Thursday, October 30, 2014

Aliens Smashed My Pyramid postmortem

For the third Insanity Jam I created the game Aliens Smashed My Pyramid. the idea is that aliens have picked an Egyptian pyramid as the token landmark to destroy. You can’t let this go uncorrected so must repair the pyramid. Gameplay is similar to the towers of hanoi in that you can only move smaller pieces on top of bigger pieces. The twist is that the aliens are not limited to this restriction so the origin of the pieces are initially random.

What Went Right

The big thing about Insanity Jam is that each participant has a different theme. These themes are randomly generated. The theme I got happened to fit a game idea that I had in the back of my mind but simply never had the time to get around to. The theme was “An atmospheric game where you correct the biggest monument--forever.” Atmospheric game is very open ended, so I opted to go with a real world location. Biggest monument—forever right away pointed to the Egyptian pyramids. This got me thinking of the step pyramids, which lead to me thinking of Tower of Hanoi. This reminded me of the game idea I had. Randomly scrambled starting blocks was just one of the ideas, but was enough to start with. The plan was to get this implemented and then add the other two twists to the game if there was time.

Mixed Blessings

I went with my fallback tool/language of Flash CS6 and it’s ActionScript 3 language. While this allows me to complete things relatively quickly, which was an important consideration this challenge, I really should be moving to a better language. My definition of better is free/cheap and cross-platform. I already own CS6 so it is not costing me anything to use it, but to get the latest version of Flash, I would have to spend money so it is time to move away from it. There have been a number of tools and languages that I have been playing around with, but right now I am really considering HAXE/OpenFL but do need to spend more time working with it to know if it will meet my needs.

What Went Wrong

Going into my first Insanity Jam, I knew from the outset that the actual amount of time that I would be able to spend on the developing of the game was going to be low. This is partly the reason that I decided to go with this jam as that way I would have an entire week to work on the game so I could get the game finished on the weekend and spend the week polishing the game. Despite a lot of interruptions, I did manage to get the game finished on the weekend. I was even able to get the first polish pass finished. I had some really need twists to add to the game, not to mention sound and another pass at graphics, so I really was hoping to get more time during the week to enhance the game. Due to other obligations, this never happened so the game is not close to what it could have been. This means that yet another game is going onto my to-do when I have time list.

Overall, I like the game but do think it would have been much better had I had the time for polish and the extra twists.