Saturday, December 1, 2012

Game-off: Postmortem

As the Github Game-off came to a close last night, I made a few small last-minute changes to enhance the experience for mobile screen resolutions. I ended up adjusting the positions of nearly every item until it was actually possible to get over the wall on Scene 2. This leads to my first point in...

What Went Wrong

  • Developing a game like this in a resolution-independent manner is very difficult. I do not recommend it to anyone working under a deadline.
  • I started the project with a team of four others. One person helped with ideas and design, which I appreciate. But in the end, I did the lions share of the work; all the coding and all the art, for certain.
  • I spent way too much time working on the dynamic lighting, which didn't really get used at all. "Scene 3" is just the debug scene I built to test the lighting and physics; there's no puzzle to complete. The game just promptly ends at that point.
  • That left no time for a title screen, audio of any kind, additional materials to clone, additional scenes and puzzles...
  • The art style in the first two lab scenes also suffered greatly from the dynamic lighting time vacuum; It's supposed to represent a bright room containing the subject (flying saucer) being observed by scientists through a one-way mirror, behind which the player also views the action. However, the scientist silhouettes did not turn out as I had hoped.
  • All said, I think this was just another case of biting off more than I could chew.
What Went Right
  • I was able to get the balloon cloning mechanism working fairly quickly, with a handful of bumps and potholes along the road. But even with that complete, it was extremely difficult to get the small craft over the obstacle until I added the air flow currents. (Also finished quite rapidly.)
  • The dynamic lighting was hugely successful! I really wish I could have made better use of it... On the bright side, I will be able to use it for another game concept I came up with before this project started; one which makes use of light and dark as the primary gameplay element.
  • The art style on the scientists is actually kind of cute. Though it did not turn out how I saw it in my head, I'm glad I didn't throw it out. (I came very close to git clean -fd && git reset --hard while working on it!)
  • Chipmunk-js proved again to be a fantastic physics engine. It starts to hiccup on iPhone 4S when three+ shapes collide with one another, but it still works very well regardless. The vector math functions were also instrumental in developing the dynamic lighting effects.
What To Do Next Time

A list of some things that I want to have for the next competition I enter. I think have these will ease my burden a bit.
  • Having a team as focused and dedicated as myself is the number one priority. I already know how much I can get done alone. I don't know how much four of me could do, though. If only I had built a real flying saucer capable of making clones of myself...
  • Especially one person dedicated to art, and another dedicated to audio.
  • A storyboard would be nice to use as a roadmap. It would give an excellent overview of what's left to be done.
  • More detailed design documents would also come in handy.
  • Suck it up and stop worrying about how bad it looks. Make it fun, first.