Dessert Planet

Oh boy oh boy oh boy yum yum yum yum

Dessert Planet was created in 48 hours for the 23rd Ludum Dare game competition, with the theme "Tiny World." I’m actually pretty proud of this one; it’s a simple arcade-y item catching game, but it’s set in the round, and has hazards and power-ups and also the world gets smaller and smaller as you go along.

The whole thing, not to sound like a broken record, was written in AS3 using FlashDevelop and FlashPunk, and I personally pooped out the graphics in Paint Shop Pro. The sound effects were made using sfxr, and I did the music in lmms.

The inspiration for this game was Super Mario Galaxy. Yeah, I know: you can’t exactly see it up there on the screen. Originally, the game was meant to be far more Mario Galaxy-y, with platforming in-the-round on a bunch of different little planets, but I ran into a bit of a snag what with being terrible at programming, and I couldn’t get jumping in arbitrary directions to work correctly. Since I was on a strict time limit, the enemies changed from the original plan of giant hopping space spiders into meteors, since those wouldn’t have to leap back up once they hit the ground. To solve the problem of the player’s jumping, I just decided it would be simpler to rotate the entire universe instead of moving the player out of vertical, which is charmingly non-intuitive. It also leads to one of the best game-abstraction lies I’m aware of: the instructions tell you to press left and right to move left and right, but, in fact, the player is the one thing in the game that does not move when you press the arrows. I find this amusing.

The falling stars and whatnot on the title screen I’m especially proud of. It’s a horribly complicated bit of math-ing that I originated earlier when Chevy Ray Johnston proposed on Twitter the exercise of writing a function to handle falling leaves. After bonking my head against it for a while, I created my Falling Leaves code, but I guess he wasn’t too thrilled about it, since he never replied to me. I thought it was pretty good for as awful as I am, though, and so I reworked it a bit and used it for falling stars in Dessert Planet. So now you know!

The title came more or less out of nowhere. I had the whole game coded under the placeholder name "Tiny World," which simply would not do, but I had no better ideas. So I decided to borrow a page out of Fiona Apple’s book and just pretentiously shit words all over the title screen. I randomly made some of them larger than the others to make it more visually appealing, and it just so happened that my big words formed an ideal smaller title. No, that’s true: it came about, including the dee-licious pun, entirely by accident.

The music was, I thought, totally barebones but better than dead silence. To my surprise, I got pretty consistent praise for it — it appears that people were pretty keen on my "how does lmms work who knows press buttons" style of composition. Which is surprisingly gratifying!

If you like this game — and, really, who doesn’t? — you can show your support by buying the official Dessert Planet poster! In all seriousness, I have one of these, and it’s awesome.

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