Team Station 6 enters Ludum Dare
Sorry I didn’t post last Friday, I was busy preparing for Ludum Dare, and I didn’t have any Station 6 updates to post anyway. This post will be about my experiences during Ludum Dare last weekend.
For anyone who doesn’t know what Ludum Dare is, it is a competition whereby contestants have to create a game based on a theme, from scratch, by themselves, in just 48 hours. Any tools and programming languages are allowed to be used, but all content needs to be created within the 48 hour timeslot. The source code needs to be submitted with the entry. After 48 hours, the three week judging stage commences, where the competitors rate each other’s games on various categories such as Innovation, Fun, Graphics, Audio, etc. At the end of the judging period all the games are ranked for each category so everyone can see which games came top in which category. There are no prizes given out; your prize is your game.
There’s also a 72 hour competition that runs along side, called the Jam. This is a more relaxed version, as it allows you to work in teams, use existing assets, and keep your game closed source. Ben and I entered this competition.
Usually people show their intent to enter by posting an “I’m in!” post on the Ludum Dare blog… We went a step further:
The theme for this Ludum Dare was ‘Alone’. We quickly came to the decision that the game would be about some kind of forest creature (which we nicknamed ‘Mike’) that wanted to be alone, but the Evil Dr Cuddles wants to get him so that he can give Mike love and attention. As you can see, Mike doesn’t like that at all:
The actual gameplay was supposed to be a cross between Canabalt and VVVVVV. Mike would flip gravity to jump over gaps in the floor and ceiling to run from Evil Dr Cuddles as long as possible. Mike would run through various themed worlds, each with their own boss at the end. We decided there would be four worlds, Evil Dr Cuddles’ Lab, the city, the forest, and the sky. The boss for each would be a UFO that shot rockets at you, a bus that tried to run you over, a robot worm that tried to eat you, and a flying pirate ship that shoots at you, respectively. To make the game I was using ActionScript 3 with the Flixel library.
The first two and a half days went way too quickly, and I coded way too slowly. Ben got loads of art done, which is brilliant, but I wasn’t able to get into the ‘zone’. Also, my code was just a mess. It wasn’t really going well for me. Maybe it was my unfamiliarity with Flixel that slowed me down. Maybe it was some wrong early decisions about how to code what.
I had gravity flipping, random level generation, hoops you could jump through that increased a score multiplier, and the first boss, among other bits and pieces. But I was still a long way off from completion, and when I hit a problem that caused a half-second stutter every few seconds due to a fundamental flaw in my level generation and dynamic extension system (I used tilemaps when I, well, shouldn’t have), I couldn’t take it any more. I threw away the whole thing and started from scratch. I wasn’t going to use the overly complicated random level generation system I’d concocted and decided simply that obstacles would randomly appear that you had to jump over.
Now with a mind clear of the old rubbish that I’d been writing over the past two and a half days, I was able to get to work properly. Things went quite smoothly and everything was straight forward this time. I uploaded my entry just 20 seconds before the deadline. There were only two bosses (the UFO and the pirate ship, but they were almost identical) and the game was very unpolished, but I was happy with what I was able to do within the extremely short time frame.
We ended up calling the game ‘Gravity Cat …Thing’. Here’s some screen shots:
You can play Gravity Cat Thing here. Beware, it’s a difficult game. I didn’t have time to tune the difficulty, I’m afraid. I’ll be making an enhanced version soon when I have time, which will fulfil the original vision of the game. If you have any suggestions (other than ‘make it easier’… I know ) please let me know!
I was thinking of maybe changing it up so that instead of a continuous arcade game style marathon, it’s split up into little levels that each require a small burst of dexterity with maybe a sprinkling of puzzle solving. I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this.
And that’s all I have to say! We’d really like to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment or send me a message.