Ludum Dare 35: Post-Mortem

So Ludum Dare 35 has come and gone, and I have Starship Janitor to show for it.

Splash

Game Splash Screen

And instead of just completing the game, playing the games of others, giving out some ratings and waiting for the three weeks to pass until the final scores came in, I thought it may be prudent to actually sit down and ponder the ins and outs, the goods and the bads and the what is and what could be’s. And apparently create quite long, rambling sentences in the process.

Ins and Outs:

Starship Janitor is a top down shooter, where your objective is to use your Transmogrifier (Left Click) to shapeshift enemies into something less wanting to slime, shoot or chomp you and to clear them up with your Stasis Net (Right Click). Not much else to say here so shall we move on?

The Goods and the Bads:

Positive notes first I think because these ones will be quick, cut down into dot points and full of comparisons to my previous Ludum Dare entry.

  • I completed a game! (Always a positive, as many projects just sit as empty husks of things on my hard drive)
  • I actually handcrafted a level, instead of pushing it to a procedural generation script that inevitably takes much longer than it should it implement
  • I spent less time on art, allowing more time on features (Unlike my previous entry)
  • The art I did create is of a higher quality than my previous entry and each piece took me less time to create
  • My implementation of the games main mechanic was not muddied and I completed it within a reasonable timeframe
  • The controls felt pretty close to how I wanted them too, the slower fire rate of the Transmogrifier with a short shift back time on enemies created situations where the player had to just shoot the enemies following them to give themselves some space before making the jump in to capture them with the net.

Now onto the negative, where to start…

The level I made is too small and doesn’t add much strategic depth outside of a couple of crates and tables to dance around. This is probably due to my want to create procedural things, in fact, I started an idea for ship generation before realizing that it would take too long. A problem for a later project me thinks.

Lack of visual feedback for the player on when the enemy is about to become untransformed and no cooldown placed on enemy attacks after they come out of a transformation can be frustrating. This is echoed in the comments that I have received on the Ludum Dare page for the game, with  most of them mentioning dying pretty easily. This issue could also be balanced out with a bit longer on the transformed time and some kind of health pickup for unlucky hits.

The lack of music, sure there are a few sound effects here and there, but there is no music. Once again this is a deficiency in my skill base that I should correct at some point. The same could be said of animations, but I thought I could get away with floating and sliding things in exchange for more content, which worked to a degree.

Enemies stack on one another, as their ray cast logic is fairly simple, they only check for environment pieces and the player, ignoring each other.

UI is nothing but a hack job, thrown together in the shortest possible time (And for some reason I now have Elvis in my head). But with the time constraints, I cut big fancy menus for simplicity. So a negative and a positive on this point, since I made it work and moved on instead of spending hours making the exit menu look AMAZING!

What is and What Could be:

In the end, I have a game that I am proud of. The shapeshift mechanic works exactly how I had envisioned and having the enemies turn back after a time, coupled with a low fire rate gives a little more strategy to the combat. Sure it needs tweaking and a little more polish, but I finished a game!

I am going to work a little bit on these tweaks and changes over the next week or so to do a little post-compo version of the game in an attempt to fix some of the problems presented by the people who have given feedback so far, which is a great thing constructive criticism is my favorite thing!

If you got this far through my ranting and raving I would like to say; thank you and just in case you need a link to the voting page for Starship Janitor here is one for you, to save you a little bit of a scroll:

http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-35/?action=preview&uid=59664

 

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