Post mortem for Videogame Hero

Posted by
September 11th, 2014 3:36 pm

Post mortem for Videogame Hero

Thats the game:


This was my fourth time participating in Ludum Dare, I think it’s the first time I write a Post Mortem.

I really liked the game I’ve made.

It took me like half an hour of thinking to get to my idea for the teme. I was sure I could do everything I wanted in time for the 48 hours compo. I decided to begun what I knew it was going to be harder to do: the Platform section, and then I would move on for the second harder (The racing section), then all the other 3 sections I knew would be easy to do. Then I’d add the hub to connect all the worlds and code the energy bar / energy recovery system (But I’d already “prepare” the worlds I was coding to work with all this). I actually had first thought about changing worlds by pressing F1-F5.. then I though about an animation screen showing your “hero” moving from one world to another, like in a map… and then I thought “Hell, why not make the map a playable part of the game?”, and that’s how I came up with that hub.

Then for the first 3-4 hours, I worked on the basis for the Platform section. And boy, how I’d like to be able to draw. Someone made a nice comment about the graphics for the game, but I must admit, I have absolutely no drawing skills. The main hero in the platform section has just 2 frames of animation, and still it took me like 2 hours to draw its animation properly (If you can call that “proper”).
I finished the base for that world and went to sleep. What I had was the main hero moving and jumping properly, the blocks being generated at random, the arrows being shot at the player the way I wanted (And getting faster as the game goes by – there’s a “global” clock counting the gaming time, so difficulty raises as you keep playing). There were moments when the blocks would appear too far and there was no way to reach any blocks, but I was going to fix that later, as I needed some sleep.
In the next day, I had a big problem at my house that took me around 6-8 hours to solve. This took a lot of development time, and I ended up removing lots of features I wanted to have in the game. I just rushed to code the base of every world, make everything work, and then I’d add features as long as I could before the deadline.

For the base of the game, what really gave some headaches was finding a balance in the platforms spamming so there would be *always* a way to keep moving up without having to fall down. I think I did this very well, but I am not 100% sure there aren’t moments where’s just impossible to keep moving up. Also the racing part, I wanted to have some AI with the CPU cars, they had to be able to make turns and avoid each other, but it was getting so hard to make it work properly that I just added the possibility of they blowing up if they touch each other or the track, and left whatever of the AI I had already coded in there. It was not a bad decision at all IMO. The shmup, DDR and brick-breaker sections gave no problems at all and everything went very smooth there. Then I coded the hub, added the power ups on each section. On each world you need to make a certain amount of points to make the power up to appear. I had alredy written down in a paper a way to make each world energy to be recharged on at least 2 worlds. I then quickly coded the “world travel” screen… I wanted to do something different, I coded a routine in like 2 minutes, and the effect was actually differnt from what I wanted… and way cooler. So I kept it like that.

Then I went to add all features I wanted in each section. Like I said, I had less time for coding than I thought I would have, and I had to cut a lot of stuff. What’s really funny is that I think the game is actually *better* without most of those features, since they would make the game more complicated and less fun to play.

The features I wanted to add and I didn’t:

Platform Section: Bricks that would span spikes from time to time and hurt the player. Springs that would make the player jump higher. Bricks that would appear and dissapear from time to time. (This would make the game harder for no reason)

Racing Section: Cars that would move left and right to make the game harder. (Again, it would just make the game harder for no reason)

Shmup section: A proper boss fight (it would kill the flow of the game)

Brick-Breaker: Power ups like enlarge your paddle or triple balls. (Now those could be nice additions I guess)

Hub section: A random power up that would recharge every world energy (I thought this would be pointless really)

What I *actually* managed to add in the last 4-5 hours.

Platform Section: Moving platforms. (I *really* wanted that, and it was the “later-feature” that took the longer to do, as I had to make them work together with the spamming of normal bricks and not make stuff appear on top of each other and break everything)
Racing Section: Background scenery (They look crap, but make the game more alive)
Brick Breaker and DDR sections: Nice background animations (I actually loved the DDR background animation).

I then wrote a music very quickly on Ejay, added some sound effects for the game, and I spent the last 90 minutes trying to balance how often the power ups appear on each world so the game didn’t turn impossible to soon but also couldn’t be easily played forever. This was really hard to do and I don’t think I did it properly, but giving the development time, I was pretty satisfied with how I managed to do it.

In the last 10-30 minutes for the deadline I saw a bug with the track in the racing gaming “dissapearing” in the bottom of the screen. I had no time to fix that, so I just draw a big green rectangle on that spot on screen and called it a day.

The Platform section ended up being to hard, the player slided too much with inertia, so I fixed that on a pos-compo and the later HTML5 version.

I’d like to balance the way power-ups appear on each level, as its clear some levels are easier to mantain than others, and I know most people avoid the platform level as much as they can, because its harder than all others. This could be fixed, but other than that, I am really satisfied with the game and I personally love to play it.

If you read all this and haven’t played the game, I hope this sparks some curiosity and you go check it out. It’s playable as a Windows EXE and on HTML5 Web Browsers :)

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