It has happened. I successfully finished a game in less than 48 hours. I was originally planning on doing the Jam, which is 72 hours, but I managed to finish a gameplay loop with 8 hours to spare so I made the 48 hour Compo deadline.
The first hurdle:
My buddy that was slated to do art getting sick and bailing. Stress level +10. I figured I would just have some shitty programmer art then and that would be that. I think I managed pretty well in the end. :)
The second hurdle:
The theme that ended up being chosen was a theme that I voted against due to lack of ideas for a game to fit it; Shapeshifter.
I spent the night before the Jam thinking about possible game ideas for all of the themes that were available for voting. There were a few that just seemed impossible. This one in particular seemed quite difficult to keep within the time restraints.
The time came for the jam theme reveal, and I started bouncing ideas off of Sandra (m'lady). I had an idea for a game where you're fighting against an enemy that moves slightly faster than you do and always walks towards you. The idea was that you had to avoid the enemy until the full moon which is when you would turn into a werewolf and be able to defeat the enemy, or at least damage it. This idea ended up lacking a good gameplay loop and seemed like it was going to be too much for me to make. It didn't really seem fun.
The third hurdle:
I had to work my day job the day of the jam. This meant that I was already tired before the thing started. The theme was revealed at 9pm, which meant I was going to be working into the wee hours already sleep deprived. I ended up cutting myself off at 4am. At that time I had a mostly working prototype put together.
Take a look at that beauty. hahaha. So this was the idea that I decided to go with. You're a scientist/doctor in an underground lab. A very important person is brought to you that has been transformed into a wolf man. You need to change him back. The catch is that you have to use an old computerized system to know which chemicals you need to combine, when, and how much in order to change him back. Also, you can only change one part at a time. The idea was to make a silly looking part man part wolf with different body parts each time you play. The difficulty was made to scale to be very difficult, which would most often make some parts not be able to be changed and the dude would look even more silly. It's not as much a win or lose type of game as a game that makes you feel like you created something.
The original plan for this idea was to make 5 phases for the transformation. When you pressed the correct button, the tube to the left would fill with fluid. The monitor on the right would display a decreasing timer and the amount of fluid when the timer hit zero would dictate which phase of transformation he would end up changing to.
Art ended up taking much more time than anticipated. I got too into it and wanted to make something that looked good. This is the background that I ended up making.
I'm pretty happy with what I ended up with. I finished this by around midway through Saturday. All of the elements were 100% created by me. I used reference photos to get the basic lines of things, but none of the elements have the actual reference photos in them.
Later in the day I started on the wolf man. It ended up taking a couple hours to make him look decent. This gave me an idea of how long it would take for me to make 5 phases. It was going to be cutting it too close. I had to trim some fat from this idea. The middle phases had to go. :( I really would have liked to have included them, and it would have made the gameplay more dynamic and accessible, but the most important thing was that there was a definitive man and wolf.
These were the designs that I decided to go with. The limbs did not end up with the stark lines that you see here, but the main idea is there.
The limbs were all designed to attach to limbs of the other transformation's form. I put a fade on the ends of all of the parts to make them blend decently with each other.
Now that I had the 2 forms, I plugged them into the existing code, made a few tweaks to account for there only being 2 forms now, and that was pretty much that.
After the game was together, I worked on the sound. I had a decent loop that I made some time ago saved in Reason that seemed to fit the mood. I took the loop and made it into a full background track.
I found a couple sound effects on FreeSound.org . With some manipulation, I had something usable for the game. I also built a few sound effects in Fruity Loops. The game is actually fairly simple as far as sound is concerned, so it didn't take me very long.
After that was done I was left with creating a little story with a basic tutorial and giving the game a name. That didn't take very long either. Just a few lines of text to be displayed on the screen and a really basic title screen with the background that I already made for the game and some text on top of it.
I purchased the Game Maker html5 module to make my game easier to play directly in browser. It set me back $100, but I think it's worth it considering it gives me the option of making web games now.
I had some issues with sound and text color on the first exports of the html file, but it turned out having to do with the way some files were hosted for it or something? I dunno. I just know it worked when I uploaded it to itch.io.
So, if you want to give my game a try, you can click the link below to go straight to it.
Ludum Dare was quite the experience. Sleeping around 4 hours a night and working nearly every waking minute, it was a test of intuition and perseverance. I will probably do the next one, but putting a few months between jams sounds a little more my style. I was a bit stressful. :P
Until next time.
Time Spent on Jam: ~27 hours