I Have Brig Plans – Postmortem

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April 22nd, 2016 8:28 am

Here is I Have Brig Plans. It’s my 10th entry! What do I get?


I mostly make logic puzzles, and this is one of them. You have to design cells for prisoners. Each prisoner has a number on it telling you how many tiles they need for their cell. Each person’s cell needs to be a connected group. In addition, there are three types of prisoners, all having special rules inspired by two Nikoli puzzle types, Shikaku and Nurikabe:

  • Humans require rectangular cells
  • Cockroaches require cells with no 2×2 blocks
  • Energy beasts’ cells must not touch each other.

As such the game plays out a little bit like Shikaku or Nurikabe, but also has its own unique flavour coming from the interactions between the rules. Later in the game, a shapeshifter is introduced whose type you have to figure out yourself.

My wife and baby daughter were overseas visiting relatives at the time, so I had the house to myself. That means less distractions, at least in principle. By the end of the weekend it was a pretty lonely experience, though. (I Skyped with them a couple of times which helped.) I had too much coffee on both days, which led to a more stressful weekend than necessary.

Since the rules were relaxed a year or two ago, every time I start a game, I grab my previous entry and empty out the stuff that’s not reusable. It’s worked well for me. The code I reuse is mostly file loading and audio stuff. (And a few miscellaneous things, like a function for finding “islands” in a grid of data; it’s served me well for 4 games in a row, with minor tweaks here and there to handle different data formats.) This time I added a simple “packager” consisting of a bit of python to dump all the resources in a single file, and a bit of client-end javascript to pull all the resources out. It saves having to request each sound/image file individually.

What went well

Puzzles: A big advantage of making a logic puzzle game (compared to, say, an action game) is that you can get an idea of whether it’s fun without coding it up. Just make some puzzles on paper, then forget the solutions (cinch) and try to solve them. I spent the first 5 hours making the puzzles before even starting to code! I think they are fun and satisfying if slightly on the easy side. (Though the final level of the final act is a decent difficulty.)

Music and SFX: Maybe it should have been obvious, but I only realised some time between the last two LDs, that even if a game has music and speech, it really ought to have sound effects too. It adds a lot to the game to have sounds that play in response to inputs; I think it makes the player feel more strongly that they are affecting something.

I decided to tune the sound effects to notes. To avoid too dissonant a sound, I placed some restrictions on the chords in the music. Maybe the music isn’t very challenging, but I think it sounds relaxing and goes with the rest of the game.

What went OK

The look: Well, I’m not much of an artist but I’ve started to learn how to draw… the player’s attention away from that. I drew the icons in Krita and used an edge detection filter to get a carved look. The rest of it was about fiddling with colours and border widths and things in the javascript.

What went badly

Story: Originally I wrote a funny story, but then I read it and realised it wasn’t funny at all. Also a funny story wouldn’t really go with the rest of the presentation. So I took out all the crummy attempts at jokes, and went for quirky instead of funny. It adds a bit of flavour to the puzzles, maybe. But I don’t think the story ended up very exciting or memorable.

Spending too much time on details: I spent a lot of time on tiny details like having a sound switch, and fiddling with the controls to make them as convenient as possible. Normally I advocate putting a high priority on polishing, on focusing on those minor details. But this time I might have overdone it, using up time that could have been better spent giving my game a bit more character, or making more levels.

4 Responses to “I Have Brig Plans – Postmortem”

  1. Geckoo1337 says:

    Great game. One of my favorites during the 35th LD ++

  2. Wan says:

    > It’s my 10th entry! What do I get?

    What about a trophy?

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