Forest of Fun

Claire's Personal Ramblings & Experiments

The Aftermath

Ludum Dare 48 Programming Ptk
The Aftermath

You never collapse the day after a true crunch, a feeble attempt you crash the day after but a proper grin you run on adrenaline and string for a while longer then after you get a proper sleep, zombie. I woke up this morning with a jolt of pain, my left leg had spasemed, twisted and knotted the muscle. I woke up in pain, I moved and cried. I really need to stop doing this to myself. It took me an hour of nursing and a warm cloth before I could walk without wincing. Defiantly no heels today.

Oh well I'll toss together the map pack tonight but I'm also getting used to early shifts now. Before this weekend I worked 1130 till 2000, mon-fri. On early shift you work 0800 till 1630 but then you work 4 days a week and get Saturday off. I switched cause this is more conducive to interviews and coding in my free time. After a nice slow start to this week I'm going to get back to the phantom project with a lot more knowledge, especially some vital lessons.

Sand Trap: Post Mortem

All projects bring a learning curve into them, this one was no different. My approach from the outset was decided on a SIMPLE, easy idea and get it done in time. No frills, no fuss. Normally I'm a feature freak but for this project I focused on a single goal, GET IT COMPLETE! A hard thing in 48 hours especially for myself.

The first smart thing I did was I went and asked advice from every experienced 48er I could found. I needed an engine that would take less than 5 minutes to write a base framework in and would support everything I need without jumping through hoops.

I got several candidates for 3d but an obvious winner for 2d was PTK. This brilliant engine has impressed me so much I'm considering buying a license for it. The locating of a 3d engine that grace still alludes me. Granted I haven't sampled many but time was short. I had some problems with PTK, wrote to the dev team and they had a quick response and solution.

So I was pooling ideas for the themes that looked good before hand. One idea that stuck was Dune. The worms being attracted to sound in swarms. So I tossed the thought around along with some others. When I woke up on the Saturday morning and saw Swarms I went for the worms idea.

2D or 3D

Yes the game was more suited to 3d and looking back on it I strongly regret the choice of 2d. The main reason is the worms. The sprite for the worms still makes me wince. I had a vision of these terrible beast of dooming rolling over the dunes. So was 2D the right choice? It was quicker to code but time making sprites was extensive. In the end the choice was made because PTK was such a good engine, and has limited 3d support. Given a second chance I would have chosen 3d, simply because its where my strength lies and the game was better suited.

Sprites of Doom

A scanner or stylus would have made this section TEN times easier but I didn't have one so I dealt with it. I made a quick choice to throw away any ideas of an isometric view. Top down was quicker and simpler. I did however glean a good piece of advice. Pixelated anything looks good, I refer you to my death animation. Something inspired at the last minute but something everyone comments on. A bit of humor that looks good at 80x60.

One File One Cause

To do this in 48 hours you throw all coding practices out the window. 90% of my code was in one file, loads of globals and such. What this taught me is that I should stick to coding practices but a hack here and there might not be such a bad thing. For one thing the code reuseablity and debugging would be nightmare.

Fun or Fud?

The fun factor worried me cause at times I felt this wasn't "fun". I'm keen to see the results of the voting and see the answer to that question. However some things regarding this. The death animation added a giggle, but no gameplay. The worms were either too hard or too easy I couldn't get that mix right. So the skill curve was thrown out of whack breaking one of the first principles of fun. Adding the death animation, intro screen and story added some immersion. Explosions helped as well. I'm not completly happy with the control system however. WASD keys would have been better for movement.


This is one of a handful of projects I've completed on time. Its also a handful of which I have stuck to spec. I need more self discipline and this is a good training ground so yes I'll be at the next 48hr contest I can find. I also need to set down on paper what I want from phantom and have clearly established goals. The other thing is the IRC helped loads simply because other people on the same wavelength were struggling through the same problems. Overall, I'm happy with the outcome but I'll do better next time ;)