Freedom is Mandatory

Posted by
December 17th, 2015 10:11 am

Hey everyone, hope you’re enjoying LD34 so far! I’m Mat, programmer for our game Hyperdemocracy.

Play it here!

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This time around, LD was a pretty unique experience for me. My usual partner in crime unfortunately had prior arrangements on Saturday and much of Sunday and Monday, so we knew from the start that he wasn’t to be relied on. So, betrayed by my now estranged cousin I embarked upon LD34 alone, with very little idea of how work flow was going to happen.

I’ve been frequenting a Teamspeak server for some time now (specifically about the game Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes) where I’ve made many firm friends over the last couple of months. I thought the people there might be interested in what was going on, so over the weekend I was sat in a custom channel with a Twitch stream live and on Saturday I started work.

 

Over the first few hours a few people popped in and out, curious as to what was happening, but more than just folks who wanted to check out some of the development on stream, many people began to offer their services if I needed help. The end result was almost like a crowdsourced game, with elements provided from quite an extensive list of people who slowly joined the team over the course of the weekend, some of whom provided way more of their time and effort than I could ever have expected, as if they had agreed to be part of the team before LD began. I can’t thank my team enough for their help. A full credits list can be found at the link above (including my cousin who did eventually join us towards the end to provide some sweet music and UI artwork for TwoButton.com)


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So, what went wrong?

DELEGATION:
Outsourcing my tasks was generally fairly successful but one particular big mistake cost be valuable hours that came back to haunt me in the form of several bugs that made it into the final build. More on that later though. One of my teammates took on the hefty task of writing the vast majority of our dialogue, and if you’ve played our game you’ll know that we have a lot. Not only this but I asked them to come up with the regular character the player would see talking in the chat room, which was a mistake on my part. That’s not to say they did a bad job, as I think the characters and the dialogue really shine in this game, but over Sunday, I began to run out of things to code. The framework was in and it just needed content to be added to it, but I wasn’t able to write any dialogue myself because I didn’t know what characters my writer had thought up. I ended up slowing down some on Sunday, and if I’d been able to keep up the momentum I would’ve had more bug fixing time at the end. In hindsight, I should have made characters myself and then had both myself and my writer both coming up with dialogue together.


BUGS:

As mentioned, I have a list of bugs in the submitted build that’s a lot longer than I care to mention. None of them are really game breaking, most are aesthetic issues, but they wear away at the polish and it irks me that they exist.

In general, we had a fairly successful project, I can’t really think of much else that went wrong. Without further ado, what went right?

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RISK:

The crowdsourcing aspect was clearly risky. I could’ve asked ten people to do jobs for me and gotten back utter crap from every last one of them. I’m still kind of amazed that the reality couldn’t be further from that. Not only were the people who helped out often doing jobs they had little to no experience doing, as far as I know none of them have made a game before, either. And everyone nailed it. As mentioned, dialogue and characterization from our writer was excellent, and on top of that we have some incredible violin and banjo music (I’m even listening to it night now) that perfectly capture the atmosphere of the game. I was also provided with some wonderful environment art, and a few other people who really crunched Monday’s workload with sound effects, formatting dialogue into code I could simply copy/paste into the game, and game testing which freed up more time for me to add as much content into the game as possible before the end.

THEME:

Rather annoyingly, the last two times I’ve done LD, our original concept stuck to the theme, but both final builds lacked much reference to it, if any, simply because there wasn’t time to add the part of the idea that was actually based on the theme. This time around, I’m really happy with our interpretation of the Two Button Controls theme. I didn’t want to make a game literally controlled with two buttons since I knew that would be the case for most entries, so making a game that stuck to the theme while having standard WASD + mouse controls was something of a challenge. It’s heavily down to interpretation as to whether a game with more controls defeats the object but personally I’m very happy with the theme’s representation in Hyperdemocracy.

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I’ve set something of a precedent now, having done LD32, LD33 and LD34, so I feel like I’m going to need to keep that streak going. As such, I’ll see you all next year for LD35!


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