We're a design and development duo from San Diego, CA.
Zeik is a third year transfer student at UCSD studying visual arts in computing with a computer science minor. He can program in a few different languages and loves to give new ones a try. He's a big indie game enthusiast and likes fiddling with anything that can be tweaked and changed. (And honestly even things that can't.)
Cake is a grad student at University of California Berkeley (Go Cal!) getting her Masters degree in UI/UX Design and Human Computer Interaction. She gets giddy designing GUI and HUDS for anything that involves interaction, such as mobile apps or games. She's a bit of a design nazi and likes to obsess over white space, typography, and colors. Check out her portfolio at http://www.microcake.org
While Zeik is fiddling with his own timelapse for the code he made for our game “Stargazers”, I was able to throw together mine fairly quickly and have it ready to go! (He’s much more of a perfectionist when it comes to his video. )
“Stargazers” required a lot less intensive art than usual, I think. The constellations were pretty easy to throw together since there were only 10 of them in varying detail, plus even the most detailed ones were extremely geometric and just required small amounts of shape wrangling.
Shamefully, typography took a large chunk of this video. u.u Moreso than I’d like to honestly reveal, since I probably edited that down to a much more inaccurate representation of how much time I spent.
Maybe next time I’ll sacrifice overly customized typography for more detailed worlds. Hope you all enjoy my timelapse~ <3
Also, we apologize for being much slower at rating games than usual this time around! Cake and Zeik are drowning in a sea of school projects and end of semester/quarter assignments. We’re hoping to make a “Best Of” post after going on a rating spree though! (Which should hopefully be after this weekend!)
Lack of sleep, FlashDevelop open three days straight, and twenty tabs open at all times littered with documentation? Yep, it must’ve been a Ludum Dare weekend! It was a total blast, and I think we must be doing something right because this last LD was the most fluid and least stressful yet! I think Stargazers is our most complete game and one that I would enjoy working on some more.
It took us a few hours to decide on a theme but it eventually blossomed into a game idea. We wanted to keep the gameplay as simple as possible to fit with the Minimalism theme so we decided that the mechanic would only be clicking on stars to connect them. We got some incredible feedback already on features people wanted to see included to keep the gameplay from getting repetitive and stale and hopefully we’ll invest some time into a post-LD version of the game to incorporate some new ideas and mechanics. For this LD though I think keeping it minimal was a necessity and it helped us really polish the game.
Once the idea had been decided upon I started prototyping the gameplay while Cake started work on the graphics. It didn’t take long at all before there were dots on a screen that could be clicked and linked up to each other, then a bit more and the level would “end” when you linked back up to the star you started with. That was all well and good but we needed a way to evaluate how well someone did. I ended up doing a bitmap comparison system that draws the “correct” constellation and compares it to the drawing of the constellation the player created. It’s not a perfect system but it worked well enough.
The most fun was probably working on the moon cycles. Looking up documentation for curveTo and tons of examples of people using it to draw circle segments so that I could accurately represent a shadow traveling around the moon, it was awesome. We originally had bigger plans for it, and you all might see the fruits of those ideas in our post-LD version of the game.
As always, LD was totally worth it. I would trade away restful weekends for LD anytime. I can’t wait to play all of your games! Now then, we’ve got games to play. Thank you all for being such an amazing community!
I can’t believe LD is already over. D: I feel like it goes by way too fast *EVERY* time. Zeik and I had a blast this time, having barely recovered from spending 3 scorching days at the Coachella Arts and Music festival the weekend before. And honestly, “Stargazers” is definitely one of my favourite games we’ve made to date. It’s the most complete game we’ve made so far IMO, and I’m really proud of how it turned out.
Time was awful to me this weekend. I had to periodically pull away to work on school projects and google hangout with classmates, or friends would come over and hang out. >.< But at the same time, we dealt with our time management a lot better this time around than in the past. Less crunch time and more sleep as well!
I had spent the whole month or so beforehand gathering different images to absorb for inspiration. While I only used a fragment of those images due to the theme, I was fairly happy with the way the art started coming together. I was actually pretty disappointed the theme was Minimalism. I felt a small sense of obligation to hold back on what I originally intended to do art-wise. My original ideas and direction for a LD game were much darker, detailed, and elaborate. But at the same time, the art style really helped in having me work on less detailed art work and more of the game’s general visual design.
I think next time I’m going to really try to put less heart and determination in pre-deciding the game’s art style before we even make it! Stargazers looked great, and my process was slightly hindered by begrudgingly changing my original ideas to something new. I also need to sketch more! I’m starting to get out of the habit of sketching, and I feel like it’s making my art slowly more and more static and less interesting.
Also, something that Zeik didn’t mention is that this LD is marks the 1 year mark of when Zeik and I started making games!
Cheers, Zeik! You’re a fantastic and amazing partner!
I spent forever trying to figure out what kind of typography is best for our game’s titlehead. It’s going to be on all marketing material, so I really wanted it to be impactful in some way while still staying clean and aesthetically similar.
In short: I took way too much time doing this. But at least the main menu looks pretty nice I guess.
This was an earlier iteration of the title I made. I liked it, but it didn’t quite work…
in short, I spent way too much time on these. Now, to other work!
Cake&Code here, we are definitely going to be taking part in the next Ludum Dare! We’ve both been pretty amped about making more games, especially after being at GDC and not only getting to see and play some incredible games but also talking to other developers, artists, and designers. Can’t wait for voting to begin! We’ll be using the following tools…
Our third Ludum Dare this time around! P!P!P! then AvRvE and now MEMEX.
Despite all of our initial stumbling this time around, we managed to eventually get an idea that we both thought was doable and interesting… then we realized it was too ambitious for us during this LD and we shelved it. A bit more time went by and then MEMEX was born, and slowly we developed it into what you can play now.
What went right:
- We were both comfortable with the setup we’ve used in past LDs, the work and sharing of said work went smoothly
- The coding went especially well, I dedicated early time to adding a robust animation and movement system that saved me big time later on with additions and edits
- Music selection went smoothly, though we had a few tracks kicking about, the minute we put the first one in-game we both knew it was perfect
- I always worry about filesize so that people will be able to get the game quickly and get playing even faster. P!P!P! was ~3.5mb, AvRvE was ~2.2mb, and MEMEX is only ~1.4mb! I was very, very pleased
What went wrong:
- We were both expecting to lose some valuable work time to personal engagements that coincided with the Ludum Dare weekend
- It took us a bit longer to get an idea than earlier LDs
All in all it went really well! I think we’re both proud of what we’ve made this time around and I’m also sure that we’ll be back for more when LD26 rolls around. Till then, thank you all and have a great time playing those games!
Cake (Artist and Interface Designer)
Wow! “Memex” is officially our third born child. That is crazy cool. This LD really marks the point in which Zeik and I have collaborated on a year’s worth of games. Prior to LD we never really considered making games together, despite the fact we had all of the skillsets there to try it out. Now that we’ve made “Memex”, it really made us look back and be so thankful for the fact LD exists to make us realize that we make a pretty awesome team! (Despite being complete noobs to the whole game dev thing.)
What Went Right:
- I was really, REALLY pleased with how the art direction came out for this. This art style was something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but Zeik and I never really ran into a opportune time to try it. Thankfully it worked perfect with the “Memex”!
- Storyline. Although people complained it was a little ambiguous, Zeik and I kind of liked it like that. It wouldn’t be so much of a mystery if we gave you all the little pieces, right? I had a lot of fun writing it, and tried to draw some inspiration from Murakami and David MIitchell quotes.
- Timing. LD happened right after Finals was over, so I had nothing else on my mind.
What Went Wrong:
- Timing. Because Finals was over, all of my classmates wanted to celebrate and go out and do things. No bueno for me. My entire Sunday was killed off for socializing, and my Saturday night as well.
- Time Management. Zeik and I puttered about brainstorming a lot longer than usual. I don’t think the theme was especially inspiring for us. Some of the work I did, like the hand-made typography, and the little details to the story art, really took a long time.
Either way, I’m really proud of our game! It holds a special place in a my heart. I put in a lot of effort to deliver a story and a world that really stuck to people after they’ve played, and I feel like I was at least semi-successful in that pursuit. I really hope you guys enjoyed it!Here are some screenshots of how it started, and a timelapse from the work I did while making it.
Initial Sketch (Zeik had no idea what I was trying to do)
Hey guys! While I figure out the inner workings of my timelapse (aka; pruning it of excess shots and figuring out the best song to go with it), have a peek at my Illustrator desktop post-LD completion. It’s kind of crazy, and I honestly think this was the most ridiculous desktop I’ve had in the past 3 LD’s Zeik and I have done.
Anyways, despite the fact were in a Jam, 97% of the assets were made by me right when the Jam started. (The other 3% being the 7 or so stock photos I used from sxc.hu)
I hope you guys enjoy! It’s full of insanity, AND OMG SO MANY LINES AND ALIGNMENT-OBSESSIONS!
Sort of. More screenshots. Right now we’re in the final push of adding in all the details of the game. Level design, sound, music, story boards, etc. But here, have the instructions screen and main screen! You’ll notice I redesigned our logo to match the “Memex” theme a little more. (Also please don’t mind the sloppy cropping in the first shot. That’s what happens when you’re tired and hungry.)
Because it’s 11am PST here, and because Zeik and I (Cake!) have to go do our own thing for the next couple of hours or so, we don’t really have another updated in-game screen to show you guys. (Things are happening! Just a lot of time constraints on us…)
But I did want to share with you guys the fruits and hours of my labor. For “Memex”, I’ve decided to create custom hand-lettered typography for the logo and the headers to the two major acts in our game. Technically there are 5 “memory stages”, but these are for pure story sections. Took a lot of time, pixel perfecting, and hair pulling…so I hope you enjoy!
It’s 4am PST and we feel absolutely haggard. (Not to mention the impending doom of our busy schedules tomorrow.) But here! Have an update on what we have so far!
Since Zeik is out of commission (sleep time!), here’s a list of things I, Cake, plan on finishing up as the Artist half of this team.
- Hand-letter intro and finale scenes of storyline (THIS TAKES FOREVER GUYS. I NEVER SUGGEST HAND-LETTERING YOUR OWN TYPOGRAPHY UNLESS YOU’RE AN EXPERT TYPOGRAPHER!!!)
- Write storyline in between 5 scenes
- Draw out cut scenes in between each level
- Design End-Level points page
- SFX and Audio
But really guys, as much as I love the look of “Memex” so far, hand-lettering my typography seemed like such a good and easy idea yesterday. Not so much now. ~__~
“Memex” update!!! It’s going pretty well. The game is actually playable, except for the fact there’s only one level and no exit yet. It’s going to be a puzzle game if you can’t tell yet. There’s a lot to do left, sigh. Cake (me!) has a ton of UI assets and game assets to keep working on. And with a full and busy schedule tomorrow, it’s not going to be great for both of us. Let’s hope for the best!
Cake&Code’s new game is going to be called “Memex”, inspired by Vannever Bush in his article “As We May Think”. We’re going to focus a lot more on story, emotion, and atmosphere in this game. The art style is a lot more abstract as well, with a more minimalist twist than AVRVE or Pow!Pow!Pow! had been.
Cake&Code are officially in!!! Despite awful (and I mean SERIOUSLY awful) schedules for this weekend, we’re going to try our best to do better than our last game and pull together something fun! Our tools of choice…
Hey guys! This is Cake, the artist of the Cake&Code. Now that voting has begun to wind down, I thought I would chirp in with my own personal art and usability tips so that YOU guys might be able to use them for the next Ludum Dare! (Because you guys are totally in, right? RIGHT?! I know we are. )
Visual Design Tips
- Gather your inspiration early on! You waste time by trying to decide how to make your game look during the jam, so take the time a week or so beforehand to just go around the internet and collect things you think are visually pleasing. Not just images from games you think are nice. Anything! You like the colors on that one website? Save it! You like the way the colors complement each other in that magazine ad? Save that too! Anything can be inspiration, and it helps to keep your mind in gear when the jam starts. (Note: Pinterest is GREAT for keeping your inspirations together.) Below is a mashup of the different inspiration sources I used for AvRvE. Some have more obvious components than others, but I’ve picked and pulled through bits and pieces of all of these.
Zeik here, the code half of Cake&Code. This being our second Ludum Dare I had a vague idea of the kind of stuff we’d run into and knew that time was going to be unforgiving yet again. This time we did not do a warm-up game but I was messing around in flash days in advance to get back into fighting spirit!
What went right:
- I knew I was going to use Flash and had FlashDevelop all ready to go with a vanilla copy of FlashPunk at hand
- This time around I downloaded Chronolapse and it worked flawlessly to document the days
- We knew that we wanted some more unique music so we had a library of tools available before starting the jam this time
- Despite having work on Monday, we managed to finish at around 5:30am that morning
- Within the first hour or two we had a vision for a game, that vision became AvRvE
- Creating the isometric engine was not as difficult as it might have been, everything seemed to fall into place as I wrote it and extending it was easy enough
What went wrong:
- Though we learned last time that sounds take a lot of time to find/make/integrate we still ran out of time to find well-suited sounds to fill in the gaps in the game
- No tutorial level meant that the levels themselves had to ease players into the gameplay, this turned out to be a bigger challenge than I expected
- The preloader turned out to be a huge problem until I realized that by assigning a value to one of my main class’s static variables from inside the preloader code I was forcing the load of all the assets before the preloader could display, after removing that assignment everything worked flawlessly
- Feature creep, as always, seemed to come from every direction; I built an overly robust level loading system, an interaction halting animation scheme, and was even planning on adding more items
What I learned:
- Sounds still take us forever to do, there have been no revolutionary advances since LD23
- Music is fun to edit, but takes forever just like sound editing does
- A weekend game jam is not the time to implement every feature that comes to mind
- Layering sprites for proper render order is not something to procrastinate on, get it done right and get it done as early as possible
Finally, I just wanted to extend a congratulations to all the participants! We’ve been rating your games and even though we’ve only scratched the surface it’s already been a wild ride, full of great experiences. Pat yourselves on the back, then give each other high-fives! Hope to see you all next LD.
Wow, FINALLY Zeik and I have the time to sit down and write our post-mortems. To be honest, it’s been a crazy whirlwind of activity for me since LD#24 wrapped up, so neither of us have had the time to really sit down and work out our thoughts on AvRvE. Well now that I had a little more time to mull about it, I think it’s about time I crunched out these thoughts!
What Went Right?
- I struggled to find the right art direction for this game. The initial mockups for the game looked a lot like Pow! Pow! Pow! until I decided to just go all out dark. It was colorful and had great visual impact, just as I intended it to.
- I’m a designer by nature, not a digital artist. This time around I actually had to sit down and draw all of our species out, as well as our character from different perspectives. For someone who typically doesnt do digital illustrations, I think I did alright.
- Having the multiple endings was fun! And I’m glad we went with a puzzle route this time around.
- I ate a lot better this weekend than I did the first LD we did. Granted, it still wasn’t GOOD, but I went out of my way to actually prepare food more often than not. I snacked a bit much though.
What Went Wrong?
- I had company over for a chunk of the weekend. It really decreased my producitivity and I found myself having to multitask working, communicating with Zeik, and keeping my friend occupied.
- Despite the fact I’m really happy with out the game’s aesthetic and look came out, I feel like it lacked the kind of detailing that Pow! Pow! Pow! had.
- Level designing was something I was already not great at. But designing puzzle levels? Yeesh. :\ Zeik took a hold of it for the most part.
- SCHOOL!!! Ludum Dare happened on the weekend right after school started. Seems like it’d be an easy workload right? NOPE. Grad school is kicking me in the butt and threw a lot of work my way. So I was even more busy that weekend than I wanted to be.
Things I Learned for the next LD:
- FREE UP MY WEEKEND. Make sure I don’t have any work in the way and that I don’t have any unexpected guests.
- Get BETTER food. I ate well this time, but there was a lot more room for healthier and energy-packed snacks. Also…less coffee plz.
- Do more art research and experiment with styles. I don’t want to look like a one-tricky pony, so I’m going to experiment with more in-depth illustration styles.