. There was originally only going to be one weapon, the pistol, and grenades. My brother advised I add more. “You gotta have at least a shotgun and flamethrower, bro.” So I spent some time adding those, and since I had already made an explosion animation, I went ahead and threw in mines as well.
By night fall I decided I needed some back drops to go with my levels, so I hit Photoshop again. I originally wanted at least 6 locations, but after drawing for a few hours and the deadline ticking ever nearer, I decided to settle for only 3. It was either make another 3 levels or add a menu screen and sound effects, so I went with the latter because I like to submit a game that feels complete.
Step 3: Sound
With only 3 hours left, I decided to focus all of my efforts on adding sound to my game. Sound design (as well as music composition) is admittedly my weakest area.
All of the in game sound effects were just me making silly sounds into the microphone. It’s best to do this when the room is empty. The music I made with FL Studio.
My previous entries have all lacked in the music department, and those where I tried to add some sort of melody, I failed horribly. *cough* Influenza *cough*
So at midnight I sat for about an hour trying to make something sound decent. I plugged in my electronic keyboard and played some melodies, but I realised that I have terrible timing. Something that sounded great to me when I played it, sounded awful when I listened to it again. I eventually decided to just play something, then fix the notes manually in FL Studio. I ended up with the piano song you can here in the menu screen.
For the game sound, I wanted something much more upbeat to match the fast-paced style of the game. I set about creating a beat that sounded good to me, then worked on a melody until it didn’t sound awful. I am happy with what I managed to create, but feel there is so much room for improvement. At least it’s a huge step up from the music in my previous games.
One of the comments on my game read “Your music is exceptional!” which warmed my heart. Thanks!
Step 4: Polish
When the final hour arrived, I was drawing the menu screen and adding some final touches. Effects like dust trails, rain, lines of electricity between the player and enemies that are teleported with them, that sort of thing. I also really wanted to have a train that occasionally runs through the train yard, and I’m glad I did that, because it really adds to the game.
As do the menu screen, instruction screen, score, pickups, the random body parts that appear when someone dies, all that stuff helps make your entry feel like a completed game and leaves a lasting impression on the player.
I feel that game dev is a skill, and I feel that I’ve definitely improved since my first entry over a year ago. Now that I have a few completed games under my belt, I found that putting my ideas into action came a lost easier. It all comes with experience. I generally had a more relaxed time than I did when I entered previously. I managed to get done without that damn pain in the shoulder I get when I program for hours at a time! Success!
I was way too lax at the beginning of the competition. Had I worked as hard as I did near the end, I would have had more levels in there and would have a better rating to show for it.
After getting 3 hours of sleep on Monday morning before work, I checked my entry to find that there were no comments yet. I checked again at lunch time, and still nothing. A little disappointed, I realised that my link was not showing up correctly on my entry page. D’oh!
If you’d like to give the game a go, please do so here.
If you’d rather watch someone else play it, Noble Kale did a wonderful video review of the game here.
I have a post-compo version planned, which addresses a lot of the game’s flaws and adds a few more levels. If you’d be interested in playing that, do follow me on twitter.