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Evolution Dungeon Post Mortem

Posted by
Tuesday, April 26th, 2016 1:45 am

Hi everyone~

I enjoy reading everyone’s post mortems, so I felt I should add my own to the mix. My game was Evolution Dungeon, a small roguelike adventure.


What was intended: I wanted an RPG that used DNA/evolution for advancement, rather than levels or experience points. This was my interpretation of the theme (as your characters inherit better genes, their appearances change). Of all the LD games I’ve made, the actual gameplay for this game is closest to what I imagined. There are three genes which contribute to characters’ abilities in battle using a rock-paper-scissors like relationship. When an enemy has been defeated, you can merge one of your character’s genes with the opponent’s. The merge averages each color’s points.

Things that went well: Level progression turned out pretty well, although there is a pretty steep penalty for leaving a level before it has been played out.

Character progression

I’m happy with the maze generation algorithm. For the amount of time I had to work on it, it generates a pretty nice variety of floor plans and features. It’s not a great algorithm, but it should be a good base for one.


The basic process is this:

  1. Initialize a 32 x 32 array of tiles. Mark each tile as a wall. Then, carve out a small room in a random location on the map. This will be the starting room. Finally, for each wall in the starting room, mark a doorway.
  2. Pick a random doorway
  3. Pick a random feature (hallway, square room, ellipse room, junction)
  4. Determine if there is enough space to build the feature. If there is not, go back to Step 2.
  5. Mark the new room and a new doorway for each wall in the new room (except the doorway that currently joins with an existing room)
  6. Repeat from Step 2 until a set number of iterations have taken place.

Since each doorway has an equal probability of being selected, the generator tends to clump rooms in a blob (such as in the two illustrations above). Given the modest 32 x 32 canvas, this is probably okay. A probability distribution that gives higher weight to doorways further from the starting point may spread things out a bit. I’d also like to have more types of features. The maze generator took up a lot of my 48 hours as it is, so I should be glad I got what I have working.

What didn’t go well: The art is very dark. The main reason for this is that I had planned to include dynamic lighting. But I ran out of time to add light sources.

As a few people commented, it’s not immediately obvious how to advance. Since each gene (red, green, or blue) is strong against one other color and weak against another, one strategy is to have each character specialize. The lack of power-ups makes this strategy hard to employ in early levels. You can only regain health by being reborn. You often just need to take whatever you can get.

Another popular comment–control. The multiple character mechanic was inspired by a game called Exile: Escape from the Pit. That game had two movement modes. A “battle mode” let you control your party’s characters individually. Otherwise, you could merge them all into one tile and move as a group. That seemed like it would be too clunky in this game, given the frequency of battles. Designating one character as the leader and using pathfinding may have been a better solution. This might have simplified control transfer, too–since it’d be a non-issue for general exploring.

Moving forward: This was one of my favorite LD games to work on. Although I don’t think it’s my strongest entry, I think it has more potential for further development than other games I’ve put together. In particular, there are currently no special moves. The three genes merely affect the probability of hitting an opponent, and certain visual features (claws, tail, horns). There’s some opportunity for more variation in the characters, as well as the environment.

LD34 Post-Mortem — Panda and Squirrel

Posted by
Wednesday, December 16th, 2015 1:10 am

This is my fourth LD, and I think I’m starting to get a hang of figuring out what I can and can’t accomplish in 48 hours. This time around I had a bit of luck on my side. My wife gave me the idea for a similar game a long time ago, but I just never got around to doing anything with it. With a few tweaks, the idea was able to fit the theme. Usually I waste a few hours with a game that doesn’t work out. For this round, I was able to get straight to work.

Panda and Squirrel screenshot

Snow, squirrels, and pandas!

I got the basic mechanics for “Panda and Squirrel” working by the end of the first evening. This is the whole game, without the “face”:

Saturday, 3 am

Saturday, 3 am

What went right:

  • I had the rest of the weekend to work on art, music, etc. I usually don’t have that much time after doing the coding.
  • The atmosphere came out well. There’s snow and a sunset.


  • I wrote some code I can re-use on other projects.
  • The floor is randomly generated, so no two games play exactly the same.
  • I think I have a game I can do some more with later, and some good feedback on what to tackle next (thanks, guys!)

What didn’t go well:

  • The focus of the game changed halfway through the project. The original game had more action planned for the ground-level. The change left me with too little time to add more variety to the collectibles and foes
  • The code that draws the snow isn’t very optimized. As a consequence, I had to keep the screen size small.
  • The two-button control is a bit limiting. A third button to slow the characters down, or even push them backward, would be helpful.
  • I would have liked to have given the player more control over the snowball.

Next time around I’d like to experiment with more complex mechanics. One problem I consistently run into is not enough time to test. There are a lot of “why didn’t I think of that yesterday?” moments. This time I didn’t make a total mess of the code, so maybe I can incorporate a few of those ideas into a proper post-compo version :)

Fragmented Reality

Posted by
Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 4:12 pm

Just finished! I would’ve liked more time (who wouldn’t?) to add a bit more polish, but I don’t think I can do anything useful in the four hours that remain. Best case scenario is that I don’t break something, so it’s time to put it out there and move on.

In Fragmented Reality, you’re tasked with escaping the mind of a madman. Can you break free of his dream?

Fragmented Reality Screenshot

Fragmented Reality Screenshot 2

I struggled with this theme initially, and went back and forth between two games before settling on this one. I think I made the right choice, but I wasted a lot of time. To accommodate, I had to scale back the artwork from my original vision.

This was my third LD and I think I’m starting to learn how to optimize my workflow.

Abelian – Done!

Posted by
Sunday, December 7th, 2014 4:03 pm

44 1/2 hours into the compo, I’ve finished my first LD entry!

Screenshot of

I’m pretty happy with the result, although I can think of a lot more content I could add if I had the time.

The official entry is here

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