I dabble in creative stuff (like games, as you can probably tell from me being here).
About Cirrial (twitter: @Cirrial)
After the last string of themes I detested, the latest one is a theme I absolutely despise for the same sort of reasons as “minimalism”. The theme is no longer a satisfying constraint to work with. Goodbye, Ludum Dare. It was a pleasure working with you the last few years, but my ride ends here.
Thank you to everyone who provided reviews and feedback on my entries in the past.
Hi, I’m gonna enter the competition.
Probably going to use Flashpunk instead of Flixel for a change of pace. Better hope I have time in this week to get more Flashpunk cramming down!
My long silence is broken! I have finished Red Swarm, my game for hypothetically the minimalist theme. Maybe. Not sure what went wrong there.
(no potato D:)
Things I achieved on day one:
- Wasting the entire day on broken pathfinding code I realised I wouldn’t really need to use
Things left to do:
- All the rest of the game code
- All the graphics
- All the sound
Panic mode: yes.
Potato inclusion: unlikely. :C
…there’s always plan B if I really can’t finish what I’m working on in time.
It’s been over twelve hours and I’ve only now finally managed to get a working A* pathfinding thing in Flixel.
…I do not have high hopes.
of which I dearly hope will change
You are some kind of bug alien queen thing. You need to make more bugs to protect you from a horde of… (rolls dice) snake aliens. Why this? Well, before I drew up any plans, I managed to make these my bonus objectives for this compo through various conversations with people (which I am sticking to with more gusto than the theme, apparently):
- No blue colour anywhere
- Use the colour red
- Insert potato into game
- Non-humanoid characters
Have some totally illegible scribbles (and angry rants) on graph paper! I’ll update everyone with more progress when it has been made.
…I forgot to add potato. Well, I’m sure I’ll find a way to add potato down the line.
Okay, I’m awake. The theme really feels like carte blanche to do whatever I feel like as long as the end result is mostly tiny boxes. Mmph. There’ve been better themes before, that’s for sure. But if that is the theme, I will at least try to aim towards it. At least this is a nice excuse to spend more time coding and less time drawing.
(minimalist potato is gonna be hard to accomplish – a brown pixel???)
When I first entered Ludum Dare, it was April of 2011. 2011 was a good year for making games for me. Throwbots, Aphelion Incident and Blue Moon were my creations for 2011, and I still feel that for all their flaws they are still reasonably solid entries.
2012 was not so good. This time last year I came down ill. In August I was busy with preparations for an academic conference. In December? In December, my only excuse was absolutely hating the theme. (If “You Are Your Enemy” wins I will go mad. MAD)
Let’s hope things go better this time around!
Map/Level Editor: DAME
Image Editor: Photoshop/GraphicsGale/Paint Tool SAI
Sound Generator: BFXR
Music Editor: SunVox
Streaming: Open Broadcaster Software
Just not feeling it.
Well, damn. No ideas for this theme.
Gonna need to take a looong walk to think of anything this time.
Hi! I’ve entered a few Ludum Dares before (none this year due to illness and deadlines, ugh) and this time last year I made Blue Moon, one of my most well received games in general.
I’m going to use the following tools, and aiming for the compo. But it is the end of the year, when burnout is high and holidays creep ever closer, so perhaps I might go for the jam this time.
- IntelliJ IDE
- DAME for level editing if I really, really have to
- SAI for illustrations
- PyxelEdit/Photoshop, the former I don’t know as well and the latter I do
- Sunvox for music
- BFXR for sound
That covers everything, I think! See you then!
Well, it was going fine until I went down ill last night. That’s sort of happened before but it hasn’t also taken my drive and stamina away with it. That, and I wasn’t really feeling my idea at all this time. I’m not blaming the theme, just my idea was far too huge in scope and I can’t cut anything down any further without having no game left.
Next time shall be different! For August, I intend to go for the jam, if I can get a free Monday. It will let me come up with slightly more ambitious designs AND use some of my pre-existing assets and such, as well as get some help from outside.
Still, three out of four compos since I entered isn’t too bad, I guess.
About one hour and forty five minutes later than I would have liked, but, hey, what can you do? Figured getting some good sleep was better than rushing up and being bleary and empty-headed for nearly two hours anyway. So as an update, have my command and control centre. I need to go eat and think of some ideas, fast.
Best of luck to you all, and I’m going to go attend to my food-related needs now!
Left it a little later than usual but, eh, what can you do. Hi! I’m Cirrial, more frequently known around the internets as Cirr. I’m not exactly a known name to many, but this is a special Ludum Dare to me as it is to the community in general. While for the wider community at large this marks the 10th year anniversary, this for me marks the one year anniversary since I decided “Oh, why the hell not, then” and took the plunge into this wonderful competition.
My personal challenge to myself, should you be interested, is to not make a platformer for the fourth time running. For too long it has been something of a crutch to fall back on the good old well-established grammar of the 2D platformer. I am, however, keeping my toolset as before. I will leave it to next LD to go truly out there.
- Framework/Libraries: Flixel on top of Flex (I know, I know, Flash, but it’s really good for rapid development like this!)
- IDE: IntelliJ IDEA
- Level Editor: DAME, if appropriate
- Graphics: Any combination of Graphics Gale, Paint.NET and SAI Paint Tool, depending on requirements
- Sounds: BFXR, because it’s SFXR but better
- Music: SunVox, if I have the time
- Screen capturing: Chronolapse
- Streaming: Livestream Procaster
I believe this covers most of it. See you during the compo!
My entry, Blue Moon, is now submitted! Sorry for the lack of updates, but due to illness I’ve had to devote all my energy to getting something finished.
See it HERE!
Unfortunately, lacking any of the graphics, sounds, or narrative kind of reveals my game to have precious little game in it. Here’s hoping the rest adds something it’s missing right now, or I can think of a neat and quickly implemented little mechanic to spice things up a little.
You can get access to the prototype HERE!
Unfortunately, it’s on paper and I don’t have a scanner, but…
This game is looking to perhaps be my shortest most unambitious project yet, which gives it a damn good chance of reaching polish levels far more quickly. It’s probably going to take five minutes to play, but that was true of Throwbots and it was still at least an entertaining five minutes (or so I heard, anyway).
It all dwells on being trapped in a facility and depending on a very, very finite resource with an unlimited amount of things that drain this resource.
Unfortunately, this resource is basically the player character’s lifeforce. And once it’s gone, that’s it. Game over.
It might work, it might not. Onto prototyping the mechanics!
Well, by some miracle I haven’t slept way past my alarm and into the early hours of the afternoon. As I feared, I am not 100% in terms of health. Fortunately, I am at least over 80% in terms of health so this thing can still happen! Just need some caffeine and I can start talking a walk to develop my ideas. I have a couple of ideas already, so we’ll see how they go!
Whoops, forgot to make this post. Seemed like I’d done it already! Oh well.
I intend to make a game using Flixel, a free opensource framework built on top of the Flex framework (so a Flash game, basically, look at all those words starting with f). My IDE of choice is IntelliJ. I will be using Photoshop for pixel art graphics because I am apparently a masochist (it’s a great program, but there’s a very small selection of decent pixel level art tools on OS X), and if I get as far as sound and music, I will be using BFXR for sounds and SunVox for music.
I’m not 100% well while typing this, due to the high concentrations of the winter lurgy, but let’s hope I don’t go down ill any further by the time the weekend gets here. I’ll be entering anyway, illness be damned!
So, unfortunately, due to the numerous issues with the site over the weekend I fell out of the habit of posting anything to my log over the course of Sunday. Given that this was certainly not the case for last LD, I am going to try and make up with a huge post instead, with sprinklings of hastily drawn drawings of things.
What Went Well
Oh boy did I ever improve on planning from last time. In LD20 I planned basically nothing and made it up all as I went along, reasoning that I’d find better use for the time actually making things. This was a mistake.
The time I spent on planning was 2 hours total (not a solid block), and for every minute I spent planning I saved two having to come up with things later on. I can’t emphasise enough the advantages of planning, but it’s one of those things where it’s obvious if you already do it and seems a waste of time if you don’t.
I did spend a lot more time on planning things I eventually had to cut, but without those plans in place I would have never known what I could have cut. I had to excise things like multiple species of guards and individual chatter lines simply because I didn’t have the time, but as stated, if I had never planned to add them in the first place, I could have never decided to omit them knowing I had more important things to work on first.
As my scanned-in plans are far too big to post here, you can find them here if you’re interested.
Code first. Code first is the most important rule you can adhere to for a competition this intense. It felt disheartening seeing a bunch of other entries being so much further along in terms of graphics when I was stuck with boxes with arrows on them, but with perseverance I ended up with a game that was more complex below the surface than Throwbots was. However, Throwbots had a few easier gimmicky things, which spiced it up a little. This game was a little lacking in gimmicky things, but it ended up spiced a little by something else.
Making the Guards Relatable
This I managed to hit spot on. I went into this with the idea of making the guards you’d otherwise treat as faceless enemies in a video game less faceless. I added a profile of stuff for each of the 20 guards in the game (which ate more time than I could ever have predicted) but knew there was one thing more I could do.
Give them friends.
In retrospect, “is fond of” was a bad phrase to use when the friend of a guard was meant to be any sort of positive camaraderie with another guard, and it made it look like the entire station was filled with courting couples or something similar. What was more interesting was I added individual messages to each guard if they saw their friend possessed or killed, but due to the frequency of random chatter it almost never showed up. It all helped to make people a little more hesitant to start gunning the guards down.
In initial playtests before submission, people were asking if I could make it so that guards could move into other rooms so they could unite the pairs of guards. I figured I’d won at making the guards relatable at that point.
What Could Have Gone Better
Guard AI & Controls
The guards don’t really HAVE an AI. Considering the initials of the game are “AI”, this feels a little more of a lacking feature than it should be.
Having never tried any sort of decent AI implementation in a game before, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The state machine was simple enough, as was setting up an array of reactions based on certain stimuli.
But the main problem was a lack of good platforming AI. Having detection of pits and walls to turn away from was pretty simple – just check the tilemap to see if there’s a pit or a wall the guard is about to step into, and if that’s the case make them turn around. But then came a problem of the guards climbing jumpable parts of the map. I limited the jump height to such an extent that they couldn’t overshoot the block they were jumping to. For some reason, I decided to make that the jump height for the player too.
The kicker is that I later added code for the case where a guard falls too far away from their patrol point and made them pick a new patrol point based on where they were, so there was no reason to be so defensive about keeping them near where they started. That was an honest mistake on my behalf.
The transitions don’t always make sense either, and guards have no persistence of memory. If they see the player and the player ducks behind a corner, that’s it. The player has ceased to exist for them. If I had pathfinding code in there, I’d probably have made them chase the player while they were within a sensible range, but I sure as hell was not writing my first platform pathfinding AI during a Ludum Dare.
All in all, a host of niggling issues that I would definitely like to resolve.
I’ve heard people coming back to me saying they memorised all the guard details in case they had to use them. With more time, there would have been social interaction puzzles, because while it’s fun to take over people’s actions why not also meddle in their affairs while you’re at it? Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of a streamlined way to do this, nor a way to get the relevant reactions and such done within 48 hours. A future version, perhaps!
The UI and Tutorials
Quite simply, there was no tutorial. I ran out of time to add one, and so tried to make up for it by sticking the controls in my entry text. Not only that, but I ran out of time for custom keybinding. For everyone not using a US/UK English keyboard, I am so, so sorry to force Z/X/C on you guys like so many other inconsiderate devs, but when it came to getting the game finished or implementing custom keybinding, I knew I had to focus on the former.
As for the UI, well, I didn’t get any of the graphical elements done so most of them ended up hidden. It’s a confusing mess at the moment, but believe me when I say it’d be more of a confusing mess with a bunch of squares that don’t do anything on it. Once I get the first post-compo release finished, you’ll hopefully see what it should have been.
Critical Bugs At Release
The first version of the compo release had a critical game-freezing bug if you managed to get shot while controlling a guard (a case I never encountered during my own all too brief testing), as well as a duplicated terminal and a missing terminal. The first was due to another instance of a variable being null when I didn’t expect it to be (easy to fix).
The second, though, was the worst damaging typo of the compo. Each terminal had a numerical ID. Terminal #16 ended up getting 10, so there were two terminal #10s and one terminal #16. Now, this might sound meaningless, except the doors are locked according to terminal IDs and whether they’ve been used or not. Terminal #10? That’s the terminal that unlocks the door to the teleporter room. If you were confused by the earlier comments on my entry about finishing far earlier than they expected, that’s why. Whoops. My bad. It’s fixed now, though.
What To Focus On Next Time
Sounds and Music
I managed to miss this out this time as well, much to my disappointment. I had such neat ideas, too. Oh well. Best to have an okay working game that looks passable instead of a broken game that looks terrible with annoying screechy sound effects, right?
Although the extraneous bits this time around may have elevated my entry from mediocre platformer to something with a bit more depth, I still think the control mechanics could have benefitted from a little more love.
I skipped it this time around due to lack of preparation. In future I am going to do my research to find out what programs to use and more importantly how to make my reams of coding look a little more interesting.
I had an amazing though hectic weekend working on this thing and there is no doubt in my mind that I’ll be entering LD22. This time, I intend to work on a post-compo version of my game and perhaps even carry it into the October Challenge if it’s on this year. Regardless, I’ll see you guys at LD22. Keep being amazing.
(Let’s see if we can break 1k entries next time!)