Ludum Dare Jam: Lift Off


If you follow my twitter you know over the weekend that has just gone by I teamed up with @CaylebLucas to create a game in 72 hours for Ludum Dare(LD). This event started the 21st April at 2am and both of us stayed up until the theme was announced. We were given the theme “A Small World” and pitched ideas to each other until we found one we liked. I created the original concept but it was somewhat different from the final game.

The Idea

My idea involved a player that walked around the outside edge of a circle (2D Planet). The player was equipped only with a pickaxe and his objective was to mine the planet of all its resources. Each time you took a swing at the planet it would provide you with resources but the planet would slowly shrink after each hit. You had to deposit resources in the shed (which would be picked up by a spaceship) and get rewarded with money… Money would have been used to spend on random items in a shop that increases the player’s happiness. The objective would be to finish the game with the most happiness/money without destroying the planet.

What Changes?

We thought the game would be much more enjoyable in 3D, it gives the player more space to explore and feels more like a planet. The planet doesn’t get smaller, instead it is just a small size… We wanted the planet to shrink but after implementing other features we didn’t get the time. The crafting system was entirely new and so was the combat system, both features made the game feel much more complete. I was responsible for the entire AI & combat system and it was a lot of fun working on it, here’s a gif to preview

I also worked on the mining system, there’s 3 levels of mines each produce different resources and require different tools to mine. The mining system is part of the core gameplay and works very closely with the other features.

The Experience

This was our first time participating in LD so I wasn’t sure how this would turn out. If you follow me or @Cayleb you know we participate in a weekly self-hosted jam where we create a game in 1 hour. I think this helped us both a lot, we are used to much shorter times so creating a game in 72 hours as tense as it was seemed a little more relaxed. We both set aside our entire weekend and spoke (via Discord) and tweeted throughout development.

Day 1

We both discussed the idea and fleshed it out a little more the morning after the theme was announced. After we had an idea on what we was doing we both split up and worked on separate elements of the game. I began by creating the world itself and the physics that hold the player to the world, here’s a look at that in its early phases: (1).gif

After I worked on the safe area and created a simple low poly pickaxe in blender. My teammate was working on a great crafting system to build a spaceship (as well as a cool spaceship model), this required resources and the best place to start with that was a tool. Once modelled and textured, I animated it using Unity’s built in animation system and set it up in code so you can swing it freely: (2).gif

I also created the sign on the top of the shed, it detects when the player was inside so they can craft. We both thought it would be good if there was some visual feedback. So while I was already animating, I decided to make the sign light up and spin when you enter the shed. A simple job but I like the result.

Day 2

Day 2 I’m going to sum up quite quickly, Cayleb worked on improving the crafting system & making it looks better using models and particles supporting the spaceship. Meanwhile I figured out how to use a new tool called Spacescape, a great tool that allows you to create some really nice space skyboxes. I proceeded by creating the first mining point, this one allows you to get 4 different resources and there had to be an element of randomness to both which and how many you get. Here’s a look at day 2’s progress: (3).gif

As you can see there’s a chance you receive double resources, it was a little extra work but it makes it a little more worth the effort (and it was fun to do!). I do believe Cayleb created the planet too but I didn’t get it in my version until much later on in the day.

Day 2 – night

On day 2 I decided to stay awake until around 5-6am and work on the game. The one main thing missing from the game that we both wanted in was enemies, I couldn’t get them finished in their entirety but I made a good start. I got a model (made with standard assets and materials) that looked like an evil version of the player and made them move forward and look at the player when they get close. I also gave them some cool lights that activate when you get too close (acts as feedback to let you know you’ve been seen).

Day 3

I spent most of the day finalising all the features that were currently in the game (that I had worked on) I’ll break this down into a list to make it easy:

  • Simple AI – wander around, detect & chase
  • Combat system – player heath and enemy health (stronger pickaxes do more damage)
  • Mining system – added all other resources separated between 3 mine zones, you need to upgrade you pickaxe before you can mine in certain areas

Meanwhile the pickaxe crafting system, UI and other cool elements were being created by Cayleb. We had to merge our files and then it was just a matter of preparing to submit, we had the game finished around 9-10pm (deadline was at 2am). We decided to prepare posts and the submission pages and aimed to release by 11. As the deadline was approaching it looked like we’d have no problems and we didn’t really, we did run into a few hitches. We had to re-upload the game a few times because both of us made a few mistakes. They were easy fixes but stopped the game from being 100% playable so we ended up submitting finally around 12:30. This was apparently great because during submission hour the website went down which means people leaving things until last minute ran into a few problems. Here’s a gif showing you what the final game looks like: (4).gif

And feel free to give it a play directly in your browser just follow this link:

Here’s the original LD post (Voting starts soon, it’d be nice to see some positive votes):$18100

This one has been quite a long one so I hope you enjoy playing the game, sit back relax you deserve it!

Until next time…

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