Post Mortem – Avalanche

posted on 11 September 7 by jrrt

The LD is long over, so it is more than time to finally write the post-mortem for my game “Avalanche“. As usual I participated along with a friend, and we even had another guy from the university come along!

The story starts a little before LD itself, while the theme was still being voted. I had an idea I really wanted to implement, and it could somewhat fit it with some of the final round’s themes, including Escape. It was a platformer centered around doors that could transport you to another place of the scenario, and change something while you traveled through them, your job while escaping would be to orient yourself on an intricate network of crazy doors.

So, once the theme was decided and it was time to start working, I imediately jumped on getting the basics for a platformer to work, and to implement the door mechanism. Everything was going smoothly until I realized I was stumped…Being so eager to get something working, I set for it without asking myself all the questions. So I now had a prototype but no idea how the gameplay would exactly be, how would travelling though doors be a challenge? What would the player have to do to progress, to reach the end of a level? I thought on some alternatives, but I simply wouldn’t have a good idea. The whole pre-idea proved to be more a curse than a blessing.

The failed prototype

After that, as I was trying to find some inspiration and clear my head a bit by playing around in garage band I played a tune I actually liked. So I took that and tried to put some effort to give it a beat. While listening to the song I thought “this would be great in a fast paced game, like running away from an avalanche or something”. And it was set, I still had 24h!

I started by making the background move, and off I was to program what I think is the most important part on this kind of game: the controls, and the feeling you get from playing. I spent some time tweaking how the board rotated, how it influenced speed and the overall feeling of sliding down a steep mountain.

Then I started to make what would give some adversity to the game, the oncoming trees. At this point the game was playable, but needed some diversity, I thought just trees would be somewhat boring to dodge. So I implemented the jump feature, but as it would be silly to jump over trees, I added rocks, and made them larger than trees, so that they were more easily jumped over than dodged.

The finished game

At this point I considered adding flag gates that would give boosts to the player, however, the clock was ticking and I still needed to add the thing that gives its name to the game, and determines success or falure: the avalanche!

I implementing the effect using a particle emitter that worked along an horizontal line behind the player. And started thinking how would I tell the player if the avalanche is close or far. I try to keep an ever incresing speed for the avalanche, and indicate how caught up the player is by moving the avalanche down as the difference in speed between player and avalanche gets lower. I also move the player down on the screen when its speed increases.

At this point time was starting to running out so I needed to start to finish it all up, so I added winning and losing screens, a menu screen, and messed around in cfxr to make the sound effects. At the end of the day, it was playable, and was not half-bad. But there was so much I wanted to have added/tweaked (Isn’t there always?). Looking back at the game these are my main points:

  • I like how the controls turned out. And it was fun to implement it.
  • I like how the music influenced the game
  • I like how the avalanche effect turned out
  • I like the general “speedy” feeling I could get on the game
  • I don’t like the state of the obstacle warnings, they should appear much sooner, and give some visual cue about the distance they are at
  • I don’t like the losing and winning conditions. The difference between loosing and playing perfectly may be too small.
  • I don’t like not having an indicator of progress…oh well
  • My main addition of boosters of some kind. Having only obstacles kind of sucks, and boosters could help the game feel more rewarding.
  • I also think that the “coder’s art” state of the game does not help, but oh well, I might improve with time 🙂

Once again, LD has been a great learning experience, and I am looking forward to the next one! I am also amazed by the growth LD is having and I hope next time we can bring even more people with us!

See you next time! 🙂


posted under: LudumDare, Post Mortem