The game is officially complete! I just added the last remaining bits (item sprites, courtesy Matwek!) and I also released the game earlier today on #1GAM.
And now it's postmortem time! YAY!
melonJS 0.9.7 is a real pleasure to work with! This game ships with a build that is about as close to final 0.9.7 release as possible (there may be a patch or two that gets committed between now and release, but it's effectively the same). The new features that I made extensive use of this time were:
- TexturePacker support
- JSON TMX map support
- TMX settings JSON parsing
During development, plenty of bugs were discovered and fixed, which is nice for the melonJS community! I'm super pleased with how melonJS 0.9.7 has turned out!
What Went Right
Wow! What can I say? Both artists did great on the assets they were able to deliver, and it all works together as a cohesive whole! Great job and a huge thanks to both Matwek and Burcag!
On the coding side, everything went rather smooth... There's lots of fancy stuff happening behind the scenes and on screen, so keep a look out for it! The fullscreen overlays worked really well, and they were incredibly easy to build. Girl AI is basic, but it gets the job done. The particle emitters are flawless. Mobile control works well (if a bit lacking in tactile response). And the sound effects make me really happy.
My favorite of all sound effects is the heartbeat. But it's so bassy, you can only hear it with good headphones or a subwoofer. That's actually a plus, as well, since playing the game with a good sound system is PHENOMENAL. And even though the music is completely auto-generated (with some tweaks) it's still catchy enough to get stuck in my head.
The gameplay also turned out to be incredibly fun. A coworker asked if she could play it last week, so she became the first play tester in the office. Her reaction was priceless. That's when I really knew it was a good game. It's definitely the most fun of all my projects so far.
What Went Wrong
Even though I have been working with two artists this time, I still feel like getting art assets has been troublesome. The girl in the blue dress was never animated for up/down movement, and the environments feel a bit repetitive/on a grid. (If you've played Neverwell Moor, you'll see what I'm talking about; that game hides the grid quite well, and it's all thanks to the art assets!)
Music was VERY difficult. I spent a lot of time just screwing around until I had something that I liked. If I had more patience with it, I would teach myself to make chiptune-sounding music in GarageBand. Or else I get music that sounds pretty nice, but doesn't fit the old-school theme. :(
This project sounds pretty simple on paper, but in reality it was a lot of work! There are just so many variables, like player control, collectable items, game stats (HUD), enemy AI, etc. But the biggest time consumer for me was probably mapping. Definitely not my favorite thing in the world... And it's frustrating to be working on a map and realize half way into it that you're missing a rather vital tile. You might notice some funny looking shadows on the left and right side of the grocery map! Well, that's because there isn't a tile for left and right walls that also don't have the shadow. Just a single example of many...
And finally, I started this project later than I should have, giving us only 3 weeks to work on it.
What To Do Next Time
Too many cooks in the kitchen! I'll have to work with just a single artist on my next project. I ended up doing about 1/4 of the graphics myself. I would like to get to the point where I do 0% of the graphics. Just like the artist would expect to do 0% of the coding. It just makes sense...
And I still need a musician. :)