Since there’s about two weeks left until the judging period for Ludum Dare 34 finishes, I figure now might be a good time to write up the post-mortem for my entry (Rolla Grolla Arena).
For the first time in Ludum Dare history, not one but two themes were announced for the jam (because of a tie break during the theme voting): Growing and Two Button Controls. I decided immediately that I wanted to tackle both themes for my entry. I also decided that I wanted to make a multiplayer game for this jam as I had never tried making one before (although to be fair I did make a 2 player Pong game for one of the Mini Ludum Dares earlier in the year) and that my game would have support for controllers (as well as keyboard support) from the start.
My initial idea was some sort of jousting game where the players would grow in power as long as they were in constant motion but due to my lack of artistic talent, I had no idea how to convey that change in power visually so I decided to simplify things by making the players as balls that grow in size when they are moving and shrink back to normal when they are not (as a way to represent their growing power) and the primary gameplay objective as knocking opposing players out of the arena. I also decided that the two buttons for my game would be to accelerate left or right where holding the button would increase the speed much like the accelerator pedal in a driving game (with a jumping ability that is activated when both buttons are pressed at the same time).
After using Unreal Engine for the previous Ludum Dare (with disastrous results), I decided to go back to Unity this time as it was a more familiar tool so I could get started on development more quickly. Once again I decided to aim for the 72 hour jam so I could make a more polished entry.
The first day of the jam mostly revolved around me sorting out the gamepad controls plus basic movement and growth mechanics for the ball. To speed things up I also downloaded the 2D asset package from Unity’s Standard Assets and used the platform prefab to build a makeshift arena (ending up with a stage that very closely resembles something from Super Smash Bros).
The second day of the jam mainly consisted of coding the collision responses between the balls (now that the mechanics were done) as well the general game logic such as victory, death and respawn conditions.
For the last day of the jam, I worked on creating the UI (reusing some assets I made for my current indie project) and menu screens for the game which I had managed to complete by the end of the afternoon.
As I had some time before submission hour, I also added some extra stuff to my game to make it a bit more polished such as particle effects, sounds (using BFXR) and a background music loop (using Bosca Coeil).
- Controller Support: This was probably the most time consuming part of the jam (as I had to process inputs from up to four controllers) and the end result was slightly messy but I managed to get this done in a day (At the moment only the Xbox and Playstation 4 controllers are “officially” supported but any USB controller could be used to play the game).
- Game Mechanics: The mechanics for the balls (movement, jumping, growing, etc.) were relatively simple to do and I was happy with how effective the final result was.
- Time: Attempting to make a 2-4 local multiplayer game by yourself within 3 days is indeed a huge challenge but somehow I managed to finish it all with two hours to spare until submission (although looking back I probably should have spent at least an hour polishing it a bit further).
- Buggy Physics: Unfortunately I had to work with a buggy release of Unity during that weekend (due to an ill advised update earlier in the week) where some of the 2D physics weren’t working as intended and although I did make a few workarounds, it ended up affecting the gameplay a bit.
- No Single Player Option: One of the big problems with local multiplayer only games is that you need at least more than one player for the game (hence why most Ludum Dare entries are single player) and unfortunately I didn’t have the time or knowledge to create AI bots with some basic 2D pathfinding capabilities for a single player experience.
- Annoying Background Music Loop: The small music loop in the game was actually a last minute thing as I felt that having only sound effects was not enough. Although I had no music making ability whatsoever (due to being primarily a programmer), I managed to make something very simple but during the first few days of judging, a number of people found the loop to be very annoying and eventually I ended up hating the music loop as well (partly due to the fact that I didn’t think of making a mute option in game).
Overall I enjoyed making this game (plus I’m happy that the majority of people have liked it so far) and would definitely like to work on post-jam/full release version of it sometime soon (maybe once after my current indie project is done) with a lot of improvements such as AI bots for single player, improved physics, better music, some powerups and more stages.
If you haven’t seen my game in action yet then I’ve included a video in the post from a Let’s Play Twitch stream last week with 3 people playing my game (which features at the beginning of the video).