18 hours later…

I finished my Ludum Dare entry “Under The Shade”. I once again had huge ambitions on what kind of game it would be. I drew an island, trees, rocks, thought about fishing places, fire system, cliffs, rescue signals… and realized that this would take 48 months or so to complete. (and not 48-72 hours as the contest requires).

So I did it anyway.

I know that ludum dare is a prototyping contest, where graphics should be… cubes and whatnot. Of course I didn’t want to have just grey cubes. I used some free assets in the asset store, and some assets I had lying around in my computer. To me it was important that the game also looks something else than cubes.

I did three things correctly:

I wrote a todo list
Since I had very limited time, I needed a clear plan on what to do. I made a brief list and moved things around. I divided my TODO into about 10 item lists, and wrote to each section “why” or “what’s this about”. Here’s a some of my todos…

It’s a huge motivational factor and keeps you focused on what I’m going to do.

TODO: you can start a game play it 

DONE - map: island (terrain, sea, some random trees)
DONE - map: collectable branches
DONE - terrain grass
DONE - item: matches on the beach
DONE - item: axe on the beach
DONE - make it possible to gather dead wood
DONE - possible to start a fire (needs small wood pieces)
DONE - place palm tress so that you can also collide
DONE - check what items there should be

TODO: Better torch & fire system
- get stick on fire by placing it to a campfire: if stick is "carried" and is "on fire", then we generate a fire to one end of the stick and it becomes a new fire. Fire won't spread otherwise, only when you carry it away from the campfire
- flame system: 3 size of fire, small, medium, big
- flame system: palm leaves make fire "smoky"

I playtested my game…
First I thought the game would be more about survival under the sun, but I had such a fun time trying to make a nice shelter that I eventually gave bit more attention on that. I had planned so that you could lose the game, but that didn’t feel right in the very last moments of the challenge… so I took it away.

Now the game is about building as good shelter as possible, and then doing a signal fire when you want to end the game.

I cut away majority of the features
I had planned the gameplay a bit, so that there would be more choices to be made. Alas, those features simply didn’t make their way to this minigame. There’s no beasts that hunt you. There’s no more hunger (although banana plant and a banana can be found on the isle). There’s no fishing. There’s no finding water. There’s just the shelter building so that you can get under the shade.

There really wasn’t any other option since I had no time to add those features.

I was persistent
Yesterday I was very tired and I slept 21-24 or so and woke up. I was thinking that “LD ends in 3-4 hours, I need sleep… I’m not going to release this”.

I got up and thought… “I can finalize this game in one hour, and it’ll be good”. I pushed myself to get to coding. After 2,5 hours I was done & uploaded the game. (And still got nice sleep between 3am and 7am)

I have mixed feelings about the entry. It does not have the “make meaningful choices” aspect in the scale I wanted there to be. There’s quite little “resource management”. It has bit of “exploration” and bit of “shelter building”.

And… there’s “fire making”. Sort of.

Over and out
The first 16 hours or so making this game was pure fun. I tweeted, I posted pictures, even put lil bit of Unity code out… so that alone made it worth participating.

The last 2 hours to submit the game to the contest was not bad either.

I didn’t collect all the achievements, but I think this was pretty ok gig for me.

Under the Shade is available at the ludum dare site (windows, mac, linux, web versions).

Juuso Hietalahti