Here is a post mortem written by Edu '@sodap_' Alonso, the artist half that worked on our Ludum Dare 36 entry, Revenge of Tutankhamun. He writes about the overall experience teaming up for this Ludum Dare, and the right and wrong things learned on the experience. Enjoy!
REVENGE OF TUTANKHAMUN, A LUDUM DARE #36 POST MORTEM
Revenge of Tutankhamun is an arcade-puzzle game inspired by Chu-Chu Rocket. It was created in an event hosted in Zaragoza, Spain for Ludum Dare 36. The theme for this Ludum Dare was ‘Ancient Technology’, which inspired us to make a game about traps in ancient tombs and we ended up making something similar to Sega’s Chu-Chu Rocket, a classic for the Dreamcast and GBA.
In this game the player takes the role of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, who needs to design the layout of the chambers in his pyramid in order to keep his treasure safe from any looters. These explorers will always walk forward and turn in a predetermined way unless given directions by a magic arrow placed by the player. The magic arrows wear out each time an explorer steps onto them so the player needs to keep replacing them until all explorers are dead.
Gameboss Jam Zaragoza
Both of us are members of a small online community of Spanish-speaking indie devs called Indiecalipo in Telegram, where we figured out we should make a real-life gathering for LD36 because it would be cool to meet each other, have fun, and make games. Juan Castillo (@Acrimiens on Twitter), from Zaragoza-based indie developer Mechanical Boss went ahead and started organizing the event.
The event turned out way better than we had pictured initially, as the jam was hosted in a community center for art and technology called Etopia where all the participants could stay for the whole weekend. We had a blast partying and doing gamedev battles on Friday before the theme was announced and then most of us went to bed to come up with an idea in the morning and start working. It was an amazing experience and it’s safe to assume we all are looking forward to repeat as soon as we can, maybe in another place so Juan can concentrate on the fun and the game making while others take the hosting part off his shoulders.
To be fair, the theme ‘Ancient technology’ wasn’t really unexpected, as it had lots of votes in the preliminary rounds, and we had talked about possible directions to take in the jam if that turned out to be the actual theme, for example something like a Ghost ‘n’ Goblins with a caveman having to start a fire and make a spear. However in the morning we deemed that idea too unoriginal and played out so with the help from CremaGames’ Guillermo Andrades (@xyaw on Twitter), Rodrigo and I came up with a new one, a game about traps in a pyramid inspired by Chu-Chu Rocket.
From there, we started working. Rodrigo started implementing the mechanics and used Tiled Map Editor to create the levels, and I started doing some art. I intended to make a concept and then make everything in a pixel art style but people liked the concept so in the end I just made a higher res version of the assets that were present in the concept art. We didn’t have any problems, it was pretty much smooth sailing for the whole process, which was a pleasant surprise for us.
On Sunday we realized we had some problems with UI/UX, it was really hard to control the game and we tried to solve that with UI but in the end that didn’t really help. Sunday night I stayed up until late as I searched for some free to use music and sounds. We still had some time left on Monday so on the train back home Rodrigo made a handful of new levels with a bigger challenge, made a build of the game and uploaded it.
What went well
- Both of us have a fair amount of experience at our roles so we didn’t run into unexpected problems or blocks during development.
- Making a new take on Chu-chu Rocket was a good idea. It is a great game that needs a more modern version with better presentation and new content.
- We don’t have any serious game-breaking bugs that we know of (please do try and prove us wrong and report any issues you may encounter!).
- The art turned out pretty decent for game made in under 72 hours.
- No nervous breakdowns by any of the members of the team.
- We finished the game without too much stress.
What didn’t go that well
- We gave too little thought to the game and level design. The gameplay is a bit broken, it’s a weird mix of puzzle and twitch action that isn’t fully working.
- Only Rodrigo worked on level design, I wasn’t of much help in that aspect and I think the lack of feedback on my part hindered the final result.
- We probably worked too much while thinking too little.
- I lost a lot of time on a concept art mockup and in the end I had to change the art style because of it.
- We based the game on Chu-Chu Rocket but we didn’t look at any videos or played the game. We played by ear and made some design mistakes that would have been solved by checking our references.
What we learned
- A good team of experienced and talented people goes a long way for a successful and stress-free game jam.
- We need to think and talk more about game design when making games.
- Chu-Chu Rocket is an amazing game that needs a remake.
- Concept art should be done fast and with the final style of the game in mind.
- Check out your references, don’t rely on your memories.
- Real-life events are a blast.
After the great experience in Zaragoza, we are looking forward to working on more projects together and also to attend more real-life events. You should always team up with someon who shares a similar mindset and level of expertise as yourself, that will make things go much smoother. However, you need to strike the perfect balance between thinking and doing.