LD29: “Upper Crust” Post-Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @dylanwolf)
May 6th, 2014 9:50 am

LD29: Upper Crust

What went right:

  • I typically scan through voting rounds 1-4 results before Friday to generate some ideas. I felt the “world-switching” idea for “beneath the surface” was the strongest one I had this time around. (Granted, the idea was a rip-off of A Link to the Past.)
  • I’m happy with the art. I’ve learned to work (rather quickly) with my sketchy “hipster art” style. I feel I pushed myself a bit further than last time, especially with the tileable spirtes. It’s still a little flat and distorted compared to trained artists, but it’s definitely good enough.
  • I didn’t create all the little mechanics that I’d initially brainstormed, but I was pleasantly surprised with what I did get in place and how it fit together. The comment that mentioned “unconventional combat” felt good. Up to that point, I didn’t consider this idea much more novel than the standard top-down action-adventure.

What could have gone better:

  • There’s decent use of the world-swapping, but it could have been better. I wanted the overworld to feel “safe” (hence why there are no enemies and you heal there), but it never became anything more than a waypoint.
  • As pointed out in the comments, the mana system was unnecessary. I still think there might be some use for it, to prevent you from just “teleporting” out of every sticky situation. It would need a lot of tweaking, though. Perhaps independent cooldowns on teleportation and lava burst would work better.
  • I feel like I phoned in the music. A few more takes and I could have ironed out some of the rough bits. I didn’t stretch myself with the Underworld guitar–it was what came comfortably to me rather than what fit the mood. I did stretch myself on the Overworld, but that means gratuitous mandolin which can be a bit jarring (it’s not my forte).

What went wrong:

  • Livestreaming. I assumed some of the glitches I was getting in Windows Saturday night was the result of livestreaming/recording (as my gamedev laptop is pretty mediocre). I didn’t have any viewers on my stream, so I shut it down. Now, I wish I’d at least recorded the full weekend to video so I could put together a timelapse.
  • This concept uses a lot of colliders–camera boundaries, pickups, enemies, hazards, clickable areas, etc. I wasn’t prepared for how colliders from two separate overlapping worlds might (unintentionally) interact. I didn’t fully understand which items should cause triggers versus collisions until later in the development. I lost a lot of time to bugs that just “appeared” when I added a new feature, and patched them with the code equivalent of spit, gum, and duct tape. A bit more planning into my physics layering and hierarchy and a bit less premature optimization would have been helpful.
  • PlayerController.cs is a hideous god object singleton that rules over the dystopian wasteland of game state with an iron fist. I started sticking player-related state there, and at some point just decided to put all my game state there, too.
  • I hadn’t looked at UTiled in a while and I’m not an expert on optimizing graphics. Saturday night I first noticed the tile maps weren’t displaying pixel-perfect and panicked. Scaling down to 640×480 was a time-saving hackfix, but it was disappointing. ViNull pointed out that my problem was in Unity texture compression settings, so it was a quick, simple post-compo fix.
  • I had an idea for a monster that would stand in place and hurl fireballs horizontally or vertically if you passed by. Since it wouldn’t be as easy to kill as rock monsters or avoid as lava, it would have added variety. Unfortunately, it was way down the list and didn’t make it in.
  • I started level design way too late. Saturday night I sketched out the 4 levels, and by Sunday I was too stressed to keep going once I built them out. I could have used more of the breakable rocks and enemies to add some variety to those levels. After playing through the game a few times post-jam (plus Armanky’s Strawberry in the Underworld, which does “world-swapping” better than I did), the squandered potential was painfully obvious.

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3 Responses to “LD29: “Upper Crust” Post-Mortem”

  1. GaTechGrad says:

    I thought the sprites in your game looked really sharp. I didn’t know that you have a live stream, but I’ll be sure to check it out next time.

    • dylanwolf says:

      Thanks. I think I tweeted the livestream once or twice, but didn’t make a big deal out of it. It did occur to me that you, Mike, and I were the most likely to tune in to each others’ streams, except we were broadcasting our own.

      • GaTechGrad says:

        I didn’t have many viewers either… but around 1 or 2am I would get spikes in viewers. Probably because everyone else is shutting down their streams, and people are still looking for something to watch.
        The one feature I wish Twitch had is a ping or a notification sound whenever someone leaves a message in the chat room. Sometimes I can go an hour or longer without realizing that someone has posted something.

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