You are the Munchster – development aftermath

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August 26th, 2015 8:54 am

 

This is our submission, yay :>! After 72 hours of coffee, energy drinks, bare necessities of sleep and thousands of lines of code I can safely say I’m proud with what we could come up with considering this was the first time we teamed up. We got it finished 10 minutes before the clock, the last 8 hours of development were really stressful, but through mutual moral support we somehow made it.

You can check the game here:
http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-33/?action=preview&uid=39646

So. Onto the aftermath!

The Good:

The brainstorming. We brainstormed very rapidly and didn’t have to change many things as we proceeded to add more stuff. This is generally what we agreed to enforce from the beginning, since my  previous ludumdare entry suffered from feature creep and costed me around 5 hours of development time that could’ve been spent elsewhere. For You are the Munchster this creeping was nonexistant and while we couldn’t manage to add everything we wanted we did succeed on adding most of the planned gameplay elements.

Bunch of playtesting. I playtested pretty much every 10 minutes. The compilation times weren’t long which helped a lot, the code management was tidy this time and all the systems implemented were working as expected. There were some minor hiccups with the AI where the AI felt very overpowering for the player, but with this constant playtesting I could easily distinguish what would work, what was balanced and what would feel dull.

*Teamwerk*! Like I said through moral support and not becoming bored with each other’s constant presence either in chat or voice we could work more rapidly. Even when screwing around our cooperation had a very big impact in the stress relief, and while other members couldn’t feel the difference since this was their first time developing a game, I could tell right from the day 2 that I couldn’t finish the coding part without the stress relief the gang brought. In the more technical department, I feel each of us played a very impactful role in the final result. The pixel artist made some kickass animations, furniture and, oh god, that menu background sealed the deal. The composer managed to blow our mind with how fitting the track was and the sfx was neat and fitting. We all knew what we had to do and that we had a long way to go from the start, there were really no setbacks when it came to teamwork. The atmosphere was laid back and we all did our responsibilities well.

The coding. I did the programming and I believe I did a good job overall. Having the most expertise on the team I could lead the team to the result and implement systems that would support everything they made. The AI was the hardest part, as the enemies had to move around the house with stairs and the pathfinding was a bitch to make. The dynamic lighting took a chunk of time as well, since I didn’t really want to use any shaders in this project so the older machines can enjoy it as well. Figuring out how to detect if the player was in shadows was cake, even though at first I thought it would chunk some time too. The platforming, ghost jumpthrough slopes, etc. was implemented very quickly as well.

Trello worked wonders! We used trello as our resource base and couldn’t be happier with it. Nearing the completion of the project we steered off the planning part of the platform and only used it for file management and uploading, but in the first 2 days I don’t see how could we ever keep track of our progress without trello or some similar platform. It gave us a very good chart of how we were progressing.

The Bad:

Figuring out the winning condition. We changed the winning condition on day 2, originally the player had to scare the little kid instead of eating the residents. On day 2, this whole concept seemed dull and not satisfying, so we decided to make one last change to the core mechanics. This required more work for the pixel artist, the hardest part being the bite animation of the main character. This set us back a fair bit but wasn’t something we couldn’t handle.

The level design. We didn’t leave much time for levels, the game only features 3 in the entry build and even that was enough for few misplaced tiles and objects. The switches and lighting works and every enemy has it’s own set of things he does at random, the wallpapers are rendered properly and most of the stuff works fine. When we decided 3 levels were enough we were coming from a standpoint that people need an experience in a matter of 15 minutes at most. This proved to not be the case and some people were left unsatisfied after completing the game.

The difficulty. The levels are exponentially harder, as adding another enemy in the house makes sneaking and hiding much more challenging, especially when choosing your time to bite. During the playtesting I naturally got very good at the game, obviously I knew all the game mechanics and how they worked from the very moment they were implemented. I was aware of that, and I didn’t want the difficulty to annoy the player too much. In the end it seems the difficulty part of the game is a well fit for more casual gamers who get hooked on it and are willing to spend some time studying mechanics, but most of the community loses interest if they continually rush the level and die. This game is purely stealth based and I believe we didn’t stress this enough. If we had more time this could’ve been easily solved by making the levels easier, but making around 3 more hard levels so everyone can enjoy.

 

That’s it for the development aftermath. This LD Jam was much more exciting than the last Compo I attended, I can’t stress enough how greatly the teaming up went. From now on I doubt I’ll ever play Compo again, the Jam is just so much more fun for me =]

Cheers,
Matthew K.


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