That’s right, another 4 months have passed and once again we’ve entered the Ludum Dare Game Jam!
This was the 32nd Ludum Dare event, with the theme set to ‘Unconventional Weapon’.
After creating and submitting our game we decided to write up a ‘post-mortem’ outlining the game and what went good / bad during the process, as is typical with Ludum Dare submissions.
The below extract has been syndicated from ludumdare.com
Hey everyone! Hope you’ve been enjoying all these awesome games made for LD32! :D
We’re a three man team based in the UK, like most of you looking to create awesome games and level up whenever possible!
This is our third time entering Ludum Dare, we’ve never written a post-mortem before and thought it was about time to give it a go!
PALBOT is a top down shooter, with a twist. You must control one character for movement / interaction and a military drone dubbed ‘PALBOT’ to shoot!
What went well?
As you may have seen from our previous post, we were all set up and ready to go quite a while before the event started. This gave us time to brainstorm ideas based on some of the most popular themes from previous rounds (along with shouting out random ones from the final round!). One thing we knew already was that we wanted to create a top down game, so most of our ideas were based around that. PALBOT stood out as a great idea for a couple of themes, including Unconventional Weapon, so when this was announced we were pretty hyped to get started and test out our dual control mechanic! :)
This is something we really wanted to get right this time, on our last entry the controls were very ‘floaty’ which a fair few people disliked – this time around movement feels pretty solid allowing you to weave in and out of enemies and dodge fireballs if needed. Nice.
The introduction to PALBOT actually started off as a test for the message system that Sean had created, with area and destruction triggers included he made it into a quick tutorial – which we decided to keep instead of creating one from scratch.
The Menu System
It may seem basic, but this was our first time using Unity 5’s new UI system. Sean is used to running through hundreds of lines of code OnGUI, so this was a nice improvement for him but it also meant wrapping his head around the new canvas/panel elements along with alignment. All in all it seems to work OK and we’ve learnt a few tricks for next time.
What went not so well?
This one was a bitch. Every time Sam exported a set of sprites for animation, every single image background was white! Opening in explorer, the images were fine – but in Unity we just couldn’t get rid of the white background. After checking through various settings in the program to make sure transparency settings were correct, our solution was to open every single image in another program (Paint.net) and re-save the images. What a pain.
Who needs to plan the structure of a Ludum Dare game right? Yeah, right. With Jess programming the bulk of the game mechanics / logic and Sean dealing with UI and trigger elements, sometimes they don’t quite plan in advance how everything is going to fit together at the end. This leads to some interesting methods (such as SuperMegaSellotape() or HackyFunction()) being thrown into the mix. As it happens, we managed to duct tape everything so tightly together and sand down any rough edges enough that it all seems to work nicely as-is – just don’t ask us to look at the code ever again.
You know we said everything seemed to work nicely? Well, we lied. If you die on level 2 or 3, you are presented with the ‘Game Over’ screen where you can select ‘Retry’ – upon selection the game restarts and almost instantly presents you with another ‘Game Over’ screen! Click ‘Retry’ again, the game restarts and works OK, weird!
This is probably the biggest killer of games during LD. Aiming too high on a game can leave you with a half complete project when the competition is over. While we weren’t this unlucky, we did overshoot it a bit – with ideas of an intro cutscene, a more fluid tutorial, loads more enemies, more weapons, upgrades and even a damn boss. Wow. Sure, it’s good to aim high – but we really need to work on establishing how much content we can realistically create in 72 hours.
This one is just a little niggle of ours. Through watching other people play we’ve noticed that during combat, panicked spacebar mashing can lead to confusion as to the state that PALBOT is in (attack or follow). While we tried to make this clear with cursor and UI indicators, when you’ve got fireballs flying at your face from all directions you tend to lose focus on the little things. After discussing, we decided it would have probably been better to make pressing & holding spacebar call PALBOT back to you and have tapping spacebar command PALBOT on where to go.
So, that’s about it! We’ve got plenty of other things we’d like to add / tweak / improve on (too much to list on this already lengthy post) but these are the things that stood out most during development.
So far we’ve had AWESOME feedback on PALBOT – we can’t say enough thanks to all you guys that have left positive comments on our submission page and on Twitter – it really does make us feel amazing, you’re the best! :D
In fact, now we’re seriously considering turning this into a fully fledged game! :o
We’ve also had a blast so far playing all your submissions – we’re trying to play as many as possible, so don’t forget to keep throwing your links at us on Twitter (link below) and we’ll do our best to Play + Rate them all! :)
Well, that’s it for another 4 months! We always enjoy taking part in Ludum Dare and so I’m sure we’ll be getting stuck in next time too.
In the meantime, we’ve decided to put our Spacebat sequel on hold. This will allow us to focus on polish / refinement elements on some smaller projects, without over complicating things with masses of systems and other background config requirements. That’s not to say it’s gone for good, but it won’t be our next release.
More to come on this soon, we’ve learnt a lot through our Ludum Dare sessions and can’t wait to apply that knowledge to future games! :D