Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mini-Ludum Dare #39 Postmortem

The theme for this challenge was Hindsight. A chance to redo a challenge or to partake in a challenge that was missed. While there are a lot of Ludum Dare's that I missed, so I had a lot of choices, a redo of the previous challenge was my immediate thought. While my last game was not a bad game, it was not the game that I wanted to do with that theme but with a school shooting taking place right before the challenge I simply couldn't bring myself to create an overly violent game. Interestingly enough, there was another shooting a couple of days ago so it is a good thing that I took on this challenge when I did or I may never have created Zombie Forever. The goal of the game is to form a zombie army by enlisting all the campers near your secret lair. As usual, now that the game has been released, here is the mini-postmortem.

What went right

Even though the Mini challenges have very lax rules, I try to treat them like a regular challenge. When offered help with the art, I decided that it would be acceptable to go with a Jam entry. The extra time, having someone else handle some of the art and ability to use existing art really helped me get quite a bit done. I  may have to take the Jam option with some of the future Ludum Dare challenges. At least in cases where the theme is one I can interest other people in joining me.

While I suppose the second point is a subjective one, I really think I got the feel of building a zombie army. I think slowing down as the zombie takes damage really adds to the feel of being a zombie. Likewise, when you have a large number of zombies slogging toward your next victim,  it has that zombie hoard feel.

What went wrong

The downside to switching to the Jam format is that having more time and help means that more can be accomplished which means that my  over-ambitious tendencies have a chance to surface. My original plans called for three levels and 9 character types. I would have been better off just focusing on the secret base and having just the zombie, scientist, and security guards. Still, I do plan on finishing the extra game levels so the original design will eventually see the light of day.

The AI also ended up taking more time than anticipated. Working on the AI resulted in one of the most humorous bugs I have had. The random walk state originally would only check the map tile in the direction it was heading to make sure the character could enter the tile. When the desired moved was passed to the game core, it would interpret an attempt to enter an occupied tile as an attack on that character. The best part was not only would humans attack other humans, but if they killed that human, the victim would become a zombie!


I know that there are a lot of people who don't like turn-based strategy games, but I personally really like them. I am planning on releasing an additional two maps, and if the game proves to be popular would consider doing a sequel game with more abilities and challenges.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013 Plans

I am sure that anybody who regularly reads this blog already has a good idea what my plans for 2013 are, but I figure I should go over them anyway for the record. While I was originally planning on developing Color Collapse Plus over the year, that was before I actually started participating in game jams. I may still work on that project as it was my mothers favorite game, but my priority for 2013 will be on a number of larger commercial projects. As I want to have regular content for the site, I am planning on participating in game jams such as Ludum Dare. The games developed during these challenges will make up the bulk of the site game releases, with the remaining releases being updates of already existing games until I actually finish one of my larger projects.

My larger projects will be targeted towards tablets and possibly smart-phones. The target platforms will be iOS and Android, though I may also port to Windows 8 tablets/phones if the effort will not be too great. Once the tablet releases are done, I intend on porting the game to the browser (probably Flash but HTML 5 isn't inconceivable). The browser versions will be broken into a number of episodes and released in installments.

My game jam work will initially be done in Flash but as my GameJam library reaches maturity (hopefully by this summer) I will port it to HTML 5 and transition to using that if the performance is adequate. While ActionScript and JavaScript are very similar, I am just way more comfortable with ActionScript as it has language constructs that make it much nicer for working with larger-scale projects. Still, JavaScript is quickly becoming the language of the web, though a lot slower than the experts predicted. I personally think Flash will be viable for at least another 3-5 years. If Adobe gets their head out of their butt and create an ActionScript to JavaScript compiler it may be significantly longer though the resulting Flash programs would be "native" HTML 5. Sadly I suspect that Adobe will let Flash whither away and instead try to turn their new Edge Animate software into the replacement for Flash.

I have not decided which games I will be updating, so if anybody reading this feel free to email me with your favorite game and I will put that game on the top of my update list. Updating will include cosmetic updating as well as (for Java and Flash games) porting the game to HTML 5.