The Harrowing : Post-mortem

Posted by (twitter: @kchplr)
December 23rd, 2014 5:42 am


The Harrowing


This compo entry is my first attempt at making a game in several years. I previously had experience with QBasic on a old 386 with a nice monochrome screen and several attempt in XNA and D with Derelict 1. On my daywork, most of my hours are spent coercing web servers and web browsers to do my bidding.

The Harrowing is a bullet hell game heavily influenced by classic japanese danmaku games.



What went right

  • Deciding to avoid monolithic frameworks and implement the game using mostly small and more focused libraries. This gave me a lot of flexibility and forced me to learn quite a bit in the process.
  • The shadow around the player was initially made to make it easier to see the bullet near the player, avoiding contrast issue with the background. After some (lengthy) fiddling it actually became the most striking visual element of the game though. Shaders are great.
  • I got very constructive feedback from the people who tested my game and I’ll certainly take them into account when making a more polished postjam version of the game.
  • Incredibly enough, I managed to submit it in time for the compo.

What went wrong

  • Poor knowledge of the compo rules. I initially decided to go for an art style which would have required lot of visual assets, as I’m not a visual artist by any mean I was planning to use creative commons contents to generate those. This caused me to go back to the planning stage at the beginning of the second day as I figured out it wasn’t allowed. Several hours went down the drain this way.
  • It didn’t occurred to me until the very last hour that the game engine would need a concept of “scenes”, as a result the game menu/instructions were hacked in a very crude way, and it shows. This is the issue with not using a monolithic but battle tested framework.
  • Severe balancing issue, most likely due to not enough play testing as the actual gameplay was implemented at the last minute. It was not supposed to be this hard. Possible fixes include : progressive difficulty, bombs, even smaller hitboxes, using round hitboxes (square hitboxes are tricky when moving diagonally).


Play the game



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