Friday, October 16, 2015

Ludum dare 33 post summary

It's that time again, Ludum dare 33, our favourite game jam, had been and gone.

The resulting game can be seen here: Pokemen - Ludum Dare 33

indie game about pokemen. From ancient cornish, meaning: stupid, clumsy.
Indie game about Pokemen. From ancient Cornish, meaning: Stupid, clumsy.
The theme: "You are the monster". I took the familiar concept of Pokemon, everyone's favourite monster battling game, and replaced the monsters with "pokemen" instead. In my design, you control the monster directly, becoming a literal interpretation of the theme at first. However, as the battle progresses, you can see your trainer off to the side shouting commands and encouragement. After a while the trainers dialogue will become progressively more abusive. The worse you do the more abusive the trainer becomes. The pokemen battle to the death and we attempted to implement some gore. This way, it is actually the pokemen trainer who is the true monster, for abusing their slave pokemen. 

3 different pokemen to choose from
Charlog, Bulbabud and Squirtop.

The game plays a bit like a 2D fighter. tzer0 did all the programming and sound and definitely worked the hardest of us two. Next time I'd like to find one or two more people since the time really doesn't stretch that well in such a small game jam.



I was hoping to beat my Ludum Dare rating from my last game "Escape from Animal forest" but we somehow did worse on all scores. This I find somewhat disappointing since I tried much more to work hard this time around. It just goes to show that effort does not always equal output. Many of the small decisions and shortcuts I had to take left this game looking less interesting than the last one. I'll list some reasons I suspect we had a worse result here for my own reference next time:

  • fewer team members = a LOT more work per member
  • less time available = crappier result
  • Maybe avoid pixel art due to over-use in game jams. (hard to say if this was a cause or if my poor use pixels was, still, I love charlog)
  • more animation frames = less time on overall art
  • prioritise UI, menu and splash page better (didn't make these in time) These make up a lot of the game's "overall visuals" especially in screens that people judge us by.
  • Figure out what went wrong with colour palette before theme announces
  • make actual mock game before team announces to test for unforeseen consequences:
    -tzer0 didn't have "playable-game-in-browser"
    experience and lost a lot of time because of my unexpected demand for it.
    -Figure out what went wrong with colour palette before theme announces

    -Figure out how the art style will look in an actual browser (size of game border vs scale of objects etc)
  • add "fix user experience" as a responsibility on my timeslotting list to ensure the overall is ok.
    -many people had problems with getting the game to work including myself.

    Our commenters said the game wasn't "fun" yet this is the most complete game I have made in any gamejam, and it is the first where people complain about the lack of fun. I suspect that if you release an incomplete game, people get more lenient on the whole "no fun" but if you have a functioning game that is still not fun then it counts against you a lot more. I personally thought our "Escape the forest" attempt was very unfun and that pokemen was miles better, yet "Escape" had a much higher score. I suppose it is hard to tell with only two tries, perhaps simply better competition could explain the scores after all.

Below is my journal of this Ludum Dare proceeding for those interested:

I started early this time, one day ahead so I could test my setup. That was wise, as I had to update 7 programs (all adobe programs i use plus krita) plus one bug fix in krita. Besides I had to dust off my Krita - photoshop workflow. I rely on Krita for game making because of it's wrap around mode, mirror drawing, and generally the brush engine just feels easier to sketch with for some reason.

I drew my first pixelart in my testing. I MAY have been inspired to do so because I saw this cool artist just the day before: CELLUSIOUS his pixels are worth the watch. Pixels is really fun to work with because it frees me of my bad habit of getting lost in details.

Also played around with a screenshot of mario to see how it works and speculate about why it looks like it looks. I'm not fond of the style but I wanted to see what it could take to make Mario surreal. I like how I accidentally touched upon a potential answer to the theme that was chosen.

The theme this time around is "You are the monster"

Here is my 5 o'clock rambling list of ideas that I woke up to write (including spelling mistakes!):

Sheep or wolf u font know

  • Game mechanicallt
  • Morally
  • Hurt self to hurt others
  • Dentist,
  • Kids perspektive
  • Ea eat games
  • Hold your ground by waiting.
  • Bugs in software
  • Mario clone but play as koppa
  • Godzilla demolished.
  • Ant, wasp, wolf fight for survival
  • Anorexia, psychological monsters
  • Enemies controller, parasite swap body.
  • Pokemon re angled :
  • Bulbabud, birdy, rodentish, charmangler, char ming, squirtoob, s
  • Don't step over the line. He
  • Stepped over the line.
  • You are the dice in dnd campaign .

I think this theme is going to be fun, even if there will be a lot of obvious takes on "you are the monster" it will still be fun.

Once the game making actually began I rediscovered timeslotting. I had to complete 
  • creature design (pencil drawing)
  • creature render (pixel drawing)
  • level design (pixel drawing)
  • ui design
  • animation (magnificent 2 frames per action!)
  • moves (hopefully)
By dividing each task by the total time I had, I ended up with only about an hour or two for each task. ( I could not use the full LD time due to work)
Long story short, I had 7 minutes per frame of animation and I could only afford 2 frames per action (jump, attack, run etc). It may seem like a long time for just moving a few limbs, but I am not very experienced with animation OR pixel art so this felt like a very short time when I was actually doing it. Photoshop tricks like "transform" does not work with pixel art. pixels don't rotate (unless it's 90 degrees i guess). Some frames took less and some took more. 

All in all the project was as tiresome yet educational as gamejams always are for me and I will take my experience forward.

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