One Minute To War Post Mortem

December 19th, 2013 10:57 pm

Game jams can be brutal, head bashing, long hours til your eyes refuse to stay open but you force them to anyway, experiences. They can also be extremely rewarding and fun and you will probably learn something along the way, or a lot of somethings.

One Minute To War Title Screen

One Minute To War Title Screen

I started this comp quite a bit late, struggling with coming up with a game that fit the theme. Idea after idea was scrapped, as I just was not feeling them. With 23 hours left in the 48 hour compo, I finally came up with something I was happy with and could run with. I began my official comp work sometime around 9pm on Saturday. I actually slept from 3am til 9am, feeling like I would need the rest before the big push. After waking, I worked right up to the deadline.

For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to learn a completely new engine/language at the same time. I’d never used Haxe, FlashPunk, or HaxePunk before, and after reading a blog on the Ludum Dare page talking about several different engines, I decided to try HaxePunk. I went through the process of installing it, installing FlashDevelop, and running through the basic tutorials, and then was off to writing my game!

Learning a new language under extreme time pressure definitely has it’s downsides. Sometimes I struggled with the most basic functions that anyone seasoned in a language would know instantly, but due to the time crunch, I had no time to try and figure out how to do them properly. Example: I wanted to write a for loop, assumed it was like other languages, and after a couple of minutes gave up and made a poor mans for loop out of a while loop. Another example: I never figured out how to properly get the current time passed in millisecs, so I wrote a pretty hacky time system. It got the job done at least.

One of the biggest downsides was the total lack of experience with what features did or did not work in the various platforms the language could output to. Text didn’t scale right in Flash, and the random number generator failed completely in Html5. The Windows version worked for some peeps, and not others. I ended up baking the text into images and attaching those images at runtime to random pieces of paper, where-as I had planned on just having the text appear in-line as strings in the game and hiding the codes in the text.

On the upside, I feel like I can easily write new code in HaxePunk now with no fear. The language is really well put together, and felt super easy to use. It error reported quite well into the compile console( I never got it compiling within FlashDevelop, and frankly just didn’t have time to bother ). Also, I love more code based languages, so it was really nice to not have to enter an IDE and use drag and drop features to write a game. In the end, I ended up with a game, and HaxePunk really didn’t let me down.

One Minute To War Gameplay Screen

One Minute To War Gameplay Screen

 

As for the game, there is so much I wanted to do, but with only a little more than half a day at best of real dev time on it, I failed to implement them. You cannot flip pages over, as I intended, the codes float/lag behind the pages making it really easy to find them, and there is no real end, the game just gets harder and harder. I wanted to add different types and sizes of pages, sticky notes, business cards, and books. Also, some levels were intended to have keys you had to find and place into the key-slots, as well as multiple codes you had to enter in a specific order.┬áThe theme was wrapped in as you only get one minute to find the code and then you only get one chance to press the abort button or you fail. I think in a further implementation of the game, the 1 minute rule would change with the levels. As of this writing, I have no clue how I would end it, and I’m not sure I ever even thought about it during the contest. It’s more like older games from the arcade era, they just go and go until you fail, but I’m not sure I’d want that to be how this one plays out.

Overall, I feel alright with what I made and I had a lot of fun learning HaxePunk. I’d love to expand upon it somewhat more, though I’m not sold that it is a solid long-term mechanic. Game Jam games for me are an outlet to explore and experiment with creating gameplay experiences I don’t normally get to create.

You can checkout the game on the ludum dare site here:

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-28/?action=preview&uid=26768

Thanks for reading and keep game deving!

@Squibbons


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