Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ludum Dare 18 and PyWeek 11

Well, Ludum Dare 18 and PyWeek 11 both went down last week. That's a great deal of speed development! I attempted to participate in Ludum Dare, as it was over the weekend, and I thought maybe I'd try something small for PyWeek despite the fact that the development window is much larger. Of course, things didn't go as planned.

Everything started out reasonably well on Friday night. I saw the theme - Enemies as weapons - and brainstormed. I sat on the floor with my toddler and drew up some prototypes in crayon on his very large drawing pad. Being a huge fan of strategy RPGs, my mind jumped straight to Disgaea. So my first prototype was simply a strategy RPG where you don't have any weapons, but you can pick up your enemies and smack other enemies with them. The enemies, I thought, could have a rock-paper-scissors-like relationship. But alas, I figured it would take too much time, and I'm not sure how enjoyable it would be.

Brainstorming with the whole family!

My second idea came from the lament of one of my fellow participants. He said the theme dictated the necessity of enemies, severely restricting the type of game that could be made. So I started to think of ways to make a game without enemies in the traditional sense. It occurred to me that enemies don't necessarily have to be biological, or even physical. A claustrophobic person (my first thought since claustrophobia was a finalist theme), for example, would see tight, enclosed spaces as an enemy. From there I figured that I could consider various afflictions as enemies, and think of ways to use them as weapons. Weaknesses and strengths, in effect. So developed my idea: a puzzle game where the player would guide four characters to the goal. One character was red-green colorblind, another was yellow-blue colorblind, one was anorexic, and the last was obese. The first two could pass through obstacles or activate switches corresponding to their colorblindness, while the light character could do things like pass over thin ice, and the heavy character could do things like depress stuck switches.

The idea seems kind of contrived looking back, but I ran with it. I managed to get a few hundred lines of Python and Pygame code in and a bit of rudimentary art, but alas, it was not to be. Turns out having a toddler and an infant to take care of is pretty time consuming. I think next time I will choose a much simpler game idea just to get something out there. The puzzle game would've taken all my time just to get a playable first level, and I'd have had to wait until afterwards to add more. It certainly didn't help that I was learning Pygame along the way, and I hadn't actually made a game for years. So it was really nice getting some practice in. My PyWeek project never really got off the ground, as my toddler got sick (double ear infection - ugh) and then I got sick. Oh well. I'm not too attached to my Ludum Dare game idea so I won't finish it, but I do look forward to getting back to work on those game ideas that have been kicking around in my head for ages.

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