So it’s about time I started making one of these postmortem posts and talk about what was good in my game and what wasn’t good. I’m not sure where to go with this but we’ll see how I get on.

If you haven’t played my game you can do so by clicking on the image below:

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(Warning: this post-mortem goes into spoilers for the game)

Part the First: The Theme

The hardest part of any jam I think is coming up with an idea that fits the theme. The theme this time was “Beneath The Surface”. I’m not sure what to think of the theme to be honest. I mean I could have carried on the tradition of Ludum Dare and complained about the theme for ages but that wouldn’t have been productive at all. I decided that I needed to give a crack at this, regardless of what i thought of the theme.

The first thing that came to my mind was “Minecraft Clone”. I really didn’t like this to be honest, and I hope that when it came to the game rating round that I didn’t have to dig (ugh) through various Minecraft clones (fortunately I haven’t seen that many.. although there are over a thousand entries that I haven’t rated yet… assuming I’ll get round to rating them). I needed something else

I’m going to take a diversion right here and say if there’s one tool that is infinitely useful for any hobbyist gamedev out there, it’s to get a whiteboard. If you can’t get a whiteboard, get stacks of scrap paper that you can scribble all over. You need something that you can put down an idea on. Why? Well there’s a few reasons:

  1. An idea can turn into another idea and that’s how you make ideas and how creativity works according to Edward de Bono or something. I think that’s what he said… I’m not even sure if I got his name right. Anyway creativity is a good thing and you need lots of creativity for Ludum Dare and game development in general.
  2. You get a physical idea on something so you don’t forget it. I always forget something 30 seconds after I thought of it. This is really annoying when I’m playing some kind of memory game or doctors appointments or something. Having a whiteboard means I can put down things so I don’t have to remember them later.
  3. You can draw diagrams to help you visualise how things work. Diagrams are good. I’m not good at art but by gum I will draw a representation of what I want to convey on something so I can see how it would work easier. Maths? Draw some triangles and graphs and stuff to show you are using your brainclevers to work out stuff
  4. You can draw willies on the whiteboard and that’s very funny. Willies are like the funniest genitals you can draw. Drawing them on a whiteboard is even funnier. Drawing willies on a whiteboard you own isn’t as funny as drawing on a whiteboard you do not own but at least you won’t get in trouble from your teacher for doing so. Dang it’s been years since I’ve been at school. I’ve been not drawing willies on whiteboards for too long

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I’m no expert on thinking ideas but here’s what I did. I started by writing down the theme on the board:

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This is where I got stuck. I couldn’t think of a good idea to fit the theme. I had to be clever. I started looking if there was a way I could break the theme name down to smaller words. At last I found the following:

2014-05-07 22.38.58

Beneath the Surf Ace! Of course! Now from there I could think of further ideas. Are you a shark trying to eat a surfing ace? Are you a Surfing Ace but you have to do a task that’s beneath you? I thought long and hard about this…

Part 2: Art

I am not the best at art. I’m actually very bad at it. Pixel art? I can’t do it, everything I make looks rubbish. I however tried to draw the surf ace and ended up making this hunk:

Screenshot 2014-04-26 15.00.22

I use gimp for art. Gimp is supposed to be an image editor not a tool for creating art but there I was, drawing my hunk really crudely with a trackpad. Yep I was on a laptop and didn’t use a mouse. This is the best art.

At this point I really needed an idea. I did have an idea that it would be some form of Adventure Game, but I still couldn’t think of any task that would be beneath this hunk to do.

To which point it then hit me.

Ben Eath

What if the name of the hunk was called Ben Eath? Brilliant! I’m a genius!

At this point it was nearly the end of day 1 and I needed to work fast if I was going to make something with this idea.

Section 3: Puzzles

Puzzles are things you put in games. People solve the puzzles and they can progress in the game. Good puzzles make the player feel smart.

I’m not good at thinking of smart puzzles

At this point I needed to make a simple puzzle. One that’s not too easy to solve but doesn’t have some bad logic to it either. This is kind of hard when you’ve only got a limited amount of time to do so.

Originally the puzzle was going to work out like this. You need fake tan but you can’t seem to find any. There’s a bully squirting a bottle of brown stuff on people which you think would be useful. However they won’t give you the bottle. You’d need to distract them somehow and steal the bottle off them.

This is where the kid with a broken sandcastle fits in. They had their sandcastle smashed by the bully and they couldn’t make another one because the bully smashed their bucket as well. You needed a new bucket. If they got a new bucket the bully would get distracted and you could take their bottle

The bucket is with the guy at the restaurant. Originally this was going to be a new section which wasn’t at a beach with art for the restaurant and everything but… well you know. The bucket was meant to contain an empty bottle of wine. Naturally the man won’t let you take the bucket unless you look like a waiter.

This is where the suit hire came in. Again, this was meant to be a shop, but ended up being a stall in the middle of the beach. You need money to hire a suit. Obviously.

Now here the money is found in the middle of nowhere in a lost wallet. There was supposed to be some puzzle where you stole Hunk Hogan’s wallet. Unfortunately… blah blah not enough time. You know how this story goes.

The rest of the game worked in the same way that it did (other than I had an idea for a surfing minigame where you competed against Hunk Hogan but.. I don’t even need to say it at this point). The only thing from the description I mentioned is that there was no bully.

Well.. I left them out.

Obviously this meant that the kid with the sandcastle had the fake tan all along. The joke about “Adventure Game Logic” not only was a clever way to convey humour in the game, but it was also a way to cover up the fact that part of the puzzle got removed because I needed to finish this game on time.

4th thing: Babes

babes

At this point I realised I made a big mistake. I had no babes on the beach. Our character kept talking about babes on the beach but there were no babes to be seen! This was an awful oversight I made when making the characters. I needed some babes STAT.

Obviously I couldn’t have them doing nothing, so I gave them some dialogue. Some self-aware and cheeky dialogue that makes me look like a really awful person, but dialogue nonetheless.

Oh while I’m at it

Subheading V: Dialogue

I lost hours doing this, which wasn’t helped by the fact that I decided to do dev diaries of what I was doing rather than actually trying to code stuff. I mention some pedal thing in on of these I think. That was a huge waste of time. Never do that. I just read up on Vim Clutch and thought “Wow this is going to make me super productive. Like heck it did.

 

Number 6: Music

I do not play an instrument. I do not know how to use any music making software. All I have is my voice. I was going to do this live.

For my previous games I’ve done humming to songs which are vaguely recognisable. I had to do this a lot with my previous Ludum Dare game “You Only Get One Shot: Eminem Rapping Simulator“.

I have no idea how music is made, or what makes music good. However the response I’ve had back from everyone about the “He’s a hunk, he’s a- he’s a- he’s a hunk” that plays in the background have been largely positive. I have no idea why is that. The game was already ridiculous so I thought “Yeah, why not. Let’s add some ridiculous music to go with it”.

I’ve had thoughts of putting a link to the audacity project somewhere so someone could pick it up and make remixes of the song. I’m not sure if anyone is interested in that kind of thing. I’d be surprised that anyone would want to make a dubstep remix of something I cobbled together in 10 minutes.

Finally: releasing it

Well I’ve had some problems with my host (I’ve since put an alternative link on itch.io) and… wow, the response I’ve had to this is overwhelming. This is probably my most popular game I’ve made for Ludum Dare so far. I don’t know if this is because I’m getting better at making games or if I just lucked this one.

I’m going to go with luck. My game can’t be that good…


4 Responses to “Beneath The Surface of “Ben Eath: The Surf Ace”: A Postmortem”

  1. Afal says:

    Seriously. Thanks to everyone who’s played and rated the game so far. I’m glad that many of you enjoyed what was a silly idea to me. I’m looking forward to playing the rest of the Ludum Dare games 😀

  2. howieV (binarygirl) says:

    im glad someone else did a play on words for the theme ..nice game man :)

  3. I think you made the funniest game of the entire jam. I still have the “he’s a hunk” song stuck in my head.

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