So I’m making my post-mortem for Daylight a little bit late. I don’t really have a sleep excuse, because it’s been two and a half days since I submitted it. The real reason why I’m doing this so late is because I don’t want my post to be caught in the tsunami of post-mortems that lasts for a while. That’s right, I’m greedy for views. And no, not the Drake album.
When the theme was announced, I was pretty sure that I was going to make a game about sailing and exploration, but I decided to brainstorm just to make sure. Then I realized: “Hey, why don’t I make a game that I designed for my video game design class for a whole month? That would make sense.” And so that’s what I did. (Note: I didn’t write any code for it before. We simply had to design the feel of the game.) The problem was, Daylight was meant to be in black and white. And the last time I made a black and white game for the compo, it totally flopped. (Maybe it’s also because I hadn’t used Lua before. That’s a slight problem.) I don’t know why I like making games in two colors, but I KNEW that this time, my game had to be color. So the first night, I design the player and the platforms, and then made a blue background. Hey, that looks good. So I added some brown blocks with green grass. That’s not bad. What if I just go completely against my previous idea and feel for the game and go into a tangent that leads me to who-knows-where? And so it was settled. The main idea behind Daylight is that you’re on a small planet, stranded, with nowhere to go except up. By jumping up through the platforms and fighting monsters, gravity gets weaker. Do this enough and you can jump off of the planet and return home. I was in a minimalist phase when I designed the game (more minimalist then I am now), so I wanted it to be simple. Simple colors, simple designs. But people move on.
My character was originally a full human character. It looked out of place, like the cheese in Mouse House. And I wanted my artwork to be strongly connected with the feel of the game. I turned our protagonist into a white cube with a tiny eye. I added some breathing effects, and voila! This game doesn’t look bad. I’m not an artist, so this is actually an accomplishment for me. The next day, I changed the gravity so it would vary with the player’s height. Then I started working on making the planet and all its platforms. I was surprised when I was done with this in three hours. So I worked on making the monsters. This should take long, right? Nope. I was done. The last thing I had to do was add the energy. As the player jumps, they lose energy, and the only way they can get energy back is by defeating monsters. Implementing this didn’t take long. Now my game was looking pretty complete. Problem was, I still had 24 hours. So I went to bed, not sure if I should be happy or sad.
During Sunday morning, I made my artwork better. I added a sun, clouds, stars and flowers, things that I didn’t need for the mechanics of the game. Now it was time to make some music. I haven’t had time to make LD music before, and I was surprised at how easy it was. Even with my broken keyboard, which shuts off at random times for no reason, it only took me an hour in Garageband to come up with something good. I added it to the game along with my sound effects that I created with sfxr. I had a commitment for the next 6 hours, but I still had time to brainstorm. I decided to make the energy fields checkpoints if the player ever falls off of the map. I don’t want the player to rage quit when they fall all the way to the bottom and have to start climbing all over again. Then it was time to submit, and even with the new layout confusing me, I was able to get my game in with time to space. That time was to sleep.
What went right My artwork went better than expected. I put a lot of time into it with Piskelapp, and I got a lot out of it. However, I’m still shocked with what others can come up with. My graphics work on a simplistic level, but the other graphics are so… real. My art isn’t terrible by any means, but I would love to see what others use to make theirs. Piskelapp probably isn’t a great long-term setup. Music has been lacking in all of my games (especially the ones on Khan Academy, where it isn’t allowed). I was excited to finally add some noise to my games, and sfxr worked great for the sound effects.
What went wrong The main thing that I can do better next time is aim higher. I was done with most of my game in a day. Games in game jams aren’t meant to be polished. I should strive to complete more. My game performs terribly. I sort of told myself that I shouldn’t focus on performance, but the game uses up 5% of my CPU. That’s not a lot compared to some 3D games, but it’s enough to make Chrome crash in Windows 8. Maybe it’s my computer. I need an upgrade. My code could be neater. This isn’t a big deal,but it looks like my dog threw up on my screen. Also, I’m writing code twice, just because it’s easier for me to copy and paste. 😛
Note: This is based on my blog post on ldjam.com