Monday, November 5, 2012

ASCIIvader II - A Game in an Hour Postmortem

Back on Sunday I participated in the Zero-Hour Game Jam ( It was certainly a crazy adventure - the concept is to make a game in one hour, but since it's the hour that the time gets turned back, it's basically making a game in zero hours (from 2am-2am).

Now, that said, the contest is to make a game... In ONE hour... At 2am... Which is a fact made even worse since I usually go to sleep no later than midnight or so. And for those of you who don't know, making a game in 60 minutes is CRAZY!!!

Originally, I was going go try to make one of my ideas into an extremely simple playable version to see if it was any fun. Once reality smacked me in the face that I stood NO chance of that (about 4 hours before it began), I scrambled to come up with an idea for something I could do in an hour. Angel pointed out that she really liked the concept from Hellboy where the beast multiplied into two each time one was killed, and so I took the original ASCIIvader and added shooting... But where each shot split the enemy into two instead of killing it.

Note: The original ASCIIvader (you can play it here) was made in six hours for the Experimental Gameplay challenge back in Feb 2011. And now that you know what I was facing, and before you read the postmortem below, give it a play here!

What Went Right

It Got Finished!
Believe it or not, that's the biggest challenge of all for making a game in an hour! One would rightfully be quite proud of making ANYTHING in this period of time!

It's Actually Kinda Fun!
It was a great experiment in trying out something new, really! Every jam, every small competition should be exactly that - a chance to do something different, and thanks to Angel's suggestion I was able to do exactly that. The player actually gets points for simply surviving, but many more for actually hitting enemies. Therefore, a player can get a buttload of points by simply sitting around, dodging the single enemy, but it takes patience... And the temptation to shoot the enemy is hard to resist! On the other hand, you can shoot like a mad man and get hundreds of thousands of points, but good luck dodging the resulting mass of enemies!

What Went Wrong

It Was Only Barely Finished...
Normally a game has, you know, a menu, the ability to pause, music, the ability to restart... This game has absolutely none of those. It also has a REALLY plain post-level screen (it's literally a blank screen with words that tell you how many points you earned before you died). Also, because the code was very dirty, the loops that check for hit detection grow huge rather quickly (they don't clean themselves up) so it gets rather laggy if you're a shoot-lots-and-dodge type. On the upside, that kind of works like bullet time to help dodge the huge mess of Multiplinoids.

Score Balancing
The concept was to make it so that the player wants to shoot, but not too much, balancing shooting and dodging... In such a short amount of time, though, I just couldn't do that.

The Website for the Game
I tried to make a page very quickly for it, but for some reason it didn't even have a scroll bar, so the player couldn't even see half the game! I was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO tired when the game was done that I just quickly turned it into a table and called it a day. Oh well.

Did you play the game? What did you think? Share your thoughts!

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