Growing Skyward LD#34

Posted by
December 14th, 2015 5:19 pm

SS4

SolitoGif2

http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-34/?action=preview&uid=41949

 After 48 hours I’ve completed my second Ludum Dare project, and my first Compo submission. I had a few ideas for this theme, and didn’t even intend on making the one I did, but I’m very glad I did. The game was made in Unity 5 and I created the assets it Maya.

Here are some of my thoughts about my entry:

Gameplay and Aesthetics
Just in case it has to be spelled out, Solito signifies “Little Sun”. In Solito you play as plant growing upwards. In order to continue growing you need to collect Solitos. If you fall over or run out of Solitos you will shrivel and fall apart. The art style is all super low poly because I absolutely love low poly. I’d never really gotten the chance to make a low poly game, so I wanted to jump on that. I’m really quite pleased with the overall aesthetic. With the addition of tilt shift, deliberate shadow placement, background environment, and blue fog, the game feels more atmospheric. I’m glad to have been able to incorporate a bunch of little background items. I think there are still some gameplay mechanics to tweak to ensure that a good player can continue to improve rather than hit the same ceiling every time.

I got a lot of inspiration for the background visual and style from Battlefield Heroes (RIP) and other low poly scenes I’ve come across.

Development Issues
I ran into a few development issues along the way, most of them having to deal with Unity. Here’s what they were and how I overcame them.

1) Skewed Segments: Plant segments were becoming exceedingly skewed (One hundred times wider than tall) after about 30 additions or after the stalk fell past a certain level. This is a known issue with Unity and has to do with non-uniform scaling. There were likely other small issues that compounded to create this defect. To resolve it I had to use my actual model asset instead of Unity primitives (this was alright as I was almost finished with prototyping). In addition I reworked the way physics had an effect on the game.

SS2

2) Snowball Falling: The point of the game is to climb higher without tipping over. With Unity’s default physics engine, however, the player would have experienced a snowball effect. If you noticed you were falling over you’d naturally start building on the opposite side to counterbalance. However, since you could only build so quickly, everything you built would tend to join the rest of your stalk as it fell. The more you built to regain balance, the more segments would end up getting pulled over and therefore imbalance your stalk even further. To solve this I wrote my own balance functionality that counted the amount of segments on either side of your base segment. Depending on how tall you were, the net balance would affect the entire stalk. In order to actual prevent the snowballing, however, I had the balance system only consider the top ten segments. This means that you only need to balance the stalk in the short term. Doing otherwise is difficult and not very fun.

Music
I listened exclusively to Phish for the duration of the development. It’s always interesting to know what people were listening to when they worked on their jam entry.

Theme
My take on the theme is somewhat generic, but I’m happy with how it turned out. I imagine there could be many other games similar to mine, so I wanted to make mine visually distinct and appealing. My compo version is complete, and I think I’ll continue to work on this project. Soon I’ll create an Android build so I can play it on my phone as well. I spent way less time on this entry and worked much quicker than I did last time (LD#30) and I was able to submit this for my first Compo.

For future versions I’d like to include some of the following
– High score saving and high score notifications
– Powerups
– Sounds Effects / Music
– More atmospheric effects (Falling leaves and floating dirt)
– Point bonus for completing a circle (It could grow a tomato for example)
– Weather effects
– Arrow Keys for controls instead of just the mouse
– Moving Clouds / Trains / Planes / Hot Air Balloons / Etc. in the background
– Enemy Solitos
– Moving Solitos
– More background items

Final Notes
I’m really quite pleased with my entry. I feel like I was able to include everything I planned on, and I didn’t damage my sanity doing so. I hope people like it and want to see more. I’d love to continue development and work on a mobile build.

My biggest suggestion for anyone working on a Ludum Dare project is to be reasonable. This is something most developers can relate to. It’s easy to get swept away into what you could add or what would make the game better. A solid and polished small game beats a poorly made large one any day.

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