If you haven’t already, please play and rate our game, Hyper Furball!
Our title screen. Cute, huh?
This is my 5th Ludum Dare entry, and my second time working together with my artist xellaya. Things came together really nicely, and I’m really proud at what we managed to do in the 72 hours. Here’s what the game looks like:
Scratch that mushroom!
Let’s go over what went well and not as well this time around…
What went well:
Settling on a good concept
We threw quite a few ideas around before settling on our sidescrolling RPG with the “hyper mode” mechanic. Initially we were thinking about doing a Warioware style 10-second minigame collection (nothing new, but probably still fun), and were also seriously considering doing something along the lines of Off the Leash. The idea thee was that you keep running to the right and have various obstacles and powerups that slow you down and speed you up, and you have 10 seconds to reach each checkpoint. I was all set to start working on that when xellaya pointed out that there really wasn’t anything new about what we were making. I thought about it some more and I agreed that it probably…wasn’t that exciting. Friday night came and went and we still weren’t sure what we wanted to make, but eventually my train of thought went to “we should make the 10 seconds as intense and crazy as possible”, and from there I got the idea of a side-scroller where hyper mode basically involves you steamrolling a whole bunch of enemies and leveling up a bunch. It ended up working really well, and I think it uses the theme in a way that’s clear, functional, yet non-cliche. Awesome.
Liberal copy-pasting of code
There’s kind of a delicate balance when it comes to high-speed coding. You don’t want to be clean and neat with everything, because it just takes too much time, and you’re only working with your code for one weekend anyways (not to mention, I’m the only coder here)…but you don’t want to be -so- messy that you end up introducing bugs and making things hard for yourself. I ended up copying a lot of code from my LD26 entry Minimalist Mayhem, which I also did in Flashpunk, and that sped things up a lot, as I already had code for flashing the screen (with fadeout), and I didn’t have to think about the proper way to create/recycle objects in Flashpunk or anything like that. There was also just a lot of one-off code that ended up getting duplicated, like the code for the parallax backgrounds–after doing that once, I just copy-pasted it each time xellaya finished a new set of backgrounds and I didn’t even have to think about it. Yes, messy, but as long as you’re careful, it all works, and it’s fast.
Messy? You bet. But it meant not having to think about it at all.
So many, so many Ludum Dare games are lacking in polish, but it makes such a big difference. It’s what makes your game seem AWESOME. That’s why it’s so important to pick something that you can execute easily, because once you finish the main execution, you can spend all the rest of your time making you game look pretty and fancy and smooth. Screen transitions, sound effects, cleaning up your UI…all these nice little things really add up. I’m really proud of the intro and title screen, for example–first impressions really count! I was really excited when I put in xellaya’s graphics for the title and synced it all with the music…so proud! Did I have to implement a jukebox screen with scrolling backgrounds (that cycle through the 4 different levels!) and colored stars flying around? No…but it’s really neat and awesome, right?
The Jukebox screen, where you get to listen to my music!
We really worked together well this time…I’m an LD vet by now, so I know how things go and I basically didn’t run into any big hiccups at all, aside from a FlashDevelop “out of heap space” compilation error which disappeared every time I restarted Flashdevelop (phew!). I even hacked the Flashpunk Text class to get the outline effect on all my text! I’m comfortable with Flashpunk and I’ve gotten really really good at making game soundtracks in constrained time periods now–in total, I wrote all the music in around 7 hours’ worth of time! (all that training from One Hour Compo paying off!) xellaya was also much more set up for things this time and we didn’t run into any of the miscellaneous troubles that we had last time for Marriage Quest (pngs being exported without transparency, etc.). We used Dropbox to get artwork from her machine onto mine; don’t know why we didn’t do that last time. It’s important to play to your (or your team’s) strengths when you’re thinking up a game…xellaya likes drawing cute things, and I really excel with 9-bit chiptune music, so it was great that we ended up with something that allowed us to use our talents to their maximum potential.
We both had the whole weekend to work on our game, which was awesome. No other stuff to worry about, no imminent tests or projects, no getting sick, etc. Awesome.
What went not quite as well:
The Level Up screen
I did better than last time (Minimalist Mayhem just had a single huge screen with all the instructions on it)–I was especially proud of the “mash space” animation that shows up on screen the first time you enter hyper mode. But the level up screen isn’t really that intuitive…in fact, the checkboxes ended up making everyone assume that you can use your mouse to click on them. Which…still confuses me, to be honest, but maybe that’s just because I’m an oldschool console gamer and I think everyone else is weirdos in the way that they think. I don’t really know how this could have been better, but I didn’t spend that much effort really thinking about it. I guess I’m just not that great at UI design. xellaya didn’t really have the time to think about this either, though, so in the end we just did what we could, and I think it’s at least functional. It’s not great, but probably not -bad- either.
The gameplay for our game is…”decent”. I wasn’t entirely happy with the simple attack/block mechanic that I had going on for normal combat, but I knew that it would end up being okay in the end because that’s not really the focus of the game anyways–the focus of the game is having fun with ridiculous crazy hyper mode! Still, I wish I could have made normal combat at least a bit more interesting somehow, though I’m still not sure exactly how I would do that. I think in the end I didn’t have time to push for enemy attack variations or anything like that, and xellaya didn’t want to do a lot of animation…if we had spent more time on this, the polish level would have suffered. So this is not really a mistake, per se, but still wish it could have been better. This is probably the main point that might hurt our ratings.
Not Enough Playtesting
Yeah, yeah, super common problem. This always happens, really. It’s important to get feedback and have people play your game, but…when your heads-down trying to cram in the last few features (Breaktime mode!), it just ends up by the wayside sometimes. I think I really lucked out that the game isn’t horribly unbalanced (at least, in a way that makes it not fun), because I really didn’t have that much time to spend on that and tweaking the enemy strengths and the upgrade requirements. I did spend a -decent- amount of time on it, which is why leveling up takes about the right amount of time and everything, so I didn’t do too bad here. But I feel like this was a danger area that I managed to sneak by on.
All in all, we did a great job, and I’m really proud of how things turned out. Our game is quite fun, and I’ve been trying to see how fast I can complete it using no continues
My best so far:
Normal mode, no continues – 4:15
Hard mode, no continues – 4:40
Please leave your feedback and comments! Oh, and go check out the soundtrack download too!