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Minimal Machine Postmortem

Posted by
Saturday, May 18th, 2013 8:13 pm

POST MORTEM

Heyyy what’s up? I don’t know how these go or anything but I made my first game EVERRRRR so let’s take a shot at it!

stage 4

So I decided that I wanted to make a simple physics sandbox sorta thing, and the easiest way to explain this is some kind of minimalist version of The Incredible Machine, which is a game I absolutely loved growing up. Usually my favorite part of any game like that isn’t figuring out how to deal with the complex mechanics of each piece of the contraption, but moreso getting the angle on a platform or curve juuuust right so that it sends the ball or whatever flying in the desired direction. If you’ve played ATV Offroad Fury or Tiny Wings you know what I’m talking about.

In the end, I’m really happy with what I accomplished. I stuck to the 48 hour rules but my time spilled over into the jam because I had plans all day both Friday and Saturday, leaving me with only Sunday to make this game. On top of that, I slept through my alarm, so I basically had 12 hours starting Sunday to work on the game. On Monday, I left work early and spent another 6 hours crunching and panicking and having all sorts of doubts about myself and my abilities, but managed to pull through and submit a game with 5 minutes left. Let’s get to the bulleted lists!

THINGS THAT WENT WELL
• UNITY!!! Man, I love Unity. I have been struggling with it the past few months trying to make anything work with that damn physics engine. Also I had never created anything other than small prototypes because the learning curve for making anything remotely complex discouraged me and I gave up. This time however, everything just clicked, and I powered through and now I feel like I can do anything with it.
• Graphics! I was really pleased with how the look of the game turned out. I didn’t know how to make a GUI in Unity and I didn’t have time to learn, so I just did the best I could with some weird/bad workarounds. I also have extremely limited experience with Blender, but I was able to figure everything out that I needed to and slap some pixel art on it. Woop woop.
• Physics! I’d like to eventually speed everything up a bit, but I was super happy with how the ball rolled and reacted to curves.

THINGS THAT WENT TERRIBLY OH GOD EVERYTHING IS ON FIRE
• Controls! They’re shit! I know! So does everyone who played it :P. They kinda made sense when you look at the piece you’re moving/rotating from this angle (press the key to move it in that direction),

oldcontrols

but move around to the other side, and you’re presented with this catastrophe.

oldcontrols2

They were the best I could come up with given how much time I gave myself, but also the biggest thing that made me want to give up. I tried thinking about ways to fix them, but eventually decided to just move on.

newcontrols

BUT HEY GUESS WHAT I spent the week after the competition fixing them, along with a host of other improvements. Check out the post-compo version if you’d like!
• Music! I had long been toying with the idea of making a song using only my violin for all the parts, likely a mix of using the bow, plucking, and tapping/hitting it for percussion. This felt like a perfect opportunity for that, because it fit with the idea of minimalism. What resulted was the product of 30 minutes and a shitty Rock Band mic. I’ll eventually redo it and go for a more building ambient/atmospheric sort of aesthetic.

So there you have it. My first game. Ever. Ludum Dare has done wonders for my confidence and ability, and I’m looking forward to finishing this thing proper, hopefully after Sophie Houlden’s Fishing Game Jam. Where the game is now, I’m super happy with the controls, and am working on changing the ball to a constant stream of water so the player doesn’t have to go through a long waiting process every time they want to test out their solution. Any other criticisms or suggestions are welcome. TEAR IT APART

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