Synergy Shakedown: Postmortem Minis

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December 14th, 2015 6:24 am

Synergy Shakedown

I just submitted Synergy Shakedown to the compo a few hours ago. I’m not good at writing postmortems, but I thought I’d share some little things that seemed relevant before I forget them.


NES Palette

As a self-imposed restriction, I used the NES palette for the game’s art. I was able to load it into GIMP for easy colour picking.

This turned out to be a lot harder than I expected. A lot of the oranges were pretty similar, and the only yellow is really pale.

Synergy Shakedown Closeup

One thing that frustrated me was how it’s hard to to distinguish the player’s hair from the blue background. If I had time to go back and change the colours of all the sprites, I’d probably theme it to be more distinguishable.

JavaScript Quirks

I wanted the game to have the game’s pixels sharp like an old NES game. This can be hard to do with modern graphics frameworks like Unity or Phaser. To get around this, I made the player character have no sprite, and put a “model” sprite on top of him. Every frame, the model’s position matched the player’s, but with the decimals truncated. One time the Nintendo Web Framework documentation warned me to never use Math.floor(), and instead use the double tildy instead.

var floatingX = 3.2;
var hardX = ~~(floatingX); // hardX should be an integer of 3

It’s kind of become a magical floor operator in my head now.

Tuning for Gameplay

I think one of my flaws is balancing my games. A lot of the games I’ve made in the past are too easy or too frustratingly hard. Sometimes I’ve neglected this!

By keeping the scope small, I was forced to make sure the game was a little more balanced. Not by much, but it’ll help me form better habits in the future. That’s part of why Ludum Dare’s endearing for me. :)

Cutscene Polish

Synergy Shakedown Cutscene

The cutscenes were a bit of a last-minute addition, but they added a lot of character to the game.

An hour before the deadline, I changed the dialogue and made the last dialogue scene flicker with an earlier one. It made it better, but it made me feel like George Lucas, updating his movies after he made them to make them “better” haha.

Getting a Child to Playtest

I’m travelling Japan right now, and I did the game jam with a few other developers at an old weaver’s workshop in Kyoto. At one point, one of the developer’s friends came in and brought their six-year old. I plugged in a SNES gamepad and got him to play it, and he got enamoured with it. It helped me find some pressure points in the design, as well as get a morale boost knowing a child enjoyed it.

He didn’t speak any English, and I didn’t speak much Japanese, but the moment was really special to me.


Overall, I had a lot of fun doing the compo. Hopefully I can do it again soon! Best of luck to those finishing up on the jam!

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