Hey, let me have a “What I recall of the events” post about the game I did with PixolPalette during this week-end for the Ludum Dare Jam.
It was my personal second attempt to the Ludum Dare, second attempt working with PixolPalette too.
And we did it.
I’m French, so bear with me I’ll give the timeline as I lived it, that is to say the Jam starting Saturday at 3 am. Bear with me also, I’m writing this article in the last hour before the official deadline, the game is already submitted, promoted so I can have a little sit back on how things went.
This time, I/we entered the jam as we were working in team. The jam rules are more relaxed than the “48 hours compo” they allow for teamwork and more time.
And this was a very interesting experience.
Friday, before the begin of the jam
We actually brainstormed every themes that were at vote in the final round, discussing exchanging ideas and deciding on a general idea/direction for a game according to each themes.
Some themes inspired us more than some others.
In the bunch, I must say that we both agreed that we liked “Survival” quite much.
“Tiny world” was a “meeh” theme for me at first. But PixolPalette brought up the idea of a “Where’s waldo” kind of game. And I must admit that the idea amused me.
Where’s waldo type game where you use a magnifying glass, to find tiny peoples; You’re given a level and a timer to find all of them.
That is the actual thing I have written down on WorkFlowy.
And that’s exactly what we did
Nevertheless, as we had agreed on “survival” and quite developed ideas and directions, I started a prototype for the survival game. I worked on it during Friday, before going get some sleep (at around 3-4pm ^^) to be fresh on LD’s start.
Saturday – 3am, the Jam is opened
And so 3am arrives and the theme is revealed. We got it through Twitter, I was hitting reload furiously on the LD page, but the site wouldn’t load. Too much people I guess.
Anyway, “Tiny world” it was.
And disappointed I was. But we already had a plan, so it was really temporary, and when time is counted, you can’t allow to waste it.
We discussed a bit to put our ideas back in place, agreeing on the starting direction.
As we had discussed the game already the direction was pretty obvious on my side. I started to put some quick prototype with Construct2.
This engine is really great and most of what we needed is already in. The project submitted for the jam is made of 121 events dealing purely with the logic of the display in a gameplay perspective and the handling/behaving of the game.
So the very first prototype was really quickly done.
And soon after PixolPalette provided a character spritesheet that I could implement and build upon on.
There wasn’t animation yet and as any first prototype there wasn’t much to it.
And 12 hours later just have a look at what the current game looked like.
I was jammed in trying to get the magnifying effect to work, implementing wave system, and preparing the field for what would be needed later.
I wanted the tiles under the scope to get bigger along the characters to really give the impression that you’re using a magnifying lens on tiny peoples.
Anyway, I went to get some sleep, I think Pixol did too.
Sunday – Midnight, back in action
And up until around 5-6 am, I was still trying to have this magnifying effect working.
During this time, PixolPalette had painted tiles, character animations, scenery elements and was pushing things to map the city.
So I took a break, grabbed a eat and watched this week’s SmackDown episode which I found pretty good.
A few hours later, PixolPalette sent me back his version of the project with all the tiles placed to form a coherent background/stage.
29 hours into the LD the game looked like this.
REVOLUTION, we had dropped the magnifying effect. I had asked for help in the #construct channel on IRC and we managed in doing the effect but the masking was being problematic.
The possible solutions we considered did not satisfied us, and so we decided to go for an opaque background on which the characters would be magnified.
Also, it was around 8am and I went to vote as this was the first turn of the presidential elections here.
The day went on between coding and having a look on the RTBF site to get informations since it had been stupidly decreed by the government a few days before the election that no estimation was to be released before 8pm.
Fortunately Belgians didn’t care and I strongly thank them for that, hoping they don’t get fined. And if they do, I suggest they’d just send it back with a “No thank you, who do you think your are ?” note.
To finish on this magnifying issue that tickles me surely more than you, that’s where working as a team on tide scheduled really paid off.
Being able to discuss/confront ideas, knowing that there is a common idea/goal for the final game, even if at that time it really didn’t look like the submitted version, was really refreshing.
It shifted the weight of that aspect of the game on PixolPalette and so I was able to focus on going forward and making a game out of the prototype we were working with.
When I saw the final animated background, I had no regrets about ditching the magnifying tiles effect.
I had quite a bunch made already anyway. From the first day, there was already a system allowing us to set the number of cops/gang members/citizens stocked in an array, picking the correct values on “Stage” layout start.
I had all the movements of the characters, “bouncing” on the scenery element. And much more…
Sunday – Noon, in the heart of battle
Stress added to fatigue, there’s been some frictions between Pixol and I. Each to our turn, camping on some stuff we didn’t agree on, not feeling like doing some parts again, misunderstanding the intent of the other.
Nothing too aggravated though, and I feel we learnt a lot about each other ways of working, doing/seeing things.
And in the end, everything was worked out and I think we’re both satisfied with the submitted version.
By 4am on Monday (so 49 hours in the jam), the game looked like this.
Pretty much the finished version, and I went to get some sleep.
Monday – 2pm, the last stand
I woke up at around 2 pm, with a plan I had thought about before getting a few hours of sleep.
I went on added the sounds. It took approximatively 2 hours to get everything recorded/produced and then inserting it to dress the game.
I also added some sweeping effects to reinforce the impression that we’re looking at a screen.
On the previous version, the end of the stage was a bit abrupt, switching from “Stage” to “Brief room” without continuity/coherence.
I added a little time and sound to notify the end of the stage.
Tweaking values and fixing details, this lead to the submitted version.
The last time I touched the code on it was 09:09 pm, so it means we did the game in about 66 hours.
The rest from there has been uploading/promoting/writing this article.