I have completed and submitted my game for VimJam: Collectables (8 Bits to Infinity), 18-25 September 2020. The constraint was “Collectables”, the theme “There and back”. I am satisfied: for the first time I have created everything, sounds, music, graphics and code. The result isn’t great, but I’m still very happy.

Before telling how it went, here are some links:

The voting isn’t over yet, so I don’t know how I will rank. But it is not for the ranking that I took part in this jam. I started with the idea:

follow the player

It’s a fairly simple idea: “Collectibles” are “people”. The “back again” is the rescue operation to bring them home. That’s all. Although I wanted, and still want, to add a strategic dimension: saved characters will have specific skills that will allow the rebirth of the lost civilization.

I know, all of this is impossible to accomplish in just one week. Or at least it’s impossible for me. As a result, I limited myself to just one aspect of the game. And the aspect I gave priority to is the main one of the game: the “rescue” of the characters.

But first I had to choose what kind of game: a topdown or a platformer. I followed two thoughts:

  • I wanted to create a platformer
  • I wanted to design all the assets myself

I think it’s easy to create profile characters. Unless you choose very abstract graphics.

After deciding what to do, the problems began.

First Problem: time. I didn’t use the time available in the correct way because I’ve paid too much attention to some unnecessary details. But the choice to focus on the game dynamics was correct. I haven’t created many levels. But the prototype works: the player moves, the characters follow the player, the enemies can hurt, the safe area is safe.

One important thing: I think I’ve found a way to quickly create new levels. I hope I’ll be able to create some new levels as soon as possible.

Second problem: the graphics. I decided to draw everything. I was inspired by Kenney’s Scribble Plaformer Pack, but my artistic skills are at this level:

Learning to draw in a week is not a good idea but, with practice, my ability has grown somewhat. I discovered a trick, too: if I add a white outline everything looks prettier. To add an outline I used a plugin: OUTLINE by Richard Lems.

I would have liked a shadow effect but it’s too much for my skills.

Third problem: the style. The more I drew the more my drawing style changed. Why? Because not being good I don’t have my own style. You can see the result in the game: it is a jumble of different styles. For example, the background is not matched to the buttons.

Fourth problem: music and sounds. I composed the sounds using BoscaCeoil. If it weren’t for my wife, it would have been a complete disaster. Unfortunately there are different sounds that cause confusion. The sounds go with the player’s actions and highlight the consequences of the choices made.

Fifth problem: the immortal bugs. That is the bugs that keep popping up, especially a particularly stubborn one: in some situations the characters leave the safe area and commit suicide. I’ll have to check the code again.

That’s all. I enjoyed it, and I learned new things. Now it’s time to try other contestants’ games.

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