Wednesday, April 7, 2010

7DRL Aftermath

So it's been about 3 weeks since the 2010 7DRL contest ended and I am starting to look back to see what I did right and wrong and how the contest went overall. In the end, there were 85 competitors in the contest, of which 50 submitted a finished product. I was part of a panel that reviewed all of the completed projects giving scores and feedback, where my project earned a respectable 1.96 overall score putting it at about the 50th percentile. Not bad for my first game I suppose. I got hit hardest in the Roguelike category of all things. I knew that I wasn't going to be earning a 3 in that category, but I was hoping for at least a 2 (a Roguelike-like rating), but apperently, I was unable to sway the judges with my own treatise on the subject. So far I have managed to give two of the top three games a try, PrincessRL and Harmless7DRL.

PrincessRL is a Roguelike adaptation of the Gainax Princess Maker series. The objective is to train your character (a would be princess) proper manners and how to beat people up. Sounds odd, but that's the objective of the source material as well. I haven't completed the game yet, but it is very complete for a 7DRL project, easy just pick up and play (if you are familiar with roguelikes) and innovative.

Harmless7DRL is a more traditional than PrincessRL, it puts you in the shoes of an apprentice magician who must dive into a dungeon to find a missing professor. The game differs from you average RL by making the hero extremely vulenable to attack. To survive, you must collect magical runes to assemble spells to protect yourself. It is also very complete, at least as far as I managed to get, and it too can be pick up and played. It might not be as innovative as PrincessRL, but it follows the Roguelike blueprint more strictly.
As far as my own project is concerned, I got high marks for Innovation, and average marks for most everything else. Oddly enough I managed to get all three possible scores in the Aesthitics category. One reviewer that it was nice looking and easy to use and another thought it was angry fruit salad, so I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Lessons Learned

I coded the entire project in Notepad++, a handy little text editor that will highlight syntax and help you match parens and brackets. While I think it was a decent enough tool for this job, I think that I would have faired better this a more powerful IDE like Eclipse. I even went through the trouble of getting Eclipse up and running before the contest, but I didn't have the time to familiarize myself use it.
Smart AIs are a pain to program. The one I included in WWRL is functional enough, but it's limited to chasing the player down and beating on him. Next time, if I want to make a decent AI, I'm going to have to cut back on the rest of the project.
Time wasted isn't always time wasted. On day 3, I spent way too long developing the facing algorithms for WWRL. In the end, they were a work of art, but they over 2 hours to code. I thought that I had made a big mistake and that I would regret the lost time later. However, it turns out that the algorithms were actually fairly bulletproof, even when used for a variety of other movement activities. So much so that I only had to make some minor additions when hitching various attacks, jumps, and interrupts to the algorithms. In the end I probably saved several hours because I invested the extra time.