Ludum Dare 35: Soulmyst Retrospective

In the wake my my fourth Ludum Dare in December, I found myself wishing that I could shake things up a little for the next one. The use of my tools had become mature and streamlined, and I found myself ready for a new challenge. In that respect, Ludum Dare 35 did not disappoint. So, a week later, I publish my post-project recollection.

The first shakeup came with the setting. In stark contrast to the solo nature of my previous 4 LDs, I was able to attend the Ludum Dare gathering at the Nemesys Games office in Budapest. So my first shoutout has to go to the space itself; it's cool. The luxurious open-plan office comes equipped with multiple working setups for the HTC Vive VR system, two arcade-looking racing game consoles, and the best damn foosball table I've ever had the pleasure of playing on. And so, the night before the LD proper began, I finally got a chance to demo a VR system. VR scuba diving certainly doesn't capture the salty taste of the real deal, but as I found myself involuntarily stepping back from a malfunctioning Aperture Science robot as it stumbled toward me, the potential of the system was made clear to me. Being able to phase my hand through the robot kinda broke the illusion though. Still, after this I was quite excited for the coming day.

When I arrived Saturday morning for the Ludum Dare, I found myself ushered to a group of people I'd never met before. Based on the theme revealed early that morning, Shapeshift, they were brainstorming for the endless runner that would eventually become Soulmyst. At first, I was unsure where I fit in the team. As a Flash/As3 dev, I had no experience in Unity/C#, the engine of all the team's other coders' choice. On the other hand, my art skills are well-established to be "programmer art" level. As it turned out, I was concerned for entirely the wrong reasons; my skill as a programmer was up for the challenge, but my computer had a few other ideas. So, I think it's time to break up the wall of text a bit:

The Good

  • Unity: With my existing tools, picking up Unity on the go was surprisingly easy. I'm pretty sure I managed to meaningfully contribute instead of just flailing uselessly with code.
  • The Art Team: Seriously, my credit to the people who did the art for the project. They were able to decide on an aesthetic and absolutely nail it in execution. They even managed to come up with a monster in time to replace our placeholder.
  • The Rest of the Team too: Without the rest of the programming team, I surely would have had a far more difficult time acclimating to the tools. They did lots of good work of their own, too, but I'm too self-centered to say that first.
  • Pizza: It just seemed like the right food to eat at the time. Probably because it was.

The Ugly

  • Sound Design: We never really got around to doing it at all. We ended up slapping a NemesisTheory track on the thing a couple hours before release.
  • My Technical Difficulties: This was my real problem with this Ludum Dare. I'm going to make a subset of bullet points just for this.
    • First some code that really should have worked stopped working in MonoDevelop, so I tried to move to Visual Studio. Things went wrong, and I ended up rebooting. That did not fix my problem. My MonoDevelop is still broken, and I ended up fixing the original problem in Notepad++ while waiting for Visual Studio to reinstall, thus setting my personal record for the number of IDEs used in a single day.
    • Later, something went horribly wrong with Git. The result was a Unity project folder that instantly crashes Unity every time I try to open it. I ended up having to pull all the code back off Git and rescue my changes from the broken folder.
    • At some point after all that, TortoiseGit decided to vanish from my computer for no reason, so I had to reinstall that too. The same thing happened to my Firefox Flash Player Plugin.
    • So I was a bit freaked out when, shortly after the LD ended, I plugged my iPod into my computer and it failed to begin charging. That was just due to lint buildup in the lightning cable port, which is easily fixed by cleaning it out with a needle, but in the wake of all the above I was afraid the cable had broken or something.

All's well that ends well, anyway. You can download and play Soulmyst on its LD page here.

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