I had an amazingly fun time participating in Ludum Dare. This was my first and I’m incredibly happy with what I have accomplished. I havent written a complete game in some time and doing this was just the jump start I needed I think. So here are some of the things that worked, some that didn’t and where I go from here.
THINGS I WISH I HAD OR KNEW BEFORE HAND
I wish I had better researched my intended platform beforehand. I decided to do LD about 4 days before hand and settled on FlashPunk 2 days before the start. Never having done any work with flash before I wish I had researched the graphic and sound formats that were importable and what the limitations were.
In addition to that, I wish I had better resources for converting files, especially sound. I wasted at least an hour, probably 2 or 3 just finding programs and websites to convert sounds back and forth to different formats.
I wish I had planned the weekend out better. I had a concert in Vegas (3 hour round trip) to attend saturday night, and 2 BBQs on sunday, all of which cut significantly into my time. I don’t regret any of my activities, just my planning.
I wish I had come up with the storyline for my game sooner so I could have built in more than one level. I ended up not being able to include more than a single level because I came up with a more involved story saturday night, and by then it would have taken code refactoring to allow me to reuse assets in the way that I wanted to carry the story.
THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT
FlashPunk, it’s awesome. I had no experience with flash and made a game in 48 hours. Also Punk.UI. Caveat: I’ve been programming in multiple languages for over 20 years.
SFXR, it also rocks, it allowed me to add sound where I never would have made any kind of effects before.
GreaseMonkey and his AutoTracker-BU. Autogenerated music? Awesome.
Pixel Art Editor for Android. I used this on my Asus Transformer to make most of the pixel art. My “art” has always been the definition of programmer art, but I am proud of what I accomplished.
Making something different. When the theme was announced I wrote down a bunch of ideas that I thought were obvious and then told myself I couldn’t do any of them. Everyone was going to do a certain list of games and I wanted to do something different. I think I accomplished that.
Using a tool that allowed me to iterate rapidly. I think this is huge. Being able to make a change and see the change almost instantly was key. Especially when I was making a bunch of AI controlled entities.
Keeping my scope small and manageable. This was also a big thing, I threw away a bunch of ideas I thought were cool, but knew there was no way I could complete in 48 hours with no outside assets.
Lastly, but not least. Having an awesome girlfriend who is supportive of what I want to do and also likes to playtest (Sometimes too much!).