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POLARITY: what worked (and what didn’t)

Posted by
Friday, May 4th, 2012 7:01 pm

It’s been two weeks since that fateful weekend on which we all decided (perhaps against our better judgement) to make a game in less than 48 hours.

How’d it go?

Well, since the compo finished, POLARITY has been rated by 58 awesome LDers, seen nearly 900 unique visitors and been rated “Clever and brain exercising/10” by Rock Paper Shotgun. Not bad!

So how did I pull it off? POLARITY is all HTML5 and CoffeeScript, using a tiny helper library I wrote called atom (coincidentally theme-appropriate). I used the excellent Chipmunk-js for physics, which made collision detection and response trivially easy. I drew the pixels in GrafX2, which is a superb tool but for its animation support (of which there is very nearly none). The sound effects were a result of noodling around with BFXR‘s “Random” button for a while. And the font is 04font, created by the sublime Yuji Oshimoto.

I think one of the things that really made POLARITY was the polish. I had the gameplay more or less finished early on day one, and I even had a few levels. Day two was entirely polish: particle effects when you die, animations when you change polarity, level names and transition effects, an attract screen, and so on. On top of POLARITY’s simple and flexible mechanic, these bits of aesthetic tightening worked wonders.


That said, there are certainly some things that I wish had gone better. Most obviously: music. Since LD I’ve been trying to figure out how to make it (unsuccessfully).

Less obviously, I’d like to improve my tools in preparation for the next game jam I participate in. GrafX2’s lack of animation support is pretty bad, and I would have saved a bunch of time if it’d had e.g. live preview. I need to find a tool that works on Mac that I can do pixel anims with.

When working out how to make your web browser bloop, I spent nearly an hour staring at Sound Manager 2‘s documentation before giving up and using the Web Audio API. Unfortunately that meant that my sound effects would only work in Chrome, so a goal for next jam is to add some audio support to atom that works with Firefox’s audio API as well.

And with that, please enjoy this video of me making POLARITY. Yes, I really type that fast.

And that’s a wrap! POLARITY is complete.

Posted by
Sunday, April 22nd, 2012 7:14 am

It’s midnight in Sydney, Australia, and I’m turning in. My game is as finished as it’s going to get, and here it is in all its submitted glory!

I’m really happy with the way POLARITY turned out. From simple prototype to finished and (somewhat) polished game, it’s retained the quirky gameplay and interesting controls it started with.The mechanic is super simple (only two buttons), but yields a surprisingly fruitful set of interactions when combined with a bit of level design. See for yourself!

I’ll be putting up a timelapse screencast tomorrow morning when I have some brainpower left to edit it.

Looking forward to playing everyone’s games this week. Good luck to all, and use your remaining 10 hours 46 minutes wisely!

POLARITY: now with 240% more levels!

Posted by
Sunday, April 22nd, 2012 5:22 am

Some of them are quite difficult.

I also added some sound effects. Go play it!

POLARITY is born

Posted by
Sunday, April 22nd, 2012 1:41 am

The game feels a bit more complete now. I even have an attract screen!

Go play it!

Art attack

Posted by
Saturday, April 21st, 2012 10:26 pm

I’ve added some pixel art and a few animations. Have a play!


I don’t like the spike tiles atm. I’d rather have them represent something like antimatter… and I still have no tiles for the shrapnel. It’s coming along, though :)

Five levels!

Posted by
Saturday, April 21st, 2012 7:32 pm

I have five levels now! Go die in them! (Pictured: “Tunneling”)

There’s a level editor, too, though your changes won’t be saved if you reload. Press ‘P’ to toggle the editor. When in edit mode, press Space to choose the tile you want to place (click on empty space to choose eraser). Press ‘R’ to reset the player to the beginning. ‘B’ and ‘N’ will take you backwards/forwards between levels.

If you make a neat level, take a screenshot and send it to me 😀

Playable prototype

Posted by
Saturday, April 21st, 2012 5:04 pm

So I have a simple first level working, and it’s pretty fun! Go here to try it out.

Next up: level progression, then art.


Posted by
Saturday, April 21st, 2012 12:34 am

So it doesn’t look like much yet, but it’s a really fun idea:

You play a tiny nanomachine, and you can control your charge. You can pump electrons to your surface (becoming negatively charged), or away from your surface (becoming positively charged). Levels contain positive and negative nodes, and as we all know, opposite charges attract, but like charges repel.

I have a few ideas for levels:

I usually try to make games that don’t require level design (see here and here for reasons why), so this is a little out of my field. Next will come a level editor, and some non-placeholder graphics. I’m yet to decide on a particular visual style: I’d like to nod to the tiny physical nature which inspired the game, so perhaps some STEM images for inspiration?

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