Post Mortem of Under Maintenance

Under Maintenance – LD29 Jam Entry. Select the image to go to the entry page.

Here’s my post mortem for the 29th entry of Ludum Dare, also posted on the Ludum Dare forums. Enjoy!

So for this Ludum Dare, with the theme of “Beneath The Surface”, I decided to make a game where you work as a maintenance engineer who works between the streets and an underground train tunnel, this is Under Maintenance.

I wanted to get back into Ludum Dare because of how much I enjoyed LD27, however I was travelling out to see friends on Saturday so I had very little time to do a compo entry.  However it didn’t stop me from working on a simple game, so I decided to put as much energy I can during my free time to bring you this busy micromanagement platformer. As such I appreciate giving your time to reading my post mortem, which includes a timelapse and tweets among other stuff and see how I managed to fit social events and my job into this Ludum Dare.

The Theme

So being in the UK, I was up till 2am to see what the theme was for this Ludum Dare, which is why I ended up tweeting this in the early morning:

Development

Development technically began when I got on a 9:30 for my 2 hour train journey:

Since I had two hours both on the outward and return journey I decided to start off my coding on the train, luckily the train service I was on had charging points next to every seat so I grabbed the first one and got underway, although technical issues did set me back early on, mainly to do with building for Flash with Haxe, as a result I ended up building for Windows (a slightly longer process):

In the end I only spent about 4 1/2 hours on Saturday, majority on the train and the remainder at the bar I was at with friends. The rest of the time was when this stuff happened…

Anyways, Sunday was a lot more active. I had plenty of free time to work on assets and the more complex logic. Protip: Use rectangles or other shapes as graphics for your objects with assets not yet completed, it gets you working on the logic as soon as possible and it can help you get a good idea of how proportionally large you want everything for both appearances and collisions:

Just remember to work on graphics at some point if you don’t have someone to do graphics for you:

Speaking of graphics, most of it was done in Paint.NET, which I find is better to work with for pixel art than Photoshop. It’s less bloated and had much more simpler controls, the main thing it lacks is in it’s Text controls and transforming selections, which is why the title screen logo was done in Photoshop.

Sadly by the end of the night I had work to do tomorrow, and it wasn’t finished in time for the compo. However I carried on after my job on Monday with the addition of sound, I decided against using BFXR since  I figured an outdoor environment would work better with outdoor sounds, so I used a voice recorder and just recorded at the carpark near my office, which is good because cars drive past and there are loads of different sounds to record when you are creative, but bad because there were crows constantly making sounds.

Voice Recorder Free

Voice Recorder – The second most easiest source for sound effects!

All of which lead to this.

What went right?

Well for starters, I was able to finish a game, unlike my last ludum dare entry, it was a submission that was fully implemented at it’s core. I didn’t over complicate the idea, nor did I overdo the game play to make it seem bigger than it already was. While the game wasn’t ready for the compo submission deadline on Sunday, I used whatever time I could use on the following Monday to finish off whatever was left and upload the game on time.

I also did a better job on graphics, as I had been practicing on pixel art during other projects, in comparison with my LD27 entry, I think the character artwork is a bit cleaner, and since I used smaller sizes and used the animation and sprite classes in HaxeFlixel, the overall file size was smaller.

Things I have learned.

1. Don’t use a large resolution for a Flash game: The one thing I forgot when working on Under Maintenance is that Flash game portals like Newgrounds and GameJolt aren’t designed for games with a window size 1280 x 720. If you play the game from Newgrounds, the window stretches beyond the site borders.

2. Bug Test your game: While this might sound obvious, when you only have a two/three days, you might skip it so you are able to upload the game on time. Don’t skip it! Get a friend to play through the game, or if you can’t make sure you play through the game entirely and make sure you know what the correct outcome for any actions should be. It’ll save you having to fix a bug and upload a “post-jam” version.

3. Plan around any events/activities you’re attending: If you cannot get a free weekend, but still want to make something, see what time you are free to work on the game, and see what time where you might not be free to use a computer, but still work on stuff for your game.

Thanks for reading, now I need to rate more games. 😀

Results came in for Ludum Dare on the 20th May, and good news I actually got into the Top 100 for one of the categories!

While the rest of the categories are still low ranks, by comparing them to the ranks of my last entry the rank increased, with my lowest ranking category only 24 places lower than the highest ranking category. So a much considerable improvement!

Many thanks to all those who played and rated, now lets see if I can get into the top 50 of a category next time! 😛

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