Thursday, April 26, 2012

LD23 - Tiny Inspiration post mortem

I've attended yet another Ludum Dare, this time with the theme "Tiny World".

 So, the time has come to write some post mortem (in not so hidden hope that my game will have a chance to mess with heads of more poor victims).

Introducing Tiny Inspiration, adventure game about LD programmer who searches for inspiration in his dreams and finds himself tiny, on his own table. As you can see from the thumbnail, it's a bit (cough, cough) adult theme. Although no actual porn takes place, sex is what is this about. It was my intention to mess up a bit with people's head and since most of the people in LD are guys (sorry for you, girls, but unless I'm seriously mistaken, there's not much of you here... anyway if you drop me a comment declaring yourself a girl and demanding woman themed game next time, I'll consider it).
Even before LD started I was thinking about maybe making and adventure game (doing two commercial right now so I got them stuck in my head now...). When the theme was announced (3 am of my time), I scratched my head and went to sleep, hoping for some inspiration. About the only dream I remember was really weird one with two headed redhead...
Next morning (actually, more like noon) I went for brunch with my GF and started brainstorming. Soon enough I've scratched all other ideas (sperm racing game, battle bugs clone, Tron like shooter) and focused on the adventure. From the start I knew I wanted to have some sex hints there and that I want as many possibilities to finish the game as possible. With that came idea of giving player achievements and then that I should really try to rattle player's bones.
Originally I wanted to have three episodes with three screens each. First on the table, than among the bugs, and in the end having player to find love among amoebas and bacterias. Quickly found out that my ideas are just spilling too fast so I concentrated on the table.  I started making design notes and quickly sketching screens.

I originally planned 8 game screens, one intro, one outro and one noninteractive in the middle. I had some ideas for more, but even than I was pretty sure it would be tight run against the time. Sketching was fast, each sketch took me about five minutes, so I was full of optimism!
Then I fired up photoshop and picked tablet... and found out that I just really really suck. I have no problems with pencil, I'm even able to produce quite nice drawings, but tablet... horrible. Took me a too long time to finish first screen and then I started to cut corners so I can make it in time. I grossly underestimated how long it will take me just to redraw finished scanned sketch and add some colors :(
So I had to put out intro that was supposed to be a bit interactive, with player killing bad ideas (like sex, go to sleep) and promoting ideas like RPG, adventure etc. In the end Yoda was suppossed to show up (probably in a blond wig :D) and tell player INSPIRATION YOU'LL NOT FIND, IT WILL FIND YOU!
Outro was also cut out, with protagonist girlfriend waking him up and asking him why he's sleeping on her dollhouse instead of making that stupid game. (And if player shaved himself in the game, she would have asked "and why have you shaven your beard, honey?").
And one of the game screen went out of the window too (Ken trying to enroll in french legion to show Barbie that he's man, fluffy dog doll, which could have been converted into dog disguise for more achievements, some other stuff).
So in the end, 8 screens, one of them almost without any interaction, few dozen active items, 11 achievements, and two goals, with 4 possible ways to reach it for each.

While doing all the art and exporting it out from photoshop I fired up Unity. I decided to use it again because a) I'm quite confident I can force it to do anything I want, although sometimes painfully for both of us, b) it gives me possibility to do web / flash version (I'm still mostly untouched by html5 and flash, so it's the only way I can make web games now), c) abusing full fledged 3d engine for a simple 2d "art" is amusing :)
Putting items into screens, doing some basic scripts took me almost no time at all. About the only problem I had was stupid unity gui (last time fixes while trying to get flash version working introduced so stupid bugs in the inventory that I had to do quick bug elimination after compo) and flash export ignoring anonymous functions (had to rewrite them, luckily I had no time to implement some better dialogues anyway).
I ended up with playable game about ten minutes before the end of the compo.... So  ideas about some sounds, music (at least from autotracker) and having some interactive dialogues just went out the window :/
But I'm happy with the result anyway :)
Procrastitracker stats (rounded):
12 hours photoshop
2 hours text editor (where I had my "game design document", seems too much)
4 hours Unity (creating screens, testing)
7 hours Monodevelop (writing scripts, debugging)
add about two hours for sketches / initial brainstorming on the paper, about hour for smoke breaks (that I use when I'm stuck and need to think out something through).
Overall about 28 hours of real work... seems I wasted a lot of time by sleeping and eating and getting inspiration (ahem...). But that's the stats here.
Anyway, I had real fun making it and even more fun listening to comments of some of my friends :) (Too bad I hadn't implemented some server upload of stats). So I've mostly succeeded in my goals.
If you hadn't played my game yet and you're willing to risk it even after reading through this... go ahead!

Ludum Dare entry page

Flash version

Unity version

 PC Windows version

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