The Trials of Chad post-mortem

Posted by (twitter: @Aaants)
December 18th, 2013 2:15 pm

Hi there. After being a creepy Ludum Dare lurker for a long time in the past, I managed to enter all three this year, which has been great. For 28, I made The Trials of Chad, which you can play over on Newgrounds.

All things considered, I’m fairly satisfied with it. I’m a big fan of difficult games and that has echoed down into the entry, so I made a full run video along with the actual game:

What went well:

  • It’s ‘finished’! There’s a clear start and end with obvious progression, which is always nice! The last hour was a bit hairy as it was very much broken, had no music, ending or high-score integration before then.
  • Flash Pro with Flash Punk. It probably seems odd to mix a timeline based IDE with a completely import based engine but they actually work well together. I found that it’s much easier to include different fonts, for example, by using the Flash Pro library. It’s also nice to be able to throw a soundtrack into Pro and let it handle the conversion (I’ve also known Builder/Develop to cut the end off sounds and SFX, which Pro doesn’t). The grainy overlay and slight shadow are both layers in Pro placed over a symbol that contains all the Punkery:

  • Newgrounds. I love it. There’s no more supportive place for small games in my (admittedly limited) experience. The comments are constructive without being offensive, the loaders, ads, medals and score tables are ridiculously easy to implement and their willingness to feature LD games is awesome. The extra attention from that means that even if players just waited for it to load, glanced at the first stage and navigated away, it would still have accrued more play time than development time. Can’t ask for much more than that for a 48hr game!

  • The screen transitions. Flash Punk doesn’t have much in the way of support for this (it doesn’t support levels running simultaneously , as far as I can tell) so I fudged it a little. By keeping a snapshot of the game on the last frame of a level, I could add a new Entity to the following level and tween it out straight away. It almost looks like the level is still running as it animates away. I got the idea from a student a day earlier when he accidentally rotated his entire game world instead of just his character. It looked so bizarre I decided to make a mental note to use it in future :).
  • The shop. I quite like the little in-game store.

What didn’t go so well:

  • Being ill. Being ill sucks. I lost 5-6 hours that would’ve been put into graphics (the blocks and stripes weren’t a design choice, even though I don’t hate them) but I didn’t have much choice. I was a little disappointed; I’d set a personal goal of making real graphics for a change, as most of my other games have monochromatic/Limbo-esque styles, which isn’t bad but does get a bit samey.
  • The controls. The dashing, as cool as it is, can be tricky to activate when needed. Being sat on my own for 2 days, I suppose I had just gotten used to it and didn’t invest time in making it any easier.
  • The level design. The levels could be better. I spent a bit of time editing the engine to take in pictures and auto-tile the level based on the position of solid black pixels. Different shades of grey (or blue, actually) were reserved for coins, jump pads, baddies and player spawns. I would have liked to make better use of all that, given the time I put into coding it up. One nice side-effect was when I accidentally used the player shade to place coins, resulting in an army of Chads that all worked just fine. This happy accident led to the levels where you control multiple Chads – so not all bad!
  • Bugs. They’re in there but I won’t draw too much attention to them!

In short:

I’ve enjoyed it! <3 LD :)

– Ant

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