Here’s my time-lapse of making Spawn this weekend. Total capture time was about 21 hours. Condensed to 9 minutes.
I forgot to put up my big clock for the first hour or so. I started recording at 6:45.
I didn’t keep very good notes while I was developing this weekend, so I’m going to try to just list out approximately what happened when before I forget too much. I’m referring to my time-lapse video to help me with the exact times.
4:00 pm – Took a short nap and then bought some groceries so I would be well rested and fed for the upcoming competition.
6:00 pm – Theme is announced! ‘Alone’.
Initially I am not too crazy about the theme. It seems a too broad. I imagine everyone just making standard platformers and dungeon crawlers and saying ‘the main character is alone’. I suppose that would happen with any theme.
6:00 – 6:45 pm – Brainstorming and sketching ideas.
Some idea fragments:
6:45 pm – Open Flash and TextMate and start prototyping the basic movement and gameplay
7:45 pm – Briefly consider using Flixel. Decide not to due to my unfamiliarity with it.
10:00 pm – With a rough prototype complete, I stop coding and write a quick blog post.
I spend about 30–45 minutes sketching character designs in my sketchbook.
11:00 pm Sleep!
5:30 am – I woke up on Saturday feeling refreshed and was glad that my game concept and prototype still seemed viable after sleeping on it.
6:30 am After breakfast I immediately started working on the designs for my main amoeba character (in Illustrator).
After about an hour I had a basic design that worked so I brought it into Flash and started animating.
8:30 am – Design title screen
9:00 am – Change Nutrients from being Flash Sprites to bitmap objects that get blitted onto the background, hoping to improve performance.
10:00 am – Added the collected nutrients to the amoeba’s belly.
The game becomes pretty playable at this point. From here on I think I wasted a lot of time just playing my game.
10:30 am – Sound effects (sfxr & Sound Studio)
11:00 am – Added spawning animation.
1:30 pm – Added ‘New Species’ label
2:30 pm – Added some placeholder new creature graphics
3:00 pm – Added the menu for showing all the creatures you’ve spawned.
7:00 pm – Added background bubble graphics
8:00 pm – Remade title screen as multiple graphics instead of just one.
I was starting to feel really burned out at this point, so I wrote a quick blog post and thought I would go to bed. Instead, I spent another hour or so working on some background music (GarageBand).
6:30 am – On Sunday I woke up feeling terrible. I was tired and my whole body was aching. I was not looking forward to spending another day in front of the computer, but I knew I only had a few more (big) things to finish.
7:00 am – The major thing remaining was to draw the graphics for all of my spawn creatures, so I got started on that first thing.
It took most of the morning.
10:45 am – Added different probabilities for which nutrients show up based on where you are in the ocean.
I took a few big missteps before I got this right.
12:00 pm – Fearing poor performance on older computers, I decided to change the game’s framerate from 60 to 30. Most of the movement in the game is framerate independent, but my amoeba animation had to be adjusted.
1:00 pm – Posted my finished game with 5 hours to spare! Woo hoo!
… with 5 hours to spare.
I’m a little surprised that I finished. And I’m actually really happy with how my game turned out. It could be better of course, but it’s not bad for 48 hours.
I’ll post some more thoughts later (and my time-lapse video), but for now I need to get away from this damn computer.
I made some really good progress today, but I’m definitely starting to feel the burn now. So tired…
Today I mostly worked on art and refining the game feel.
There is a player version here: Spawn Prototype.
I feel pretty good about most things, though I’m still unsure about the open-endedness of it. I would like to add some more interesting graphics in the background so it will feel more like exploring. Not sure if I will have time for that though. I still have to draw all of my little Spawn critters. I think having a nice variety of those will make it more fun to swim around and see what you can create.
I’m also thinking about auto-saving progress to a cookie, so whenever you come back to the game you pick up where you left off. Then you are more likely to get to see all the variety of creatures.
Initially I wasn’t too thrilled about the theme, but I think I came up with an idea that I like.
While brainstorming, I kept coming back to the idea of a tiny micro-organism swimming though a vast ocean. There is tons of life around it, but the scale of everything is so tremendous that it could just swim and swim and never find anything else.
I rejected this idea a few times because I thought it would feel too similar to flOw. I think I’ve come up with a unique take on it though.
You’ll play the game as a little amoeba creature, all alone in the enormous ocean. You have to collect food. Once you collect a certain amount of food you have enough energy to spawn a new creature. The type of creature that is created depends on the types of food you eat.
I really want to make this feel open-ended and exploratory, but again I fear that it will end up feeling like a flOw rip-off, so we’ll see how it goes. I might end up adding a time limit or enemies or something else that will end the game.
Progress has been pretty good so far. 4.5 hours in and I’ve prototyped the basic logic and movement. Tomorrow I will try to refine the gameplay ideas and start working on some art and sounds hopefully.
Here’s some ugly placeholder art:
See you in the morning!
I’m working on a new pixel editor called Pickle.
Photoshop is great for most art tasks, but when working with pixel art I find it’s missing a few features I really need.
Pickle allows me to see live updating previews of animations, terrain tiles, or seamless tiles as I edit them.
Unfortunately it won’t be ready in time for this weekend’s comp. I’m shooting for a mid-January alpha release, and I’ll be looking for feedback from the game dev community to help me make it better.
If you’re interested in trying it out send me a tweet or follow @pickleEditor and I’ll let you know when it’s ready.
The public alpha version is now available:
…and I’m scared.
This will be my first LD so I’m not really sure what to expect. I’m a little worried that I won’t be able to finish anything in 48 hours. My games at The Pencil Farm have always taken much longer than that to complete.
But it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.
I’ll be making a Flash game (AS3) using Photoshop for graphics and GarageBand for audio.