Friday, 8 December 2017

Ludum Dare 40: An Evaluation

I recently participated in the latest Ludum Dare event which took place just under a week ago. My submission was called "Bring Your Own Bullets", wherein the player has to play a small minigame to fire bullets which they collect from the surrounding arena. Let's get the self-promotion out of the way, if you haven't played this game already then I recommend you do so- it's legitimately one of the better games I've created.

So why am I recording this video? Well, I decided that I'd document some of my thought process during the planning and development of Bring Your Own Bullets.

At the start of the jam, I wrote out maybe 7 or 8 semi-developed ideas for what my submission could be. The idea that I chose was a game wherein you collect bullets around the arena, and each bullet you collect makes you weaker in some way.

I initially though I'd make the player deal less damage for every bullet they collect, though at some point I reasoned that the player should want to feel as powerful as reasonably possible so I decided I'd find a different way of making something worse, as per the theme.

Next, I tried out making the player have less health. However, I quickly realized that each match was taking forever to complete and rather than making the enemies deal more damage(which would effectively nullify the core gameplay hook in the first place), I decided to make the player die in a single hit and find a different way for them to get weaker with the more bullets they collect.

Finally, I decided I'd make the player slower. I didn't really expect to keep this one since I realized a problem before I even started- the player eventually got so slow that they physically could not dodge the enemy projectiles and they would lose immediately after getting to a certain threshold.

I decided that the player would only be slowed down based on the number of bullets that they currently hold, rather than the total number of bullets they collected. This helped a lot and created something bordering on interesting gameplay.

Somehow, I came up with the idea of a quick reflex-based minigame to make it a little bit more interesting for the player. I don't know exactly how it popped into my head, but I think I made some connection from the idea of a physical pool of bullets possessed by the player and a revolver being difficult to quickly reload.

I was pretty happy with this system, so I kept it. I promised myself that I wouldn't change the mechanics any more after that since I was approaching the upper boundary of how much I can program in a day and still remember how to breathe and blink. I spent the rest of the day coming up with ideas to juice up my game, or making it more satisfying and pleasant to play.

I added some very light screenshake, some particle effects and a nice pulsating background for good measure. Also, several things work off of the same hue value- I did something similar in Super Displacement, where the enemies' red hue was mixed with the current colour of the background grid. Nothing too complicated, but it helped everything feel a bit more unified by more than you'd expect.

As an aside, the sound effects were actually the easiest part of the whole experience. Godot 3.0 uses a new bus-based system for audio processing and once I figured out how to make raw wav files loop since I couldn't import them as proper samples, it was a breeze and really satisfying to use. Plus it comes with some nice stock effects like delay, reverb, etc. What's not to love?

Also, I named the soundtrack "doesn't this bell pepper taste morose?" which is legitimately one of my favourite titles just because it's such a silly premise for a vegetable to taste like a mood but that's just my weird sense of humour. I'll stop now before I get into the etymology of some of the song names from Super Displacement's soundtrack.

Thanks for watching and stay tuned for something a bit less Ludum Dare flavoured. I told you I wouldnt' make another Ludum Dare video and I guess I lied because here I am, making another Ludum Dare video.

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