This is a post I have planned to write for quite some time now. After being euphorized to have found a game theme and genre I would like to make, the motivation ceased rather fast. Family business, job, all was somehow getting higher prioritized than hobby game development. Additionally, two existent games made me realize how complex the game I planned to make would likely be.
To give a rough outline, the game I planned was sort of a simulation about a country failing to solve its growing amount of protesters and drifting into a police state. The player would play the government, sending police troops into cities, while the turn-based simulation would resolve the effects like citizen movement from city to city or even abroad, or growing violence (protesters and police).
This Ludum Dare I only could spend one day for making a game and I wanted to try out a new technology (HaxePunk). Usually that’s not a good idea for a time restricted jam, especially with restricting oneself even further.
Working with a new language and library worked surprisingly well. Tuning down the scope of my game probably helped, but Haxe seems to be quite a convenient language to work with. The HaxePunk library was a great addition to have quick results, as most of the basic engine stuff necessary for my game was already in there.
For creating some ambient background sound for my game I had a nice idea: As it is finally spring now in Germany, I wanted to record some spring sounds, like birds. I did this with my phone, which worked pretty well. Unfortunately transferring the file into Audacity did something very strange to the sound and it was too late to figure out how to solve it. That is the reasons the bird sounds seem more like from a jungle than a mid-European garden.
What’s that game about
As mentioned, I didn’t have the full 48 hours, so I had to come up with something really simple. The basic idea has some resemblance to my LD23 game Bottlecolonies, but this time with free placement and only two different colors. This makes the gameplay probably a little boring quite soon.
The idea is, that with each new planted flower, the existing ones will grow through different stages. If there are negative influences around (potatoes, mushrooms, different kind of plant) and surpass the positive ones (same kind of plants) the plant will decay. Additionally, a feature implemented quite late, the mushrooms will spread for a while. So goal and strategy of the game is to place the same kind of plants close to each other, block spreading of mushrooms and avoid the negative stuff around your seedlings. The rhythm as how the two different plants are seeded is quite simple. Each three plants it will change. You will win the game if there are enough grown plants and will lose if there are too many decayed ones.
What went right
Getting the idea (I already had this idea in my mind for OneGameAMonth for the theme “spring” and it also fits the LD theme)
Fast progress with a new tech (I’m surprised by myself how well I got into HaxePunk)
Making a Flash game (a lot more plays than usually with a Windows standalone)
Finish in time (was a long evening, but I did cut the features early enough)
What went wrong
Making the background sounds (as mentioned above, and took me some time to mix the few recorded sounds to not be to repetitive)
Player feedback in the game (A lot of people mentioned it: an indicator for the placing position and some feedback what will seed next would be great; I agree)
So finally I’ve found some time to write up my impressions of the past Ludum Dare event. As ever it was a big pleasure to participate and I’m really impressed with the sheer amount of games being made and the overall quality which feels a little higher than the last times.
Now about my game “Bottlecolonies” which you can play here.
I finished everything I planned to minimally have in the game in time.
The creation of a windows executable with py2exe worked immediately this time, thanks to experience from past Ludum Dares.
I’m pretty happy that I really took my acoustic guitar to make ingame sound and music.
I managed to make a game with quiet a consistent style and feel due to the hand drawn graphics.
I’m totally happy with the game I’ve made. With my third LD this time I noticed how much my self-organisation and the outcome progressed from event to event.
I totally underestimated the effort even to record only a small music track with a real instrument.
There are still some small issues that could have been solved within time (especially some sort of marker where one builds).
To solve the challenges stated in the levels requires more training and strategic thinking than I expected. It’s the standard issue that usually the developer himself is the most experienced player of his game and tends to make it too difficult.
To sum it up
You can see I’m really glad with my LD entry this time. I’m very confident now with my tools (especially python/pygame) and know roughly how much time different steps in development needs and what I’m able to achieve in 48 hours. I think that is the most valuable experience you get from an event like this.
Additionally the reception of my game has been quite positive. Hence I’ll put some more effort in a post compo version which shall at least include:
A marker for the building position (done)
Additional music (one new track already recorded)
Highscores of past plays
As I’ve already written twoteasers for this post mortem I’ll stop here and just give you a visual impression of the development details: