Sunday, August 17, 2014

4hr Game Jam #1 - 4hr Pong

I had a spare four hours on the weekend so I thought I'd follow through with a plan I had last post. I decide to do a quick little jam to get better at making games in shorter time frames. I didn't want to embarrass myself straight up so I decided to start with something easy.

I figured I may as well start where video games start. I also realised that despite it being the general starting point for everyone learning to make games, I'd never actually made a Pong clone. That all changes now... Play it here.

I'm going to do a post-mortem for it as well but I don't think I need to go into detail as much as the longer jams. Plus this jam wasn't so much about the game as the process of making it. I'll just break it up into good and bad points:


- I actually managed to finish the coding for a base game of Pong in about 1.5 hours. The break down for the rest was kind of all over the place, but it doesn't really matter. In all, I managed to get more than I planned to do done in the 4 hours, so it's a good start.
- The new thing I learnt this game was how to use fonts properly. Where before I was just making sprites for all the labels, all the text here was done on the fly with strings. It's good but at the same time it's harder to set up composition. I'll need to learn to use these better if I want to do more string related stuff/localistion in the future. Right now, I'm happy to stick with sprites.


- There's a weird bug where player 1 can sometimes send the ball out through the top wall. I didn't have enough time to fix it but it happens occasionally. I thought I had enough checks in there that this couldn't happen, so I have no idea why it does. I didn't have time to investigate any further.
- The new feature I thought I'd add (the smash attack thing) didn't really make it harder for the opponent to react. I ended up making it expand the paddle significantly to make it also like a last second save if necessary, but it's still not as good as it should be. It should either let the player pick a corner to aim for, or send the ball to the opposite side than the opponents paddle is on (in addition to the speed up).
- The sound effects are pretty bare bones. I really need to start building up a sound effect catalogue so I don't need to mess around in bfxr ever time I need something.
- I decided to livestream this jam. It went ok, but there were a lot of little kinks that I need to iron out if I'm going to do it again (My headset kept turning itself off, I need a better timer setup, it's hard to talk to yourself about what you're doing for 4 hours).

I'm pretty happy with how this little experiment went. I don't always have a weekend that will allow me to do it, but whenever I can I'll try and do one for the foreseeable future. I think also I'm just going to stick with the timeline of game creation for themes, but if anyone has any suggestions I'll take them on board (as long as it's not a DinoRiders RTS). Next time: Some kind of Space War clone.

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