Post-Mortem – Johnny’s Flipbook Space Adventure

Another Ludum Dare, another Post-Mortem.  This one is about the recent Ludum Dare 42 events and the development of my game Johnny’s Flipbook Space Adventure.

The Days Up To Theme Announcement

I was looking forward to LD42 for months, until about a week before the start. For some reason, I was not hit with the normal excitement, and decided that it may be time to take a break… after all, I did 5 LDs in a row and I am currently working on my pet project. I decided to press on and go through voting for themes.

Honestly, I wasn’t a fan of most of the themes to make the finals and when the theme was announced, I decided that its probably a good idea to take a break. Even though I was “out”, I was still thinking of a game, and about 6 hours later my game just came to me and I was in! At this time it was well after midnight so I decided to go get some rest and start early the next morning. By the time I got started, I was over 12 hours behind, but I was determined to ramp up and get to work.

Day 1

Day 1 for me was actually Day 2 of Ludum Dare. I decided for the theme I was going to use hand drawn images and animate them in a flip book style.  I used Adobe Photoshop Sketch (which I never used before) on my iPad to draw 5 images for each sprite, and animate them in a loop. It came out very nice.

I scanned some graph paper as a background image. I also scanned a piece of paper that I tore a hole into. Originally, this was going to be used when the player’s ship shoots an alien ship… I wanted the hole to appear at the spot where the alien ship was destroyed, but this was becoming quite a challenge. There was a lot of overlap with other holes and existing alien ships, and that was causing a lot of physics issues that I just could not work around. It also made the game a bit frustrating to play.

I decided instead to “tear” a hole in the paper between levels. That seem to work and made game play fun and challenging.

By the end of the day, I had a pretty solid space shooter with some audio in place. Since I was pretty far into development at this point, I decided to call it for the day, and pick it up again the next day.

Day 2

It’s not Sunday 8:00am EST. There is 10 hours of Ludum Dare left, but I was in a good position. I completed the audio, using Audacity and Adobe Audition (another tool I never used before) to make my voice more child-like, created the title screen, and back story, and after a bit of play-testing, it was time to submit.

What Went Well

  • Normally, it is a bit of a task to come up with something I want to develop and is fun to play. This time, the game idea just came to me so easily. This was a game I really wanted to make! That was an incredible motivator.
  • During development, I actually learned how to use 2 applications I never used before (Adobe Audition and Adobe Photoshop Sketch). I’m not a pro with them, but they are 2 more tools in the tool belt.
  • I made all the audio with my voice, and it was fun!

What Could Have Gone Better

  • I’m not really sure… this is a tough one. My original ideal of ripping holes when alien ships were destroyed was costing me a lot of time. Same with my lack of enthusiasm during the start. I did turn these into positives and I think it helped me create a game I really enjoyed programming and playing.



SMS: Next Mission – August Update

Time for another update… Space Mission Survival: The Next Mission development has been going well these past couple of months. Right now, I have the following modes in a playable state:

  • Arcade 70s – Blips, bloops, vector glow!
  • 8-bit 80s – Classic home computer pixel fun
  • Console 90s – Higher res, digitized sound effects

Screenshots are to the right… click on the pic for a larger image. I am also planning a short video to go over the history of this game, my development timeline, and of course, game play.

No more restarts… this is the project that will continue until release!

Some tweaks that I am planning on adding in the next couple of weeks:

  • Right now, the game plays very similar in all 3 modes (except for the sounds). I plan on adding some additional features to the 80s and 90s mode to include features that were available at the time.  Perhaps a boss level for the 80s mode, and more enemies in the 90s mode.
  • I am considering adding an additional mode for the 2000s. Roughly based on some ideas from my previously abandoned “Shmup Mode”. I have a couple of ideas, but no promises., and I won’t let me hold back the release.
  • I am thinking of adding something to the game for early adopters… perhaps a new mode (text-based 60s, anyone?), or a special ship.

The plan is still to put a version up on or Steam as soon as I can. I am working toward that goal now. Maybe that will generate some feedback.