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Post-mortem: I am Gonna Smack You With My Words

Friday, April 24th, 2015 5:42 pm

I am Gonna Smack You With My Words

There it is, finally! I’ve already had some entries in the Ludum Dare’s Jam, but this was the first time I had the guts to participate in the Compo! Although I usually prefer themes harder to elaborate, I really liked “An Unconventional Weapon”. It was also the first time I didn’t try to “twist” the theme, but made a game design that related to it in an obvious way.

The game design for I am Gonna Smack You With My Words came to my mind almost fully formed, and somewhat too easily. Usually I force myself to elaborate at least 3 functional and compelling game designs (and something along 5 to 8 more abstract ideas) before I decide which one to develop for the jam, but this idea seemed to me too good and too simple not to carry on with it. It was like it had the right to exist, to be worked on.

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 7.21.28 PM

The final version of the game.

Some little details changed due to the difficulty progression balancing, for example: initially, for each letter you’d hit an enemy, you’d receive 1 energy point. This was harder to work with, so instead I’ve made each enemy to give some energy points when killed, according to its toughness. This way, when the game becomes hard, you wouldn’t run out of energy, since the enemies then give more of it. For the bonus rounds, initially they would simply wipe out the recently used words list and give some energy, but at the end I decided to kill all enemies inside the screen too, therefore creating a Risk and Reward system, allowing the player to extend her/his game session. The balancing still needs some work, though. I’ll keep working on it when the voting finishes. Due to the lack of time, I’ve also gave up on some ideas, like levels progression and bosses fights (the bosses would fire words at you, so you’d need always to fire words of equal length or longer not to get hit).

The art and music were mainly driven by my scarce skills. Since I’m just a programmer with little to no ability with graphic nor music editors, neither formal studying, I focused in make something simple and functional, leaving aside my expectations, and working with what I got. For example, initially the main character was going to be a philosopher with a long and magnificent beard swinging to the wind while running and angrily shouting words at his opponents. I ended up with a square-shaped prosecutor with a little necktie and a big mouth and some criminals with the same shape and some little modifications in the painting. The only animation was the opening and closing of the mouth.

graphics-gale

The characters sprites, edited in the Graphics Gale.

 

This was the first time I’ve made a “song” for a game. I had completely forgotten that in the Compo we couldn’t use any external assets, and I had already spent some time looking for and deciding a background music for my game, so when I figured out that I couldn’t use it, I rushed to compose a loop, as simple as it could be. Although I’m pretty satisfied with the result, it was a little annoying, so I’ve also included a mute button.

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 7.17.22 PM

The soundtrack being edited in the Bosca Ceoil.

 

I’ve been looking for a while now for a decent JavaScript + HTML5’s canvas game engine. The one that had captivated me the most until then was the Quintus, but since it’s a toy project, more than once it has disappointed me for its lack of resources. It seems now that I finally found the game engine that I’ll stick with: Phaser. It is flexible enough to accept either global game loops or more game object oriented code, to accept either frame-by-frame tests or event-triggered callbacks. It’s easy to add and to manipulate objects in the scene. The documentation, while not great, is pretty complete. There’s tons of tutorials and example codes, a lot of which you can try and modify online in a sandbox. The biggest satisfaction I had was the easiness with which I’ve made the letters flying through the screen. I had anticipated that I’d need to struggle at least a little bit to render text as the game object’s sprite, or maybe even produce one image for each letter and create the sprites accordingly, but the Phaser engine allowed me to simply add physics to text objects, complete with collision tests! It fit like a glove!

All of that said, even if the jam happened surprisingly well, it was not without its difficulties. Saturday I almost didn’t have time to work on the game, in 1/3 of the day I had to work on my company’s project. Sunday it was my mother’s birthday, so I had to go to my parent’s house. Looking back now, I don’t even know how I’ve got time to complete this game in such a stress-free way. I guess it was simply meant to be. :)

I’m pretty satisfied with I am Gonna Smack You With My Words, usually I end up wanting to add tons of features more, but this time I feel like it is almost complete. If there’s anything I regret, was not recording the development process! Well, there’s all there is to it, if you liked it, go on and play it! Starting tomorrow, I’ll be playing, voting and comenting about everyone’s game too! I hope everbody keep participating in game jams, it’s such an amazing experience! 😀

A little teaser

Saturday, August 24th, 2013 11:35 pm

teaser

A first look into our work

Saturday, August 24th, 2013 1:38 pm

Character design:

characterdesign

 

Example of scene:

corredor 

Curious?

Very late, but confident

Saturday, August 24th, 2013 12:04 am

It’s 4am here (theme was released at 10pm), we just finished brainstorming, filled a whole page with ideas, and selected some nice ones, but haven’t yet decided which one we’ll take forward. Now it’s time for a little rest, I just hope it’s not too late for we to start developing our game.  :(

Despite some delay, I’m confident! My friend is an awesome artist (she is incredibly fast too), and maybe a coworker will join us to help on programming!

Now, time to get some sleep (though it’s a little difficult to relax with so much anxiety)! Good luck to everyone! 😀

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