How I made my first game: Part 3

Ludum Dare #38 Post Mortem – Part 3

Here’s a link to Part One!
And click here for Part Two!

Part 3

Goal – tending

Did I reach my goals? Let’s revisit and check them off:

  • Have an awesome fun experience! ✅
  • Learn something new ✅
  • Gain some estimation skills ✅
  • Know when to pivot (or push though) if something isn’t working ✅
  • Finally start and finish a project O: ✅

So so pumped to have completed this challenge with a finished game! It is polished? Heck no! It’s possibly not even fun to play – but it sure was fun to make, and selfishly this Ludum Dare was all for me bb.


Programmer’s Delight

Let’s take a look at a few nitty gritty details – the game may not be much from the outside but it has some pretty cool elements on the inside. All credit for this goes to SlasherXGAMES and his tutorial, but I will do my best to explain some concepts:

  1. 2-dimensional array – Implementing the 2-d array was a great way of randomly generating the flea pairs by ensuring there would never be a lone flea without a mate. The array keeps track of the flea index, flea sprite and flea id of the first click and the second click. A comparison is made to compare the two and decide whether a match is found (yay!) or not (boo!).
  2. Advanced matching – so I should’ve gone the easy route and just made a colour or shape matching game – but it just didn’t feel right in the flea-world. I wanted to add a little pizazz, so I referenced a more difficult matching game tutorial. The idea is to use one sprite with multiple frames, so the player is matching a similar (but different!) flea rather than the exact same one.
  3. No Drag and Drop here! – I am very excited to have used a ‘controller’ in each room to populate the visual elements. A nested for-loop is used to populate each flea-type, using counter variables to ensure there is always a mate for each flea! No flea left behind.
  4. Animation? When the user makes a correct or incorrect match, the dog reacts and the fleas make a sound! Hey, it was my first game, cut me some slack 😉

Now that all is said and done, here’s a list of the software & tools I used:

  • GameMaker: Studio Pro
  • Trello
  • GIMP
  • Audacity
  • Notebook & pencils
  • Slack
  • Windows Calculator since apparently I suck at counting fleas


What did I learn?

I definitely should have paused the tutorial to test and run the game early and often! D’oh!

GML is pretty user friendly! The documentation is clear and concise and I enjoyed searching through the docs before turning to Google. The more programming languages I run into, the more I realize how similar and universal some core principles are. Variations in syntax are a learning curve for sure, but I’m definitely gaining coding confidence!

What if I kept working on it?

Well, I am probably not going to take this game any further, but my original brainstorm gives me an idea of what the grand vision of the game could be. I imagined it in old flash game meets slick mobile app style.

The game begins with a little animation zooming in on the dog’s weird face (a-la-Ren&Stimpy) and then zooming in even closer to see the fleas hanging out in their natural habitat. Ideally the fleas are animated for the whole game, wriggling around and dancing to the background music. Each level would increase in speed and difficulty and the animal would change (dog -> cat -> giraffe -> unicorn -> etc).

A timer function and score multiplier would increase urgency and reward you for matching fleas fast. Of course there would also be a high score table which may add replay value? Anyways! That’s my game in a utopic timeline.

Next Ludum Dare

I can’t wait to try again and push myself way harder. Now that I know I can complete a small game in a short amount of time, I want to challenge myself:

  • Start with the same game plan, but take the graphics through at least one more iteration to clean it up visually
  • Have a better understanding of the core basics of game development
  • Work with a team!
  • By next time I hope to have experimented with GML and learned the strengths\ limits of GameMaker: Studio
  • Communicate and network with others working on their own Ludum Dare projects


UPDATE: The Results are In!

Well folks, thanks for reading my 3-part post mortem! I really enjoyed by first Ludum Dare experience and look forward to playing and rating your Ludum Dare games! Comment with a link to a game you’ve made and I will give it a whirl.

Of course, click here to play Match the Fleas!

Yay! In the top 8th percentile for humour 😀 I got tons of amazing feedback from this very friendly community. I can’t wait to apply it to the next Jam at the end of July.

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