I guess I should do one of these, huh? If you haven’t played ANtopia yet, you can check it out here.
I was pretty excited about doing this LD, not only because it’s Ludum Dare’s 10th birthday, but because It’s my 4th Ludum Dare. And 4 is, like, a really importatnt number. I was pretty happy with how my games turned out in previous LDs (17, 20, and 21), but my last attempt, in December (22), was a dud. I just didn’t have enough time to do anything worthwhile. For LD23, I knew I’d have most of my weekend open.
For all my previous LDs, I used Game Maker. This time around I decided I wanted to make a Flash game. I felt I was finally comfortable enough with AS3 and the mess of libraries I use that I could work through any potential problems on my own. We all know Flashpunk is pretty great. That’s what I would use to handle all my gameplay and graphics. I also decided to use Christian Corti’s Flod library to play music. Since I could play .xm files I could keep the file size low, and wouldn’t have to worry about looping MP3s. For sound effects, I chose to add the Bfxr synth directly into my game… Just copy the parameters into your code and it makes noise. I think I only used 2 MP3 files in the whole game. Of course, I made sure all of this was tied up neatly and working before the weekend started. Shit, did I just write a whole paragraph about code?
So I waited and the theme went live and.. I liked it. Tiny Worlds is a good theme. It’s evocative, but not too specific. It could be about limited space or resources, seeing familiar things from a new perspective, or about isolation. I decided to make a game about insects. I thought about how an ant colony is like a tiny city. My original brain-vomit of the game was pretty ambitious, actually. I imagined this huge city to explore, maybe the ants go to war with other insects. I thought of giant earthworms digging tunnels. None of that stuff made it into the game, of course.
So I pared things down to a game with just one goal: “The queen is sick. Save her.”
What Went Right
I think keeping it simple was a good idea. I used game mechanics I was familiar with, so there were really no surprises coming up as I was coding. THe story was… paper thin. I actually think that was good, becaue nobody playing a Ludum Dare game wants to sit through long cutscenes full of exposition and world-building, right? I like to leave more to the imagination.
Graphics worked out well too. The tiles are pretty sloppy, but I think they work. I also used a limited palette– 9 colors that I’d picked out before the competition. That helped to keep everything consistent. Music and sound effects were easy– I think they’re my favorite part of game design– and FLOD and BFXR worked great for playing everything in-game.
What Didn’t Go Right
Surprisingly, not much! I had a few minutes of frustration setting hitboxes, but that’s because I didn’t understand how they worked in Flashpunk. I also had some trouble with OGMO Editor not saving room properties and entity values, but I just added them to the XML in Flashdevelop.
I was also kind of disappointed I didn’t really do anything new gameplay-wise. It’s pretty straightforward Zelda-style gameplay: Find a sword, kill some monsters, find a key, open doors. I started edperimenting with doors opening in domino-style patterns to unlock enemies and stuff, but I didn’t have time to really explore that mechanic.
Oh, I guess I drank too much beer.
I don’t really feel like expanding on the game right now, but I could definitely do more with it. Different enemies, more characters, more rooms to explore. I just finished working on a bigger project, though, so I think for now I’d rather focus on doing more small games. Maybe enter some more game jams.