Category Archives: Ludum Dare Posts

Postmortems about games from the Ludum Dare game development competition.

Ludum Dare 37 Postmortem

Ludum Dare 37

Theme: One Room

Game Name: Hedge Maze Overlord

Play The Game Here

Results: (Results compiled with all past Ludum Dares)

Category Rank (Out of 901) Community Rating
Innovation #119 3.68
Fun #239 3.32
Theme #264 3.68
Overall #294 3.32
Audio #342 2.68
Graphics #560 2.26

You can watch the time lapse video of the creation of the game here

Results from Ludum Dare 37 were posted just over a week ago now, so it’s time I got around to writing another postmortem about my experiences and thoughts about my game from this past game jam. If you don’t know what a postmortem is, it’s simply a write up that lots of people due after competing in Ludum Dare to talk about their game that they have created and to discus what they liked and/or disliked about what they created as well as anything they may have wanted to do differently either in this game or in future games. This Ludum Dare occured on the weekend during finals week (although my finals were not until later in the week), so it really lowered the amount of time I was able to spend on the game. I will explain in more detail below, but I mainly used ideas from past games to simplify my design and In the end I was able to create my game in just over 10 accumulative hours while also preparing my self for my finals :). Anyways let’s get into the details of the game, shall we?

First lets start of with the bigger question of what did I make. For this Ludum Dare I ended up returning to some of my earlier game designs and themes and what I came up with turned out to be one of my best games as I topped some of the scores from the past Ludum Dare that I competed in (Ludum Dare 35). The game is called Hedge Maze Overlord is an interactive game where you are trying to manipulate a randomly generated maze in order to escort a “child” character out of the maze without running into any of the skeletons that patrol the maze. You are able to manipulate the maze by placing down walls to block the child, or skeletons’ path and force them to chose other paths to pursue. The player has a limited number of walls and each wall only lasts for a few seconds before disappearing and needing a few seconds to recharge before it can be placed again. Before getting into the game, the player is also able to choose how many walls they want to have access to as well as the number of skeletons that patrol the maze. That’s about it really, the game has a fairly simplistic play style and there is not a whole lot to it.

Next up I want talk about the more enjoyable, what went right with the game section of the postmortem. Now that I’ve actually thought about this, however, it’s not so much that things went right in this game, it’s more of things didn’t break. Since this Ludum Dare took place the weekend before finals, I was very limited on time and made this game while on breaks from studying and, as crazy as it may sound, as a way for me to relax during the stress of finals. As I had done in past Ludum Dares, I utilized base code that I had compiled for Ludum Dares to speed up my game making progress by lowering the amount of recoding I needed to do. This combined with the fact that the main mechanic of the maze and ai are both something that I have done and made many times, allowed me to have basic game play completed pretty quickly.  For the most part, the only new concepts that I had to actually tackle in the game was to add the new GuiSliders and then tweak a few mechanics of the maze generation to fit the needs of the game. Even the leaderboard was something that I added in the last ludum Dare I completed in, so I had a reference to use for that as well. Given the outcome of the game results and the feed back I received, I’m not going to sit here and say the game didn’t go well because I didn’t challenge myself, it’s more just that I don’t feel the game contained anything new or exciting that I haven’t already done before and thus it didn’t feel like as big of an accomplishment as prior games felt.

On the flip side, there were some elements of my game that, after seeing comments and reviews, I wish I could have included or changed. The first being the overall art, and while my digital art skills are not the best, I do fell like I could have cleaned it up a bit better to make the game feel a tad more polished. Secondly, now that people have commented on my game, I agree with them in the respect that the exit should have been more well defined in the game, because unless you stopped to search for it, there was no real indication that it was the exit or place to guide you character to, to win the game. Along similar lines  of in game tweaks, I would have also made the sliders more defined since it seemed many people didn’t use them. Or they just submitted their scores with the default settings which is possible, but even if that were the case, I still thought they blended into the background a little too well. Lastly, something that I would like to change about the game and I will speak more about it in the next section is the sounds. Yes while it does seem the sounds still make the game feel more complete, the style of sounds didn’t really fit the style of the game, so it provided some slight conflict of interests.

Finally the last topic that I want to talk about is what I plan to change for future Ludum Dare games. The date for Ludum Dare 38 has already been announced for late April, which coincidentally, is the week before my spring finals…. what luck! Anyways I will probably do the same thing that I did this time around where I use the game making process as a break from studying and what not, but we shall see when it comes around. Getting back to the question of what I plan to do differently, I would like to Change up the style of audio that I use as well as put some focus into game effects. The first part I began to talk about in the last section, but I want to change the audio style that my sound effects are. Currently I use a program called bfxr and Its a really good sound effect creator, but only problem is that it have a very 8-bit style sound to it and my games do not have 8 bit style art or game play, so it doesn’t really make the sounds feel connected to the game. I will be doing some searching for similar programs and try to find one that does not have the 8-bit feeling that I can use for future games to better complete my games. The second part that I would like to improve on for future games is “Special Effects” to make my games feel less static and more immersive or action packed. Whether it be particles, animations or shaders I do not know, but I would like to incorporate one or multiple types into future games to make them that much better.

That about does it for this Ludum Dare postmortem write up. If you tried out my game at all, I would love to know what you think, but other than that, thanks for reading and stay awesome!

Ludum Dare 35 Postmortem

Ludum Dare 35

Game Name: Geo-Shifter

Play The Game Here: http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-35/?action=preview&uid=24562

 

It’s almost 2 weeks since Ludum concluded, so I thought I might as well get around to making this Ludum Dare Postmortem thing that people sometimes do. I have actually done one of these before, but never posted it anywhere and I went searching for it before making this one, but I sadly couldn’t find it. Now that I have my blog set up on my website, I think It’s a great time to start doing these post Ludum Dare write ups to just say a few things about my experience. I have no idea who will actually ever read these and well, my english skills are not the best (I’m a programmer, what do you expect?), but let’s do this thing anyways!

 

What did I make?

Ah yes, the big question everyone asks when Ludum Dare finishes. Well this time around I used LibGDX for the third time after not being able to get my OpenGL base code finished in time. I actually tried to make a 2D version of my OpenGL base code and I actually contemplated using it, but given the theme and geometric design that I ended up taking on, I decided to not use it. Anyways, back to the game. Given the theme of “Shape Shifter”, I decided upon the idea of applying the theme into a geometrical sense where you were literally changing geometrical shapes. After a good half hour to an hour of talking to people on my stream and brainstorming, I finally settled upon the game idea. The game follows a Binding of Isaac type control system with a single room, endless, wave based enemy configuration, and some dropping perks. The enemies are composed of 5 geometrical shapes: squares, circles, or triangles. These shapes are broken down into 3 body parts, ears, eyes, and main body, with each body group having a random shape. From these enemy configurations, your job is to “Shape Shift” you ammo to match and shoot at the monsters. Each hit upon the monsters will remove one body part if the bullet shape matches a shape on the monster until all 5 body parts have been removed, at which time the monster is destroyed. Lastly, there are perks that are randomly dropped from the monsters after destroying them. Some are good, some not so much, but they do add another layer on top of the game to give it a bit more depth as well as entertainment while playing. This game is actually a fairly simplistic game, but the waves speed the difficulty up fairly fast and provide a challenge.

 

What went wrong?

Well to start it off, probably the one thing that didn’t turn out well was the monster movements. I went for a very basic and crude method of movement and pathing and in turn forced me to make the monsters move at the same speed as the player in order to not allow them to be easily jukeable. Unfortunately this caused the opposite extreme to happen and made it next to impossible to strafe and juke the monsters. This ultimately causes serious problems for the player if they can’t destroy the monsters before they reach the player. Overall, probably something I would change in future games.

Enemy stacking provided another struggle to players and to me as well as I noticed it during testing at the end of the 48 hours. I probably did have enough time to fix the problem, but due to the very minimal collision detection currently used as well as crude movement of the monsters that I mentioned above, I decided to just leave it as is and let the game be. The main problem with stacking is that the monster the player is shooting is not on top of the stack. This prevents the player from knowing what It needs to shoot at the monsters and causes blind, random guessing that slows their progress and overall, a lot of hassle. This is something that I really wish i would have fixed or at least made it less of a random guess, or struggle to the player.

Another mechanic that I didn’t have a problem with, but people playing with my game suggested that I should have implemented was full range, or full 360 degree shooting. My reason for only including shooting in the main four directions was to keep it easy to make, as well as keep it mostly true to the Binding of Isaac style controls and physics that I initially went with. The players who played my game seemed to disagree, mainly saying that they would have rather user a mouse to shoot at all angles. I personally think that this would have made it harder to destroy the monsters, but If I were continuing to develop this game further, it would be something that I would consider.

 

What Went Right?

Now for the fun part, talking about all of the things that I am happy with in the game.

Biggest thing that I am most happy with is the sound effects that I added. First time ever including sound to one of my Ludum Dare games and It goes without a hitch. Sure It took me a little while to learn BSFX, the tool I was using to make my sounds, but It was all done as extra and implementing it into the code provided no problems. Best of all, it really did put my game on a whole new level as there was actually sound to entertain the players ears and not boring silence like I had in my past games.

The artwork was another major factor that stepped my game up to the next level this year. Geo-Shifter was only the second game, next to God-Kill-A and not including Flash Memory, that did not follow my normal top down game and artwork design. The art was very simplistic (If you couldn’t tell by the all black background and solid color shapes), but at the same time, the art that was included was very basic and meshed very well with the overall game. The player and bottom bar are the only two pieces of art that are always visible during the game and many probably don’t notice the bottom bar is not actually part of the overall background because it just fits so well. Just like the sound, I think that the art really provided another aspect of something visually appealing that caused a lot more positive feedback from the players.

The last concept that I really enjoyed was the game concept itself. The minimalistic approach along with the endless style gameplay encouraged players to play again to try and beat either their top score, or the global top score. Even though the game had it’s problems that took away from the concept, I am still overall happy with what I decided to go with.

 

To wrap things up, I am very happy with the game I have created over the 48 hour period. While it may not be as aesthetically complete as my past games, I do think the overall gameplay and features make it the best game I have made thus far for Ludum Dare. I have conquered 9 Ludum Dares so far and I have no intention to stop anytime soon. 

 

p.s. If you find and spelling or grammatical errors anywhere in this post, please feel free to contact me and point them out. One of my goals in doing these blogs is to hopefully improve my writing abilities.