Planning and Time management
Since time is a scarce resource in a project, planning and time management are very important. This is a very extensive topic and the is much material about it already, so I will only talk about a few things. See the graphs below.
On the upper graph what I mean is that depending on your skill, you can achieve different levels of quality given the time you spend. Therefore, if you have a good knowledge of your own skills and how far you can push them, you can aim for a certain acceptable quality level and maximize the number of tasks you can complete.
The bottom graph is a bit more controversial, so maybe you will disagree with me. What I mean is that if you try to make the best possible choices, you won’t make many choices. That means that the so called “perfectionism” doesn’t take anyone anywhere close to perfection. IMHO, a good compromise is to aim for the “good” and “acceptable”, not the “perfect” or “excellent”.
The genre I chose was Platforming, that means walking around, jumping, fighting enemies, etc.
I added a experimental concept here. The main character can use a weapon, but he can’t actually kill the enemies. The support NPC is the one that has the lethal weapon. The effect was quite interesting in my opinion, since it changes the focus of the action and puts a lot of responsibility on the NPC.
My engine of choice was Unity3D. I have to say that it is not specially good for making 2D games, but it is very easy to use and has a very powerful physics engine.
For my art style, frame-by-frame animation can be very time consuming. So I opted for the puppet style animation. I cut the character in 5 pieces and animated them like a paper doll. It looks a bit goofy, but it is acceptable.
Ideally it should be parted in more sections, and additional textures should be added (e.g. front, back, side views). But of course this would take a lot of time.
Unity has a nice feature called Animation Blending. It can switch between animations in a very smooth way.
First for the main character, I drew, animated, and implemented the controls. For the support character, I changed the sprite and reused everything else.
For the level design, I opted for crystal formations. Loosely inspired in the things you see in electron microscope images.
By repeating this pattern over and over, it’s possible to quickly create levels that have some nice mood.