Aether Crypt postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @tselmek)
April 30th, 2016 12:02 pm

Howdy fellow jammers, it’s postmortem time! If you haven’t played our entry, feel free to give it a try HERE.

Let’s recap the hell out of this!

  • The unfinished prototype

Before settling on an idea with Dave, my teammate, I had been working on a « just-in-case » shoot ’em up game called Chicken Fuel at the time, here’s what it looked like when it was left very early into the jam.

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  • The mechanics

Then came the idea of a molecule-based game. We didn’t yet know what to do but the take on the theme was inspiring to the both of us and so we brainstormed from there. That’s when the idea of a « Moleculevania » came up, we threw a couple of possible mechanics for it on a paper and that was the idea that sounded the most feasible in the remaining time. It doesn’t sound like it, but this process took us the whole first 24 hours.

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We wished we could go far enough to make a little boss battle based on radioactive elements such as Plutonium or Uranium but that sadly didn’t happen.

  • The level design

So now, we had a couple of transformations with a feature each and we needed to head onto the metroidvania part of the game, that is to say the level design. I wanted to allow for some exploration without too much struggle for the non-fans of this style of gameplay. The sketch below was the first draft of the general idea for the level layout, from there improvisation took the lead.

Level design draft

Level design draft

  • The audio

I was very panicked when I didn’t see the audio coming 2 hours before the deadline, so I decided to rush and implement some sounds made with chiptone myself. I did well because Dave only provided music but holy crap is it good. If you’re a fan of ambient stuff, you’re at the right place. You can check out his stuff HERE

  • The ambience (and the darkness)

The ambience was surely something we decided to bet on for the mood of the game. The dark environement was part of the mood and the gameplay. It seemed the darkness was too intense for some players but that makes for some finer exploration game, doesn’t it? 😛

  • The minimalism

One of my personnal goal was also to make something very minimalistic, that’s why I tried to put as few texts and as few graphical details as possible. I also tried to make a very simple but effective GUI, the display of the number of electrons and keys collected was rather straigt forward but it took me some time to figure out a way to tell the player how the transformation system worked without any text output.

Minimalistic GUI stuff

  • The experimentations

This Ludum Dare was an experience for me for some parts of the programming. Indeed, this time I messed with something new to me which is surfaces (and occasionnaly blend modes). Their use was necessary for the implementation of the lighting system.

  • Conclusion

Overall, I’m really proud of this entry. Despite the level design I wish I had taken more time to fiddle around with, I think the game came out as a tiny little polished experience package ready to nom a handful of minutes from the players’ life. I expected the game to be less welcome than my previous entries because of the huge difference of genre, going from intense arcade games to a very mood exploration one, but the reactions went against my expectations and I was positively surprised how it was welcomed.

That’s about it, thanks for reading through this little beast of a postmortem, I hope you enjoyed it.

Thanks everyone for all the great comments and feedbacks on the game so far!

Tselmek out.

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2 Responses to “Aether Crypt postmortem”

  1. Pickens Inc. says:

    I had a lot of fun playing it on Stream. Thanks for coming :)

    Good to see you fixed the surface glitches.

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