Once again, I took part on Ludum Dare more than 2 weeks ago now.
The game I made is called CurseMan, and you can play it right here.
It involves a man whose only means of defense consist of expelling gianormous inults and curses in the form of comic-style speech bubbles.
Curses that can kill and destroy enemies!
This LD32 was a bit weird for me, but as always, it was really motivating and fullfilling. Let’s recap in detail how it went, shall we? 🙂
As usual, and since I live in Europe, I decided to sleep in instead of waiting for the theme announcement at around 3AM, so I woke up “early” and ran up to my computer to see which one had been chosen out of the list.
Then I saw it: “An unconventional weapon” it was.
It’s not that it is a bad theme, because it isn’t. Let’s just say that I was not really into it and I didn’t have any great ideas or interest in it.
But hey, Ludum Dare is completely about overcoming your limits and tackling difficult and daunting tasks, just like this one. So I got a cup of coffee and set out to think and brainstorm about what could be achieved and done with the chosen theme.
After spending a good 2 hours “working” on it I hadn’t come up with anything interesting or worth doing. I was a bit stressed and I started to think that maybe I should just give up this time and try to spend my weekend outdoors, considering that the weather was amazing at the moment.
But before doing so I thought It would be cool to check out what other people were doing and posting about on the LD blog. I started looking around and found some neat -but very scarce- interesting concepts and a lot of dull and boring ideas. I felt as if I wasn’t the only one strugling with the theme and I felt a bit pissed at me for not being able to come up with anything.
And the inspiration hit me like a train wreck.
Now we have a plan
My concept was really simple but I thought it would fit the theme quite nicely. It consists of a 2D side scroller action game, in the style of the MegaMan games where you play as a character called CurseMan.
CurseMan attacks his enemies by throwing terrible cursewords in the form of giant speech bubbles with swearwords inside (very comic like).
Also, to boost the quirkyness of t he concept I wanted to do really simple and raw graphics with bright colors that would stand out for not being really fit for almost anything. It would give players the impression of the whole game being a joke about itself.
My main inspiration for the graphic style came from the excellent Electric Retard comics, that you should totally watch right now (Yes, they are NSFW on steroids and we love them that way).
Since I wanted to recreate a somewhat “realistic” 2D world I set out to code up my tilemap system, with support for different layers that will help me build a rich and interesting level and add a bit of depth to the scene.
After a few hours coding I had an early prototype with CurseMan jumping and swearing all over the place:
Early cursing prototype
I’m fairly comfy with my current set of tools for game development. HaxeFlixel works like a charm and I love developing with it more with each day that passes. The same goes for Sublime Text and Pixen, which is a breeze to use (except for some random bugs here and there but oh well). Tiled is also extremely useful when building maps and by this point I’m quite fast building things with it.
Knowing this, and using what I have learned from past LDs, I decided to plan things out rifght from the start.
I set to code the game engine and mechanics during the whole first day, using placeholder art while developing every functionality and then spend the whole second day creating maps, enemy layout, graphics, sound and so on.
This polciy worked pretty well, and I’m sure I couldn’t have made it in time with so much content in the game if it weren’t for it.
But it also had its drawbacks. For example, I had to spend some more time coding during the second day because I hadn’t planned everything as toroughly as I thought, and some functionalty was still needed to be coded up and fine tuned.
This policy also left me with almost no time to test everything out until almost the las few hours, and the game turned out to be a bit boring and could have used a few new mechanics for defense and avoiding attacks. Sadly I didn’t have the time to implement them, because I was busy putting everything together and recording sounds for the game.
And this is precisely why I liked working in this “organized” way for once. I set my standards a bit higher, and I wanted a complete game that was beatable, that had an ending, that had sound effect for everything, diferent enemy types and even music.
And I managed to achieve all of this, which makes me really happy 🙂
CurseMan’s world is a rough one
Some trouble along the way
I faced a few problems, specially whit the resolution of the HUD group for the player health and on screen messages. They turned out to scale up in a complete different way when exporting the game to flash, and this forced me to make some choppy hardcoded stuff that I woulddn’t recognise as mine in public.
Also, I spent a full half hour fighting against a bug that crashed the game when using different attacks. Turns out the “key” parameter on a FlxSprite is rather important, and you shouldn’t change an object’s graphic when there are more instances of this class using it and having it named with the same key.
Now I know that. Ouch.
All in all, these were minor things that are minimal in comparison with I have faced on past LD’s (I’m looking at you, enchant.js).
– The theme.
– The game is funny and amusing, but it doesn’t have much lasting appeal.
– The mechanics could have been fine tuned and also adding a defensive move would have improved the gameplay a lot.
– Music is there, but sucks hard. I really need to spend more than 5 minutes punching notes in.
– Those #$%&! grannies.
– Being able to complete a full game with player progression, varied enemies, music and two different endings.
– Coming up with a weird but funny idea out of a theme that I didn’t like that much.
– Having a big map full of detail and grumpy enemies.
– Almost no bugs at all.
This Ludum Dare has been a bit of a rollercoaster for me. I was dissappointed at first, stressed during its course and happy on the end. It has served meto test my abilities, which in comparison to prior compos have been inmensly improved. I feel a lot more secure doing this kind of thing, and this feeling of accomplishment and joy of creating things is really difficult to match in any other place.
And the best part of it all is that the best is yet to come!
Thanks for reading!