Ludum Dare 31
December 5th-8th, 2014

Posts Tagged ‘postmortem’

TRI Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @RatKingsLair)
Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 1:53 pm

TRI is a game with a long story, so I won’t even attempt to remember every detail. Instead, I will write down what comes into my mind. This way the following article might be a bit inconsistent; I hope it’s still an interesting read.


The story begins in April 2011, when I participate for the first time in a big Ludum Dare event. It was the 20th Ludum Dare, with the theme “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this!” (a quote from Zelda) – but the theme didn’t really matter, as I got the idea for my entry the evening before. I was inspired by working with 3D modeling software, where you create and manipulate polygons, and I thought: how could I use that for a game? Good thing the eventual Ludum Dare theme kinda fit – I just equipped the player with a “Tri Force Field Gun” (the “this” for the theme), and TRI was born, where all you do is creating triangles to walk and jump on them, and solve a few puzzles.


My entry was kinda successful: I submitted it to the Compo, but eventually switched to Jam, because I copied a character controller from the Unify wiki (as Unity’s inbuilt one was too wonky). The Jam worked a bit differently back then, so my entry didn’t receive any ratings. But PoV featured TRI in the results announcement post, and people who played the game (the community of Ludum Dare, and players on Kongregate) liked it well and some even asked for more levels.
A few months later, in October 2011, we were searching for a cool new project. Somehow we convinced ourselves that we could create a full version of TRI within a few months, which of course was very naive. We actually already made two commercial games back then, but as those were done in a much shorter timeframe and were for mobile only we still underestimated how hard it is to make a full-blown game with individually designed levels, somewhat complex gameplay, physics and a story-line. Also – and this was the worst part – a lack of clear direction (due to missing experience) hindered a straight development, and so we changed the design several times before TRI became the game you can see and play nowadays. Of course, we learned a lot during these three years, but I often wish we would have learned this stuff faster.


TRI was made by Jana and me, Friedrich. Jana created the visuals and most 3D models, while I programmed in Unity/C# and also made the GUI. We both created the levels and searched for and worked on the sounds. The music was composed by my brother Ludwig.

It is still funny for me how each department is received extremely differently by different people: some love the graphics, some find them bland. Some adore the gameplay, some think it’s clunky or just headache-inducing. Some bought the soundtrack, some just found it repetitive. I know that tastes differ, but as most feedback nowadays comes from official reviews, it’s just silly how one piece of opinion claims that our levels are “not convincing” while the other describes them as highly genius.


But yeah. A lot of reviews miss the “polish of Portal” in TRI, and I can’t do anything else than concur. We are a two-man team, still learning, with a fraction of the budget of Portal. I guess the secret of success is to hide such facts as well as possible, but I don’t know how. So the biggest learning for us: we won’t do anything this big again soon. At least we shouldn’t.

We even had to take breaks during the years, because of interfering contract work, or just because we had to take some time off. Both didn’t make development any shorter, and if Rising Star wouldn’t have approached us to give us some funding and a deadline to kick our asses, we probably would still work on TRI (or having a break from it).

In reality, TRI was a good project for a small team, as the game has a narrow scope: the main gameplay is about creating triangles, and almost all of the other mechanics somehow work with this mechanic. For example, there are light rays, and you can reflect them – with the triangles. And you can walk on the walls and the ceilings – thanks to the triangles. There are also some basic physics puzzles (dropping crates on platforms and so on), but the physics are built into Unity. So how did TRI become a “too big game”?

By not being absolutely clear about the game’s direction.

More triangles!

One indication for this is the game’s story. We wanted a background story from the beginning; the original TRI has one, although fairly simple and only communicated via texts on walls. And yet it added a big portion to the package – so we still think some kind of narrative is necessary as a hook. Just think of how showing triangles would be boring for reviewers and YouTubers. This is why we needed some characters in the game. Unfortunately our story changed a lot during the development, or rather: the whole design and with it the story. From a sci-fi setting with a mad professor and a fantasy story with an alchemist, to the now present fable about a Monk and a Fox. This last iteration of TRI’s plot feels a bit tackled on sometimes, and really you can still complete the game (hopefully) even when you skip all story bits (hopefully not). So it’s there to entertain, but the narrative sadly isn’t an integral part of TRI.

Reading a scroll.

The most problematic thing was that Jana and I never fought over what TRI actually should be – at least there never was a clear winner. Jana was all for making a game about atmosphere and looking at nice architecture. I on the other side was totally focused on the gameplay, and how there should be a lot of puzzles, because I feared people would be bored otherwise.
This way TRI became a game with two souls – there are parts that are mostly about the design, and parts that contain a lot of riddles and obstacles. Thankfully it doesn’t feel too much like a game with multiple personalities because Jana added her personal touch to each level after they were done by adding the textures and decorations. And fortunately the Monk and Fox also help to string them together, at least in my opinion.


Nobody ever complained about the sound design – apart from our very own voices for the climbing. Still, this fact is kinda great because although we actually tried to hire someone to make sound effects, the deal didn’t come to place and we found our best partner in – really a great resource for indie developers. Most of the sounds actually were done within a few days. Sound design may be something that we still neglect, but TRI didn’t focus on sounds anyway, even though we wish we had time to create atmospheric “sound carpets” for each level, because sometimes everything is silent and nothing happens, and it then feels a bit too lifeless.


Although we normally tell everyone that the game was released on 9th October 2014, we actually put TRI online for the first time in June 2012, as a “pre-alpha”, which was a stupid description. We renamed it quickly to “alpha”, and a bit later I also tried to get rid off the version numbers (like 0.3.0) which always were low and unattractive, by replacing them with something cooler: code names! The next version was then “MagicalMonk”, which sounds much more confident.
These early-access versions (purchasable via our website and Desura) were not very successful in terms of sales, but we actually never did much marketing for them. We rather tried to get feedback from people interested in the concept and art style, by pre-selling the game for a low price and adding a survey at the end of the game. The later versions even included the possibility to give direct feedback via an inbuilt form. (Thanks to Jedi for the idea!) This was great, because people could send us bug reports or suggestions together with a game save. And it was a solution for our QA problem – every game needs testers, and this way everybody can be one!

The Grid

In October 2013 we submitted TRI to Steam Greenlight, and some months later it was finally approved by Valve. It also made a lot more people aware of our game. But unfortunately Greenlight was a better marketing tool when it started in 2012. While the first batches of greenlit games were celebrated by the press, this effect became non-existent, thanks to the countless, bi-monthly batches with 100 titles approved at once – and TRI was part of one of these, in February 2014.

It was like winning $20 – nice, but absolutely underwhelming. On the other hand we’re a bit proud of being greenlit before TRI even reached the Top 100, although I am not sure what exactly that means.


Anyway, at least we’re on Steam – and as the saying goes: “be on Steam, or don’t be”. A little anecdote: to be visible to curators (the new thing on Steam) we had to rename TRI, as the name was too common (think “Counterstrike”) for the search form to work, as it relied on auto-completion only. This is why TRI is now called “TRI: Of Friendship and Madness” (Jana’s idea) almost everywhere.

Thanks to Rising Star Games we’re also on GOG. GOG was great regarding the release, as they wrote a very cool release article. And you can also get our game directly on the HumbleStore, too!

Overall we are happy with the reception of TRI: more reviewers than I would have expected like or even love the game, and our Steam user score is pretty high – as of writing we have 30 positive and only 2 negative reviews, resulting in 93%. Yet, the game is still missing visibility – Steam, Greenlight and reviews alone don’t do that for you (anymore). We need more YouTubers with a high amount of subscribers, playing the game on their channels. And probably some sensible discounts, as it seems a lot of potential buyers are just waiting for the inevitable XY% off sale. I can’t even blame them: with so many games on my backlog, I do the same with most new titles.


What can TRI offer you? It has 16 levels created by our hands, 5 different “worlds” each with a different background music and a new look, two animated NPCs, all degrees of freedom, and unlimited triangles. You conjure these to overcome abysses, to block and reflect light rays and lasers, and to walk on the walls and the ceilings. A lot of areas can be approached differently, depending on your own play style. Even some of the puzzles have more than one solution, and I sometimes see people solving them in a new, unique way. There are very open levels where you can fall into the void, and levels with a lot of narrow hallways. You can jump, crouch, climb, run, carry crates around and use levers.

TRI is a bit about celebrating freedom and possibilities, and we hoped that a lot of people would love that. For now, we still have to find out how to reach them.


If you enjoyed reading this, you might want to have a look at our Making-of video series, our our blog.


Smugglers’ Cave Belated Postmortem

Posted by
Thursday, September 18th, 2014 6:31 pm

This was my first Ludum Dare, I’m very glad I took part and I’m already looking forward to the next one.

Thank you to everyone who played and rated my game.

I’ve played a lot of wonderful games and got a lot of inspiration.

Now, my awful screenshot:

and my humble ratings:

Coolness 100%
#295 Theme 3.60
#421 Innovation 3.34
#548 Humor 2.34
#739 Fun 2.84
#739 Audio 2.34
#856 Overall 2.91
#897 Graphics 2.54
#929 Mood 2.53

What went well:

I finished: Something was submitted!

The concept: I think the idea behind my game holds water and although it’s a small idea, I’m rather pleased with it.

Feedback: Thank you everyone who commented. There was some very instructive feedback and it’s good to know that some people enjoyed playing.

Time management: Since I was at work all day Saturday and Sunday, I didn’t have a lot of time, but I got (most of) the bases covered. My to do list was handsomely ticked. Even though it was lacking polish, my game was a game and you could play it.

Napping: A really useful strategy to refresh the mind.

Not so much:

The graphics and general presentation were very basic, as reflected in my scores, and I didn’t have time to do any music at all. I need to think more about the appearance and feel of the game as a whole – and avoid settling for some coloured rectangles and filters in GIMP.

Likewise, the controls were very unpolished. A bit more tweaking and they could be slightly less painful.

I made the game too difficult. Early on I thought it would be too easy, but I pushed it too far the other way.

What to do next time:

Plan in advance to get some time off work over the weekend. Unfortunately though, I can’t take Sundays off during December.

Brush up on my pixelling skills and general beauty-a-bility.

Be more participatory(?).


If you want to play:

Planet Sweepers post-mortem

Posted by (twitter: @OMGWTFGAMES)
Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 6:40 pm

The game is here: Planet Sweepers. Here’s a postmortem.

Planet Sweepers LD30

For Ludum Dare, I’m a firm believer of using the theme for inspiration and as a restriction to stimulate creative solutions – and then ultimately not letting it get between you and producing a good game. It’s a starting point, not a destination. A muse, not a contract with a client. (more…)

Starcular: Post Mortem

Posted by
Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 11:41 am

Starcular start screen

When we (alvivi and me) decided to participate in the LD for the first time we knew the hardest part would be to have a good idea. We talked a little bit about the possible subjects and when it was the time to talk about connected worlds we didn’t have any idea. Then, the results came and we had to work on connected worlds.

The firs night (the LD started at 3:00 am here in Spain) we were very tired and didn’t know what to do. We decided to go to sleep and try to dream a cool idea. That didn’t happen. On saturday we talked about many crazy things. An intergalactic jail, a puzzle game, and even a worlds dating game (it was very strange, worlds with faces talking on a date).

We didn’t start with Starcular until saturday night. That gave us 48h to make a game. At the beginning we were not very confident about the idea, but then the levels came out, the graphics, animations, mechanics… At the end of the second day we were happy with the game we were doing. I think that’s the main goal.

First level (tutorial).

What Went Well:
-The game mechanics gave us more possibilities than what we thought at the beginning. That made the level design easier.
-The graphic style was simple enough to work fast and give a good impression.
-The music we found with CC Attribution (3.0) fit very well with the rhythm of the game. We were very lucky.

What Didn’t Go Well:
-We had to close the physics very fast to start making appropriate levels for them. Many people think the main character doesn’t move very well. They might be right.
-We would like to do an introduction video to tell the story, but we didn’t have time and we dismissed it.

In a few hours we will see the result and will try to learn from your opinions and improve to do better the next time.

Starcular LD web page:

The Nether – Post Mortem and timelapse

Posted by (twitter: @SirGFM)
Monday, September 15th, 2014 4:43 pm

The results will be out tomorrow in a few hours, and I’ve yet to write my post mortem… >_< Ok, let’s do this!

(also, here’s my timelapse for this LD’s entry!)

Since there are a quite few gifs and images (which add up to almost 2MB), I thought it was best to not keep everything on the main page…


…but first invite a friend or two. It’s dangerous to go alone!

The rating period is slowly but surely nearing its end, and I thought it cannot hurt to write a postmortem for the game I made three weeks ago. I wish I would’ve promoted the game more (it’s my first online multiplayer game after all!) and I wish I could’ve played more games, but my master’s thesis was jealous and demanded I spent more time with it. That being said, I have a free minute now, so here goes nothing!


Three weeks ago, when I was still young and inexperienced, I thought that “Connected Worlds” lends itselfs perfectly well to making an online multiplayer game. (Nevermind that I never did one before, haha.) That being said, there are some obvious design problems that I needed to solve – and that ultimatly led to the current design:

  • LD rating is 3 weeks, and people likely won’t play all at once. To tackle that, the game should a) be able to be finished single-player too.
  • Even if people are online at the same time, they probably won’t arrive at the same time – and likely don’t want to wait either. For that reason, I made the game drop-in/drop-out: The first player to join starts a new session that ends when the last player leaves or the game is won/lost. Any player that arrives in the meantime just spawns next to the torch. (I briefly entertained the idea of one permanent session, but I wouldn’t want to do the level design for THAT, phew. Also I highly doubted that players would come back often enough for that to be interesting.)
  • Synchronisation is hard. So, uh, nothing twitchy. More slowly. With tiles to walk on.
  • Synchronisation might not work correctly. I have no idea what I’m doing after all. So, better do a co-op game and nobody gets pissed that the enemy had an advantage.

Okay, so a scalable drop-in/drop-out co-op online multiplayer game. This is basically what I spent my complete first day on, and I had no idea what I actually wanted to do gameplay-wise yet. I implemented a chat though: Just text that appears on top of player’s heads.

After a good night’s sleep, I arrived at the idea spawning from the Olypmic torch relay: A flame had to be transported from A to B – in this case between two kingsdoms. Slowly everything clicked together: It was dark, hence the flame is important. If you drop it, it’s not protected anymore and slowly dies down, and you have to drop it sometimes because it’s heavy as hell. And there are multiple obstacles that you have to dig through or build across. You can do it alone if you react fast, but it’s stressful always to drop the flame, dig/build a little, pick it up again, transport it, drop it etc. – it’s much better with friends helping you! So yeah, here we go – a game that you can play alone or with “any” number of friends.


The game is made in Unity and with the SDK from (and hosted by) Yahoo Game Networks. Free hosting for up to 5000 daily users? Yes please.

There is a server, but it doesn’t do much – it mainly keeps track of the users, items on the floor and already dug-out rocks so that it can inform new players. It also distributes events. The only thing that it is really authorative about is when an item is spawned, picked up or dropped to avoid item duplication.

On the client side, you are the only player that moves directly – and you send messages to the server how you move. Because movement is between tiles, those messages are few, and they will arrive in roughly the same interval in which they are send, so on the other screens you move the same way, just with a delay. Each player object has an event queue – move, dig, build bridge etc – that will be executed in that order with the appropriate delays, so it’s no problem if messages arrive to quickly either.

Making the server mostly non-authorative and using that message queue system is what helped me be able to finish the game in such a short time, I think.

What didn’t go so well?

  • No sound effects. I wish I had some, but I finished the level itself in last second, and well – that was a bit more important, I guess.
  • Nobody invites their friends to play. I wish I knew why. It’s super easy – just share a link – but many people commented that they had to play alone. I suppose they do have friends, right? Maybe even game developer friends?

Apart from that, I’m actually largely content! Sure, there’s not that much gameplay, but it’s fun – and sure, the graphics could be better, but hey! 48 hours and first time online multiplayer! I’m certainly not complaining. Which leads me to…

What went well?

  • Online Multiplayer in 48 hours, that’s what!
  • The whole thing is surpringly stable, if sometimes a little laggy. I would’ve expected to have more problems with an online multiplayer game.
  • Development wasn’t as hard as expected. I was always a bit wary of networked multiplayer in any form, but it turns out that it wasn’t that bad to always have a server and often two windows running. Might be because it was only 48 hours and a small-scoped project with no necessary security though.
  • The Drop-in/Drop-out is cool. And it also has the side effect of allowing people to spectate games. Apropos drop-in/drop-out…
  • The game is a lot of fun with streamers! Allowing for a variable number of players that can join anytime, and streamers having an audience already made for great fun a lot of time.
  • The chat is refreshingly different. Having text appear on top of the heads is cool, but seeing it being typed live is surprisingly even more fun!


  • Trust in the process. Seriously, don’t worry if your design is not complete yet. I didn’t have any core gameplay ideas until 12 hours before the end and I still finished with something. Just work towards that goal until then.
  • Keep a ToDo list. Workflowy is superb for that. Helps me stay on course and motivated.
  • Keep your design simple and modular. Especially if you do something big technology-wise that you haven’t attempted before. If you finish early, you can still add more features! I would’ve loved to have enemies and defending each other, or wind zones where you have to keep the flame safe, and… but time ran out, and the current state is very playable.
  • Test early. I started testing long before I had actual gameplay. I guess networked games are special in that regard though.

In Conclusion…

…I’m quite happy with the result, and I’m seriously considering doing a game with online components for next LD too. So much inspiring online stuff this LD, damn! And maybe I’ll even get a chance to gather more networked multiplayer experience by then, but knowing me, I won’t and I’ll just dive right in. Wouldn’t have it any other way, really.

Do you have any questions? Feel free to ask them in the comments or on Twitter!

And maybe you have a free minute or two and want to try my game? (And maybe ask a friend to join you! Friends are pretty cool.)

Thanks for reading! I’m done here, goodbye.

Satellite: A Post Mortem

Posted by
Monday, September 15th, 2014 5:27 am

My games title screen
Out of all the themes this LD, the only one I had a solid idea for was “Lost In Space.” I had even made a detailed design document with all of the controls, mechanics, level design and goals outlined. So when I found out that the theme was “Connected Worlds” I had no ideas; all I could think about was my “Lost In Space” idea. So I repurposed my idea to work with “Connected Worlds.” Basically you play as a single astronaut in a ghetto spaceship that was sent on a mission to reconnect two planets by deploying a communications satellite. These planets used to be connected by a single satellite but it broke, disconnecting these planets from each other.

I made this game in Unity in around ~35 hours.

What Went Well:
-Physics! Unity’s physics is a key part in this game!
-The Satellite controls. Deploying the satellite and manoeuvring it is very lifelike and a lot of fun.
-The Spacescapes. They are pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.
-The Satellite Model. I really like it!
What Didn’t Go Well:
-Physics. Sometimes the ship’s physics glitches and it starts spinning and flipping. This is really cool for the player inside the ship but it ruins the game.
-Textures. Why do spaceships have so many textures!
-The glass effect on the window. I needed something to make the windows look windowy. This did the job but I don’t like it very much.

Now, if you haven’t played Satellite yet you can play it here!

Satellite control

Melody’s Long Timelapse home

Posted by (twitter: @alphasim)
Sunday, September 14th, 2014 8:58 pm

With less than a day left before judging ends, I figured I’d share the timelapse recap I made of the livestream of my friend and I making Melody’s Long Ladder Home using Stencyl. It’s just the entire 12-plus hour livestream (done over three days), condensed into less than 23 minutes.

If you still want to try our game, you can try it here.

Bounty of Corruption: Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @TomboFry)
Sunday, September 14th, 2014 1:47 pm

Having taken part in 5 Ludum Dare events now (from LD26-30), I think I’ve gotten the hang of making a game in such a short period of time (kind of). I’m just going to say straight away that I’m actually quite happy with the game I’ve made this time around, but it still could be better.

Bounty of Corruption Post Mortem

The Good:

Time Management

You know, time management is strangely one of my strong points in Ludum Dare. I somehow managed to fit everything in, even after feeling incredibly tired by the end of it. There was plenty of time for all the art and music that I wanted to go in (kind of).

“The Art of Screenshake”

If you know of Vlambeer, you’ll know their games are incredibly polished, and they put a lot of work into “game feel”. When I saw Jan Willem Nijman’s presentation “The Art of Screenshake” I made sure that I used his tips and tricks, and made them my own to make sure the game I made was really enjoyable and felt really nice to play, even if the graphics or gameplay mechanics weren’t exactly special. I feel I achieved that, as not only in Bounty of Corruption, but also my last LD game “Flesh Hunter” I got many comments about how well polished the games are. Ultimately, I think that a polished game that is fun to play will do so much better than a game that follows the theme word for word. Speaking of Vlambeer, a lot of the comments on the Ludum Dare page say that it plays a lot like Nuclear Throne, made by guess who? Nuclear Throne was a huge inspiration for this game, and it’s clear to see that.

The Bad:


It was clearly going to be “Connected Worlds”, but I was almost completely unprepared for this (in the end, I personally think that the game is miles away from the theme). I wanted to either make a dungeon crawler (hooray for originality!) or a big space game where you have to travel to different planets, both of which were based around randomly generated levels. Both of which are also probably the most common type of game made for Ludum Dare with a theme like that… This was my greatest weakness. They say that you don’t need a good idea to make a great game/app, but I don’t have any idea, let alone a single, terrible one (same with names)

“Kind Of”

While the game was very polished, and I’m happy with the content that was added, it’s missing a lot. I feel like this game needs more variety in gameplay, more enemies, different weapons (upgrades even?), etc. It also has a half-assed introduction and outro, but if I’d spent time making those really nice, I would’ve spent less time on other things that are more important for a 48 hour game making competition.

Post-compo Version:

Like all the games I’ve created for Ludum Dare, I plan to add loads of features, but most of which never get finished, or even started sometimes. For some reason Bounty of Corruption feels a little different, as if there’s an urge to add things for some reason. Anyway, here’s a list of stuff I’m going to try and add:

  • Networked Multiplayer (I’ve got a super basic prototype already functional! :D See below for video)
  • An introduction/outro, as mentioned earlier
  • More enemies, such as a final boss.
  • Balancing. Yep, while the game’s balance isn’t that bad, it’s definitely harder for people who have never played it before, as there isn’t enough ammo spawning in. Also, some random generation needs fixing, cacti can spawn on top of the enemy portals…

And there you have it folks, a game I’m proud of, and what I could have improved upon. I recommend you check it out for yourself, you might be pleasantly surprised!

Rate my game here!

Grow Your Planet Postmortem

Posted by
Sunday, September 14th, 2014 9:21 am

Here is the postmortem of Grow Your Planet. Before you read it, go and play it!

And skip to the conclusion is you find it too long!

Grow Your Planet Screenshot

What Went Right

For our first Ludum Dare, it went really well, actually. Following is a list of what we are really satisfied:

The Main Idea

We found the idea of making planets grow in a pot at home quite easily, and we found it really cool. Moreover, it fitted the theme very well, while remaining original (we didn’t want to make a platformer with two overlapping levels or such other quite obvious ideas).

The Graphics

We aren’t so good at pixel art, and hand-drawn graphics add a personnality to the game (I think so, at least). People seemed to like the style, Ylang did a really good job here. Many thanks to her!

The Programming

Stencyl is a wonderful tool that I’ve been using for some while, so everything went quite smoothly. No bugs, no unsolvable problems, no features that needed to be removed due to their complexity… The main challenge was the use of the image API, for the “taking pictures” part of the game, but here again, it wasn’t that hard.

What Went Wrong

Nothing Just kidding. Actually, nothing went really bad. Some things could have been better, though:

The Platformer Levels

To reinforce the “connected” part of the theme, we decided to add levels of some sort—and we chose platformer ones—to make the planets interact which each other. Sadly, this decision was made too late, and I ended up not having the time to make them. As a result, I made a small, poorly implemented one that can be completed in 5 seconds, and duplicated it to make three levels. This is the main thing to rework in a post-compo version.

The Polish

The game is not polished enough: it lacks transitions when you unlock a new planet, and the ends abruptly. For the next time: do not finish 30 seconds before the deadline!

The Communication

I am quite new to this, so I did not really communicate about the game. This is a thing to improve for next time, to gain more visibility.

What Went Neither Right Nor Wrong

The Music

Maple did a quite good job here, but the music was made at the end, too quickly, we did not have the time to record it and I implement it poorly in the game. Next time, we should begin to work earlier on this aspect of the game.

Time Management

We slept enough (too much?), and we respected the delays we fixed ourselves for each of our goals. We took it maybe too easy and relaxed, which caused the not-so-good platformer levels. It is strange to say that, but we’ll need to sleep less next time!


We had a lot of fun and are very satisfied with our first Ludum Dare game. We could do almost everything as planned. Just need to sleep less and to communicate more. Beside that, we did quite well, I think.

I’ll post a timelapse soon!

Connected We Run Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @Ythmevge)
Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 3:50 pm

My Entry into Ludum Dare 30 is a little game called Connected We Run. It is an endless platformer game, that you control both characters using the same controls.



What Went Wrong

  • Lack of theme inspiration, some themes you can get really excited about, and others just fall short. This was definitely one of the themes that lacked excitement for me.
  • Clouded direction, the resulting game suffers from a lack of solid direction. Initially the game was going to be a platformer that you would control the two characters to reach their goal platform/door (similar to Beyond The Horizon by Lazdo) I ended up scrapping that idea really early because it resembled two of my past entries to much (Through The Blue Sea LD23 and its “sequel” I Threw The Red for mLD34) At that point I thought about Endless runners, and decided to go in that direction.
  • Platform generation, The first day of the game I spent a good chunk of time getting the platforms to behave the way I wanted them. I wanted the dark and light characters to only collide with their respective colored platforms. A platform not of the matching color you would simply pass under. In the end it never felt right, the light character could jump up into the dark platforms, but it served limited purpose to do so. Then on Sunday morning I decided that the player should just be blocked into their respective sections. And that led to the breaking of my platform generation. (Up to that point you could jump ontop of any platform)
  • Platform generated except the first five, nobody has mentioned it in a comment but it is one of the things that has bothered me, the first five platforms were positioned by me to fill the time before the generated platforms reach the player. I did it this way to simplify the player spawning (There is none, and that is why the Restart button didn’t work)
  • Speed of the platforms, The speed was intended to start slow and slowly build up speed. It does build up speed, but at such a slow rate it is hard to notice.
  • Title screen, While the title screen show a lot of good information, it could also be improved visually. I really like on the end screen where the text is mirrored. I am glad that I found time before the end to add in a title screen, because what it was in the initial submission was barren and white.
  • Restart Button on the end screen, initially there was one but when I updated it before the compo ended (adding music, sound, and a title screen) I had to remove the restart button because it was not functioning at all. So I inserted a message in its place to refresh your browser to replay, I didn’t think it was a big deal in a 48 hour Ludum dare game, but several comments have mentioned it.

The initial title screen when first submitted

What Went Right

  • Global Leaderboard was a great idea for this style of game, I have used them in the past, and always declare the base code for one, but it has been a while sense using it. The Leaderboard as several people have pointed out has no semblance of security, its just a page that gets queried with your name, score, and the game ID.  I have never had the response to any of my past entries that I have had to this one, so I have never bothered with any attempts to secure my Ludum Dare leaderboard. That may change soon.
  • The score, although there have been some criticism of it seeming to be random, I enjoy the range of numbers that it produces. The score is calculated based on the times of the character. The first of the two characters that go out becomes the multiplier. Then when the second character goes out the score is calculated. (Lowest Time * (character 1 time + character 2 time)) So while you can continue to play after one of the characters is out, your score will ultimately be lower than someone who took both characters farther.
  • Music and sound was a last minute addition, in fact I submitted before there was any music or sound, and ended up finding some time after to add them in. I think they both add a lot of the game, and it wouldn’t feel quite the same.
Gameplay begining screenshot

Gameplay begining screenshot

Other Thoughts

  • One of the other criticism has been that when one of the characters fall out the game should end. I made the decision to keep the game going and to use it as a scoring system because of how I defined connected worlds. There was a blog post that I saw early on (I didn’t save the link) that showed several different images of connected worlds. The post looked at the definition of Connected worlds, and how it differs from a mirrored world. I then came up with my definition of how the connected world works, and build from that. The platform generation is independent and different in each world, so I felt that the characters should be able to function independently of one another.


I think I almost always say I am going to continue the game in my postmortem, and then I rarely do. But I’m going to say it again, I will be making a postcompo version of the game, with fixes and improvements largely to the title screen, platform generation, leaderboard, and overall increasing the speed of the game. What is going to be different this time is that I will be making a Youtube video series of the improvements to the game. The series will start on Monday September 22nd, after I finish up the Ludum Dare 30 Games series.

Trappy Tomb postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @jimmypaulin)
Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 1:31 pm


Trappy Tomb was conceived as a response to the poor score for ‘innovation’ I received from my previous LD entry ‘Midnight Minigun’. Mulling how I could do something innovative I decided that client-server would be a fun way to interact with the LD community, and since I’d have very limited time I’d also attempt to integrate User Generated Content. I didn’t want to overly burden the player with creating things so I figured that playing with or against the recordings of previous plays would be a fun way to generate content and promote interaction. The death messages idea was influenced by the LD28 entry Rude Bear Resurrection and the mega-replay idea was an homage to Super Meat Boy. My own interest in collective insect behaviours also came into the design though my original ideas of collective problem solving ended up on the cutting room floor.

Trappy Tomb is set in an Indiana Jones / Tomb Raider style environment viewed from a top-down perspective. The player can move and jump. Jumping results in flying kicks which kill the bats that populate the tomb. Pretty much everything in there is lethal – spikes (timed, triggered and fixed), boulders (always triggered), pits, lava pits, bats and arrow launchers. There is also optional loot to collect. The game is split into two parts – a sizeable onboarding level in which you cannot die and your replays are not recorded, and the main Trappy arena.

The onboarding area has an important additional function beyond simply teaching controls – it shows what you get if you win, which is a statue personalised with your message and score for all to see. These show the game is beatable as well as providing motivation.


Without further ado here are two composite images of the main tomb complete with the death location of the first 2000 plays (left) and the breadcrumb trails left by those players (right). Click for larger views.

Click for full size Click for full size

You can clearly see that the vast majority of players die in the first couple of hazards – some static pits. I’ll come back to this below. It’s also perhaps apparent that the climax of the level is a bit lacking- again see below!

You have 2 minutes to complete the level (ample time). If you timeout or die a dialog pops up asking for your “message to eternity” and you can see these being quoted as ghosts die while you play – I can honestly say it has been utterly hilarious seeing what everyone has put and I’m thrilled with this feature. However it was exploited badly at one point by trolls – more below. If you win you enter an inscription for your statue and are returned to the onboarding area where you get a special ending sequence and can see your statue in all it’s glory.

What went right

* The client-server system. I chose FatFractal for the server backend and it worked really well. It doesn’t require much setup at all and there is no server side code needed. You simply log-in a user and push your objects to the server. You can then pull them back with a rich query language. The player position is sampled every 0.2s and frames are interpolated on replay. When a ‘died’ state is encountered the death message is displayed – these are usually hilarious, so thank you for those! I’ve included a few choice quotes below ;)

* Artwork. This LD I decided to leave all the art until day 2 and this decision paid off as I got less bogged down in pixelling than previously and hence have more gameplay in there. The hardest part for me was selecting a colour palette – I needed everything to be readable and to separate sprites from the background and I’m pleased with how this turned out. I borrowed a few colours from other games and built up from there. Tools were Pixen and Zwoptex


* Onboarding and level flow. In my last LD entry I had many people rage-quitting because they died within the first few seconds before they’d even mastered the controls so I was determined to pace the start out and give the player a chance to get into the game. I’m really pleased that I managed to do this in the time and I think it meant people were ready when the real challenges came. I was generally happy with the building series of peaks and troughs of intensity in the level itself though I ran out of time so it ended a little abruptly. The first obstacle was probably a bit too hard as well as it claims about 60% of all attempts ;)

What went wrong

* Controls and physics. Disappointingly I failed to iterate enough on the player controls. I partly put this down to using a new framework (phaser) for the Jam so I had to find out about how the physics system worked as I went along which was not ideal. It turned out that with some really simple tweaks the experience could be much improved but the damage was done and no doubt people’s enjoyment suffered due to the over-large hit-box and slippery movement. Essentially people feel a bit cheated when they don’t think they touched spikes etc but die anyway and I can sympathise with this! The post-compo version (with about 10 characters of code changes) is loads better ;)

* Open to abuse. I really should have seen this coming, I really should, but I figured it was unlikely that the game would make it outside the LD community and so everyone would ‘play nice’ with their comments. Alas it was not to be and on one occasion I was confronted with some extremely offensive language that caused me to take the game offline immediately. It took a few days to work out a solution and thanks go to Gary at FatFractal for his support (t: @gkc). I settled on a system whereby all comments are immediately added to the local game, but will not appear in anyone else’s game until I’ve moderated them via a holding area. This actually has the side benefit that I can read all the comments as they are added :)

* Ran out of time. I had to ruthlessly cut features, for example I really wanted the ghosts to be more than just eye-candy, I wanted to have collective triggers that required ghosts to coordinate in order to open secret doors or get the ‘big prize’ etc. The idea being a community that self-organises to achieve a collective goal much like a colony of ants might… Was a shame to let that one drop! Similarly I underestimated how long it would take to create the traps and layout the environment. The game stands and falls on its level design and although I’m reasonably happy with it, the ending is weak and it kind of fizzles out a bit. I wanted to have a final large room with all sorts going on and some more timing based flame and spike puzzles but there simply wasn’t time. Still – by the time the make it to the end the few who’ve got that far were probably glad there was no more ;)

Final thoughts

This Ludum Dare was easily the most challenging and yet satisfying I’ve so far undertaken. Tapping into the creativity of the community for my content turned out great as I knew it would because YOU ROCK!. The amazing comments I’ve had have lifted me beyond words (especially around the trolling incident) and being featured in a selection of YouTube videos has been a total blast too. Here’s my favourite of those along with the truly final words – courtesy of you, from the selection of 3100 messages…

* jump. Jump. JUST JUMP, YOU FOOL!!!!
* i’m not laaavint
* the lava is not nearly as hot as my rage
* I see dead people
* i love fat eggs
* fat eggs are gross
* DAMN i got nervous… must be close…
* Wonder how many of these are me?
* This particular bat is a win cheat

I could go on all day, but why not just play for yourself and see?!


This guy did and just about kept his cool:

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