About sockfolder

A graduate school student who only makes games over a weekend 3 times a year.


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Through Shadows Postmortem

Posted by
Wednesday, April 30th, 2014 10:57 pm

This was my fifth Ludum Dare., and I decided to keep up with my goal of doing something different each time. For LD 29, I decided I wanted to make a 3D game with Unity.  I had never done any 3D games before, so this was maybe too ambitious, but I think the result turned out well.

Play my game here: Through Shadow


Idea: Since I dislike doing themes based on settings, I choose to consider the secondary meaning of the phrase Beneath the Surface: that there is something hidden that must be revealed. This quickly turned to the idea of illusions that must be exposed. I admit I have been playing alot of Dark Souls II recently, so naturally I decided to make a game involving fighting a boss where illusions were a big part of the fight.  You would have an ability to reveal these illusions (seeing “beneath the surface”). My biggest worry with this idea was that the illusion mechanic might just seem gimmicky and not well integrated into the fight, but I think it turned out well.

Art: I had very little experience (i.e. 2 days of practice) in 3D Modelling, so that took up a large portion of the project time, which is unfortunate since I’m definitely more of a coder. Fortunately, I explicitly practiced making human models so I was prepared for the models I made. Definitely it was a big learning experience (the nice way of saying I made alot of mistakes). The silliest mistake is that I forgot to turn on smoothed surfaces for many of my models, and somehow never noticed until after I was done. Sadly, I also never got to add the desired atmosphere to the game, which is really supposed to be dark and somewhat mysterious.

Sound: As usual, I used sfxr for my sound effects. Unlike usual, I actually had music in my game.  This is thanks to finding a link to cgMusic on the front page shortly before the competition started. This is an amazing program that creates nice randomized music. The quality of the music is probably better than I could do over a whole weekend since I have no musical ability. Basically, I would just periodically generate a new song while working on the other parts of the game and choose the best ones I heard. Definitely I am very happy about no effort, good music.

Programming: This was a relatively programming-lite game. I just used a simple AI system where the boss would just choose an ability from a weighted list whenever it was ready to do a new attack. The boss phases were mainly just different weights on the abilities. This worked well, and there is really no reason to do anything more complex. The biggest problem came in the camera. Sadly my first version tended to get stuck in places when it tried to avoid going through objects. I refined it a few times, adding in various lerps in different situations, but the code was very hacky and the result not great. It has some odd problems with walls and going above the player. I will definitely need to figure this out before next Ludum Dare.

Time: Time is always a huge obstacle. There is so much I didn’t get time to do. Foremost, it would obviously be good to have at least a token Victory screen. The beginning of the game is setup for a tutorial, including a mysterious hooded figure that was supposed to instruct you, but I didn’t have time for the dialog itself. I also wanted to balance the game better, especially making the stationary reveal effect stronger. There is just only so much you can do.

Ultimately, I am pleased the outcome. The boss is interesting to fight, and friends I’ve shown it to seem to enjoy it. There is the right amount of challenge for me (and tricks to reduce this challenge), though some may find it too difficult at a certain part. More importantly for me, I learned alot about 3d games, and especially where the vulnerable parts are, so I will better prepared in the future.


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