A non-usual mind-warping game starring Carl Sagan.
I’ve done a few Ludum Dareses now, and I have one rule in my brain for getting a game done in time: Don’t try and do something you haven’t done before. You waste far too much time troubleshooting and learning, and not enough time polishing and tweaking. But alas, when the theme was announced I knew I had to break this rule. I knew I had to figure out how to write a raycaster.
The reason was simple: Before the comp I complained about the theme “10 seconds” on IRC. I posited that it too-heavily implied a core mechanic – and avoiding this implication would only lead to novelty or quirky entries. Determined to come up with something different I formulated a plan; a plan that involved fractals, and crazy colourful graphics, and Carl Sagan. A plan that would eventually become Time Flies Straight: a novelty, quirky entry. Ah well.
The game ended up pretty close to what I had in my head, which I’m really happy about. I had hoped to add some bad guys to stalk you through the labyrinth, And I planned for the little green guys and the related “happiness” and “wellbeing” level to actually mean something – but I had to scale things way back, having wasted so much time trying to do something I hadn’t done before: write a raycaster.
I had written the actually “ray raycasting” part for my last LD game and I thought the rendering part would be easy, especially thanks to this article which I was following closely. Alas, it took me much of Saturday to get a satisfactory texture mapping algorithm working.
After this hiccup, things went much more smoothly. The crazy wobbly time effect was nice and I had made some cool sounds to accompany it. The sounds were supposed to be chopped up and the various arpeggio speeds would relate to your depth into the maze – but, thanks to the time I lost on Saturday – it ended up as a straight looping mp3. Still, the randomness of it is kind of nice… suddenly, for no reason, things start speeding up and lends a strange air of expectation.
I had to work right up to the deadline – and was exhausted by the end. It was a bad time to be trying to do “level design”, especially when I was working with a massive 2D array directly in my text editor. The sea of integers pulsating and wobbling in my brain – made worse from having to playtest the results. It was an odd few hours.
Overall, I’m really happy with the result. I actually made a game that I had in my head – a game that has a “feeling” to it. I’m not going to work on it anymore after the comp… I think it’s just a nice experience more than a game. Now I can’t wait for LD28!