Grave Screen Of Death Post-Mortem – Ludum Dare 31

Last week-end was Ludum Dare time again ! The 31th Ludum Dare game jam happened from the 6th to the 8th of this month and I was in !

GSOD screen4 For those who don’t know, the Ludum Dare is a game Jam where you are challenged to create a game based on a theme disclosed at the last minute in 48h, alone and from scratch (the Compo) or in 72h with a team (the Jam). It’s technically a competition but having a playable game at the deadline is already the biggest win.

This time the theme was Entire Game On One Screen. As this theme was more a technical limitation than a creative one (more on that below) I set out to create a simple top-down shooter.

Play the game in your browser on Itch.io: http://florentpoujol.itch.io/grave-screen-of-death

If you happened to make a game for this Ludum Dare (let me know about it !), you can rate it on its entry page. Thanks !

You can also get the sources on GitHub.

What went right

Theme

Many hated the theme, rating about it being only a technical limitation. But that’s kind of the point of a theme. And I think this one is not more or less limiting than “10 seconds” or “minimalism” for instance.  It’s just that it really said (maybe more than the other theme) “Do whatever the heck you want, but maybe on one screen (please ?)”.

Anyway, this flexible theme gave me the perfect occasion to make a top-down shooter, which I never had the chance to do before. Plus, I had the idea pretty quickly and was able to stick to it, so that’s at least nice for that.

Graphics

This is the first game for which I use model animations and fake shadows. It was actually fun to tweak the animations and the general look even if it’s still very much programmer’s art.

Overall, I think the game looks pretty nice to me. But yes I more and more really want to team up with an actual artist !

Webplayer

As explained last time, web games are really convenient for people to play. It’s even more convenient now since you can embed web games directly in your entry page on the LD’s website.

Except for a bug that was quickly fixed by CraftStudio’s creator, everything ran without a inch ! The webplayer was even improved these past weeks and run equally good in Chrome or in Firefox.

What went wrong

GSOD screen 5Innovation

I could have done absolutely anything but did a boring, classical top-down shooter… Thankfully some had better ideas !

I really need to improve at this, too !

Theme

Almost everyone (including me) did the exact same thing : a single level game ! The variety in the interpretation of the theme is incredibly low this time…

So overall this was a bad theme but only because we were completely unable to do something interesting with it !

Gameplay

It’s after submitting it and people started to play it, that I realised  that indeed, the game was essentially void of gameplay. Even for a classical top-down shooter.

The current gameplay is ultra repetitive and since the game is too easy, you got bored before reaching the game over screen.

Obviously my TODO list basically said “MORE OF EVERYTHING !!!”, but as always, time and motivation drained out fast !

Procedural Random generation

It’s often nice too have environments that change every times, but retrospectively it was not the best idea this time. I would have been better off hand crafting one nice environment.

First, the generation is just random so it produce results that greatly vary in quality (that most often stay low…).

Second, the environment doesn’t influence the gameplay in any way, so that was basically useless.

And third, due to the theme and camera setup, the level is actually quite small. So I could very well have hand crafted one pretty easily and in the same amount of time it took me to implement and teak the random generation.

Webplayer

CraftStudio’s physics engine still doesn’t (and never will) work in the webplayer. That left me with no collision, nor pathfinding system easy enough to setup to prevent the character to traverse some areas.

It wasn’t that big of a deal but that’s actually why the trees are floating: so that it doesn’t look “weird” that you and the mob could go through their trunk.

(Floating and oddly cubic trees aren’t weird, right ?)

Conclusion

GSOD screen2I worked a little more than the previous time, 26 hours over the 3 days of the jam. That’s still not much, and not much to create alone even a simple top-down shooter.

So I am still really happy how the jam and the game turned out ! The lack of gameplay is what I regret the most.

Overall it was a very interesting experience as always and can’t wait for the Global Game Jam 2015 were I will rally with the same fine folks as last year.

They were pretty busy this Ludum Dare too and managed to produce a very much working 2D action game “Hunt The Yeti” with a very much WIP game maker. Be sure to check it out !

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