About Cambrian_Man (twitter: @cambrian_man)
Ludum Dare 26
Ludum Dare 25
Ludum Dare 24
Ludum Dare 23
Ludum Dare 22
Ludum Dare 21
Ludum Dare 20
The Shmup Theologian
Awarded by nihilocrat on April 25, 2012
It’s that time, so I should probably put in a post.
Probably going to do something adventure-y, but who knows? Gonna play with animation and doing better 3D assets. Those are my goals and I’m sticking to them.
Alright, let’s do this. This time around I”m going to try using Unity and doing 3D stuff. Who knows how it’ll work out. I have an idea that anything I will do will tend towards the adventure game genre, because of how limited my knowledge of Unity is. Even so, here we go.
Soundbooth, maybe. I’m not sure.
May even try to stream it, who knows?
I did up a video postmortem of my game for this Ludum Dare! Check it out at the link above, if you’d like.
Wow, it feels like just yesterday I did my first Ludum Dare…
For my first LD, good old number 20 I set a goal for myself: finish. And I did, and made Pitch In. It did pretty decently for my first try, so I considered that goal complete.
For LD21, I set the goal of polish. I came up with Slip Away, which slipped into the top 50 overall, so I was pleased.
For LD22, my goal was innovation. I’d done a platformer and a puzzle game, so I wanted something new. So I made Alone Together, a game about making out with dudes or ladies. While it didn’t do quite as well as before, there were so many great entries.
But I realized that I’ve been neglecting one thing: fun. So yeah, this time around, I need to come up with something fun.
I’ll probably continue to use flixel for at least one more LD, though I MAY use EaselJS and NodeJS to do something if the theme is appropriate. Multiplayer could be neat.
Don’t think I’ll try to mix up the graphics this time around, either. I’ll stick to pixel art unless I really think something else might work better. Pro Motion is pretty sweet for that.
Music-wise, I want to improve a bit. I’ve always had music in my games, but I’ll stick with FL Studio. By the way, some great free VST plugins over here.
Finally, I’m gonna do it. I’m going to try to livestream as much of this as I can and rate 100 games. I’ve always been a slacker on the community side, mostly because once it’s over, I need time to decompress, but no more.
Let’s get pumped.
So here we are. You and your girlfriend/boyfriend/lover are at a party. You want to kiss, but oh man, people are watching. Embarrassing. Find a place to be alone together. Tactical romance action. So far progress is going well. I’ll probably tweak the colors, but leave the broad, basic shapes. I’m still really not at the point of having much in the way of graphics, just what is needed.
Still, it’s working better than I thought. Even without much polish, it’s fun to watch what’s going on with the party, grab your mate by the hand and duck off into a corner where you can be alone. There’s some neat bits of emergent behavior. The other party guests are driven by some basic ideas (boredom, thirst), so they tend to congregate in groups and seek company. Every so often someone wanders off from the crowd. I’m interested in how it’ll work with a big house and lots of people.
You’ll also be able to create some distactions to draw people away from an area. So far so good, but it’s still going to be a long night getting things refined.
Alright! Yeah! Woo! Sticking with what I know, AS3, Flixel (or just straight Flash, if it’s a better fit), Pro Motion, FL Studio. My goal this time around: Create something unique. Let’s do this.
So, I decided to do a video postmortem this time around. It’s available on YouTube: Slip Away Postmortem
I’m totally in this time. Whatever the theme may be, I’m feeling a lot more confident this time.
Code: Flixel, Flixel Power Tools, TweenLite/Max for some ‘tweens, polygonal DS for, well, data structures, and quickb2 if I need physics (who knows) . Using FlashDevelop, of course.
Art: Mostly Cosmigo Pro Motion, I like to play with color schemes using Adobe Kuler. May pull fonts from fontstruct or League of Movable Type, as well.
Sound and Music: FL Studio and bfxr, maybe Audacity if I need to record voices.
Well, here we are. I’m not nearly as far along as I would’ve liked, and I have probably the most daunting of my tasks ahead of me: Making the AI that guides the opponent ‘player’ in my game. I’ve never done anything like that and while I have a pretty good idea about what I need to do, there’s always all sorts of gotchas. In any case, right now:
- I’m not in love with the tileset, but it’s functional. The NES palette is pretty terrible, but I feel like I’m committed. That’s fine, really.
- Dungeon generation works fine, though the autotiler I made has trouble with some edge cases (corner cases, actually). I’m pretty happy with how the dungeons look. If nothing else, I learned some really useful stuff doing it.
- I think I’m changing the name to “The Legend of < >”
Description: A reverse roguelike where you play as a buggy game trying to keep a player from winning.
- A procedurally created dungeon.
- An opponent “player” that can navigate the dungeon with goals, attempting to find treasure and the exit.
- The true player can cause glitches, destroying parts of the dungeon.
- The opponent can find bombs and picks, allowing them to destroy your dungeon.
- Music and sound effects
- At least two monsters to be used by the player to stop the opponent via glitches.
- At least two environmental effects (lava, gas, so on) that can be used in the same way.
- Some neat ‘glitch’ visuals.
So that’s my concept: A game where you play as the game. Too ambitious? Probably, but I have a handle on most of it. The tricky bits will be the opponent players, since I’ve never done any sort of complex AI. I’ll probably go for a lo-fi NES or DOS game aesthetic. Maybe even use the horrendous CGA palette and rely on interesting glitch effects to carry the visuals.
Mechanically, I want to explore the concept of needing to give up pieces of your dungeon to win the greater battle (you know, the Destroy part of the theme), as well as the idea of toying with players.
flixel, flixel power tools, (possibly) TweenLite, Pro Motion, sfxr, FL Studio. I may also find some open source Pixel Bender effects to use.
Well, that was my first Ludum Dare. All in all, I’m pretty happy with how things turned out. It was my second game jam of any sort, the first being The Room Jam a few months back and I had set myself a few goals which, looking back on it, I was able to meet.
My concept for Pitch In came pretty early, after about 15-20 minutes of brainstorming. I knew I needed something simple. Dead simple, that, hopefully, boiled down the essence of the theme. I also wanted to avoid making a platformer or a Zelda clone, simply because I wasn’t sure I could do anything that felt new or different with those. I tossed around a few ideas regarding the general mechanic of passing items around but eventually settled on a two-button puzzle game. You could pass things left or right. That’s it. I knew that I wanted a few characters and that who you passed the item to changed what could be done with it.
The baseball guys game first, because I felt they’d be instantly recognizable and it’d be easy for players to understand what was going on. I also knew I wanted some sort of parkour character, who eventually became, well, the Canabalt guy. Originally, I wanted the character to have a hoody or street clothes, but, well, I’m not skilled enough to make it work in 12 pixels. So a character who jumps across buildings in an apocalyptic setting? I figured he could cameo.
The caber tosser was suggested by a friend when I said I needed a character who could throw things vertically. I’m not sure he reads as that, but regardless, he’s a big burly guy, which I felt explained why he could carry items while the baseball guy could not. Originally, I wanted a baby as well, who moved slowly but could be thrown by other characters, allowing you to chain passes. It never quite gelled in my mind and was cut because it’d add a lot more complexity to the code and I had no clear idea how I’d use the idea in a puzzle.
The original ‘story’ (such as it is) was that the world was ending and aliens opened a portal through which they’d collect objects, but nothing living. In this way, humanity could be preserved. This… was both way too complex to explain and kind of morbid, when I considered that not only was I throwing babies around, they’d all be doomed anyway. Eventually, I tossed it out in favor of the general, “put fuel into the furnace” idea. Which, even so, I don’t feel really comes across.
I’d never actually designed many puzzles before, only a handful here and there in old, OLD games so I was worried about how well I’d be able to accomplish that in the limited amount of time. Part of the reason I chose such a simple mechanic was that I wanted time to design and tweak puzzles. Even so, I had some serious problems. I generally went with the methodology of training the player in a mechanic, then challenging them, and adding in a few one. I’m fairly happy with how this worked out in the first few puzzles. The second one was actually the first I designed, and even though it’s just two platforms, I hoped it’d give players at least a little pause before they went, “Oh, ok.” Unfortunately, I don’t feel like I did much with the caber tossers and the parkour guys, which were meant to have puzzles based around timing throws to get them to go in the direction you wanted, never really panned out. The birds were meant to simply be obstacles, but also never really worked out as intended.
What Went Right
Quite a bit, actually.
The graphics look and feel like I intended them to. I wanted the characters to have a sort of faceless ‘Lemmings’ feel to them, to lend to the idea that it’s not about an individual, but a group working together.
I’m really glad I was able to put music in as well. It’s just 20 minutes of noodling with FL Studio, but it adds a lot to the atmosphere of the game.
I got a lot of mileage out of the Earth and falling debris effects, which ramp up as the levels continue, with the Earth descending as the ship shakes itself apart.
I feel like some of the puzzles worked out quite well. The solutions are simple, but not always obvious and, really, only the last few rely on careful timing.
I came down with a cold on the first day, and while I was still able to work, I ended up sleeping more than normal, rather than pulling the all-nighters I had intended. So the simple design really saved me, as I had gotten the base mechanics and level loading in by the end of the first night and even had some graphics done.
What Went Wrong
The last few puzzles. Oh boy. I added them late in development and they’re riddled with obvious bugs and moments where it just feels like luck if you succeed. When it took me multiple tries to complete them, I knew there was something wrong, but I felt like I couldn’t just end the game with nothing. In retrospect, I should’ve cut or radically simplified them.
I think I added a few too many ‘training’ puzzles. In particular, the Pachinko solution relies on players realizing that they need to hit the edge of a platform and knock the object in. I felt this might be frustrating and players might spend their time trying to lob the object juuuust right to get it in the goal, so I added the puzzle before it. I probably should’ve just kept it the same, however. Additionally, I was never able to come up with puzzles that used all the character’s more unique mechanics in interesting ways.
I intended to leave the reset button in, just in case, but it’s a sign of poor design that a player needs to reset because I didn’t code or design things properly. I tried to make levels take no more than 20-30 seconds to complete, so multiple tries were fairly painless, but even so, it was a crutch.
I never really considered the setting or characters, beyond their mechanics. While this was intentional — I’m not a character designer and my artistic skills are limited, I feel like a little charm goes a long way and probably should’ve given the little guys more character as well as refined their animation.
Really, this was a blast. I had a lot of fun and it’s intensely rewarding to see something come together over 48 hours. I approached this as a learning experience and was able to accomplish the goals I set for myself. Next time, I’ll need to attempt a more ambitious design and work on my coding and (especially) art skills in the meantime. It’s been a great experience and I hope to try it again.