10 Seconds of Light was my entry in the 27th Ludum Dare 48hour game making competition, the world’s largest game jam. 2213 games were made this time to the theme ’10 seconds’.

I had a couple of different ideas initially:

– a 10 seconds to defuse the bomb game, (which was actually made by other jammers in several different versions)

– a memory game with 10 seconds to look at the solution (a bit boring)

– a light-cycle race in which you need to turn once every 10 seconds or loose

– a bomberman-like two-player game in which the walls grow every 10 seconds (I remembered that bomberman had that kind of death-mode in the end of timed levels)

– a shooter in which the enemy can only be seen briefly every 10 seconds or if he fires a weapon (would have required character animation)

– and the last idea, a dark labyrinth that the player has to navigate with only 10 seconds of light available.

 

10seconds_0001Game Mechanics

In order to skip on character animation I decided to use the classic ball through a labyrinth approach. A normal labyrinth with walls could, however, be navigated by trial and error. To make sure the player actually needed to use light I removed the walls and put the labyrinth above a deep chasm (infinity). It needed to be clear from the beginning that if the player fell off he would die/be reset.

This basic concept was enough but lacked in actually interesting gameplay elements so I added power-ups that could be collected within the labyrinth: a shooting ability to remove obstacles in the path (2 bullets), a jump power and a speedup.

The light power had to be switched on and off like a flash light. In the beginning I added a delay between switching the light off and on again but that made it very difficult when a speedup was active so I reverted to the instant on/off version.

I created short levels, because naturally the player had to be able to finish them with using only 10 seconds of light. That did not mean the level itself had to be finished in 10 seconds, on the contrary, higher levels needed to force the player to switch off his light to conserve energy.

 

Look & feel:

The first prototype was running soon after. The first controller was physics (rigidbody) based because I thought interaction with the environment might become a feature later. That controller version proved very hard to steer, not impossible, but I fell off the labyrinth path so often that I decided to try a second controller based on the standard Unity FPS character controller. That one was much easier to control and was the controller I used for easy and normal mode later on. The rigidbody controller remained in the game for the hard (frustrating) game mode.

For the look I went with a very minimalistic, clean and prototype-like look. Strong contrasts between the black surroundings, the light grey platforms and the red player ball allow the user to quickly identify his situation with only using his light for a short time.

10seconds_iconsInterface

I chose a nice-looking free font from Google fonts and made some graphic icons that would signify light power, shooting power (bullets), jumping power, speedup time and level playtime. I didn’t want text or large interface elements distracting the player. The menu interfaces are simple boxes with text. 10seconds_0003

 

 

Music

Being a visually simple game, I knew I also needed sound and & or music. I opted for the latter and made some very weird tracks in NanoStudio. I would characterize the music as eerie, horror and speed. At least that’s what I was going for. I’m not a composer.

 

The Jam

I approach every game jam more relaxed than the last one. Knowing that I can definitely deliver a game of some sort within a day makes it easier to concentrate on special new features like the interface elements and the music this time. I actually developed the game in about 16 hours on two days while watching series, reading and playing games in between. No all-night programming sessions this time. The entry period was a bit close again, due to my infinitely slow internet connection that took over an hour to upload all the different platform versions (Web, PC, Mac, Linux). Overall, the jam was great fun once again, I learned a few things about Unity and a lot about making music.