The Zombifier – Post-mortem

Posted by (twitter: @axoonaa)
September 3rd, 2015 4:45 pm

This is some post-mortem thoughts on my game The Zombifier.
First of all I’d like to thank all the people who have played the game. Your feedback has been very generous and it’s been a real pleasure to read.

This has been my first Ludum Dare so frankly speaking I didn’t know what to expect. Make a game in just 48H!? Are you joking?!
Therefore, my objective was to make a playable, complete game which would respect the theme. That meant spending time on gameplay and adding some indispensable art and music, but nothing too fancy, just the essentials.
The Zombifier screenshot

The theme “You are the moster” was chosen at 3a.m. local time.. so I woke up to see what it was, thought about it a bit and went to sleep again, hoping thant great ideas will come to me in the morning. They didn’t… I mean I had several nice ideas for a point&click or interactive fiction.. But it seemed too risky, I didn’t think it would be possible to create an interactive fiction in just 48H.. Since then I had lot’s of occasions to discover some great Ludum Dare games and find out that it really was possible, but in the meantime I decided to stick with the objective of making a complete game, without much fuss. I chose therefore a simple mechanic and went with a slow zombie chasing around chaoticaly running humans, with some soldiers shooting at it. Not the most innovative subject..

Gameplay was the most important so I actually spend some time prototyping the mechanics with circles and squares instead of real art. When it seemed ok, I added some rudimental graphics (not the ones seen in final version) and happily it turned out better that I had accounted for. I’ve chosen small pixel sprites because I find it easy this way to make something presentable fast (not that good pixel art is fast and easy…). Then I implemented the traps and the soldiers. I improved the graphics and made the sounds. I used speech generator which I transformed slightly in Audicity and then added some music with LMMS. This was really fun to make and even came out not so terrible in the end and unexpectandly resulted with a nice retro arcade look & fill of the game 😉

And then on sunday while playtesting I found that it would be a good idea to add some medkits… This had a huge impact on gameplay and I think is what makes it “playable” (together with traps).

The game is basically a one level, where you try to survive as long as you can, and earn maximum of points. So leaderboard seemed essential and I’m glad I managed to implemented that (on kongregate). I hoped to add some more medals and animations at the “game over” screen but I’ve run out of time, and somewhere around midnight local time, decided I would skip all that. It’s a pity… Because it would have been nice to have something more than just a silly song “You are Ex-ce-llent” to congratulate the player that he performed well.

But overall, I am really happy with my game, I have acheived my objectives and the game is quite fun to play. I haven’t touched the game since the compo, as I don’t really think that there is a point.

Since then I’ve been enjoying all these other fantastic Ludum Dare games. I’m amazed at what others achived on such a short notice. And I must say that I have learned a lot, especially while playing 😉 although I suppose it was necessary to first confront myself with the challenge, to be able to see how others have dealt with the scarce time ressource.

Does it mean that nothing went bad? Sure no, I just prefer to concentrate on the good stuff. I’ve already pointed out a few of the bad things, the hackneyed subject, the banged out ending. Also one could always complain that the art and the sound are too simplistic but I don’t really mind as that’s what I aimed for. Something seems sometimes wonky with the controls, when the zombie stops to feast, I’ve seen it in playtests already, but decided I’ll leave it be, that it might actually add something to the mood as a zombie can sometimes be non predictible. But it may annoy some people. And I spent time figuring out how to make LMMS work, I spent time on things I didn’t include in the end: designing the menu, writing code and drawing the medals…
Most important, I think that the in-game explanation is not sufficiently clear regarding traps. You need to set traps to win the game, and it seems from some feedback I received that these weren’t used much or even at all.

So this was my first Ludum Dare and I’ve enjoyed every single bit of it. It won’t certainly be the last.

And if youd like to play the game, it’s available here. Don’t forget to set traps. Often 😉

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