Blight Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @bdsowers)
December 18th, 2013 2:42 pm

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(Click Here to Play!)

The Story

On Friday night, when the theme was announced, my heart sank a little. “You Only Get One,” was the theme I was least excited for; I had no good ideas for it, and everything I was writing down looked worse and worse. Four hours later, the situation hadn’t changed much.

But I decided I had to move forward with something. So I rallied around the phrase, “You only get one minute,” and I slapped together a super quick test scene in Unity. I went for a Zelda-like feel, a combat-heavy game centering around the end of the world. You would play as Pestilence, the only one of the Four Horsemen taking the Apocalypse seriously, and throughout the adventure you would find items left by the other Horsemen. The whole time, your pestilence (or Blight) will fill a room, causing it to become unbearable after a minute, forcing you to move forward.


The next day rolls in, and I push forward with development – mostly focusing on the movement, collision detection, and weapons. I was using Unity, and I didn’t know Unity that well, so I wasn’t sure how hard it was going to be for me to make the movement feel good. Luckily it didn’t take that long. I also started in on enemy behavior and put together the full combat flow.

Oh, and I edited the back story some – Pestilence’s own sickness hurting him didn’t make sense, so instead I just made you the last surviving human, and the Four Horsemen were trying to finish you off. Using this, I managed to incorporate the theme in some new & useful ways.

At some point – either Saturday night or Sunday morning – I realized I wasn’t going to have time to put together any real content. Level design takes time, and I’m not particularly experienced with it, and it just wasn’t going to ‘click’ and feel the way I wanted. So instead, I opted to go more Rogue-like. I put in a random dungeon generator, and tweaked/played with it to get the feel I wanted. I also started working on UI using NGUI.


Monday was a mad-dash to put in content. I implemented four new enemies, proper progression, several screens, and the full game ‘flow.’ I got in everything I wanted short of a final boss and game victory, so right now the game just continues until you die. Which is usually pretty fast.

What Went Right

Unity – It took me a good long while to hop on the Unity bandwagon. I’ve always enjoyed writing core code and trying to make my personal codebases better, and switching to a prewritten 3D engine runs counter to that. Unity has a lot of good going for it, though, and developing in it was 80% a joy. That’s from someone who doesn’t know Unity all that well and learned a good chunk of it during this competition.

Time Management – This wasn’t my first jam, and I knew what I was getting into. I managed to squeeze in a lot of content, and I still got plenty of sleep and enjoyed some social outings. I would’ve liked to make a decent ending, but I think the game does alright without it.

Gameplay – I’ve developed a several time-constrained games, and only a few were ‘fun’ at the end. But I enjoy playing Blight. It’s a quick, action heavy Rogue-like that starts to resemble a bullet hell shooter the longer you play. It’s not particularly deep, but there’s some decent twitch play in there that had me playing when I should have been developing.

What Went Wrong

Unity 2D – The 2D features in Unity are still a bit raw. Sprite sheet management in particular is not ideal – it required a lot of cumbersome reworking and fighting. Also, using Mecanim for 2D sprites is overkill. My state transitions to switch between different walk cycles looked like a nightmarish web. 2D Toolkit may still be a better 2D offering.

Art – My title screen mentions an artist, but that was being polite; I got one image out of her and was on my own for the rest. I’m not an artist, don’t like working on art, and find placing every pixel to be a struggle. The game looks especially bad, and it undermines what I think was an otherwise quality entry. It makes for even worse screenshots, since there’s a ‘Blight’ VFX that looks horrible in still images.

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What Was Kind of Silly

SFX – Multiple people have complimented the SFX in this game. I made the ‘swing’ effect by rubbing two butter knives together and the ‘death’ effect by scratching my keyboard. There’s no way those SFX are good, friends. But thanks!

The Future

I wouldn’t mind fleshing this game out a bit. It started akin to Zelda and ended up closer to Rogue, but if I spend more time on it I think I’ll take it back closer to Zelda and put some designed, pre-authored scenarios in there. There’s not a bad base, the gameplay and controls feel solid, it could just use a little more shine.

If you’re an artist who’s interested in helping out with that, let me know… I wouldn’t mind the game looking better. :)

Enjoy playing!

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