Free Hugs Kraken – Post mortem

Posted by
August 26th, 2015 7:22 pm


We are very happy to have participated to this ludum dare! This is why we decided to write a post mortem to share our experience on our game: Free Hugs Kraken

As we live in France, the ludum dare started at 3 in the morning for us when the subject « you are the monster » was revealed. We spent many hours doing brainstorming to find an interesting concept. At the beginning, we started with a very dark game where we control a character that is playing hide and seek. The game was supposed to start with lovely graphics, then becoming darker as the player find children. The truth is we are playing a psychopath killing people in a house. We found the concept interesting but too dark. So we have been thinking about another concept and we came to the idea of a kraken that wants to hug boats. We thought that it would be a very funny interpretation of the theme!

The Concept

You play an affective Kraken who is looking for love on the World Wide Sea. Will you find it? Will you search only for one day romances or for the real one..



From the beginning, we chose to develop two different type of gameplay: the research part (on a map) and the encounter (battle mode). We distributed task to three team of two people.

The sprites

  1. Ink drawings of the dismantled Kraken’s parts. Work with a led light pad for the animation (it’s important to respect size between arts).

photo 1photo 2

  1. Arts are scanned and imported with gimp. Then they are resized and cleaned with « Threshold »haut pieuvre 1bas pieuvre 1tête pieuvre
  2. Pixel art made with GraphicsGale.

graphics gale travail

  1. Then all the Kraken’s parts are put together in a sprite sheet (here is the result)

sprite kraken femellesprites gameplay tentacule male
For the drawing of ships on the battle mode, we used direct pixel art with a layer and imagination

navire marchandbateau commerce


The map

The idea was to be able to move freely on a random map and to choose your dates. We wanted the map to be random so every game would be different. To do so, we defined spots where islands could appear. At the beginning of the game, we chose randomly which spot will be used or not. Each island will be a spawn for boats.


We also wanted that each boat have a specific itinerary. When a boat is spawned, it has a path attributed that he will follow until its final destination. Some boat can also have a specific behavior to attack or run away from the player.

For the pathfinding, we used the libray “A* pathfinding project” ( This way, boats avoid islands instead of crossing through.


Finally, we managed to make the difficulty gradually increasing. Depending on your score, enemies get stronger.



The battle

We wanted to configure different patterns for the bullets, we implemented a lot of parameters when a bullet is spawned (sinusoidal trajectories, spread shoot, rotation around a point or around an axis etc). We can combine all of these patterns to create more complex pattern.

The battle area is more or less long depending of the difficulty. An easy boat takes less time to finish than a hard one.

We also implemented the possibility to have more than one pattern per boat however we lacked time to configure other patterns. Each pattern needs to be handmade because random pattern is something you MUST avoid in a shoot’em up game.


Finally, we add a randomly generated background using animated tiles. Probabilities of each tile will depend on the boat encountered and on the level progress. A boat made of steel will have steel debris around it whereas a boat made of wood will have wood ones.




Working on this project was a really fun experience even if it was not always easy. We had a lot of problem with source control because merging codes made by the two dev teams did not always end well (the code implementation differences between the two teams not helping). We did not sleep much and we finished the game only 20mn before the deadline.

We are very happy of the result especially because it was our first ludum dare. However, 72 hours is short and we had to make concessions. We would have loved to implement other patterns in the battle mode (mechanisms were ready), adding more animations and gui and boats etc.

We hope you had a good time playing our game and we are waiting for your feedbacks ! 😉

Love <3

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