Ludum Dare Mini 31: Becoming fear itself

After mine and Jamie’s hugely successful efforts in the Ludum Dare #22 jam, I thought I’d have a go at the Ludum Dare Mini over the weekend.
The “Mini” event is a lot more laid back, with the hard 48 hours rule being dropped to a suggestion, but I’d thought I’d man-up and make a game within the space of two days… And how’d that go for me?

Gradient abuse!

The Game

The theme for LDMini#31 was “Fear”, and more specifically, “Putting fear into the players”.
After coming up with a few very sketchy ideas, I finally settled down on puzzle-platformer with a tense atmosphere, where the player needs to activate different light sources to overcome their fear of the dark, and progress though the game.

Without any kind of planning, I jumped straight in with some sprites and some basic platform code. To tell the truth, this coding took a bit longer than I’d expected, as I’d forgotten a large section of what I used to know about Game Maker…
Afterwards, I pieced together some lighting code, smashed some variables together, and… Well, nothing much happened. My idea was, whenever the player’s character was in the dark, they’d loose “health”, but in the light, they’d slowly build it back up.After about 6 hours, that fell flat on it’s face.

Needs more pointless squares…

Having my main idea smash straight into a wall was kind of a blow for me, and despite looking over various forums for answers, I thought I might have to rethink the whole thing. The main issue was that if there was more than one light-source at a time, Game maker would only apply the various changes to the first one.

So then I thought…
What if there only was one light source?

Oooh, scary darkness.

Even if I had to completely change the way that light worked, I’m happy with how it turned out.

The Game play

One thing that ate up a lot of time was balancing the game. I’ve always liked challenging platform games like VVVVVV or I Wanna Be the Guy, and this gave me the perfect chance to make one. I wanted to play off  two different gaming aproaches. You could either use the light to explore the level, but take small amounts of damage continuously, or you could keep your light over the player, and try and figure out the rooms as you go. Often with these challenging games, the player can get to a point, and then think “Screw it, this isn’t worth my time.”, which is something I wanted to try and avoid.

Scary stuff…Honest

The Story

Having some kind of narrative throughout the game was a big thing for me, but I had to ditch a lot of it due to the lack of time. Some parts that I added, such as the character getting increasingly worried as you left him in the dark, don’t really make all that much sense on their own, but personal deadlines are more important than narrative… Or, so I’m told.

Yes it it, Mr Character… Yes it it.

The Visuals

From the start, I wanted to limit my colours and restrict myself to simple sprites. If I didn’t, I knew I’d spend way too much time making things look pretty, and no time at all making things work. However, the character sprite was initially just a place holder, but I grew kind of fond of him. While a better looking background might have been nice, I don’t think it matters too much, as you only see a very small section of screen at any one time. All’s well that ends well, I guess.

It’s great if your favorite colour is grey!

The Sound

Ah… Yeah… About that. There is any sound or music in the game, something else that got hit heavily by the time limit. I’ll admit, I kind of forgot about sound until it was too late, mostly because I had my own music playing nearly the entire time I was working. In case anyone is interested, I had SoulEye’s awesome new album, which you should check out. Actually, if you feel my game lacks music, just listen to that while playing.

I wrote this word some many times during the lest 2 days…

All-in-all, I’d say that this LD Mini went rather well. No major problems, finished on time, and learnt a fair bit of Game Maker Language along the way. Learning in the most fun!

I’ll probably keep updating the game, as there’s still a lot more I’d like to add, so keep an eye on this page if your interested.

Check it out here, or download it straight from here (Windows only).

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