Bitzawolf

Blog

Blog

Ludum Dare 38 Postmortem 25 April 2017

Intro

For those who don’t know, Ludum Dare is a game jam that takes place internationally a few times a year. The goal is to motivate aspiring indie game devs into building something. It’s too easy to get caught in the loop of “Waiting for the perfect time” or working on the design doc forever. The 48-hour game jam forces you to say “No excuses. You got 48 hours. Build something or be a loser and don’t even try.”

So we try, and often fail, but always learn.

Play One Day

Goals Ambitions Desires

My goal was to just build something that sort of resembled a game. Didn’t have to be a full, complete game. Just build a game. After two years of schooling and now a full-time job, it was starting to feel like I was never going to make a game again.

I also wanted to stream my development because I enjoy streaming. I still need to decide if I want to keep that up or not because streaming has to be a consistent thing, and I have such little time as is.

One Day…

The game jam is 48 hours long, but due to a pre-planned outing for my Mom’s birthday, I knew I only had 24. The game gets its name from this fact. 24 hours to build a game.

What was One Day supposed to be? One Day is going to be a top-down RPG/Adventure with battle mechanics like in Legend of Mana. Run around a 3D space, fighting monsters. The game progresses through a series of battle phases and city phases, where the cities let the player rest. Eventually, there are no more cities and the player fights until death.

One Day for the jam was toned down to just a 2D turn-based RPG, but with the same battles, the a city, then more battles mechanic.

Why an RPG for a 2-day game jam? I love RPGs and love designing them, but building them is so difficult. It was silly to choose such a difficult game design, but it’s one I have so much passion for. It was fun to build and I don’t regret my choice. One day I’ll get to test this game design out and see it through to fruition. There’s so much I’d love to explore in an RPG setting.

Development Decisions

Why no game engine library? One of the most frustrating experiences in building a game is getting frustrated and confused in a new code-base, library, or environment you’re unfamiliar with.

I’ve been programming for quite a few years by this point, making games on-and-off too. Sometimes I get tired of learning something new and just want to put my skills to use – not have to problem-solve development environment problems and just focus on making a game. I had much more fun getting to see my advanced Javascript skills at work flow freely than constantly Googling errors a console spits out at me.

Why web-development? Why Javascript? A year ago, I would’ve laughed if someone told me I’d be building a game in Javascript alone! But due to my job where that’s 90% of my work, I’ve come around it quite a bit. I’m more cozy to the elegance of letting my browser make the UI pretty for me. CSS is a huge pain in the butt (though display: flex is the best advancement ever), but when it works it’s gorgeous. Even animating the UI is almost trivial with jQuery’s animate function. One of the best parts is that it’s easy to host on my site and it can be played in some browsers!

However, getting the game to work on most (or all) browsers would take a lot of library usage and packaging I’ve never setup before (webpack, commonJS, node). Further, displaying and drawing images is not as easy as using a development environment. This is tied into my choice of not using a library/engine though.

Overall, web-dev has its place for game development, but it’s a totally different field with its own challenges and problems. It was fun trying to make a game in pure JS, and I’m very happy with the game UI.

Results

So what did I get out of this if I didn’t finish the game? Proof that I still have what it takes to make a game! The passion for making games is still deep within me and hasn’t gone away despite the long break. I have a renewed vigor for developing games!

It’s very cool to see how much my UI, design, and even (to a much lesser extent) art skills have improved! I’ve been redesigning my site using a 30-degree angled theme and a soft pink as the key color. I translated this well enough into the game using pink for physical effects and a complementary blue for magical effects. I started using more colors like yellow for strength, grey for armor, but then I had to stop myself because it just made the design look messy. Too many bright colors. Sticking to two colors made my choices simpler and resulted in a better looking game.

Since this is the results section, I have to mention that the game is indeed unfinished. It’s missing audio, and ending, even the main game’s mechanic didn’t make it in. Disappointing, but definitely not disheartening. It’s just a failed experiment that provided invaluable experience I can take into my next project!

Reflections

It must be stated again, my desire to build indie games is lit like a fire! I have a few more personal projects I want to clean up before I start playing with game development seriously, but there’s no doubt I will in the near future.

Given I’ve improved my UI and Javascript skills so much due to my job, how do I translate what I do at work in order to learn a new game engine? After spending a year straight working with JS, I’m so much better at it. Can I do this for a game engine? Is it wise to pick one to really master in to prevent the huge overhead of having to stumble through a new environment? It doesn’t seem feasible to be a jack-of-all-trades and try to master multiple environments.

Where to from here

My plans for my next game is to us Unity. I’ve always enjoyed Unity even if it has a fair share of annoyances. Plus the company is close to Seattle if I’d like to pursue a job there one day.

My next game? Maybe Bubbletron. It’s a very easy game design and would be a good way to make the game complexity easy so I can learn Unity better. I would absolutely love to fully explore One Day, but I also know the importance of starting out small.

One day I’ll build One Day… Один день…

Post Metadata

Category

Blog, Game Jams

Tags

,