Post Mortem – Room Escape
It is more than time for the Post Mortem of Room Escape.
Since I’m in Portugal, the theme is announced around 3AM. I wanted to wake up “early” and fresh so I left the theme disclosure for Saturday’s morning and took a good night of sleep(It really makes a difference). Next morning I woke up, fired the ld page, saw the theme, and prepared to go jam it! It was around 10 in the morning when I settled and started to get serious. I had already devised some plan in my head and in my sketchbook.
Like in the other LD’s I was participating with a friend, José Teixeira (each of us doing his own game of course). A week before LD we tried to see if anyone from our University was interested in participating. We had other guy showing up and joining us in this LD. Maybe next time we can get more peopled interested.
The main idea consisted of the player waking up in a motel room from where he couldn’t escape. The only actions he could do was to sleep or to pickup objects that existed in the room.
Each time the player goes to sleep with a different object, he ends up in a different world with different powers.
To finish a level the player has to pickup a glowing golden triangle, which will be used to open the motel room door.
After getting all the golden triangles, the door can be opened and the player somehow escapes this strange room.
A couple of days before LD, I started to watch “The Lost Room” Short TV Series. (Which you should all watch by the way!) So I was totally pulled into using the strange essence of that room in my game.
I wanted to convey the mystery of the room and of the objects and I think I did it better in some aspects than in others.
In the previous LD, my developing methodology was basically thinking the game as I was going on. In my first LD (LD#19) I was really proud of my graphics which by the way was where I started first. In the end I had not much of a game, but good graphics considering I never had done something like that.
In LD#20 I decided start coding instead of worrying with the graphics, but in the end, although it was more of a game than the previous entry, it had no plan. I really liked doing the sword movement and all but it lacked some game essence.
So for this LD, I decided I needed to plan the game. At least the big plot line, and have something with a start, middle and end.
After having the big plan, I started coding the base platformer using the usual coloured rectangles as characters and objects.
Once I had the character jumping and running I started to intercalate the graphics with the level development.
I worked in each level a time, doing the graphics used in it, coding the powers and the enemies, and then moving to the next level.
Actually there was one part of graphics I did earlier, while working in the level loading. The general game look. Since graphics aren’t really my main area of expertise, if I had to draw every stone in a decent looking level I really would never have a game. I’ve been wanting to try the graphics style for some time, specially after seeing deepnight’s wining LD#20 entry .
So I decided to give it a go and I believe it turned quite nice.
What went Right:
Having a plan
Spending more time planning the game instead of starting right away coding was good. In the end I had something I could call a game.
Smart time management (no Limit breaks please)
In the previous entries I went berserk in the first 24 hours and end up tiring my self up way before the deadline. Draining yourself in the first day, thinking you need to go through the night without sleeping is plain wrong. You’ll probably end up wanting the finish you game the fastest way possible which obviously it’s not good for its quality.
This time I tried to make some stops and get to walk away from the screen. And the most important, I had a decent night of sleep from Saturday to Sunday. That was the smartest move ever!
That really neat trick of layering and small squared pattern over plain coloured world really comes out great. I also feel proud of the room objects. Those window drapes are every motel room owner’s dream.
This combination of moving graphics (, almost no sound) and story came out right. I’m proud :’)
What went Not So Right or things to improve next time
Stuck on something
While implementing some parts of the levels, sometimes I got stuck doing something which wasn’t really that crucial. And it ended up consuming precious time which could have been used to implement something else.
If something you’ve been hammering for a lot of time isn’t coming out right, maybe you just need some perspective. Walk away, work in something else and then come back to it when you have more time.
The sound in the game were near none. I only used the beeping sound through out the game and it probably would only make sense if you completed the game. Maybe I could have used some sounds in the character movement, like to have the sound of steps in snow in the cave level, but I didn’t have time to do it.
The audio department can really help one to emerge in the experience of a game, but it isn’t a domain I feel comfortable. It’s one of the vertices of a game I don’t want to get wrong, or I could end up with a very annoying game to play and hear.
In the end I felt the character movement could be improved a lot. Some of the comments in my entry also suggested that the character moved too quickly.
The wall jump also had some quirks. That’s definitely an area I can improve specially with more practice.
One recurring critic in the comments is that the player didn’t really know what to do at first and they were about to give up. I imagine how many more really gave up :S
That is totally my fault. I could have introduced the player to the gameplay in each level, although it would really diminish the game mystery 😉
That was an really great LudumDare. We even had server problems like every awesome project should have.
Thanks for the efforts of all the LD staff to keep the competition up and running.
Being able to participate in the LD is great and the support of community towards everyone in the community is even better.