Supreme Collider Postmortem

Posted by of LoneStranger Designs (twitter: @lnstrngr)
December 27th, 2015 11:50 am

I was surprised, as I am sure a lot of us were, that there was a tie for the LD34 theme with Two-Button Controls and Growing. I think I was surprised more that both themes were given a thumbs up by myself in the final vote. Not only that, but they worked well together for what became my LD34 Compo entry, Supreme Collider.

It started off as an idea I had actually had floating around my head for the past couple years. I thought it might be neat if you started off as a pixel sized object and grew as you ate other objects on a playing field. After jotting some ideas down while watching Star Wars with my kids, I had a majority of the game conceptualized.

What I ended up with was a game where you use two buttons to rotate your circle left or right, or press both to move it forward. As a small circle, you collide with other circles of similar or smaller size to make their size a part of yourself. As you grow in size you become able to take on larger circles. At the same time, the other small circles are colliding with each other, creating larger circles themselves. If you collide with one of the circles that are larger than you, then you became a part of them and the game is over. You win by being the last circle around.

Supreme Collider in-game.

What Worked

One of the Ludum Dare creations I am most proud of is my Ludum Dare 26 entry for Minimalism. It had a simple mechanic: drag colored squares into the same colored box. Keeping it simple made it easier to write and debug. I didn’t have to focus on how two or more mechanics would interact. I wanted to follow that same idea here with Supreme Collider, since I had some commitments on Sunday that I knew would take some of my Ludum Dare time.

My original idea to create conflict in the game was to add a clock, thinking that at the very least you could race against your previous time once you got the hang of it. It didn’t seem that great, so I kept thinking about it. It wasn’t until about 18 hours in that I thought about the larger circles winning the collision battle, giving you something to avoid and hopefully keeping you from just holding down on the thrust combination and zooming along the world wrap.

I wrote Supreme Collider in JavaScript, using Phaser. I have been messing around with it for maybe half a year, but I was comfortable enough to use it for Ludum Dare. Like any new language and framework there is a learning curve, so I run into bugs that have no clear reason and troubleshooting takes time. I think I did well for this though, and I don’t think I was stuck on any one problem for too long. I will continue playing with Phaser and will use it in the next Ludum Dare compo.

What Didn’t Work

One of the pieces of growing was having a larger and larger physical mass. As objects gain mass it takes more force to speed them up or slow them down. This made the middle-to-late stages of the game feel tedious. I scaled it down, but it didn’t really make it fun, so I completely removed this from the game. Every object has the same mass, and they do not change.

As I said above, the clock didn’t seem right as a conflict driver or a scoring device. I liked using the total mass collected from the other circles for scoring, but if you win, you’d get the same score as anyone else. I thought maybe if I combined that with the time it took you to do it, we’d have something more meaningful. However, I just did a simple collected mass divided by the seconds times one-thousand. I think it might be sort of accurate if you make it into the middle-to-late stages of the game, but if you happen to collect a couple nice circles early and then lose, you could end up with a pretty high score. I need to rework it to combine the two numbers in way that more accurately represents your results.

The art was not-so-good. Actually, there wasn’t much art at all. I used circles to represent the objects and changed the diameter based on how much they collected. I would have to do some tests but it is potentially cheaper processing-wise to use a sprite and scale it, or maybe a few sprites for certain threshold sizes and scale them.

Conclusion

The best part is, of course, that I finished something that has a start, a middle, and an end. Of course, it needs work around the edges. I could add some random events, like an alien ship that runs through and shoots the objects before skittering off, or a two player mode. Overall, I am happy with this entry.

Play it here.

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