Drack’s Mansion Post-Mortem

Posted by
August 24th, 2015 9:01 am



So my first LD entry. How did it go? Meh, there were ups and downs.

Theme reaction and initial brainstorming:
When I woke up pretty much first thing I did was see the theme. The monster is you. There were a lot of things I could do with that theme. In fact I was a little stumped for ideas at first. I thought it over on the toilet(where the best ideas come from) and came up with a few concepts the best of which was playing a monster in a randomly generated cabin that sneaks around and uses cool abilities to kill people. I thought the idea was nice and I got to work.

Day #1:
On the first day I was mostly sticking to my initial idea. I got a movement engine done rather quickly and got to arting a character. Meanwhile, I had brainstormed some more and came up with a main mechanic – the fear bar. The idea was, you could do all these cool abilities like teleporting and turning off lights in rooms and stuff but they all cost fear. Once your fear was gone the game was over since you would be a pretty useless monster if no one is scared of you. You regained fear by doing typical horror movie scary things like banging doors, making things fly, sneaking up and killing people etc. The idea seemed cool so I got to implementing those mechanics.

Needless to say, it did not work out. I got to work programming the enemy AI and just failed over and over. I had wasted about 2/3 of my first day on an idea that didn’t work well, wasn’t thought out enough and simply wasn’t fun. So I scrapped it and started a new. I wanted to set out and make a game that’s fun and polished rather than super artsy and innovative. I remade the idea into a millionaire monster that just bought a mansion and each week people would sneak in and bother him. Thus, he did what he knew best and killed them in an action brawler sort of way. It seemed fine and I spent the rest of the day working on it.

This is when most of the work got done. First thing I did was polish the engine. I gave it a dynamic camera that I hadn’t done before but seemed fitting for the type of game I was making. I had some issues with the camera going outside of the room but with some foresight I got them resolved. Then, I made the abilities. The spell was the first. I spent probably way too long on making the particles for it work, but eventually they did. The rest was pretty simple. Next was the melee attack. That was also quite simple despite some sprite origin problems I had. Next came the minion. I knew I wanted pathfinding so I did more research and got it working! Once I had that, the enemies would be simple as well as they used the same pathfinding. Finally, I did the energy blast, which was also easy to make.

After I had made the abilities work I moved on to level art. As always Google was my friend and helped me with references of Mansion interiors. Most people seem to really love the art, but I think it’s just some above average work of mine. I have done better, but I was satisfied.

After all that, I had about 5 hours left. I rushed to get enemies into the game and actually make it a game and not a tech demo. The final hours are very blurry for me. I remember being tired, rushing and just wanting to get it out as fast as possible. It’s surprising people liked it as much as they did as I had almost no time for playtesting and balancing. I finished implementing the enemies about an hour before the deadline. It those last two hours(including the submittion hour) I mad a title screen, the menus, the story, the newspaper and the actual progression system. The first three nights are always the same but after that it gets progressively tougher by adding more and more enemies. The game had an arcade feel which I embraced by adding simple .ini scoring literally around 20-15 minutes before the end of submittion hour. I was exhausted, it was 5 in the morning, I had worked for almost 19 hours straight and I was in no mood for problems. Unfortunately, they came regardless, as I had so much trouble logging in due to forgetting my password and generally being dumb. I managed it though and got the game in 5 minutes before the end.

Here’s what I think went right with my game:

-it was finished(which for a slow worker like me was quite an accomplishment)
-it looked and sounded nice
-it was quite original in terms of story concepts and characters

Here’s what I think went wrong:

-the failed idea at the start due to not enough planning
-the lack of any music
-the fact mechanics are not explained as well as they should have been
-it’s still a bit buggy
-it could have had more interesting enemy types

Final thoughts on my first Ludum Dare:
This was very fun to do, despite the stress and the lack of sleep. I wish I had spent more time on it and wish I had polished it more, but at the end of the day I came out with a finished, functional, nice looking product that people seem to like. I proved to myself as a dev that I can do this and I was dedicated and skilled enough to pull it off. Regardless of what people think, or where I place, no one can take that away from me.


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