June 17, 2012

Space Junk Cleanup -- Done!

Okay, another hour of tinkering, and NOW it's done for real.

So, about 6 hours grand total (I didn't keep careful track).  Note that I had the basic concept working in one hour, and the rest was trying out additions and changes, and various fixes and fine-tuning.  This is roughly how things went:
  • Add a scrolling stars background! Done in about 2 minutes.
  • Tried to make it so you pull all junk in a line rather than just mouse-over. After 45 minutes or so, decided it was taking too long to figure out and cancelled this. This is a point where knowing my tools better might have helped.
  • Added player health. Using the canned Stencyl behavior, this should have been a snap -- but it took me a while to figure out because apparently renaming the project messed up the configuration, so my code changes weren't getting included, etc. etc.
  • Made it a bit easier to suck up junk by reducing a junk's current speed slightly every moment that you were magnet-ing it. I later decided I preferred the original way, where you wound up pulling junk in circles around you trying to ram junks together. Rolled back the change.
  • Added a charge-shot ability. After eating a certain number of junks, you could click to place a spark that persisted for a second and destroyed all junk that touched it. I played for a couple minutes, then decided it didn't fit the rest of the game, and I preferred the original etc. etc. see above. Removed. Sigh.
  • Added the mines.
  • Various little touches -- graphic effects (explosions, eating-junk sparkle, "miss" indicator), score, restart when player dies
  • Spent a fair bit of time tweaking things like junk speed and spawn behavior and playtesting.
Things I thought about doing but decided against:
  • Add distinct rounds -- vague ideas included: a round that introduces mines; a round with big clumps of junk; a round with mines targeted directly to the player but moving slowly.
  • Spend more time playtesting and tuning the junk spawn pattern.
It's sobering to consider how much of my development time was pretty much wasted -- looking mainly at the scrapped charge-shot idea here. I would have been wiser to start with the simplest, fastest version of that idea possible, to decide if I really wanted it to be part of the game.

I also think I should have tried bigger changes to the game mechanics early on. For example, I just realized that the Jam O'Clock version moves a lot faster overall, and the final version might have been better with a faster pace (resisting urge to resume tinkering).

It was exciting to discover just how much you can do in one hour. If you're focused on getting something playable above all else, you can try out your game idea pretty quickly. That's a valuable thing to have experienced.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with it for 6-ish hours of work. It feels very good to have a finished project after all this time. Kudos to Andy Moore and his Jam O'Clock idea for prompting me to do this.

Posted by: gknodle at 09:52 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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