Zero Gravity Free Run – Postmortem

Posted by
September 6th, 2013 11:41 pm

For my first submission to the Ludum Dare community, and second game I have ever completed, I am fairly content with my finished product.
Zero Gravity Free Run
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Tools/Resources Used:

  • Microsoft Visual C# 2010: For a coding environment and compiler
  • Microsoft XNA Libraries: So I didn’t have to every game component from scratch
  • Paint.NET: To make all graphics and sprites in game
  • Audacity: Had to do a tiny bit of music editing because of some awkward silent spots
  • Robothell: Created all music included in the game
  • Liero Extreme: Harevested for some audio effects such as the explosion and death sounds

 

Summary:

It’s funny, this game turned out completely different from what I expected. The first game idea I had when the theme “10 seconds” was announced was not a free running game that lacked gravity. In fact I first thought up of a game where you were a spy with an ability to slow down time all around you, thus making 10 seconds into around a minute and a half. The goal would be you have to infiltrate a corporate building and gather needed intel before the building’s lock down procedure initiated. Either way, I figured that if time was slowed down by a significant enough degree, gravity would have less of an effect on the player and other physical objects, so I started to create an engine that would support gameplay mechanics in an environment with zero (or extremely low) gravity. That took me the whole of day 1. After completed, I got caught up for about a half hour just running my little pixelated character around aimlessly in this environment because the physics were so obscure and fun to mess around with. And after some thought I came to the conclusion; fuck it, I’ma make a game based purely off of this zero gravity mechanic. So I rethought my idea and came up with a this game.

 

The Good:

  • Controls: I got a lot of positive feedback regarding the simplicity of the controls and that it was a nice feel once you got used to them
  • Fast Pace: The fast pace made the game fit the 10 second theme well, without the 10 second timer I feel the game would be slower paced and the strategy for level completion would be quite different
  • Mechanics: I was surprised at how entertaining the main mechanic, zero gravity, made the game.
  • Graphics: This style of graphics was exactly what I was going for. I like the 16-bit and 8-bit graphics implemented a lot of indie games, and it’s a hell of a lot easier than trying to make everything high definition. With a simple PointClamp BlendState, I was able to scale up sprites and have their pixelisque look still apply. Also I thought it was a nice touch to add randomized color schemes for each time you run through a level.
  • Polishedness: Before ever completing a game I always thought that polishing would be an easy task that you could cram into the last minute, but thanks to my good frand MagDev I was informed otherwise and saved myself a goodamount of time to polish the game before it was ready.
  • Ending: Although unintentional, the last level in the game was by far the most difficult. I took even me multiple tries before I could finish it once. It is this kind of difficulty I think that keeps the player interested enough to play for a good amount of time.

 

The Bad:

  • Collisions: Although they are hard to notice at first, after playing through one of the glitchy levels a couple times, you’ll find that sometimes your character doesn’t properly latch on to the surface of some geometry blocks. This is a simple glitch that would have been an easy fix had I noticed it before the release. But there is a more complex malfunction that happens when your traveling in the air along your relative horizontal axis and hit a geometry on the corner; sometimes your hitbox will rotate to contemplate and get you stuck in mid air, this could have been avoided as well.
  • Movement: It was a bit difficult to scheme all the ways a player should be able to control his character while in the air with no gravity. You may have noticed that the character can not move along his relative vertical axis while airborne (ie: If you’re in the air with your head pointing left, you can’t add any left or right velocity). Which seems like no big deal if the player jumps into the air, because than his relative vertical velocity will be constantly positive. But if you simply run off of a wall, it get’s annoying that you can only move in two different directions. At the time of release I was aware of this but I figured that it’s the best way to implement movement. Thinking back, I realize I could have handled relative vertical movement in a multitude of much better manners.
  • Content: I thought the game was overly simple. There were only a couple different types of baddies, one hazard, and only 8 levels. I could have added more different types of hazards and baddies for better diversity, and if I had handled my time more responsibly, I could have put much more levels in.
  • Sloppiness: My coding was SLOPPY, going back in, since it’s been a while, it’s very difficult for me to modify any vital source code without messing something up.
  • Compatibility: At first release every comment was a crash report. Now I know games made with XNA binaries require XNA Redistributable 4.0, ┬áso I will include this in all my future XNA projects.

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