Jan 02 2013

Ludum Dare 25: Evil Kitten-kidnapping Pirates IN SPACE

Theme: “You are the Villain”

Title screen for the game **Evil Kitten-kidnapping pirates in space**

Ludum Dare entry View Timelapse on Youtube

This time I was aiming for a space shooter game, with a very special control scheme that I've been having in the back of my head for several years. Unfortunately I’m not very pleased with how my entry turned out in the end. Read on to get more details…

For the compo I was using a language called Haxe, with a cross-platform framework called NME together with my own previously built Entity system, Seagal Engine. This was the first time I actually built something with the engine, so it was my very first test run with my engine.

This was my full setup:

  • Laptop – Asus Zeenbook (UX31E) with Windows 7
  • Flashdevelop 4 – Excellent haxe-support, better than intellij which I actually prefer when programming actionscript
  • Paint.NET – Its not photoshop, but good enough for simpler graphical tasks
  • Graphics GALE – This is an awesome tool for pixel art!
  • Cygwin/GIT and Github – For version control
  • Chronolapse – For the timelapse recording (watch it on youtube)

What turned out to be good:

  • Live Event. I had a really great time sitting at the office of Goo Technologies who hosted the live event in Stockholm. Was really fun to get to know some of the other Ludum Darers – although programming really isn’t a very social activity =)
  • Haxe. I don’t have a lot of experience with the language, but I got into it really quick and boy I really like it!
  • Story. I had some huge problems with the theme at first. Its really easy to come up with some really macabre ideas, but I’m not very fond of those things just for the sake of it. But I came up with this really silly and stupid idea of kidnapping kittens whos being delivered to orfant children via bubbles in space. You can kill them or kidnap them, but killing comes with a huge indirect penalty.
  • Basic gameplay. I wanted to make a fast, bullet-hell, arcade-type of game. It starts up really easy with just a few randomly placed turrets, but as soon as you start kidnapping kittens the deliveries starts getting escorted by guard-ships with different abilities and formations. The open world concept would also work pretty nice with some improvements.
  • Controls. I’m kind of happy with the feel when controling the ship. It needs lots of improvements, but it really has a lot of potential.

And not so good:

  • Space! Space is really boring and really don’t fit my “art-style” (which I call “fugly”). Space is only black, and spaceships needs to be really well drawn to look good. I do much better with organic stuff than with spaceships. I really whish I had gone with some kind of top-down shooter instead. Maybe jungle.
Space looks so boring... and... abstract...??
  • Actual Gameplay. I had about 30 minutes to tweak the gameplay before submitting. My initial plan was to go for a very agile approach with the gameplay. Need to practice on getting the game up and running quicker for that to work well =).
  • Performance. The engine has a lot of improvements for performance. It becomes really obvious when you get a lot of kittens and escorts on the screen at the same time, a short while into the game. Well, I did kind of expect it to happen and it was also my very first test-run with the engine. I didn’t want to start optimizing it too early, but now I know I need to do it. Glad I have it covered with unit tests \o/


The game has some potential, but I didn't manage to bring it out, and it turned out to be a pretty bad experience. A huge part of it was that I had a full, playable game so late that I didn't have time to tweak it. That the game did not turn out as I had imagined is kind of reflected in the scores, although they are not too bad:

Out of a total of 901 compo entries (1326 entries in total)

All in all, it was a great event. And very intense! I think about once (max twice) a year is as much as I can take, but I’m already looking forward to next time!