Johan Peitz - Let's make SOMETHING


A Summary of A Super Mario Summary

I posted a post mortem of A Super Mario Summary over at the Ludum Dare site. Since I don't like to copy/paste jobs, go here to read it. Enjoy! :)


BIG Jam ’11 – Post Mortem

So, BIG Jam eventually came an end (last Monday actually) - what a weekend! It started out slow, mostly because I had a terrible cold and that I didn't know anyone. But on the final day I'm finally felt a lot better and I had met amazing people and made some great friends!

The jam sessions were very rewarding. I didn't think I would get that much done in so few hours but it obviously was possible. I really liked the presentation format where people had to show off their jam results for all to be amazed by. I saw some really awesome stuff! Before I forget everything I thought it would be a good idea to make a little post mortem of the whole thing. It's mostly focused on the actual jamming, but here goes:

Things that worked less well:

  • Being sick
  • Too few talks
  • Bad eating habits
  • Bad UI sucks

Things that worked well:

  • Cooperating
  • Solo jams
  • Sticking to the scope(s)
  • My fairly new component based engine
  • Nobody notices a good ui, but it makes all the difference

To summarize...

  • Jams are intense, make sure to be well rested and eat properly!
  • Talks are fun and everybody enjoys them, why not talk about something yourself next time?
  • Team up! Proper presentation (in my case pretty graphics) really do a lot to prototypes and you can focus on the coding.
  • Don't be afraid to go solo on a jam. It is very rewarding to pull off a game on your own in such short time.
  • Stick to the scope! It is way to easy to get carried away halfway through production. Don't.
  • Come prepared! Having a framework that allows for rapid prototyping is critical in order to get anything done. This jam I barely wrote a single of line engine code.
  • If there is time (which there always is early on so do this right away), plan your ui. This can be anything from meters or plain text. But make sure it's there. When it is presentation time, it will make is som much easier for people playing (and not playing) to understand what's going on.
  • Player feedback! If something (ANYTHING) happens in the game, regardless wether is is by player input or not, make it show. Make updated ui elements flash, activated game objects blink, etc.

The games:

Alien Circus
gfx by Marek
code by me
Cat Escape
gfx by SquirrelSquid
code by me
Eat and/or die!
gfx by me
code by me
Chicago IX
gfx by me
code by me
Shooting Range
gfx by me
code by me

That is all I think. There's also some photos of the whole event here (courtesy of @zoewi). All in all I had so much fun, big thank yous to all who participated in anyway!


BATHOS – post mortem

For my third LD I knew from the beginning that I would have less than one full day to complete the game. Knowing that, I first planned not to join, but when I saw the theme I thought that I should at least be able to do something small.

Again my weapon of choice was AS3 and low res pixel graphics. This time I tried out FlashPunk (thanks to Sos's framework posted earlier) and even if I used very little FP code I was quite happy with my choice.

All together it turned out more or less like I imagined it to be. If you haven't played it I strongly suggest you do so before reading any further as the game is quite spolier fragile. Feel free to try the game here:

What went wrong
- story
I wanted to really put the player into the action and let the player imagine what had happened before for herself. This had could been done a lot better and I'm not happy with the intro and outro texts at all. They worked, but nothing more. I think better texts could have emphasized the point of the game and the players' reactions even more.

- framework code
I hadn't used FP before so when I found out that Sos had posted a quick and dirty platformer framework I decided to use it right away. The framework was good for most parts (thanks Sos!) but there where some minor glitches that stopped me from adding some of the polish I wanted in the end. Since there is so little platforming actually in the game I might have been better off writing it from scratch.

- not much
I tried to think of a third thing that didn't work out but failed. I didn't eat very much, but that was expected. Next time I really should take more breaks and eat better - pomodoro style!

Base functionality complete! Time for graphics!

What went right
- scope
Knowing that I wouldn't be able to pull any all nighters I decided to try something very special and short instead of generic and large. Usually I want to make levels after level, but this time I was smart enough to realize my weaknesses and use them as strengths.

- graphics
While I usually dabble with pixel graphics, I wanted to try a new style this time. Normally I'm very much about child-like proportions, big eyes, and black outlines. In BATHOS I aimed for a realistic style in order to make it feel more real. Wether I actually achieved the latter or not, I'm very happy with the looks of the game and it is something that I will surely use again.

- framework code
Although there were some minor kinks in the framework I used on top of FlashPunk it allowed me to dive straight into the game mechanics. This saved me a lot of time and I think it was the first time in many years that I didn't write any engine code for a game. Big thanks to Sos and Chevy!

- the name
Reading the initial response I am very happy with positive comments, something which I am very grateful for. There are of course people who don't like the game and/or hate the ending, which it why I named it BATHOS ( = anti-climax ). :)

Final look of the first room.

On a final note, let me recommend WolframTones for quick music. It requires some clicking to get the desired result, but it beats composing for a musical newbie like me.