Sunday, 12 May 2019

WHAT LUDUM DARE 44 IS HERE ALREADY AAA

Ookay so this video is kind of in a non-standard format. This first half was written on the Friday before Ludum Dare, and then I'll write the second half of the script after submissions close on Monday.

I'll be honest I only realized that Ludum Dare was soon approaching like two days ago, so I'm a little bit unprepared. I've been a bit busy with life stuff over the past few weeks, and just when my productivity is starting to improve, I suddenly have to deal with Ludum Dare too.

But at the moment I have yet to experience the trials and tribulations that lay before me, and hopefully I won't suffer too much this time around. I mean hey; this is gonna be my 7th Ludum Dare. I have experience, right? There's nothing new that could potentially throw me a curveball.... right?

[48 hour long snip]

Oh... *god*. So that didn't go quite as planned. Now that's not to say that I didn't finish because I did finish, but the game could have done with a lot more work. For instance, it doesn't have a main menu, and the transition to the win screen is just a hard cut.

Despite putting in a combined 19 hours of programming across both days, I still found that I ran out of time and more important, I ran out of energy.

The reason for this is that right from the beginning, I wasn't able to come up with an idea quickly enough. I guess I kind of lost momentum early on in the day and started procrastinating, and it was only until like 2pm on Saturday when I actually started properly coming up with ideas. This meant that I had wasted a lot of the most productive point of the day(which for me is the morning to mid-day), and I had to drink a ton of caffeine to keep up.

I'll get to the consequences of that in a minute.

So I finally had my idea. It was gonna be neat arena combat game with automatically generated "characters"(though they look identical, I'd give them all unique names and unique stats). The idea is that you beat up enough enemies, gain prestige, and sell your character to purchase a higher level one. Kind of like a whole-body upgrade, but you're given a limited number of choices. I was planning on biasing it so that you would only be given the option to purchase a better character overall, but of course this would mean I'd need to come up with a good way to sort these characters stats from highest to lowest in such a way that guarantees that the player is always moving up the ladder.

As you may have guessed from the fact that it was a pain to even explain just then, the scope of this was just way too big.

I started working on it and getting the basic stuff out of the way. I added movement, enemies, shooting, a few nice visual effects, etc. Everything was going pretty well, and since I had a very basic game working, I decided I'd wait until tomorrow to finish it off since I was getting pretty tired that late in the day. Maybe things would have been different if I hadn't wasted so much of the morning, but oh well.

So the second day comes around, I wake up and I realize "oh no, what have I done? I've only actually programmed like 25% of the code that I'll need to do all this".

Immediately, I decided that I'm going to need to re-design a lot of my original plan. At the time I had a score counter that doubled as a health bar, and although I know a lot of other people also went with that idea, it was the only option I really had at the time.

I decided I'd have to add a little upgrade menu, so I did just that. I ended up basically just tweaking the upgrade menu piece by piece for most of Sunday until I had something which was somewhat unique, if not a bit confusing for people who didn't program it. Not a great place to be at, especially when I know that I won't have suitable energy levels to add any instructions.

At about 6pm on Sunday, I realized that I didn't have a main menu. I didn't have a win condition, and I didn't have a lose condition. These are arguably pretty big pieces of th puzzle, and I already felt like I was completely flattened since I'd been programming since about 10am that day.

Somehow, I pushed through and added a lose condition. Not too hard, but I didn't end up adding a "Retry" button. You'd have to restart the game if you want to try again. The game basically pauses and plays an animation saying "you lose!", which again, isn't great.

At around 7pm, I still hadn't added a win screen. Okay, so I hadn't actually thought about how to win the game at this point and it was getting LATE. I decided you'd win when you maxed out all the upgrades. I did a quick playthrough to see how this would work, and it wasn't too bad, so I just programmed it in real quickly. No scene transitions, no retry button, no end of game stats. Just a harsh cut to some rainbow letters telling you that you won, and to have a nice Ludum Dare 44.

But hey! That's good enough for me. This isn't my most successful Ludum Dare, but not all of them can be winners and I'm not too cut up about it. As I mentioned before, this was my seventh Ludum Dare in a row, and I guess this goes to show that having experience does in no way mean you have to go be good at what you do all the time.

I finally exported and uploaded the game at around 9pm, added a real quick description and I decided to make the title of the game "Press The Space Bar To Upgrade", because I knew that not everybody would read the poorly formatted instructions and that specific gimmick isn't explained anywhere in-game. It'd be pretty easy to miss if you weren't paying attention.

And that basically sums up my Ludum Dare 44 experience. It was more difficult than usual, but hey at least I can turn that into a YouTube video! Thanks for watching and stay tuned for more videos about Ludum Dare because I always do a video whenever one of those little things rolls around. Goodbye, and good luck for Ludum Dare 45!

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