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Swich! The Game – Post Mortem

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 7:29 pm

We are incredibly happy with what we made over the past weekend during the Ludum Dare Jam. The morning of the 23rd, we were just four guys brainstorming ideas around the topic “Connected Worlds” during a gamejam-ing meetup in Bratislava, Slovakia. We had many ideas but there were only two that we found compelling. The first was an endless runner with a single-button control scheme and a planetary action game. Since there were two programmers on the team and two artists/designers, we decided to explore both ideas. One of them turned out to be a prototype called Expanda, which we plan to iterate on in the coming weeks. The second one was Swich! The Game, which is the game I would like to talk about right now.

Swich!  is an endless runner where the characters run on their own and you only switch between a jumper and a gunner. It’s actually trickier than it sounds!

Download the game now

Windows build (iOS/Android release in the coming weeks)

Let’s get to what we learned over the past three days:

  1. If you’re familiar with a language/engine/technology, start with what you know. @Blade_sk spent the first couple of hours trying to make the game in Phaser.io, which he barely knew. When he finally figured it out, he couldn’t get it to do what we needed for the game (multiple TileMaps). So he moved over to the Moai platform, which he knew well.
  2. Dropbox is perfect for collaboration. Three of us could comfortably cooperate on a single game by sharing a folder on Dropbox. The artist could add tile assets, the coder could change code on the fly and I could design levels using the Tiled map editor. Everything was sharing automatically. We didn’t really figure out a perfect workflow until the second/third day but since we were all in the same physical location, we used USB flash drives during the first two days, which worked fine for some time. Dropbox was much faster!
  3. Scaling pixel art for different resolutions is a pain.  We spent a lot of time (3+ hours) just figuring out scaling of the pixel art for different resolutions. More experience with this would have helped.
  4. Use an existing physics engine if you can. Initially we thought about writing our own physics engine for the game. Box2D turned out as a perfect choice in the end. This left us with more time for the creation of the AI for the characters. We ended up just having the character in the scene look at the tiles right ahead of them and make the choice of shooting or jumping based on the obstacle at hand. We did a few tricks with gravity and we got the Ludum Dare release you can play right now.
  5. Stick with the first or second design. Since we knew we had little time, we ended up choosing the first or second iteration of every pixel art design. We are very happy with what was created.
  6. Simplify your controls. We initially wanted to have multiple buttons to control the characters but actually ended up with just the single button control to switch between the two characters.
  7. Don’t overthink the title. The name was obvious from the start. We wanted a game, where you SWITCH between two characters, so we just needed to put a fun twist on it. We removed the T and ended up with a nice and simple title. No need to overthink things if you don’t have to.

We are currently working on another improved build (bug fixes, polishing and some small features that people requested so far) and a port to iOS and Android. We are definitely sticking with the simple control scheme and just polishing things up so that the game is much more balanced and easy to understand when you first start playing it.

If you like the game and/or want to leave some feedback please visit our Ludum Dare page or reach out to us via Twitter @swichgame.

This game would not have been created without the incredible teamwork of @blade_sk (code) and Matúš Gavalier (art). As the game/level designer I (@marcelklimo) rationed my time between Swich! and the Expanda prototype, which was coded by @luboslenco.

And a small fun fact at the end: We’re actually using real gravity (9.8 m/s^2) and the character is only 200g and 30cm tall :)

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