terça-feira, 24 de julho de 2012

Contrast: A little bit more about the game

A week after being online, Contrast was played a total of 464 times (339 at Kongregate and 125 at GameJolt :D). This way, and having the last post being a complaint above all, I feel like I should talk a little bit more about the game that took me a week to make.

Made for Mini-Ludum Dare #36, event that serves as a warm-up for the actual Ludum Dare that happens every four months, the game was made from Monday 07/09/2012, till Friday 07/13/2012 using an idea I had written down a few weeks ago that, coincidentally, fit the theme of the compo ("contrasts"). In it the  game, the player controls a black and white cube and needs to cross different obstacles manipulating the environment around him.

The idea I had written down weeks ago is the following: "Light Dimensions: the player changes dimensions creating paths for himself in another dimension". Although it sounds vague , that idea represents the basic mechanics of the game.

The player controls a cube and can change from the light "dimension" to the dark one. In the light dimension white cubes become transparent and are no longer solid, in the dark one the same happens with black cubes.

Same place, different dimensions

It is also possible from a certain moment to create cubes, resulting in the "creating paths for himself in another dimension" part of the idea. In the light dimension the player creates cubes that can only be used in the dark dimension and vice-versa.

With those two resources I had a lot of space to try different models of level design (but yet not as much as much as I could have if I had more time, I have plenty of ideas for a possible next version of the game), challenging the player to be everytime more precise and alert to manage to keep going, specially with the scarce quantity of Checkpoints.

The initial objective was to create a game that focused on the solution of puzzles, forcing the player to calculate the quantity and moment rights to use his cubes instead of using them however they wanted to reach their goals. Some implementations that would serve to reinforce that idea unfortunately had to be left out (for now) because of the time factor, so the logic way to fix the problem was to craft the level focusing on motor coordination challenges. Moving platforms, precise jumping, mid-air dimension changing and fast creation of cubes were some of the elements inserted in the game.

Another important part was music.
Considering the theme of the competition, I thought it was viable to extend the notion of "contrast" beyond the visual, so I began searching for a soundtrack that fit the theme. The initial idea was to have two tracks with different feelings playing (happy and sad or scary and calm for example) that would be alternated with the dimensions. The big problem was that there was some dissonance between the two pieces of music when they alternated too fast, causing an unpleasent effect more them helping in the immersion.
The solution came with time: searching one of my free game music sources I found a track that not only had the minimalist feeling of the game, but also had multiple versions. "Evening Fall" by Kevin MacLeod was played on piano and harp, and both versions were almost perfectly synchronized, enough not to cause the annoying dissonance.

Having finished the mechanics and the soundtrack by wednesday I dedicated my remanescent efforts to create and test level design (with the help of my loyal beta testers, whose names appear in the credits as special thanks) and, as quoted in the last post, I proudly managed to finish everything  by friday.
With a trip scheduled to the weekend, I postponed the submission of the game to monday, what would give me time to review and correct any bugs that showed up by surprise. The problem was my lack of attention, since the deadline for submission was sunday, and not monday. :p

But still, having returned from my trip, I finished polishing the game and uploaded it. It was an amazing experience and extremely educative, since it is necessary a lot of organization and focus to manage to create a game in a wee. The next Ludum Dare happens in August and it is most likely that I will participate. :)

Here are some more images of Contrast:

You can play Contrast here or here.

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