Just a little postmortem on my LD #21 entry, Anthony’s Psyche: Escape.
This was my third Ludum Dare. In each one, I’ve challenged myself to come up with a different interpretation of the theme than I thought would be typically done. For the Escape theme, I decided to go with the idea of psychological escape mechanisms, or avoiding painful thoughts and memories. This turned out to be a rather artsy, narrative-driven playable story of sorts. This is very different than anything I’ve developed before.
I spent about 27 hours on this entry. Friday night when the theme was announced, I spent three hours in the typical initial panic of trying to come up with an original interpretation of the theme. I settled on the psychological escape mechanisms concept, and that it would have something to do with words on the screen representing thought fragments. I was still unclear about the specifics beyond that.
On Saturday, I spent a couple more hours playing with ideas in my head, and settled on a design. I then spent about ten hours writing code and debugging. It took me much longer than I anticipated to get text with variable alpha per character working in Flashpunk. Probably five hours on that alone. I also spent a few minutes making the “art” for the game (the one stick figure) for a total of 12 hours on Saturday. By this point I had most of the basic functionality of the game working (moving a box of text around the screen and having the words fill in when over the character).
On Sunday, I spent about an hour getting Reason and my keyboard set up, and coming up with the short music loop and “thought complete” riff. I then spent several hours trying to come up with a decent story. I discovered that telling a story through first-person thought fragments is very difficult. When I started entering the text for the thoughts, it just wasn’t coming together. I also discovered some bugs in the way Flash renders text, so I spent a couple hours debugging and working around that. I finally gave up on the story I’d come up with, and about two hours before the deadline, I came up with a very different story that came together pretty quickly. I also wrote some more code for the title screens, ending screen, etc. That made a total of about 12 hours for Sunday.
The end result isn’t exactly a “game”, but I’m satisfied with what I came up with because it’s very different for me, and pushed me in a different direction. I like the overall feeling of the play. I’m thinking of developing something like this a little further.
Like my previous two LD entries, I created things as stand-in content (the stick figure guy, and especially the very short, repetitive music loop) so I had things to write the code around, but they ended up being the final content because I didn’t have time to do “real” art or music. The difference this time was that by now I’ve learned that when I create them, that’ll probably be the case.
Ludum Dare is always a great exercise in game development (and a lot of fun) because it forces you to be ruthless in cutting features and calling things “good enough” because of the very tight time constraints and having to create everything by yourself.
Anyway, click the image above to have a go at it. I’ve kept the story very short, so it shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes to play through.