I had to use that extra last hour to whip in a few splash screens, but I made the upload deadline!  I am really amazed with myself for busting out this idea in 48 hours and still end up with a playable game.  I’m only but a hobbyist with delusions of grandeur, mind you.

ParaPlats_logo

Post-Mortem (?)

(The question mark is because I think I may continue this thing — depending on how well it’s received.  )

Before LD30 started, I had an idea in my head to make a platformer with parallax platforms.  When the theme was announced, I was totally stumped for 2+ hours trying to come up with an idea (“Connected Worlds” was actually one that I down-voted).  It finally dawned on me to use the parallax platforms as different parallel universes.  Alas, I was happy that I could use my idea.

I started with no real clue for a plot, but it didn’t matter.  I figured something might come to me while I worked on the game mechanics.  I was going to make a platformer game, but I didn’t want it to be blocky — 32×32 blocks everywhere.  It’s a platformer, so I made platforms.  Long, skinny platforms.  I decided on three layers, or depths, of platforms for the character to jump and run around on.  I needed a character sprite so I whipped out a weird, cyclops, robot-looking thing really fast.  Funny that this would end up being the basis of the storyline yet to come and I would end up keeping this original sprite design.

spr_player_1

So, parallax platform mechanics.  What did I get myself into?  Turns out, all my platforms are objects.  Well, of course they are, but each platform must move relative to the player, per depth.  If the player is in the middle depth, the middle platforms wouldn’t move, but the back platforms would move slowly while the front platforms moved quickly.  Each depth the player was on had to have a different movement modifier for the other depths to maintain a consistent flow from depth to depth. Yes, it was tricky, but once I dove into figuring it out, I made it through relatively smooth.  I made the front world depth blue, middle world green, and the back world red.  I figured red, green, and blue were the most logical colors to choose, right?  –RGB.  Also makes for nice color palette consistency.   Anyway, along with all this, to make things nice and complicated for myself (as if it weren’t already), each world depth is a different size in an effort to further the illusion of actual depth.  I went with a base size of 48×48 for the front, 32×32 for the middle, and 16×16 for the back.  It made things pretty easy to scale (size and movement speed) by using *1 for the front, *0.75 for the middle, and *.5 for the back.  Sooo-ooo-oooo — I got the platforms all working and moving with the player and everything and was feeling pretty swell.

It was about this time when I took a little break and was bragging to my wife of my nerdly accomplishments that I mentioned the character sprite looks like a one-eyed exclamation point.  She then throws out the “dangling participles” and the “verb conjugators” and voila!, instant plotline.  I rushed back to my computer and whipped up these ‘collecting’ assets for the game.  Well, whipped up the sprites anyway.  The joys of number-crunching variables are yet to be known by me.  But plod on I did go.  I threw the objects into the game room and anxiously hit the playtest button aaaaannnnd….  I realized I had to put all that relative movement in all of these objects, as well.  Per depth.  And three sizes.  Blah.

Plod.  Plod.  Plod.

I got all this working, pretty much, and needed to make a real level.  I figured I would teach the player as he/she goes so I needed a textbox message system.  Luckily, I had recently learned how to do this, kinda.  After a few attempts, I finally got this working and began creating a tutorial level.  Well, about three platform depth level changes into it, I found out that you can’t just plop the platforms into the room editor and expect them to be in the same place when you play the game.  I had to adjust for the parallax movement of the platforms when I created the level by placing the platforms away from where they needed to be so that after you travelled through the level a ways, they would be at the correct position.  Wow — this took for-eh-ver to design.  For – eh – ver.  Playtest the level.  Add some red platforms.  Add some green platforms.  Play through the level.  Move the green platforms.  Play through the level.  Move them a little more.  Play through the level.  Ok, they’re good enough, add some blue platforms.  Play through the level.  Where are they??  Make a few “patches” of platforms. Play through the level.  Find the closest patch, adjust the position, remove other patches, play through the level.  At this point, I’m only half way through creating this level and begging for mercy.

I finally get the level done and only have about 3 hours to deadline.   Unfortunately, this was only enough time for me to create and code the splash screens and polish a few little things, leaving out music and sounds.  I was really hoping to create some music for this.  All in all, I’m pretty happy with what I ended up with.  (48 hours, for Bob’s sake!)

Here are a few features that didn’t make it into the final cut:

  • Two more bad guys — Comma (jumps) and Apostrophe (flies).
  • NPCs — Question Mark and Period (story-telling agents).
  • More story-telling.
  • 15 more levels.  (Wut??)
  • Music
  • Sound FX
  • Pretty graphical exchange of dangling participles to verb conjugator.
  • Pretty graphical effect of closing the rift when finishing the level.
  • Smooth size and color transition when moving from depth to depth.
  • A way to defend against the bad guys, or shoot them, or something…  maybe…

Here’s what I’d like to add/change also:

  • Graphical upgrades to the sprites.
  • More backgrounds.
  • Clean up the textbox messaging.
  • Determine a good view size.  I think the current view might be a bit too close.
  • Player option screen size.
  • I had thoughts of including a zoom function, but unsure.
  • Menu system, save game, etc.
  • Gamepad support.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my drivel.  >>TL:DR — I made a gaem in 48 hours and things got crazy.<<  Yeah – it might’ve got a bit crazy, but it was a lot of fun.  Especially browsing around seeing what everyone else was doing.  If I hadn’t come up with an idea, I would have been stuck watching livestreams – lol!  Now, a much needed rest, then look around and play and rate a few of your games!  Ludum Dare!


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