Ludum Dare 27 Post Mortem

What a crazy weekend, another Ludum Dare under my belt. Unlike LD 26, I actually had a good chunk of time to dedicate this time. There was also a really great theme and I felt like the stars aligned to help me produce a game I am really proud of! I figured I would take some time to talk about Super Box Boy Flies and how I went about building it. With a theme of “10 seconds” I had a lot of really great ideas. I eventually settled on my core concept for Super Box Boy Flies because of its simplicity to create and play. Here is how I created the game and what went right and what went wrong during the development process over 48 hours.

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Loading screen for Super Box Boy Flies.

Game Play

In essence you control Super Box Boy who wants to stay airborne for 10 seconds. To help him you need to bounce on a trampoline. The game revolves around the simple concept of tapping or clicking when you are about the hit the trampoline. The more you click and the closer you are to hitting the trampoline the higher your multiplier goes up which shoots further into the air. Once you get Super Box Boy high enough to stay airborne for 10 seconds the game is over and you are rated on how long as well as how many jumps it took to get there. If you don’t make the jump you bounce for a few times while each bounce slows down your momentum. Once Super Box Boy is in motion you have to do everything you can to keep him that way or you lose.

What Went Right

Think Like A Four Year Old

It’s been a long time since I made a game for my son. One of my most successful Ludum Dare games, Super Paper Monster Smasher, happened to be a huge hit with my kid. This time I specifically went out to make a game I knew he would love. I focused on it being playful, with simple graphics and an easy to pick up mechanic.

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I wanted a friendly, inviting and colorful game world to play in.

There is also no real sense of punishment in the game. You can’t get killed and if you stop bouncing it tells you to try again while automatically restarting in 5 seconds. I designed this to teach my kid to wait for the next round and to not feel pressured that he is going to fail if he doesn’t get it right the first time.

Sleep

Most people try to power through the first night but I have learned from the past 4 Ludum Dares to just brain storm the first night, do some sketches and try to come up with a solid idea. All of my coding starts on the second day after I have had a good night’s sleep while I try to vet out the game’s mechanics in my head. In 48 hours you don’t have a lot of time to document your game’s features so I find 3-4 core mechanics and focus on building those out. In this case getting a good night’s sleep helped me go from an ok design to a much better one the next morning.

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My original design.
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What I came up with the next day.

Submit Early

I distinctly remember one Ludum Dare where I couldn’t get my build scripts to work at all. This time I made sure early on the second day that everything was working correctly. I highly suggest making sure your game is hosted and that it’s easy to update halfway through the weekend. This allows you to code locally and push up a build once it’s stable. I set up my page on the Ludum Dare site about 5 hours before the end of the contest and just pointed my submission page to my already hosted game. This allowed me to work right up until the last possible moment and simply push a final build out when everything was ready. I’ve seen the Ludum Dare site go down so many times during that final submission push and who needs that stress?

What Went Wrong

Not enough time

Like most people I just didn’t have enough time. I estimate I spent about 15 hours total making my game but with 2 kids and it being a weekend I was hard pressed to find that time. Even with the support of my wife I struggled against the clock and had to cut out a bunch of features I felt would have made the game even more fun like collecting thing while you bounced up and more detail in the graphics.

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My son is obsessed with space so it was key that I had stars and the moon in there for him

Stressing Myself Out

For some reason I really stressed myself out on this one. Once I committed to the idea I wanted it to be perfect. A few times I debated dropping back and just doing the 72 hour jam which has much more lax rules. Since I wanted to prove something to myself I really stressed out for no good reason. This was just silly to do to myself and next time I plan on just doing the jam to give that a try. The only thing that kept me sane was taking breaks and spending time with my family. I even took my oldest out for dinner right before the submission deadline on Sunday which is normally the most stressful time but I realized I needed to take a break and do what matters most in the world which is be with my kids.

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I have random clouds floating in the sky to help the player get his barring on where he is flying.

Not enough Play Testing

Since I only had about 15 hours out of 48 hours to work I really didn’t get a fully playable version of the game ready until about 7 hours before the submission deadline. I started playing the game and while it was exactly what I had in my head it wasn’t very engaging. There was no variation in the jumping and it just felt very stale. At the last possible minute I ended adding in a combo multiplier that is triggered by clicking quickly right before hitting the trampoline that can send you up higher. While that saved the game, in the end I didn’t have it in until 1 minute before the deadline. It was one of those make it or break it moves with no time to test. It ended up working out but still I should have tested the game more before it was too late.

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I worked hard make the transition from the sky to outer space look great in 8-bit.

Conclusion

All in all this was one of the best Ludum Dare’s I have done yet! I loved the theme, had enough time to produce my idea and stuck to my guns by not adding scope creep. The next Ludum Dare is in December and I really want to clear off my plat for the weekend and give it 110% of my attention. Every Ludum Dare I get quicker and quicker. I am starting to see the patterns in game design, I can focus on what matters most in each game and I also have so much stock code and ideas laying around that I can quickly piece together most game ideas with little effort. While I don’t want to do something too ambitious next Ludum Dare, I do want to continue to push myself in a direction that makes sense to help make me a better game designed. The best part is that I have a small win under my belt for this month. Not only did I finish Ludum Dare but I also have a solid game for OneGameAMonth and have jump started my game making passion from a long summer of not producing many completed games.

If you are interested in how this game evolved over the weekend I have highlighted all of my Developer Diary entries below:

New Graphics For My Ludum Dare 27 Game

8-Bit Gradient Sky

Ludum Dare 27 Game’s Level Design

Slowly Making Progress On My Ludum Dare 27 Game

Adding In Support To Wrap Entities

Hacking Hints Into My Ludum Dare 27 Game

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