Lessons Learned from It’s Raining Bombs

Participating in One Game a Month (#1GAM) is possibly the best and worst idea I’ve ever had. On one hand, quickly producing games prototypes is a great way to learn and try out ideas. On the other hand, launching a game every month is HARD.

Still, I’m glad Skyboy Games is doing it. (Ask me again in a few months to see if my answer has changed.)

In the spirit of spreading knowledge, here are three lessons learned from producing It’s Raining Bombs, our August entry for #1GAM.

Know the MSVC Compiler Version Used for Your Code and Any Pre-built Libraries
I built It’s Raining Bombs using Cocos2d-x, an open-source framework for game development. I compiled it with Microsoft Visual Studio 2013. So far so good. Unfortunately, the windows build of Cocos2d-x happened to include a few pre-built libraries, some built with Visual Studio 2012, others with Visual Studio 2010. Huh…

The end result? When It’s Raining Bombs shipped, I ended up having to include Visual C++ Redistributable installers for three different versions of Visual C++ (2010, 2012, and 2013). Not the end of the world, but shipping 17 MB of prerequisite installers for a 17 MB game feels odd.

Keyboard Input is More Limiting than you Realize
In the interest of development time, It’s Raining Bombs only supports keyboard input. It’s straightforward to implement movement via keys but you shouldn’t underestimate the loss in good input feel when you go from an analog stick to digital keys. Good input feel is core to what makes good action games a joy to play. Often, keyboard input is merely adequate.

Also, trying to fit three players on one keyboard is always a recipe for a jumble.

Negative Scoring Systems are Negative
Scoring in It’s Raining Bombs is based on avoiding being blown up. In other words, the person who gets blown up LEAST is the winner. Scoring negatively like this is not necessarily a good incentive for many players. It encourages defensive behavior which is often not ideal. To encourage more proactive behavior, I really should have awarded points for blowing up other players while subtracting points for getting blown up.

See You Next Game
Hopefully, you’ll find these tips useful in your own gamedev efforts.
Also, be sure to check out Skyboy Games’ #1GAM profile page and see how the craziness is going.

Posted in One-offs, Tech.