I’ve finished my first game and I’ve named it “Booba Loomba“. It is a name that I already had in mind for previous game which also had small “balls” but finally I decided to use it for this game. It is true that it was a stressful (really stressful) weekend. There were moments when I didn’t know if I was going to be able to finish it or at least to submit something. I had to figure out the whole game in just one morning – Saturday morning. I’ll explain it below in further details. This is my game:
Click in the following link to play the game.
This is a gameplay by Marta Jones
Another gameplay by Alice “Buttons”, it starts at 1:02:05
Let’s get started, the theme of the competition that was announced on Friday at 03:00 a.m. (Spain) was “shapeshifting“. At first, I did not like the theme because of the complexity of shifting something’s shape (even though you can do many things including shape shifting, changing something visually is the first thing that comes to your mind). I stayed awake until 03:00 a.m. to see what was it about and then going to sleep in order to be ready for the following day but I couldn’t do it. I was thinking about games that included changing shapes. After thinking about them, I got stuck with two:
- World of goo (PC): You have to make a structure with the characters to reach a certain point of the map. Sometimes you have to switch your shape to reach the goal.
- Locoroco (PSP): You have to rotate the screen to move your character and absorb “friends” to reach the goal with them. When you absorb any friend, you will grow physically and sometimes you have to split yourself to get through different parts of the stage.
I really liked Locoroco as a source of inspiration! Now that I finally sorted out some things, I went to sleep. I organized my timeline as it follows:
All right, as planned, on Satudary morning I invented the game’s mechanics:
- “You are a ball and to move yourself through the stage you have to rotate the screen and play with gravity. You do not move the character neither the stage; you can only control gravity.”
- “To clear every level, you have to reach the goal”
- “To achieve it you have to find all your “friends”. There are two kinds of friends, fruit (they can’t move) and other balls (they can move). Any time you roll over a fruit it turns into a friend, to catch friends you have to press the A button.”
- “You have to reach the goal as big as you can. To achieve it you have to divide yourself to go through narrow spaces and then absorb your friends again. To split yourself you have to press the spacebar.”
- “You cannot lose in the game. There is no “game over”. The only thing you can lose is time.”
I chose Game Maker because it is really fast to start a game with it. However, it was a long time since I last used Game Maker, return to global variables, the style of working with arrays, it seemed a little complicated because I had been working with Libgdx months ago. But don’t misunderstand me, I highly recommend Game Maker to make games.
I started with the default collide system of the software.
It worked, kind of, but it was not what I was looking for. I observed how the ball got stuck sometimes and did not drop as I wanted.
Then I discovered that Game Maker uses a physics engine based on Box2d and “Liquid Fun open source” that I had never worked with.
I hadn’t time enough to learn how to use it but it gave me pretty neat results.
Then I prepared the script that made the ball join other balls and split itself.
The next thing was to include the items, “fruit” and the “goal”.
The “Friends” parameter was named greatness before. I thought that it was a good idea since “You are greater with more friends”. I finished the prototype on Saturday night but…
It isn’t a bug, it is a feature.
… Nothing turned out as I expected. Game maker gave me more than one problem. On Sunday morning I discovered a bug that made me waste all the day trying to solve it. Because of this, I had to upload my game to the jam (72 hours) instead of to the compo (48 hours). This was the bug:
If you grew in narrow spaces you got yourself stuck. I stayed all Sunday trying to find an efficient way of pre-calculating if the space was enough before growing and if it wasn’t enough it won’t let you do it.
I was trying a lot of possibilities but when I thought I had found it, it completely broke the game (especially in the HTML5 version 😀 ). Sometimes I thought that I couldn’t solve it because this bug had destroyed the gameplay. Later on Sunday, I thought about the same thing applied to an imaginary machine. If it had more gears, it is easier to break it, so I got stuck with the KISS principle and to the “it is not a bug, it is a feature” principle. To solve it I showed a message telling the player that “It is impossible to continue, you have to split yourself.”:
This lead to some changes in my timeline, that resulted into this:
This is what Ludumdare is about. It makes you change and remove things to the maximum; it makes you release a game that in other way you wouldn’t.
On the third day, I made the level design, graphics and music without any major problem. I work hard on the tutorial. I wanted it to explain the game itself and to get the player hooked to the game from the very first moment. People told me that those things were perfect so I felt relieved. The third day was the toughest because I was holding enough stress and I was really tired.
I am very thankful to Erik Sanchez G., who translate this awesome post into English.
Now I would actually like you to play the game and give me an honest opinion 😀