"Psycho Bean" was my entry into Reddit Game Jam #6. The theme was “energy”, which threw up a few interesting ideas. The finished result ended up quite differently from the first draft, and underwent a major rewrite near the end.
The original "psycho bean" is an idea my brother came up with many years ago during one of our sugar-fuelled game idea sessions. This challenge seemed like the perfect time to bring that idea to life.
Getting Started: Mind Mapping
Below are computerised versions of the two mind maps I used when coming up with ideas for the game. There are plenty of dead ends, but a few of the ideas filtered through to the final game. The decreasing energy seemed like a good way to go, and the transformational aspect tied into the whole "psycho" idea.
The original game was going to be a platform game with shooting elements (i.e. Mario with guns). As you can see, things didn't end up that way.
A Brief History
I didn't make a time lapse video, but instead took screenshots at key times of development.
The very first screen, taken about 2 hours into the coding process. Most of the assets were borrowed from Monster Mash to help get something playable as quickly as possible.
The first version with shooting and collision. At this point in development it was possible to spawn enemies, shoot them and jump onto the platforms.
This was taken at 8:30 on Sunday morning, roughly 10 hours before the deadline. The platforming was gone (as explained in “what went wrong”), and replaced with top-down shooting instead.
Two hours later, and the bullets were flying. There was still plenty left to do (more enemies, the weapons, points etc), but it was playable and more fun than the platforming.
This is the version that was entered. Bullets, AI, “Sugar Rush” mode and a statistics screen at the end.
What Went Wrong
I made most of the mistakes from Monster Mash, and some new ones too!
- Even Slower Start – Saturday was the Reddit Triangle meetup, which took up most of the afternoon. Needless to say, not much code was written until the evening.
- Scrapped Everything – When development ended on Saturday night I wasn't happy with how the game played. The platforming didn't feel right, and every now and then the player would stick to the ground after jumping. I didn't think I'd be able to fix things in the morning, so a total rewrite was in order.
- Graphics Dictated Gameplay – Switching to the top down perspective had a few side-effects. The biggest was the lack of diagonal movement and firing, which made the game less enjoyable than it could have been.
What Went Right
- It Got Done – Like Monster Mash, at the end of the jam I had something playable. There were a few features that didn't make the cut, and a lot of the game is unpolished.
- Development Screenshots – Although I didn't make a time lapse, I did want to capture what the game looked like at various points in development.
- Scrapped The First Version – Moving from a platformer to a top-down shooter meant a lot of time was wasted, which can be a killer when there's a tight time limit. Fortunately the changes made the game far more playable which is the most important part.
Lessons For The Future
Lessons for next time:
- Iterate faster. Get it playable. Make it fun.
- Don't be afraid to throw things out if they're not fun.
- Don't worry if it looks stupid. It's not a beauty contest (although having a nice looking game certainly helps to attract votes)
You can play the latest version here: Psycho Bean.
View all of the entries here: Reddit Game Jam #6: Final Submissions