Silian Rail Post-Mortem

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December 14th, 2014 6:45 pm

Silian Rail Post-Mortem or: How I learned to finally motivate myself to learn real collision and not Gamemaker’s built-in crap

A little backstory, this is my 3rd Ludum Dare and about my 5th game jam in general (my first awful entry to Bacon Game Jam, plus a wildly successful 2014 Asylum Jam). I came in with a mission. Tiny scope, maximum polish. I failed in a number of ways so here’s what went right and wrong about the process and the game.

 

If you want to play, click the image below to give it a spin!

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Process – What went wrong?

  • Limited Scope
    I kind of ignored the scope thing. Avoid Rage is the sort of scope I was planning to go for, but I ended up with something that required map design, NPC pathing, level design and a shit ton of art! My problem was that I fell in love with an idea before really scoping it out. Funnily enough, I spent an hour on one idea before canning it for those very same reasons… so while this game was smaller in scope than the original one, it was still too big for my mission.

  • Polish is boring.
    This is my biggest lesson from this game jam. My god it’s boring polishing things. If you’re as bad at art as me, you can’t take a huge amount of joy in it. I found joy in getting my tiles to work, I found joy in replacing boxes and circles with tables and chairs… but the creation of the assets was mind-numbingly dull for me. I’ve decided to pick up Pixel Art before my next LD, because that’s an art style I can enjoy the sight of and perhaps value putting the effort into it.
  • Trying to be creative at 4am on a Sunday
    There was a point at 4am on the Sunday night (in Beijing the compo ended at 11am on Monday) where I went into DESPAIR MODE. I had almost everything done. Everything but the audio. Last LD, Gamemaker had a bug that broke all my sound integration. That bug was fixed the day after submission. This time my audio woes were all my fault.

    At 2am I decided it was time to make music. Remember, my goal was polish.. I wanted everything to be perfect. Shit just wasn’t working. I tried 3 attempts at using office sounds to generate music, which were failing miserably mainly due to the tempo being so slow that I couldn’t create anything that would fit the mood. My brain was just finished. Thankfully…

 

Process – What went right?

  • Not Solo Jamming Alone
    My jam site had 4 LD participators for the weekend. We all did solo jams. Compared to being at home alone, this was a godsend. When I was just about to pack it all in and just give up on music (which would really have worsened the mood of the game), my fellow participants motivated me!Here are their games if you fancy helping them out with ratings; Alex Takes a TestOi! Menu!?, and CUBE Clicker
  • Game Maker proficiency
    I sometimes hate on Gamemaker but it’s so good for Game Jams. While my friends were cursing Unity to high heaven and struggling with the most minor sounding issues, I had my core game ready in about 2 hours and was just building content from then on in (they’re all professional programmers, I’m a Game Designer). I’ve got so much better at GameMaker Language over all these game jams and I’m really amazed at how much I could get done. I even have a tutorial of sorts!

 

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The Game – What went right?

  • People seem to really like the mechanic!
    As a designer by trade, I really just care about how many people enjoy the game and the core mechanic. From the comments on the page, I’ve achieved that. So I’m extremely happy about that.
  • Despite disliking the theme, I think I managed to integrate it in the mechanic well
    Entire Game on One Screen was probably my last choice for a theme, because all the games I make are on one screen anyway! It wasn’t a limiter, it didn’t give me any ideas at first.

    When I sat down, I decided to focus on the one screen part… the persistence of a single screen. That influenced the core mechanic of every ‘bullet’ you fire is still in the room forever. As you play in the one screen, your actions affect the environment. In Silian Rail, they affect the environment by becoming dangers to you. It worked so much better than I thought it would, although the start is a little slow.

  • It’s complete
    Most times I finish a game jam I feel like there’s so much more I can add and fix (mainly fix!). For Silian Rail… it’s 100% done. Sure, the concept could go further and I could add more content and fix some niggling bugs… but overall it feels like the closest thing to a finished product that I’ve ever made independently.

 

 

The Game – What went wrong?

  • Game Maker built-in collision / Me not being that proficient
    I use the move_bounce_all() function in Game Maker to deal with physical collision. It’s probably an awful idea but it’s all I know without doing some deep dive learning. In a Game Jam, I don’t want to do that… so my game has issues.

    Sometimes you or the Rumors you fire get stuck in the wall for a short while. It’s annoying when the game goes full Bullet Hell mode and you’re trying to be nimble.Colliding and getting stuck in coworkers is intentional (basically the co-worker ties you up by chatting to you), but I decided I didn’t need to add in a collision animation  so players felt it was a bug. The walls were definitely a bug, but the employee collision was a bug that I left in as a feature. Totally not communicated though, so most negative comments were about that.

  • Action feel
    This is the first action game I’ve made in over 18 months (Bacon Game Jam was a bullet hell). My action game development capabilities basically come down to static movement speeds and shooting balls. Thankfully that’s what my game is about, so I played to my strengths, but it obviously could feel a lot better and more refined. If I do another action game for Ludum Dare, I will hopefully have the knowledge base to make it feel really juicy

 

This Blog Post – What went wrong?

Seriously, wtf is with WordPress formatting? It’s an absolute clusterfuck.


 

Thanks for reading and if you have any time, please rate my game! I rate back if I can get the damn executables to work 😉

 

– Warboys

 


One Response to “Silian Rail Post-Mortem”

  1. Mechamew says:

    Looking forward to playing this. Is the name a reference to the excellent band?

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