Upgrading Switcher

I am still working on Switcher in order to implement the things that I wanted to add but because of the jam time constraints I couldn’t.

One of the good things of a jam is that you are forced to take shortcuts in order to make the most of the game with the least time investment. For example in Switcher I focused all my effort in the main running scene. Once that was ready I was really tired, so I created a basic logo and black screen with a start button and instructions. It looked like crap…

I was running out of time but I didn’t felt good delivering that main screen, but there was not enough time to get creative and design more stuff. Then it suddenly hit me! Use the main running scene to decorate the start menu. Some code copy/paste Frankenstein style and it was alive! A decent start screen. For the ending screen I did the same, but instead I wanted to give the player a relaxed screen since he must be tired from all the running. I used the same code for scrolling background but decreased the speed. The result was just what I was looking for.

Another shortcut I had to use was for the enemies, one single animation with multiple “skins” and did the trick to have a less monotonous mob.

Finally, for the background I had a two color background with some marks to give the feel of movement and that was it.

Now with more time and no more pressure than my daily job I am slowly building the components that I wish I had time to create. Post-compo switcher will feature a better background, maybe some new fonts and… music!

Stay tuned for the updated version, the goal is to have it ready before LD29 judging ends.

Switcher – Post Mortem

switcher

It is always good to make an analysis after Ludum Dare submit has ended. It is the time to check on what went right and what wrong. To repeat the good and avoid the bad. Sometimes bad choices can get you good results, but it is not common.

About the theme: Beneath the surface

Thinking about this theme I first thought about sea creatures attacking boats and living below the surface. I had some ideas of that though, for sea creatures a Cthulhu destroying boats. For Living below the surface a post-apocalyptic survival. I liked them both. But I though I could ran out of time if I wanted to even complete one of those.

I finally decided to an endless runner with a twist. You are the enemy, it is not because you are the bad protagonist, it is because the protagonist is different. The world fears different.

The bad

The 48 hours compo is extremely exhausting, at least for me. I can not sacrifice sleep hours since at the end of the compo I still have to go to my 8-5 day job. Instead of using the 48 hours I ended up using maybe just about 20.

I tried also a new engine Phaser to deliver a web game. It went smooth most of the time, except by the one time I hit a bug and waste 2 hours. If I had practiced more those two lost hours could be used in polishing the game.

The last show stopper was when I was about to deploy the final version. Compressed my zip and upload to itch.io just to have it fail with an error of zip containing more than 500 files! I had only about 20 files and didn’t understood what happened. In the end it was a dummy error. I was using git as version control and I was zipping all the git files as well. About another wasted hour.

The good

Phaser was definitely a good choice. It allowed me to deploy fast and deliver to most of web viewers the game. Accessibility is king. For voting since I have a Mac, I can not vote on Windows games and also have some trouble with Java games. I however had no trouble running flash/hmtl/unity web games.

Designing on pixel art was also good, I have been doing pixel art for almost 2 years now and I am happy I have reached the point to finally release acceptable pixel art, at least pixel art that players can enjoy.

Version control was definitely a great asset. Other games I have delivered for LD were on game maker, which greatly difficult the versioning. This time I was working on pure code and versioning is a bliss.

Improvement Areas

Music is missing from the game, I didn’t had enough time to compose something or look for the right audio effects. For the next game I will try to make time for this.

Polishing was also a missing point. I did some polishing but not as much as I wanted. I think the game should be ready, not just feature complete, by the first 24 hours. At least the code and art. Then try to get some feedback with friends, family, or someone and adjust and polish the game the next 24 hours. A really cool game can be killed if it is not polished enough.

Tools

Language/Engine: JavaScript/Phaser

Version control: Git

Text Editor: Sublime 2

Pixeling: Pixen

Debugging web browser: Firefox

 

You can check my Ludum Dare compo page for Switcher, vote my entry, read comments and even download the source code to see what is inside.