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Froog: Faking a 3D game in a weekend

Froog: Faking a 3D game in a weekend
How I used Game Maker to fake a 3D game with stacked sprites

Over the weekend, I took part in Ludum Dare 45. Being my second Ludum Dare and my 10th game jam, I think I’m starting to figure out how it works.

The theme: “Start with Nothing”. An idea that stuck in my head was starting with a simple arcade game and ramping up the complexity as you play. While brainstorming Frogger came to mind. I’ve wanted to clone Frogger for a while and this presented a perfect opportunity. So, I settled on Frogger but the platforms are invisible until you are nearby.

My current obsession is fake 3D using sprites stacked on top of each other. I created a voxel frog model and converted each layer into images. Next, in Game Maker, I drew each layer of the model offset by 1 pixel to give it a 3D effect. A complication I’ve encountered with this technique is incorrectly overlapping the objects. One solution is to draw every object at once, layer by layer. E.g. I’d draw the bottom layer of every object, then the next layer of every object, then the next, etc.

It didn’t take long until I had basic gameplay implemented, finding the fun around 8 hours into the jam. It was immensely satisfying to hop across the level with the blocks rising around you. Concluding day one, I had most of the gameplay systems set up with plans to make content for the rest of the jam.

Unfortunately, circumstances filled the next two days with real-world commitments. On day two, I only made one and a half out of five planned worlds and spent a significant portion of time fixing frustrating movement bugs. At this point, I realised I should switch to the jam (72 hours) instead of the compo (48 hours). I could only fit in an hour of development on day three, so I planned to get up 4 hours before submission and bring it home.

Bright and early on a Tuesday morning before work, I attacked the jam. Culling my scope to 3 worlds with 2 levels each I abandoned features such as a time trial system and level select. But I finished my now somewhat smaller project to a satisfying degree.

I’m proud of many aspects of the game. The movement is satisfying, the visual aesthetic is strong, there’s interesting exploration, and a few cheeky secrets. However, several features are lacking from the game, so I’m planning a small post-jam update to address them.

Thanks for reading my post-mortem. Play the game if you haven’t yet at http://rebtf.itch.io/froogand follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/rubber_poop