While my game didn’t do terribly well in LD 23, it got overall average scores, I did get quite a bit of plays and a lot of good feedback on it. I decided why not, take it and expand it out further. Well this has taken FAR longer than expected and I ended up developing a full cross-platform 2d game engine/library that supports Android NDK/Linux/Windows/Mac in the process, but as of last night the extended edition of my LD23 game “Tiny Defenders” Is available on google play
First off, a link to the free version:
But that’s not the primary purpose of this post! I wish i had though of it sooner and done more in between but i’ve started doing video logs of my development so following this sentence i’ll have a few videos, starting with a video of the competition version, showing how the game evolved as i tried new things and added on to what I already had. I actually think it’s kinda interesting to see how something starts from a tiny little ludum dare game and evolves into a full game.
First off here was the competition version, very simple, simple 2 step sprite sheets, only one sprite used for all enemies and defenders, mouseover text in the upper left used for everything, levels are simply a single bitmap that the game is drawn over, all the levels essentially the same but with different graphics and slightly different path, and all but the base “army ant” unit were pretty much useless…basicly lots of shortcuts used to get it up and working in 24 hours
Unfortunately skipping a few builds as i didn’t think to take more video until this, drawing off most of the comments I had received i basicly stripped the game to it’s basics, changed the field size to better fit mobile screens, and wrote a simple UI layer so you can better see what you’re actually doing. (also made movement and attacking more smooth/requires ants to actually walk to an enemy before they can attack). The biggest changes though are the statistics you get when you select an ant at the right and the upgrade menu showing current stats and stats after upgrade, mostly due to feedback that it was hard to tell if an upgrade was worth it or not as there was no numerical feedback. Ants were also all capped to level 3 as level 5 ants were simply too powerful…and of course a button was added so you can give up on a level at any time and return to menu.
At the next update I had started adding new units but it cluttered the interface far too much to be usable on a phone, to reduce the number of buttons in any menu without requiring sub-menu’s and such I came up with a “weapon switching” mechanic where every unit has multiple “modes” you can set them in effectively allowing one unit to take up the roles of two, each having a certain advantage. This actually added more strategy to the game where you are forced at times to decide whether damage or range is more important.
After this and from feedback it felt that the old 3 types of enemies and art were stale to the point where it would be too boring with so much new funtionality, so I took some time for a art revamp and added new systems for boss enemies, flying creatures that some attacks can’t hit, and redid the level format significantly, now making it tile based instead of single image, making it singnificantly easier to alter or make new levels
In my next update I decided to address some more of the primary complaints of the compo version, for one that it was hard to tell exactly the “square” you had to select to upgrade an ant since they moved around while fighting and that it was “just” different enough from a normal TD game that you really needed some instructions or a tutorial to learn how to play. To address this I added waving flags to the squares you place an ant on, so you know where to click, and have ants return to their flag while not attacking. I also added in a set of tutorial levels that have onscreen text instructing you how to play and a locking mechanic where levels only unlock after completing the previous one. (the tutorials have a skip button however). Another mechanic I added at this time was terrain effects. Each tile could now have different effects like disallowing ants to move through them, slowing down or speeding up, healing, or blocking placement and projectiles.
At this point the levels were actually getting pretty complicated and hard to edit by hand so i needed to move to using a editor, since they had essentially evolved off the origional format moving to something like tiled would have required a huge rewrite, though thankfully my origional level format was actually pretty well designed and easy to work with, they were just getting too large with too many sections with all the new layers of data the tiles had. I opted instead of using an existing editor to simply make a in-game editor for my own use, which ended up being a HUGE time saver in the end as i could swap between edit and game modes freely to test changes live instantly.
And last but not least, I did quite a bit of polish, and created extra levels/tilesets/worlds for the android release. It’s not quite in the release yet but there is actually a working achievement’s system as well that i havent enabled yet as i wanted to polish it a bit more. Thankfully my engine design was versetile enough that integrating admob support was completely painless as well, i can just put the banner anywhere and the game will auto-resize to fit around it on any screen, so i made a really short promo video showing off a few stages in the first world and one stage from the second.
A little bit of a long post but hopefully interesting to some of you to see visually the evolution from a simple toy made for LD to what it is now, and how things changed and evolved from user feedback.