Technically, there is an entry with my name on it, so I could say I finished a game if I wanted to. Systeme, my teammate Finnbar’s entry, was originally to be our game. But given what has actually happened, it’s really only his game. And with respect to him, I’m really, really disappointed in it.
Unlike the last two Ludums, I didn’t lose this one entirely to lack of motivation. So that’s a plus. Rather, I lost it to bad planning and bad team management. So let’s go over what’s happened, shall we?
The First Night
Ludum Dare starts Friday night at nine o’clock here on America’s east coast. I was teaming was Finnbar, like I said, who lives in London, where it was 2 a.m., so I had to do brainstorming on my own, apart from a little chatting with a friend. Finn was supposed to be the music guy and help a little with programming, while I was the main programmer.
So, the theme was Connected Worlds. Now, my first thought upon hearing that was Space Elevators. Haha, Space Elevators. Funny, right? I moved on, though, trying to come up with a real idea, but honestly, I wasn’t very focused. I stayed up quite late trying to get something good so Finn would have something to do in the morning while I was asleep, and I finally sent him three ideas. I didn’t really like any of them, but I told him he could pick one or come up with his own and I’d catch up with him in the morning.
We Rise At Dawn– Er, 10 o’clock
When I awoke, I was first met with what seemed like pretty good news. Finn had picked the Planet idea, and had already completed a prototype!
The Planet Idea: “Make your own planet to music. Very much like our old game, Song of Sparks. Add cool stuff to explore to it, or things that can kill other players. At the end, fly around and explore others’ planets.”
I wasn’t sure if I even liked that idea. I mean, exploring other players planets? That meant networking. And there were just so many parts to it. But I liked the “Make a Planet to Music” part. That sounded fun. And Finnbar chose it over my other half-hearted ideas, as I’d expect, since it involved music. He’s a music guy.
To my surprise, though, our good friend Michcioperz offered to help out with the network code, offering us a server he’d paid for! Wow! So that could work after all. And Finn already had a prototype where you could edit a planet and it would spin and stuff… but wait, what? All the code is based on rotating graphics– none of it is class-based, which meant that none of it could really be salvaged for a final product. Either he wanted a proof of concept or he likes instant results more than code that will actually be useful in a final result. I’m not really sure.
So, we talked about where to go next. I specifically said I wanted to create a planet class just before I went off to lunch. When I got back from lunch, though, I found that Finnbar had already started making a planet class. Uh, okay, I guess he can do that… wait, he’s using Moonscript?
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with Moonscript– it compiles to Lua, so it was perfectly compatible with what we were doing– but I don’t know how to use it at all. He had picked it because it has built-in classes for object orientation, which we needed, but I already had a library that could do that in Lua! But Finn didn’t know how to use it, so he picked Moonscript. And honestly, I had no idea what he was doing. He kept assuring me it would be fine, but I searched his code, and to me the whole thing seemed like a mess. I was still getting the impression that he was going for instant results instead of anything useful. So that’s what I told him.
There was nothing I could really do. I was supposed to be the code guy, and here I was without be able to work with any of the code. I told him I had half a mind to scrap what he’d done and start from scratch. But I didn’t, for a while– I let him keep going and I hoped that maybe it would start making enough sense for me to step in. (It never really did.)
So I had a lot of time to think. I kept thinking about how hard the idea was, and how it wasn’t really going to work. It needed to be simplified. I searched through my first ideas– blah, blah, Space Elevators, blah… Hm. Space Elevators. Wouldn’t it be funny to have a shmup game about defending a Space Elevator from space pirates and seeing how far you can get it? And hey, what if the game was played to elevator music? That’d be hilarious!
Wait… why hadn’t I thought of this to begin with?!