It’s been a while since I made a new post and that’s because real life has been consuming my development time like a hungry time lord. So unfortunately it’s also been relatively slow, development wise but it’s not too bad because I did get a few things done for Double Jump and also I started a small game for the Ludum Dare 27 (LD27) game jam called Abandoned but couldn’t finish it in time. Oh well. It was my first attempt at a game jam so at the very least I now know that making a game within the entire lifespan of two mayflies is a lot tougher than I thought. More about that later anyway. First what’s new with Double Jump.
Well I was putting the final pieces together for a demo update but now I’m thinking that I should maybe retract the demo altogether and put that time to use on producing more media to show instead. It’s not entirely a comfortable idea for me to remove the demo because I’ve always been a firm believer on a try before you buy mentality but I can’t shake the feeling that a demo for a pure platformer like DJ seems a bit redundant. Screenshots and videos pretty much tell you everything you need to know about the game so hopefully this isn’t a bad idea. Also what really struck it home was a video on YouTube titled Extra Credits: Demo Daze which highlights the issues with releasing playable demo’s for games. I highly recommend this video series to any game developer by the way and to anyone else who happens to be human as well 😛
So anyway, what has changed in Double Jump.
Well, on the surface the game clock has a background now and the options screen has been fully fleshed out but the biggest change is optimisations for rendering the game. I tested out one of the slower level sections where I used to get 80 fps which is ridiculously terrible for a game like this but now the frame rate rarely dips below 250 and the same slow section as before clocks in around at 238 fps. That’s an overall 250 – 300% increase roughly which is definitely good but it can be a bit better. Most of the optimisations were on the lighting system as it’s by far the biggest bottleneck and although the lights are now blurred with a global setting instead of per-light blur amounts, the quality of them hasn’t changed much at all. There’s still one optimisation to the lights that needs to be done but it’s going to sit on the to do list until it’s time comes since the performance is good enough for now.
Lastly, The game loop has been changed so that drawing the scene can be skipped in order for the game to catch up if the frame rate dips below 60. This is bad on one hand unfortunately as the game never skipped a frame before so it was still playable, albeit slower if it couldn’t run at 60fps but now it skips frames so it’s somewhat less playable than before. The flip side is that no matter what (unless in extreme cases) the game will run at a consistent speed in terms of game time and also it adds the benefit of disabling speed runners from cheating by intentionally slowing the game down. Since DJ is strictly single player, I didn’t see any problems with the old game loop style but since then a few people I know started working on a speed running website and it made me realise why I couldn’t leave the old game loop in.
So the theme for LD27 was “10 Seconds” and although I completely missed the deadline it was a very worthwhile experience and I’ll be taking part in future game jams.
The premise for Abandoned is you play as a lone crew member on board a small spaceship after it has succumb to an alien attack. You were knocked unconscious in the fight only to be woken up by an alarm and a message dictating that the ship will crash in 10 minutes into the nearby planet unless diverted. After figuring out that most of the ships rooms have lost power and that your other crew members escaped without you, taking all the escape pods, you realise that you have to work your way round the ship, fixing and powering up the various systems as you go in an attempt to charge up the engines and jump out of there. The LD27 theme comes in where your suit oxygen levels only last 10 seconds between charges.
I wouldn’t normally make such a dark game but the tight deadline of the game jam forced me to just go with the first idea that worked with the theme, apart from obvious “do this in 10 seconds” ideas. I think this game might have potential if I can figure out a good way to convey to the player how to play the game without ruining the atmosphere or immersion. Anyway the game isn’t really even at prototype stage yet because Double Jump is still my primary game project but I will post a video of Abandoned with me talking about it at some point in the near future. Unfortunately I can’t estimate when Abandoned will be anywhere close to done but I will keep you posted 🙂
Thanks for reading and have a great life!
September 23, 2013 at 3:52 am
I totally agree about taking the demo down. Videos for a game in this genre are definitely enough. A demo might quench someone’ thirst before they buy it. Congrats on the optimizations 🙂
March 23, 2014 at 11:19 am
Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in
your article seem to be running off the screen in Safari.
I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to
do with internet browser compatibility but I figured I’d post
to let you know. The style and design look great though!
Hope you get the problem resolved soon. Many thanks
March 31, 2014 at 8:04 pm
Thank you very much for bringing that to my attention. I’ll have a look into it and see what I could do. I might not be able to change it as the CSS code is hidden from me unless I pay to access it. I will be migrating the site over to an external server leading up to the subscription running out and I think the WordPress CMS allows these kinds of customisations when using their external CMS.
Thanks again for the heads up and I’m really glad you like the design otherwise 🙂