So LD21 was my first ever Dare and some things went okay and some didn’t. I definitely learnt a lot from it, and I’m keen to keep making games and work on my entry. I thought I’d do a brief little writeup.
Blatant self-promotion link: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-21/?action=rate&uid=5119
I’m pretty pleased with the game I produced: “Daring Do!”. It’s a sidescrolling running platformer where you play an intrepid archeologist. Each level is short and follows the same formula: grab the glowing golden idol and get the heck out of the temple before the whole thing caves in or you get crushed by the giant boulder coming after you. Avoid pits and arrows along the way. I wanted to keep levels short so it kept you wanting to play; that just one more level feeling. I’d like to add an ‘infinite mode’ in a future update, though. I’m also planning to add many, many more of the normal-style levels, as well as a lot more trap types: crumbly blocks, falling debris that you have to dodge, spike traps,and perhaps even some bad guys and collectables. I would’ve liked to get more of these in during the compo, but just ran out of time. Also, more work is needed on sound and sprites.
The main thing that went wrong was that I didn’t spend enough time on day one thinking up a concrete idea. I got a rough topic in my head of a Breakout bat escaping from a game of Breakout, and rushed off and started making it. I built a simple little Breakout clone really quickly, and then spent a fair amount of the rest of the day trying to script together some kind of in-game cut scene explaining your escape. At this point, I realised I’d spent far too long on an ‘intro’ without having any idea at all about what the core gameplay would be after your escape. I became somewhat disillusioned with the idea and stopped working.
I woke up late on the Sunday with the intention of giving up, but I felt that I’d be very disappointed in myself if I did so. I chatted with a friend about what to do (thanks @triard!), and a new idea was born, that which turned into Daring Do! This one I felt I could run with: a simple gameplay mechanic that can be easily extended by the addition of more traps, levels, etc.
I’ve only recently gotten into Flash development, but I absolutely love working with FlashDevelop. I use a Mac as my main machine, so I had to run FD in a Windows virtual machine which was pretty slow – this infuriated me on numerous occasions as I sat there wanting to code but having to wait for my computer to catch up with me. For future LDs, I’ll have to run Windows natively somewhere, as the VM was almost unworkable. I wish there was a Mac version of FlashDevelop.
Flixel is also brilliant, although I was kind of learning as I went along so got a bit hung up on things that should’ve been easy but I didn’t know how to do yet. I’d like to spend some time with FlashPunk, too, to see how they compare. Writing my game in Flash made it super easy to test, to send to friends for comments, and to upload for other LD48ers to play.
As for my other tools, I used DAME for map editing, which worked pretty well, bfxr (fantastic tool!) for sound effects (although I somehow forgot to give my main character footsteps!) and had a brief attempt at creating some terrible music with FamiTracker.
I’d certainly be up for taking part on Ludum Dare again – the feeling of satisfaction having built something in such a short space of time is brilliant, and I love the community feel of the event. I’m so glad I didn’t give up after day 1! Next time, I’d spend longer ensuring I had a great gameplay idea before starting. Gameplay, gameplay, gameplay, that’s what it’s all about. In fact, I’d probably recommend trying to spend some time during the final round of voting thinking up some ideas for each of the top-voted themes from previous rounds, just in case they come up. Having a solid idea from the start would allow me a full two days to make my game – next time, I’d plan for day 1 on the engine and gameplay, and day 2 on content and tweaks. As I had to cram all of that into one day this time round, the content was a little light.
At the moment, I’m really enjoying looking through everybody else’s entries. There are some truly, truly brilliant games in there – not are they fun to play, but it’s nice to be able to find out how things were implemented. It’s a great way to learn.
I’d really appreciate it if you’d take the time to check out my game and rate it and / or leave a comment.