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First Ludum Dare Post-Mortem

December 23, 2014

I can’t get this approved over at the Ludum Dare blog for some reason, so here it is on a blog that will approve literally anything I post.

Penis enlargement.  Smash the patriarchy.  Earn money today selling Fart brand farts.

Okay, that felt good.  Here is post now.

The Concept

Immediately upon hearing the theme I knew what I wanted to make:  a twin-stick shooter where you’re fighting off waves of drones who have been sent to your dystopian future apartment to murder you because you’ve been labeled as a subversive.  There were going to be sweet powerups and I was going to record a bunch of funny answering machine messages that would play while you were fighting and the whole thing was going to be boss.

So I fired up Game Maker and got a gray circle moving around.  The movement didn’t feel satisfying, though; what I wanted for some reason was rollerskate movement.  Why is your character on roller skates?  She’s getting ready for her job as a rollerskating waitress, I decided.  Easy enough.  I made the gray circle move around like it was on roller skates and started spriting the main character.

I’m not particularly fast or skilled at pixel art, so just making the basic idle sprite was taking a long time, and I began to wonder if I actually did want guns.  For one thing, I’d have to draw the PC holding a gun, which sounded time-consuming.  For another, I’m always meh on guns.  Literally five hundred percent of all video games have guns (or swords), and it’s more interesting to me if I can make something different.  So I decided, okay, there’s all this furniture in your apartment, and you’re moving it around to crush the robots.

Or, wait, maybe you’re not at your apartment, maybe you’re at your job, and what you’re crushing robots with are tables and chairs with customers in them!  I flashed on a mental image of an NPC in a chair with a hamburger in a speech bubble over its head being pushed across a room, continuing to demand a hamburger.  This was really funny to me, so I coded up a pushable table, then moved on to robots.

Which was where I hit the snag.  I’d gotten GameMaker’s grid-based pathfinding to work in the past, but now I had these robots running around in weird circles, and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong.  I made a quick time budget and estimated that if I spent the time trying to fix the pathfinding, I would not have a finished game by the end of the jam.  My best bet was to come up with a completely new game concept using what I already had:  a rollerskating waitress and a pushable table.  No pathfinding allowed.

A few weird brain jumps later I had an idea for a real-time Sokoban puzzle game about a rollerskating waitress in a wizard diner.

The Bad

This was my first Ludum Dare, and I didn’t manage my sleep very well at all, so instead of 7 PM Mountain Time, the deadline on Sunday wound up being “how much later can I physically stay awake without passing out and breaking my arm like my ex did when he stayed up for 32 hours playing Dwarf Fortress?”

This meant a lot of things didn’t make it into the game that really should have.  Balance, for one, I really should have balanced for difficulty.  Also, I should have provided instructions.  I got lots of awesome feedback from people and the gist of it was “this game is way too hard and it took me a really long time to figure out how to play it, but other than that it’s really innovative!”  I pretty quickly regretted starting the game with too many wizards, and not writing an algorithm that would check for what food you needed and throw you a bone.

I felt this especially hard after asking Taunia Sabanski to play the game on Twitch, which she gamely did, and then got just the most terrible possible board and did not have an amazing time.  Which, probably that happened to a lot of people, and I could have easily ameliorated it by changing a few numbers to different, friendlier numbers.  So that’s something I learned, I need to leave more time for balancing and adjust things to be easier than I think they should be at first.

The Good

I made a game!  It’s still got a long way to go before it’s really finished, but I haven’t lost momentum on it, and I think eventually it’ll shape up into something I’m proud to have made.  Which feels awesome.

I also learned that a good way to get things done is to focus on the throughline and be willing to get rid of ideas and cut back the scope when necessary.  I suffer from terrible Scope Creep Disease, so the external time pressure was really helpful in preventing me from, like, coding dialogue options for the shrubbery.

The Game

Is over here if you’re interested.  If you do play & rate it, and are interested in trying a better-balanced version afterwards, here’s the latest post-comp build.

Thanks and have fun!
Jenni

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IF Comp ’14 – Gregor Holtz’s Sigmund’s Quest!

October 23, 2014

Note: Sigmund’s Quest is a working demo and does not (yet) contain any werewolves or incest. Sorry!
I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO DISAPPOINTED IN MY ENTIRE LIFE

[spoilers begin here]

Read the rest of this entry »

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IF Comp ’14 – Alon Karmi & Glenn Parker’s Milk Party Palace!

October 22, 2014

Attempting to play this game has opened a Pandora’s box of plugins I need to update, because they are vulnerable.  Weren’t these the updated versions you told me to get to replace the old vulnerable plugins, Firefox?  Will the madness never cease?

Java tells me it is everywhere, even in my car.  You haven’t met my car, Java.  MS-DOS won’t even run in my car.  Sometimes my car won’t even run in my car.

OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE I DON’T WANT YOUR SEARCH BAR NO ONE WANTS YOUR SEARCH BAR

…sorry, I’ll just finish this up on my own quietly.

[spoilers begin here]

Read the rest of this entry »

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IF Comp ’14 – Jens Byriel’s Laterna Magica!

October 22, 2014

Either I lost the draft of my review for this game or I hallucinated writing it in the first place.  Maybe that’s what laterna magica is, the illusion that one has played an IF Comp game and begun to write a review for it.  Anyway, I’ll sum it up after the jump.

[spoilers begin here]

Read the rest of this entry »

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IF Comp ’14 – Giannis G. Georgiou’s One Night Stand!

October 15, 2014

Breaking the shit out of the betsy ’cause I want to try this one next.  Do you think the author’s initials are a deliberate reference to Dan Savage’s controversial acronym GGG (“good, giving, and game?”)

[spoilers begin here]

Read the rest of this entry »

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IF Comp ’14 – B Minus Seven’s Inward Narrow Crooked Lanes!

October 10, 2014

Breaking the betsy again because I was just really curious about what this was.

[spoilers begin here]

Read the rest of this entry »

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IF Comp ’14 – Ade McT’s Fifteen Minutes!

October 10, 2014

I don’t know what to put in this space so I’m just going to link to a video my sister made about kale.  My sister gets really excited about kale, apparently!

[spoilers begin here]

Read the rest of this entry »

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