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Timeline Post-mortem

Posted by (twitter: @LanceCoyote)
Wednesday, August 28th, 2013 2:13 pm

I guess it’s a good time as ever to reflect on things from the competition. If you haven’t seen my entry, Timeline, you can view it here¬†or access the web version on my site here. I had a lot of fun, even if I didn’t work as hard as I should have. Participating definitely gave me something to do and I managed to learn a lot about how flexible I am in terms of design decisions. Lots of lessons learned, some more experience gained. All in all I’m glad to have finished in 48 hours.

Timeline2

What Went Wrong

  • I promised myself I’d make something with really neat source materials, and then sort of threw that out the window. I ended up with this cluster of events by the end of it with no real discerning marks between them. If it wasn’t for last minute changes, all the objects would be using the default names as well. So, in the future, stick to a more strict system to get everything named and organized.
  • Like everything, Construct decided to crash after having been running for 12 hours or so, and unfortunately I hadn’t saved for a while. I had lost all my work from the reverse gravity power-up to the first secret level (so the game was complete). Fortunately I managed to redo the power-ups and also get some of the levels back (good thing I posted them on Twitter), so it wasn’t all bad. I learned my lesson and saved more option (it would crash 2 more times before the end of the competition).
  • Lack of sleep made me make a grave error in judgement and I accidentally erased all my animations and had to redo them from scratch. I never did redo the idle animation however, but I think the game looks better without it.
  • I approached this like creating a small game without realizing that I’d be judged for it, so I might have made the game wildly too difficult and added too much content that was hard to reach. How many people found out that there’s a secret exit over the moon in the first level?
  • If I did this game again, the timeline would be static and activities could not be moved. It would have allowed me to automatically put down actions in the right order (like parachute jump for clearing long gaps).
  • I also made it so the timeline doesn’t reset between deaths. That was a stupid idea because it will mess with player rhythm in certain levels. Definitely a bad decision on my part.
  • Of the 10 items ideas I had, I only managed to add 5. I also wanted to do more with the items I’d added, especially the really cool ones like reverse gravity and hi-jump.

Timeline5

What Went Right

  • The timeline worked a lot better than I expected. Jumping was awkward as hell but the other abilities worked perfectly with it.
  • I tweeted a picture of one of the levels I had lost and managed to redo it from the image. I really liked that level, so I was glad that I managed to add it back in!
  • Because I went with Construct, it was really easy to port to every system possible. Not only does it have some of the best web support, but the ability to export to NodeJS made it a one-click process to port it to Windows, OSX, and Linux. Plus, the ease of use meant that I could get a lot of work done that would have consumed a ton of time in Unity.
  • A lot of design flexibility meant I could change and balance a lot of mechanics in the game, as well as quickly come up with new levels, and I’m sure there’s a lot of brilliant combinations of the items in game that I hadn’t considered. Additionally, if I wanted something very specific to happen, I could give the player a new item that would do exactly that. Having an extremely vague design with a highly modular mechanic let me get away with a lot of things.
  • Originally I was worried because I was supposed to be busy on Sunday, which would mean dedicating less time to the competition. Fortunately (or unfortunately from some perspectives) my plans were delayed and I managed to finish earlier than I expected.

Timeline4

 

What I’d Change

  • Like I said before, make a static timeline instead of the dynamic, player-controlled one I have now. Giving the player control over every item collected meant that they could get stuck or not understand what combination to use to get through a level or over an obstacle.
  • More states instead of actions like jump or attack. Reverse gravity is my favorite item in the game because it’s easy to understand, lasts for exactly one second, and lets you do some neat stuff with it. Things like jump don’t always last for a second, so even though I had combinations like parachute into jump, jump into parachute didn’t go as well.
  • Probably a shorter timeline. The theme made me use 10 seconds somewhere, but when you’re controlling input it would take way too long to come around again if you mistimed a jump.
  • An easier game with more content instead of secrets and tricks. Nobody is going to find the secrets during the judging period anyway, so it would have been better to introduce players to more interesting ideas rather than frustrate or confuse them.
  • Make the item system a lot more family based. That would have allowed me to add new items a lot faster, though as it is, adding them was pretty quick.

Overall, it was a great experience! I’m proud of how the game turned out and I’ll definitely be participating in the next Ludum Dare. Now there’s nothing to do but twiddle my thumbs and wait!

 

And one more thing

Posted by (twitter: @LanceCoyote)
Sunday, August 25th, 2013 5:59 pm

Had to submit a small, last minute update due to some bugs with moving objects on the timeline (and with the tracker not being placed on the top layer). It’s really minor, and it also fixes and issue with a secret. If you’ve played the web version and it’s not updated, consider clearing your cache and refreshing the page. Have fun!

Timeline4

Timeline is Done

Posted by (twitter: @LanceCoyote)
Sunday, August 25th, 2013 1:48 pm

Well it was a bit of a challenge but I’m glad I finally pulled through and actually finished something for the Ludum Dare, though I did get lazy yesterday and ended up not doing very much work at all.

Timeline

 

I wanted to try doing something different than just putting the player on a 10 second timelimit, so I used it in order to control player input instead. You can collect items to add actions to the timeline, and then arrange them in order to get over obstacles. It wasn’t as fun as I was expecting, but I feel like having to work with an idea like this was more of a challenge than anything else.

You can view my submission here.

Try to see if you can get all 5 secrets.

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