Post-Mortem / Design Notes for Worthless

The following is spoiler-ish, so do check out the game first if you haven't!

Got #4 in the Shenanijam which is really fantastic! 

Before I reflect on my score, here's some insight onto the game's 48 hours of development.

When the theme landed, I really wanted to do "void sandwich", but I spent almost 2 hours trying to think of weird and wonderful ideas that weren't too obvious a choice. I thought of sandwiches flying in space. There was even a really zany idea of collecting ingredients to make a sandwich, and you would shrink in size, and then explore these giant levels which are essentially the empty spaces between the two slices of a bread on a huge-ass sandwich where your platforms are these ingredients collected. (Sounds like a really cool concept, but couldn't brain it)

In the end, I went with my initial idea of being sandwiched by the void - a soulcrushing experience, being led to your doom on conveyor belts to be obliterated by invisible sandwich-press style machines. 

Given that its a little tame for an idea, and I didn't want it to be just another 2D game jam platformer, I thought: why not emulate the style of LIMBO, which was a dark, edgy platformer? With benefits being: a simple palette of monochrome colors (with the occasional red to accentuate the gruesome bits) - sounds perfect for a jam.

Next, the idea of using simple shapes for everything was attractive (so much easier to make in a jam!), as I wanted the protagonist to be a simple circle.

I added more "life" to the simple circle by adding some bobbing about and a squash/stretch (SQUETCH!). All of this was achievable in Unity Mecanim quite easily by adjusting the vertical/horizontal scales. This simple trick made the balls feel alive, so when they were ultimately crushed, the excessive blood splatter coupled with the icky squishing sounds made for quite a stomach churning experience - as was intended. 

There is also more to using the simple shapes - I wanted to use it as a conceal to mask the mini-"twist" at the end of the game, however whole idea still seems to be a little obscure so I'll just put it here: 

In short, its a game about chick culling

On the surface its about happy bouncy balls being doused, squished by machines and burnt alive. 

But to think that such things actually happen every day to actual living beings, is quite a grim thought indeed.

To reinforce this, I even added a particle effect which leaves a trail when a ball is squished - which I overdid in my first attempts . To accentuate the impact of the crushing void sandwich presses, a custom screen shake was also implemented with some spring-like behaviors (which unfortunately caused some bugs)

I even added an easter egg within the game (which seems yet to be discovered so hint hint its near the credits) which subtly hints at this concept. 

In the end I ditched the yellow color and settled for a monochrome look.

For the lighting, I wanted to also experiment with light mapping. I ended up doing my custom light map for the squares in Inkscape, using a bump map for a sphere normal as a reference. Adding a light source to the main character 

I also spent quite a bit of time getting the conveyor belts right, as that was going to be the main mechanic for the game.  I ended up using a Unlit/Transparent texture, with the texture offset being set by code programmatically and the scale being set by code as well so that it would scale properly if I adjusted the length of the conveyor belt.

 I racked my brains for an appropriate title (initial title being the Void Factory), but ended up being inspired by this:

For the platformer code, I initially wanted to use some past code, but realized that it sucked for a circular protagonist, and there would be some simple physics-based elements to the game - so I switched to using unity's default platformer controller. Slapped a circle on the robot rigidbody and that was it! 

Much tweaking was done to make the circle bounce correctly, and to make the conveyor belts move the circles correctly (Oncollide with conveyor belt line - add to a list of objects, whose velocity is updated every tick)

At the end of the first day, I somehow managed to cobble together a starting menu, a tiny intro and a small segment of the gameplay. Things were looking good although there was no audio. 

Onto the next day!

Get Worthless


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Thanks for posting this, very interesting read!  I really enjoyed your game, happy to see you made it to the top 10!  Can't wait to see the Coster brothers having a go at it in their playthrough video ;)

I also wrote a postmortem - it's not on itch but directly on my website if you fancy the read!