I finished my game for the compo yesterday. It’s called “Stampede at Crooked Thorax Ranch”. I had a really great time making it! I’d love to get some feedback and votes on it here!
Here’s a little postmortem…
About the game:
The game is Stampede at Crooked Thorax Ranch. In it you play a cowboy the size of an insect who is caught in a stampede of wild beetles. The original concept I had was for some kind of tower defense game which involved tiny creeps the size of a pixel that were hard to see but easy to kill. Those pixels would grow as they approached you becoming easier to see and harder to kill. In envisioned a top down view of a mountain with ants climbing up the sides. Since that didn’t quite seem in keeping with Tiny World, I decided to switch to a magnifying glass metaphor (Unfortunately, I never got around to showing the glasses coming into frame which I think would have helped the player visualize them.) I combined that concept with another idea I had for cowboys riding bugs. The result was beetles that crawl towards a cowboy all viewed under a stack magnifying glasses.
- FlashPunk. It was my first time using the engine. I really like the style of FlashPunk’s approach. It seems much more structured that Flixel to me.
- I tried my best to focus on aspects of the production that would make the game feel like a complete game. I tried to fix all bugs as I went along so I would always be ready to launch. Even though there are things I would like to tweak or improve on, I succeeded in making a complete game.
- Schedule. I spent friday night devoted strictly to coming up with ideas and doing sketches. Then I got a good night’s sleep and started coding Saturday morning. Sunday was mostly spent going down a prioritized todo list of things that would make the game feel more like a game. The game may not have been as complete as it might have been if I had stayed up that whole time but the pace kept my head clear and I was never burned-out. I also got some exercise and took some meal breaks and that helped me not get bogged down.
- I included Google Analytics to track points in the gameplay such as player’s score and how many times they hit replay. This was very easy to do and I look forward to seeing the results!
- I added the story / intro at the last minute because it felt like it wasn’t clear what was happening. I’m not sure how much clearer it is now but I think it added a lot. Next time I think I would start with the story.
What didn’t work:
- I spent too much time putting polish on things when I should have been focusing a little more on making the game elements work. As a result, I had some pieces that look very detailed and some that are very slapdash.
- Digital paintings look crappy as sprites. Purple laser explosions look like peonies. You can barely tell there’s a cowboy riding a beetle. In other words, I am starting to see why people go for 8-bit style art.
- I tried to make an intro in the Flash authoring tool and combine it with the FlashPunk code (done in FlashBuilder). I usually stay away from the timeline but I wanted it done fast. I ended up having a bunch of problems.
- Unpreparedness. I tried to get my environment prepared but there were a few tools I was using for the first time or that I hadn’t used for a long time.
- Tweeting and blogging during contest hours. I should have saved all that stuff for afterwards.