So Ludum Dare #33 lies behind us now, and I take the chance to write a quick follow-up of how this all turned out for me.
I didn’t prepare much this time. No basic games to get back into the whole process, not many commits to my engine.
What was important though was that I made a list of ideas for the 20 final themes, which helped me a lot in getting creative and was quite a bit of fun, too.
The First Night
I forgot to commit final but crucial changes to my engine, which I consider would be cheating since then I would be the only one with access to that code. I noticed my mistake very late, and after documenting and committing everything there were only about two hours of sleep left.
When I woke up and started Eclipse as well as my timelapse software, I noticed the latter didn’t really work. Everything looked JPEG-ish, even though I had set it to PNG. I spent the last seven minutes before the theme announcement quickly building my own timelapse script, just to realize the original software did work correctly… Anyway.
I was not happy with “You Are The Monster”. Not at all. I mean, I knew that the chance for it was high, but still. I ended up making my biggest mistake, not sticking to the idea I had prepared beforehand. I wanted to do something atmospheric, something calm, like flying a bird. There was my idea – you play an eagle, which looks friendly at first glance, but for something like a mouse an eagle is quite the monster.
I built awesome flying mechanics (really, they deserve to be called “awesome”), made the textures, and put it all together into a lovely little eagle. It would even sit down when you flew it to the ground!
Unfortunately, after spending around six hours on that, I had no idea what to do with it.
After sleeping a little, 14 hours in, I gave up. Back to my original idea: playing as a virus that infects all of humanity.
Progress came fast, since I had mostly the whole thing in mind from the start. In just a few hours, the basics were already done, although it was still far from a game.
In the evening that day, I took a break from coding and started with:
I am bad at making music, there’s no doubt about it. Partly because of my missing experience, I guess – this was the second time I ever made something for real.
It isn’t what you’d expect when you think of the word “music”, it’s rather some disturbed synthesizer sounds with a heavy focus on drums. Those are the only two things I am not that bad at. It turned out OK.
Want to listen to it? Play my game!
Making It A Game
After tuning the music to my satisfaction, I added the progress minimap, tweaked the gameplay and added the main opponent: vaccine production.
I also changed the background to a non-static one, with a pseudo perspective on the houses. Very proud of that!
I appear to be surprisingly good at voice acting. It was my first time to ever narrate anything, and I only did one single recording, but it turned out very well!
One hour of effects work to make it sound like some highly-disturbed walkie-talkie transmission, and suddenly my game got a lot better.
Testing & Fine Tuning
Obviously, when you have played such a simple game for a few hours, you get really good at it. That is a problem, because as the developer, you have had to play it over and over again, which means you don’t know how hard or easy it is for someone starting from the beginning. That is where I got other people involved, basically just playing the game and reporting back how it worked for them.
Then followed lots of fine tuning, since the game turned out a lot harder than I had thought.
After one of them managed to win, I called it a success and submitted my game.
My Overall Experience
This Ludum Dare was absolutely great. I had a bad start, but after that, everything went very smoothly and I am happy with the outcome.
The way I did it this time appears to be how I should always handle game jams in the future. Giving everything you have drains a lot of energy, and you lose more than you gain. If you do this in a more relaxed way, you are not exhausted and get to do more.
- If you haven’t yet, you can view my entry here: Virus
- The development is available on YouTube, sped up to just over 5 minutes: Timelapse
- And please vote
Thanks for reading,