Beacons Post-Mortem

It’s been a while since I last wrote a post-mortem for my Ludum Dare games. The last one I did was for my entry in Ludum Dare 28 but then I kind of stopped writing them afterwards because I simply wasn’t bothered to do them any more. However, seeing as I’m trying to make use of this blog more, I figured why not do a post-mortem of my entry for Ludum Dare 32 (Beacons) here (It also happened to be my 5th Ludum Dare game since I started taking part in 2013). After all, I did say in one of my previous posts that if I end up making something for Ludum Dare 32 (which I did), I’ll put up a post-mortem.

Click the pic to play!!

Click the pic to play!!

The theme of this Ludum Dare was “An Unconventional Weapon”. This was probably the most interesting theme I’ve seen in a game jam (considering how anything can be an “unconventional weapon”) so at first I was a bit stuck for ideas at first. Then I suddenly thought, does the weapon have to kill (implying that it’s used to harm or kill others)? In the end I decided that I wanted to make a game where player’s primary tool does not hurt enemies both directly and indirectly. Also (as an extra constraint), I decided that I did not want the player to shoot or hit things as those mechanics were completely overdone in games (but also to make it a bit more unconventional)

For those who haven’t played it yet, the objective of Beacons is to survive for as long as possible whilst guiding the blue cubes that appear in the level to randomly spawning goal points. Also in the level is a black sphere which patrols the entire area of the level and hunts down blue cubes, killing them and turning them into red cubes which chase and attack the player. As a means of fighting back, the player is able to place a beacon (which is the “unconventional weapon” that I’ve decided to create) on the game map. The beacon has two functions: firstly it is able to attract cubes that see it in its visual range and secondly, it can repel the black sphere. This means that the player can deploy the beacon for various purposes such as: placing one near a goal point to attract blue cubes to it, distracting a couple of red cubes that are chasing the player or stopping the black sphere from killing a blue cube and turning it into a red one.

It was also the first time I did a Ludum Dare game (or just any game jam game) in 3D (as all my previous entries were in 2D and I decided that I wanted a change).

To keep things simple, I decided to make the game in a top-down isometric view (with the camera tracking the player’s movements) using just the primitives in Unity (as I’m no 3d artist and didn’t want to waste time setting up animation states for 3d models and just wanted to get the gameplay done as soon as possible).

For the AI in the game I knew that I wanted to have enemies that were not just able to move in a pseudo-random manner (as opposed to just moving towards the player), but were also able to recognise and react accordingly to certain actors such as the player or the beacon. This meant that using Unity’s Navmesh system would not be enough and so I decided to use the RAIN AI plugin instead as it contained the features I needed to do this. This was also the first time I used this plugin so I decided to spend some time playing around with the samples provided so I could understand how it worked but I was surprised at how simple it was to use (compared to Unity’s Navmeshes).

As time went on, my game slowly started coming together until I had something that was playable and ready to submit.

Good Points:

  • Planning and Time Management: This was the first 48hr compo entry I done in a while (as the last few games I did ended becoming jam entries due to factors such as lack of motivation and time) and I was surprised that I was able to submit something on time (just about)
  • The AI: I was surprised at how easy it was to use RAIN to the point where I wanted to use it again for my future projects

Bad Points:

  • Audio: I only had small soundbytes in my game and even created a little background music loop at the last minute but decided to leave it out in the end because I wanted to submit my entry for the 48hr compo.

Initial Feedback:

So far, most of the feedback for my game (from both friends and other developers) has been directed towards the game’s difficulty (which might be due to its rather slow pace at the start).

Overall Experience and Things I’ll do in the future:

This was one of the most game jams I’ve done so far (probably because of the theme) and I learnt quite a lot during the jam (especially with AI). As this was the 5th Ludum Dare I’ve completed, everything was very familiar. For the next Dare (or just any game jam in general) however, I want to switch things up again to change the pace and keep things fresh (e.g. use a different engine, try making something in a different genre or get some friends together and do a team entry) development-wise.



One response to “Beacons Post-Mortem

  1. Pingback: Ludum Dare 32 Results Analysis | Jason's Dev Blog·

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