Sorry for a wall of text.

TL;DR: I think I made a really nice game that has plenty of potential. Please try it!

————Skärmklipp 2016-12-12 03.10.18

Now, a week after the ludum dare weekend I think I have recovered enough to write a post mortem. And I am not exaggerating – I have been exhausted this entire week from really pushing myself during those 48 hours (or maybe just the last 10 hours – procrastination is my second name).

Ever since I started making games around a year ago I have had the idea of making a space rpg. It is you, your crew, your ship, and a star system. Traveling between stars, encountering  enemies, trading goods and exploring the most remote parts of the universe. I think it is a great game concept and many would agree. I have attempted it before but gotten stuck on doing 3d combat, or prgramming an AI. Once I went weeks thinking about how to make an AI in a galaxy without actually sitting down and trying things. What needed was some pressure to produce something – enter ludum dare 37. Skärmklipp 2016-12-17 14.20.41

This was my third ludum dare and the first time I didn’t have plans with people over the weekend so I had some high expectations of what I could make now that I had the full 48 hours to work. I also had new skills and could make decent 3d models quite quickly as well as develop simple systems in unity, such as movement and shooting, in quite a short time. With these building blocks I really thought I could make something great. Did I? Well, as we all know, 48 hours goes quite quickly.

Day 1 – Friday night.

As I am in Sweden, my time zone is a bit off. This meant that the theme was announced 3 am for me, and I stayed up with some idea that I could start working as soon as the clock ticked over. But I was sitting there, staring at the screen with a blank mind and a tired body. I decide that this was the most stupid idea ever, and went to bed. I fall asleep though with an image in my mind – a one room spaceship.

Day 2 – Saturday morning.

Well, falling asleep at 4 am means that you don’t get up working at 8 am. Rather, it was around noon when I finally booted up my PC, and with this idea of a game based in a one room spaceship I started modeling in blender. A simple room, a desk, some computers, steering wheels, thrusters, and a character later i really believed in my idea and had a tingling feeling that I was working on my dream – a space rpg. Set on this goal, I took a lot of inspiration from FTL, a game I have barely played, but with direct control of a character inside a ship. I got a a system working where you could “travel” between stars. What it actually was was clicking on things and a text changed in the top of the screen. But this simplicity is key – you don’t need to actually move between stars, only give the impression that you do. Skärmklipp 2016-12-17 14.24.20Now it was around 7, 8 pm and I got kind of contempt, which is quite a dangerous feeling when you don’t really have any gameplay.  My girlfriend came over and the rest of the night was spent watching movies and development stopped. I had an idea of sitting up all night continuing to work, but a mechanical keyboard and a girlfriend trying to sleep doesn’t go well together. However, this made me feel super stressed and I couldn’t sleep. I realized I didn’t actually have a game and these grand ideas suddenly felt quite impossible. Lying in bed I formed a mental list of the main features I wanted – combat, trading and upgrading. I also had specific ideas of how these were going to be implemented, but it was all spinning around in my mind.

Day 3 – Sunday.

The morning was spent both working on the game and spending time with my girlfriend. Lots of breaks and progress was quite slow, but the pressure of what I wanted to make was pushing me. Around 3 pm it was almost coming together, with 10 hours to the deadline (again, in Sweden the deadline is 3 am Monday morning).  Combat was clunky but working, I had a really nice animation for moving between stars, and I was working on an inventory and trading system – something I feared would never work. However, keeping it simple again with limiting the amount of items that exists I could simply have each item be a string an not much more. This way was quick and easy to make, but it has very limited potential to be expanded, and a mess to work with if the game grew bigger. I continue to make an upgrade system and suddenly this mental list of mind that keep my head spinning was almost cleared. The time is around 8, 9 pm when my girlfriend goes home and I am in for the last sprint. What I needed was some kind of story, or goal in the game, as well as getting a win/loss condition working. Slowly but surely, this started coming together and the game was nearing completion. Fixing last minute bugs, creating a simple tutorial, adding a main menu, made it just in time with about 10 minutes to spare before deadline. I throw together some screenshot, literally sitting on the edge of my seat and finally publish it on the website. Now during this time I was continuisly drinking coffee so when everything was done and finished, around 3:30 a, it took around another hour or so before I finally fell asleep. The game was done, but so was I. Skärmklipp 2016-12-17 14.23.33

A week later. I am now sitting here and feel like I woke up after being a zombie for a week. The few comments I have gotten have been really nice. People seem to appreciate the effort and the scope I dared to have for this ludum dare. I also agree with the criticism – the combat is clunky, and movement is slow. A few quality-of-life improvements are needed but otherwise it has great potential.

Potential, yes. And I do want to continue working on this. However, the code is a mess, a true and complete mess. The upgrade system, made in the last few hours has long hard coded string in it, and a simple spelling mistake would make it all fall apart. I hope I have the energy to sit down and rework some of this, because if I did, I think it could make a really great game.

 

Try it out here, and try to look past the rough surface, and see the potential behind it.


One Response to “Post Mortem – I have a rough diamond, it needs some polish to be truly amazing”

  1. RadMcCool says:

    aw man i thought i was totally original… yours looks way better than mine (they’re a bit different in genre but they both have ships that you upgrade with stuff and look kind of similar…)
    Going out for some shopping but when i get home imma give this a go.
    http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-37/?action=preview&uid=56816

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