Deception Castle

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In this post-portem I’ll talk about Deception Castle a title developed with a small team in two days at GameJam 2010. For those that don’t know about GameJam, it is a contest where small groups of developers and artists stay two complete days programming and drawing as crazies to complete a game. And so we did!!

Rocket jump!!



The developing team was formed by Enrique Alcor, Miguel Galle and me (Adrián Domínguez) as programmers, and David Cano as artist. We developed it for PC using XNA Framework.

If you want to download the game, you can from here. You will need administrator privileges as the game will download and install .NET and XNA redistributables needed to play the game.

Summary

Game features

  • Horizontal scroll platformer.
  • You are a soldier assaulting the monkey castle with the rocket-jump technique.
  • Search for the correct key to go through each castle door.
  • Avoid traps, precipices, and the key-disguised gorillas!!

Development challenges

  • 48 hours to develop it.
  • Logic, graphics and sound in such a little time.
  • And the most important thing, it is fun to play it!!

Here you can watch a game video:

The good things

XNA

Again XNA gets a point in a postmortem. If it is great for 3-6 months projects, for 2 days projecst it is essential! Only with it we could have gameplay, graphics, sound, menus and even a script based level loader in less than 48 hours.

Experience

I learnt that experience is really valuable. In this case some of the programmers had worked before with XNA, some had made platformer games, and some had experience with level design. Excepting some problems with art that I’ll talk about later, the game programming was great!

The bad things

Restricted design

The game design was proposed by me, but it had been my head for some time before and it didin’t fit well with the GameJam thematic that year. Because of that, we had to include some strange game mechanics (as key-disguised gorillas deceiving player) that weren’t really satisfying.

Artist withoug game development experience

We had some problems with game art. The artist used his drawing tools perfectly, but he had no experience on game development. He gave us some headaches with unadjusted sprites, each one with a different scale, … and made us lose some invaluable hours.

Boring art

From my point of view (and some others), this game art doesn’t fit it’s mechanics. It’s perfect for fun and vivid sprites and a colorful scenery. But we gave free hand to our artist and he undestood it in a different way… let say “yo each his own”.

Sound and design

How does it sound a game about a soldier rocket-jumping all the time? We didn’t have that in mind during the game design. Even worse, we used some Quake sounds that were really shrill, and it was unpleasant to listen then continuously. At least it was really fun to listen the soldier falling to death!

Conclusions

The main problem with game design was that we only spent 30 minutes on the design phase, and that the initial idea was not respected by the artist. It’s important to fix the design of every aspect of the game (graphics and sound too) to get all the people in the same line and avoid problems.

Other thing I learnt is to value the experience as a videogame specializing artist. For game development it’s much better a programmer/artist like our partner Joseba who does great art piezes and knows how the programmers need them; with a traditional artist like David who knows more art techniques but doesn’t know how to make his work fit with ours.

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