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Getting fired up

Posted by
Friday, August 21st, 2015 7:42 pm

This is going to be my 2nd LD. There were some pretty neat theme suggestions earlier. Let’s all have a great time!

Tools for the job:

*Unity Personal
*Paint Shop Pro

Remember to sleep and eat properly, and don’t give up!

Now that my game was submitted, fixed to the point of actually working, reviewed by other people, and polished a bit with the feedback, it’s time for the thing nobody expected but will get anyway: The Spanish Inquisition my first post-mortem!

To start things, this is not my first game jam, but it was my first Ludum Dare. The first game jam I took part was this year’s Global Game Jam, where me and a couple of friends worked on a cool title called Duality (check it out HERE if you want), which unfortunately didn’t get completed in time (in hindsight, we probably shouldn’t have gone for a multiplayer game right off the bat).

Our entry for Ludum Dare 32 is called Social Sass. It is a two-man project made by me, abcdef65g (design and programming) and my brother Ryrumeli (art and text). We had a ton of ideas for “unconventional weapons”, which included love, words, pencils, cooking spatulas, toasters, fear, shovels, dancing… But eventually, one idea came up during the brainstorm, and completely blew the competition out of the water: tweets!

Chirper, the next-generation microblogging social network – chicken not included

Read on to find out about the development process and the lessons learned from this unusual project!

And so we got started on the game. My brother was given great freedom as to the art direction of the game, and really did a great job with it, especially given our inexperience with game jams. The character and monster sprites are 16-bit style, and the village and other maps were coloured aiming for somewhat of an 8-bit feel.

Initial village sketch, and how it turned out in-game

A few words on the art by the artist Ryrumeli:

My first thought when we talked about the concept was going for a Mother/Earthbound 0 kind of aesthetics, right from the NES; However, as soon as I started to make the Enemies I felt I could make them funnier if I put them in style with this Tweeter user concept, but for that I would need more definition. Then the 8 bits shifted to 16 bits in a hurry, which was a bit of a rushed decision on my part but I feel did a good job to convey a gadget for every monster. I like how most turned out, but my favorite monster is still the Wizard, a tribute to my brother!(No girls, he doesn’t let his beard grow like that, worry not!)

Finally for the character sprites, at first I was going to use Mother Sprites, but frankly time was growing dim and instead I went for a style I had already played with, Chrono Trigger, because there is always a good reason to make a reference to Chrono Trigger *Goblin Fanboy Moment*, and if I can say one thing that went wrong was starting Mother, then thinking about shifting to Medieval, and then giving up and jumping back to Modern Times.

Oh and why a Roman Helmet for a knight? Because a true hipster has a thing for the classics!

Concept art for the protagonist Sass. Trivia: Sass is actually an acronym for Silent Albeit Somehow Social

One thing I sorely lacked in the programming part was foresight. I underestimated my ability to make UI as well as coding, and in the end, the UI for the chirps and notifications took the majority of my time. The game was developed using Unity 5, which I’m comfortable with, but the new UI system was something I had only dealt with a little bit. That caused me a lot of headache, because I had to invest time on the UI and thus failed to make the battle system until the last day of the jam, which cost me patience and sleep. The movement system also had to be improvised and thus, isn’t very polished.

I think I’ve seen that plot hook before

Curiously enough, the dialogue and quest system was fairly easy to implement, which saved me a lot of time. I was able to input all text and for those and make all quests functional in just a few hours. Still, this was hardly an advantage since the art and text were all nearly done, and I was still lagging behind in programming by the last day. We still managed to turn in the game just fine during the submission hour, but that caused anther problem: I didn’t have time to test the build. So it turns out there were numerous issues with it, which I had to address in the following, day, after sleeping for 14 hours straight and waking up with an ear infection.

Not the most solid battle system, but it’s certainly entertaining!

The things we did right

  • Used a game engine we are familiar with, cutting down on learning curve
  • Parallel work: the artist and the programmer worked efficiently to achieve their goals
  • Decided on a game concept quickly, which saved us time early on
  • Used a type of game we are familiar with (j-rpgs), which made a parody game a lot quicker to design
  • Last minute decisions: decided to cut down on extra text and didn’t include sound, transitions and a few enemy designs, focusing on actually finishing what we had instead of failing the deadline due to not delivering everything we planned
  • Most importantly, we didn’t strain ourselves too hard, and had a lot of fun making the game!

The things we did wrong

  • Seriously underestimated the amount of work necessary to code everything
  • Lack of proper planning and sleep
  • Parallel work: when everything was put together, things didn’t quite work as expected since they were done in parallel, without the other’s constant feedback
  • Used a game concept (microblogging) which we WEREN’T very familiar with, as neither of us used Twitter before, making additional research necessary (particularly for the UI)
  • No audio: we didn’t have time to worry about audio in our jam entry, which isn’t necessary, but would have added a nice touch

I think that’s about it. Hopefully you enjoyed reading my first attempt at a post-mortem (which is about my first real attempt at a game). This Ludum Dare was a fantastic learning experience, and we’re also having a lot of fun playing and rating everyone else’s games.

Please give our game a try and give us our feedback, we truly want to make it as good as possible: http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-32/?action=preview&uid=29151

Also, here, have a hipster dragon for making it this far.

This guy should get his own game

(Post-mortem also posted in my personal blog HERE)

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