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View Profile BLACKMASKCEO
Aspiring game developer; Artist and music composer... Currently working on my first game(using the tool Construct 2), and I hope to be sharing my creation(s) with the community very soon... https://twitter.com/ICHNICERO

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University of Hard Knocks

Balm Bay, FL

Joined on 1/2/14

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My Very First Game Jam!


(a dev postmortem)


Hello!!! I’m happy to report that I’ve successfully submitted an app to my very first game jam! It feels pretty good getting that proverbial monkey off my back, so to speak. It took all of seven days, from concept to execution, and I’m pretty stoked by the results.


CONCEPT:

I watched a video about the old Commodore 64 title: “The Human Race”… a pretty short game released back in 1985. I liked the theme and game design, so I decided I wanted to make a game similar to the race four portion of THR. This stage consist of color tiles in which the player needs to navigate in order to reach an exit on the other side. The mechanics involve waiting patiently as a timer changes the color locks in order to progress, while avoiding a monster roaming around the stage. The player only had a stun ability to incapacitate the enemy for a few seconds if danger got near. I took that, and put my own spin on it as far as gamplay design goes. I took the tile based grid movement, but instead of having to keep track of which color was safe to step on, I made gates that change colors randomly, so the player has to exercise patience when traversing through a maze. Instead of stunning enemies, I decided on a passive phase ability that would allow a temporary invulnerability for safe passage through certain enemies. Keeping the aesthetics as retro as possible was also a key concept decision made early in the pre-development phase.


THEME:

I wanted to make a small puzzle/maze game, with simple mechanics that everyone could pick up easily. My previous attempts at game development were lessons well learned. Accessibility was a very high priority on the C.D.D chart, this time. I also knew that I wanted a relaxing, peaceful atmosphere for the game. So I went with a silly “space yogi in search of truth” theme for the story, and NES style pixel art for the assets. There is a small story brewing in my game, but I didn’t want that to be the focus of it. I wanted the mechanics to take a spotlight, since I never truly made a title like this before.


DESIGN/DEV:

I made a grid-like movement system for the character sprite using 30 pixel nodes. I originally had full-on movement with momentum, but that quickly got discarded early on. I implemented an “astral phasing” skill to the character, allowing dark spawn enemies to pass right through you. This ability is on a cool-down that lasts about five seconds after the animation is complete, causing the player to use it only in dire situations. Each stage consist of tiles (colored and grays) enemies and a shrine at the end. There isn’t a time limit for completing a stage, so the player is free to approach the maze as they see fit. There isn’t a “lives” system in the game, either, so failure isn’t a “game over” situation. It was designed be a relaxing experience with no real threats or pressure. I coded the enemy AI to be more of a hindrance than a danger to the player. They only target the player if you get near them, and even then there’s a random chance their flight pattern will alter. Having an aggressive enemy AI would have been counter-productive in my opinion. The prototype proved that; I could barely get through stage one in the early build with swarming enemies. The “boss” level design was a challenge… I’m not that great of a visual scripter, and my older games are a testament to that fact. I’ve had frustrating experience during the development of my other games when it came to boss design. This time I went back to basics, kept things simple and I finally got a boss fight I’m happy with, even though I only had a few days to work on it. All in all, I’d say this was the smoothest design UX I’ve ever had, which is pretty epic. I know they won’t all go according to plan like this, so I’m thankfully for this opportunity.


CONCLUSION:

Overall, I’d say this was a pretty engaging experience… The allure of completing a huge task in such a little amount of time was exhilarating!!! I entered another game jam as well :) The theme of this jam is “Finally Finish Something” and I have a few project that need TLC… I’ll decide which one to tackle and see what happens. Game development is hard, make no mistake about that, but if you’re passionate enough about it… Live your dream.

Thank you for reading… now get back to deving! XD


Follow me here on Twitter:


https://twitter.com/ICHNICERO