Psycho Bean Post Mortem

"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.

psychobean-brainstorm-1.png

psychobean-brainstorm-2.png

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.

Version 1

psychobeanv1.png

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.

Version 2

psychobeanv2.png

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.

Version 3

psychobeanv3.png

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.

Version 4

psychobeanv4.png

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.

Version 5

psychobeanv5.png

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

2 Comments

Wow, it's amazing to see Psycho Bean finally realised into a game after all these years! Here's a few quick bits of feedback.

Love the Minter-style particles, "Sugar Rush!" pop up and slightly Robotron-influenced gameplay. I think having it top-down was the right choice as you're not then worrying about making two styles of gameplay fun, but I agree that 8-way shooting would be a better way to go.

I wasn't a huge fan of the screen-shaking when you start Sugar Rush mode, though I understand why it's in, but I did like how it gets more intense the more sugar you consume. I like the power-ups and it's good to see those Lemonade Dippers in there too.

Congratulations mate, I had a lot of fun playing this :)

March 28, 2011 at 05:37AM

good times :)

Only got to chili bean, but those vegetables scared me off from continuing to try and reach what I can only assume is psycho bean status.

April 29, 2011 at 06:37PM

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