[This was cross-posted from Ludum Dare.]
This was my first Ludum Dare adventure and also my first game jam. I usually avoided game jams because I was under the impression that you must suffer sleep loss. Funny, I found a lot of Ludum Dare advice saying to get a good night’s rest, but that’s besides the point.
My best impression with Ludum Dare was the wonderful community here. There was a lot of positive energy, which I don’t usually see on the interwebs. I would like to thank everyone for making such a wonderful community of game developers and for making this game jam. And thanks to everyone who played my game. I was surprised by the amount of people who liked my game!
Even though I’m not a game designer, the design stage of this project was probably the fastest. When I saw the theme 10 seconds, I was more than happy to work with it, but I wanted to make something a little unique. Then someone mentioned finding other definitions of the word “second”. This intrigued me to look up the word in a dictionary.
Seconds most likely refers to a unit of time, but there is also that verb that’s similar to “agreeing”. In that context, it would be like saying “I second you!” That’s where I got the idea of the ten diamond-shaped spirits revolving around you. If you do what they like (risking your health for a special relic) they will “second” you, as in support you in your fight against the opponent.
I’m not sure if that makes much sense, but that’s what I came up with. That’s also where the name “10 Seconds In 10 Seconds” derives. Not the most unique name on earth, but I figured it would be good enough. I surprisingly finished designing the first night (Friday).
Programming was where I spent the most time for this project. Probably the case with a lot of people. I would have to say that it was better than I thought. Of course, I studied programming in college and I already had experience with Unity, but I think all programmers know that you get this great feeling when you program something and it mostly works and you know what you’re doing. I certainly felt that way, even in AI, which I struggled with.
One of the hardest things I struggled with programming was the HUD, especially the healthbar. I haven’t done too much HUD programming in Unity, and even if I did, I don’t remember much. The biggest problem with the healthbar was to get the width to dynamically change. I was using a GUITexture in Unity to do healthbars, and GUITexture has a property called pixelInset, which is a rectangle. It took me a good night’s sleep to figure out that rectangles don’t like to be edited directly (such as pixelInset.width = 80), but the whole rectangle has to be replaced (pixelInset = newRect). That one dumb problem probably wasted a nice 3-5 hours, hours I could have spent on AI.
And that’s the main problem for me concerning AI. I started it late (about 3 hours before the deadline) and I could actually make it decent if I had more time to think over how the behaviors would work. Debugging AI is a very time consuming activity, so that doesn’t help much. I realized a lot of things in the AI I could have improved after playing the game post-release.
I’m not much of an artist. Knowing that, I knew I couldn’t waste too much time on art. At the same time, I didn’t want my game to look bad. Early on, I actually wanted to use simple textures, but as I became more aware of the time limit, I stopped thinking about textures.
I decided on an art-style that mostly relied off differences in color and an appeal to simple polyhedrons (I suppose like old 3D games). There should be a sense that you are in an abstract 3D virtual world, not a realistic place you can compare to in real life.
The many cubes in the background, I feel, add to this art-style. They represent depth and location in the playing space, since you see all of them at slightly different angles. I also figured that I wanted a visual background of some sort. It kind of reminds me of the games made by Kenta Cho, so in a way this art-style is a tribute to his inspirational works.
I modeled everything in Maya except the pentahedron (the players) and all standard Unity primitives (capsules, spheres, and blocks). The pentahedron was borrowed from a game I worked on with a student team. I was surprised I still had the Maya license granted for being a student, but I want to learn Blender someday so that I don’t have to rely on very expensive software.
In the end, I actually had a really great time (I was uncertain of the outlook) with this game jam. The time constraint was actually a nice driving force to make me deliver something, even if it’s not the best thing on earth. You really do learn a lot from this, people are serious when they say that.
As for my game, I will make a post-compo version that addresses the problems mentioned in people’s feedback. I’ll tweak controls, but who knows how long that will take. I definitely will have a local two-player setup. The two-player mode will most likely use Xbox 360 controllers. I will make the tutorial much better because I know it does not explain the controls and that would annoy players. I’ll try to refine the game design so it’s easier to get ammo and get seconded by spirits. And of course, I will fix the AI. I will take my time for the post-compo version, so I can’t promise that it will come soon.