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    I’m in!

    Posted by
    Friday, August 23rd, 2013 6:29 pm

    Here I am.

    Tools are the usual suspests:

    • Photoshop/Illustrator
    • Unity w/2DToolkit
    • w/e SFX I can get a hold of if I get to a point when it’s important.

    (Pre)-Postmortem Masters of Conquest

    Posted by
    Sunday, April 28th, 2013 9:53 am

    postmortem

     

    Why a premortem? Well, its at this stage in the competition that I can acknowledge that I am waaay too far behind to catch-up. Considering that finals week is coming up, its a this point I decide to throw in the hat and focus on that.

     

    I attempted to make a minimalist strategy game. Using node based movement, and rock, paper, scissors style combat mechanics. And for the most part it worked. The game logic works, and I get the feedback that I wanted out my console. So what’s wrong? Well, I’m a derp and I can’t use Flixel and AS3. I have difficulty rendering things when I need them too, and passing around the right data types in AS3. Also, BACK UP YOUR DATA.

     

    So what went right?

    – Solid Concept. Okay, so while I don’t want to toot my own horn here, I think the idea was great. I created a small board game version of the game (Via Vassal), and had a couple of my SCII playing friends try it and they LOVED it. As far as strategy games go, it was simple to implement; no overblown and useless mechanics and fairly simplistic data-structures made it for the most part easy to code.

    – Flexible language  In my CS class we program in C++ and Java, so we get very little flexibility. Since AS3 likes to do most of its checks in compile time, I got away with some pretty neat programming tricks that I would not have been able to do otherwise. I absolutely loved the fact that I could create an array that would contain more than one type of item.

    -Familiar Graphics Tools. I love Photoshop, you love Photoshop, and Photoshop loves us. Years of experience with the program, has made it a super easy job to whip up quick stylized graphics for the game.

    -Relaxation. On Friday, when the theme was announced instead of sitting around thinking about it. I went off got drunk, and played Cards Against Humanity with some friends. By the time I came back, I had a pretty decent idea of where I wanted to start, and then it was simply a matter of following my train of thought. This is a good contrast against my previous LD, where I would spend the first 12 hours coming up with and scrapping designs.

    – I learned a lot. From organizational skills, to workflow, to programming tricks. In the past 48 hours I have picked up a lot of new skills that I’m very happy with. More so, this is the closest I have been to completing an LD game and I’m very excited for the next LD.

     

    So what went wrong?

    – I didn’t back up my data, and it happened. Not to all my data, but to %90 of my art assets. I was instantly cautious when I opened the folder, and about half of them weren’t displaying their preview in windows explorer.  Its a shame, because I pushed my self for about 5 hours to get them finished last night only to wake up in the morning to find them gone. Oh well, at least it happened during LD and not a commissioned project. Now I know better.

    – Rusty language + unfamiliar framework = Spaghetti code. I used to be pretty proficient with AS3, like like 3+ years ago. After not touching it for forever, I have seem to have lost my edge. Combined with the fact that this was my first time really using Flixel rather than just pocking around with it, led to very messy code. I’m currently at about 600 lines of code, and I can think of way to cut that down to about 400. But due to time constraints I decided to push on (polish later), and in the end caused me more harm then good since attempting to fix errors with an unfamiliar framework and horribly messy code led to a lot of wasted time.

    – This is mostly a derivation of the previous issue. But, I’m not the best AI programmer. What I underestimated was the fact that in order to make this game any decent, I would have to pretty at least a passable AI. However, combined with spaghetti code, I realized that my programming was nowhere near modular enough to accommodate that. Maybe next time, I will write the AI (Or at least the pseudo code) first, and then build the rest of mechanics in a way that they’re already plugged into the AI.

    Best of luck guys,

    I’ll see you next LD.

    Concept UP!

    Posted by
    Saturday, April 27th, 2013 12:36 am

    basicConcept

    So that’s how I envision the game to look graphically. I really like the neon color on black visual, because its rather simplistic and is very good at conveying small bits of important information. While theoretically, the entire game could easily be played out completely text-based, I believe that that the player needs some for of visual feedback. The game will use a node system for “territories”, and the goal of each game will be to capture the enemy HQ (The bold territory).

    There will be three types of units in this game:
    Infantry –  Beats Air, loses to armor.

    Armor – Beats Infantry, loses to Air.

    Air – Beats Armor, loses to Infantry.

    All units will have only one stat known as power. This starts at %100 and decreases as the unit fights. Fortifying will refill this value and increase it up to a buffer of %150, but you will lose the buffer if the unit performs any action that is not a fortify. When two units fight each other, they both deal damage to each other based on their power and where they are on the RPS scale. At %100, if a unit is winning it deals %70, if it ties it deals %50, and if it loses it deals %30.  Values will likely change later on.

    As of now, I’m going to limit a unit to one action per turn. You may also create additional units in any territory you control, this unit will arrive at the end of your next turn. Creating a unit will cost one action point. You will start the game with your “favored” unit. You will gain a fixed amount of action points per turn, not sure how much though. I think it will be relative to the size of the map.

    There will be three races. Each race will receive a bonus point to spend a specific type of action (Move, Fort, or Attack) each turn. Each race will also have one type of unit that they will favor over others, and that unit will start at %115 power.

    This is my limited scope as is. After (if) I get this finished, I will try to polish up the game as much as possible. Focusing mostly on balance and AI.

    Mechanics, mechanics, mechanics!

    Posted by
    Friday, April 26th, 2013 11:39 pm

    So here’s a list of concepts we need to transform into mechanics.
    1) Sequence of actions to achieve a goal.
    2) Rely on Meta-Game skills/knowledge.

    3) Optimization of resources.

    4) Asynchronous gameplay (Different races).

    5) Gather information.

    6) Multiple paths to Victory.

    7) Conflict.

    Okay, so how do we make a game out of this? Well for a game we need to have mechanics. In order to have mechanics, we need to seperate which concepts are the largest cogs in the machine. Looking at this list two pop-out right away. #7 and #1.

    So let’s do #7 first. Conflict. What is the simplest form of conflict resolution? Heads or tails. Does it make for a good game? Not really, the results are completely arbitrary and have zero strategy involved. Okay, what’s the next simplest form? Rock, paper, scissors. Ah now we’re getting somewhere, mind games in their simplest form. Where gambler’s fallacy reigns supreme, and the fiendishly clever thrive. However, there are two main forms of rock, paper, scissors: Singles and best two out of three. Singles suffers from many issues that heads or tails has, once you’ve guessed wrong there is no way you can make a comeback regardless of how well you know your opponent. Thus, best two of three is the most logical choice for a game.

    So conflict in this game will be resolved in best two out of three RPS style.

    Okay so now we go back to #1 Sequence of actions to achieve a goal. So looking back at our ven diagram in post 1 

    We point out that most strategy games include moving units, attacking enemies, strengthening your position, and commanding things. Well commanding things essentially is the engine for the previous three, and the previous three are all actions that you can take. So the method of execution for this is giving direct commands. So the player will have to plan out a sequence of actions that either move units, attack, or strengthen position, with the goal of winning. This cog seems a bit hollow, and I’m guessing that in order for it to turn properly it will need to be filled with other cogs.

    So another cog that seems to be interconnected with everything is asynchronous-gameplay. Traditionally this means choosing different races with each their own strengths and weaknesses. But, is weakness really necessary? I mean its all relative. If we have three races, and we buff unit X for races A and B, then unit X for race C is considered to be a weakness even though it wasn’t penalized because relative to A and B its weaker. So when designing asynchronousation (Is that a word/)  I’m going to focus on only bonuses rather than penalties. But bonuses to what? Well have already established conflict resolution via RPS, and possible actions. That means each “race” will have a better R or P or S, and a better move or attack or fortification. This immediately derives to multiple paths to victory and meta-game. If you already know what your enemies’ optimal path to victory is, then you can attempt to intercept it, but your enemy can predict that and take a less optimal but uninterrupted path to victory.

    This leaves us with two concepts that are kind of just hanging out there: Information gathering and optimization of resources. Well, what is optimization of resources in it’s simplest form? You have X amounts of energy and you need to eat. How do you get the most food possible? So once again you have a single goal, with multiple paths to achieve it. However, this time we add a limit. A single unit of resources. Transferring this limit of resource to the game. We will allow the player to spend it on actions. So the player will a single unit of resource that he can spend on moving, attacking, or fortifying his position. What about information gathering? Well as humans, we only learn from experience (Even if it is just reading a book), so all information will be gathered via direct experience within the game. Thus all information gathered about the enemy, will be via direct contact with the enemy. However, since our game focuses on the basic elements of conflict resolution; this would imply that all information gathering occurs out of conflict.

    Okay, now I got a bunch of mechanics with a decent idea of how I want them to work and how they’re loosely related to each other. Now I have to give the game a shape.

    Case Study #2: Masters Of Orion

    Posted by
    Friday, April 26th, 2013 11:08 pm

    Continuing from http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/2013/04/26/case-study-1-starcraft-2/

    Masters Of Orion is a 4X strategy game (Explore, Expand, Exploit, and Exterminate), and is as far away as you can get from SCII on the scale of mechanics. However, surprisingly after analyzing the game most of its core concepts boil down to what we ahve already previously established in our case study of SCII. Concepts that are added in this chapter are also present in SCII, but are simply much more obvious (I am pretty slow).

     

    #6 Multiple paths to victory. You have your optimal path, but that’s not the only path. Your optimal path may be blocked off by your enemy, and thus no longer optimal. You may no longer be able to take advantage of you strengths, and thus be forced to exploit your enemy’s weakness. An important part to realize about strategy games, is that there is always more than one way to win; even if no one has done it before.

     

    #7 Conflict is a must. Herp derp, I have no idea how I missed stating this directly. Strategy games are what they are because you pit your strategy against another. So  just like the player has a strategy, so must the enemy. This is demonstrated in MoO by the diplomatic systems, and the painting of a personality to the AI in the form of the avatars.

     

    So now our list of concepts looks something like this.

    1) Sequence of actions to achieve a goal.
    2) Rely on Meta-Game skills/knowledge.

    3) Optimization of resources.

    4) Asynchronous gameplay (Different races).

    5) Gather information.

    6) Multiple paths to Victory.

    7) Conflict.

    Looks like enough to build a game from.

    Case Study #1: Starcraft 2

    Posted by
    Friday, April 26th, 2013 10:49 pm

    Continuing from: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/2013/04/26/minimalistic-strategy/

    So, you can’t say strategy and not instantly think of Starcraft. The two go hand in hand, like American presidential scandals and Ronald Reagan. Because the game is so competitive, to understand the key concepts of the game you simply have to ask: What do I need to do, to win? So here comes this article: http://www.gamesradar.com/14-ways-to-win-at-starcraft-ii/

    While out of date, right of the bat the article drops something insightful: “Enter an online match of StarCraft II without attack plans, counters and build orders already in mind, and you will be almost instantly ruined.” So this translates too: Meta-game knowledge. In StarCraft you’re expected to know things about the game, before you start the match. You’re expected to have a strategy before you start the match, and you’re supposed to be able to predict things before you start the match. So concept #2: Meta-Game.

    So point 1), 2), 3), and 8) boil down to one thing: Management of limited resources. The player who best manages their limited resources will have the edge. This gives us concept #3: Optimal management of limited resources. However, this concept is incomplete. In a blank world, there would be only one optimal manner of resource management, which translating to a game would mean very repetitive battles and symbols of bad design. So what else is there to it?

    Points 4), 5), 9), 12), 13), and 14) all spell the same thing: Understand the strengths (and by extension weaknesses) of your race. This is interesting, a strategy game does not necessarily need to have races. However, by giving each player a range of different possibilities for actions the depth of the game increases exponentially. So while this isn’t minimal at its core, its so inexpensive and provides so much that its impossible to pass-up. So here is concept #4 Strength/Weakness.

    Point 7) Is an interesting one. Its the only point about information gathering, which in my opinion is very interesting. Having an effective strategy implies that you believe your plan of actions will defeat your opponents plan of actions. However, you cannot have certainty of that unless you know what your opponents plan of action is to begin with. So while undermentioned, information gathering is a crux component of strategy. #5 Gather information.

     

    After reading several more articles, they all seem once again reinforce the concepts mentioned previously. However, one that constalty gets mentioned: Hotkey your units. Is an interesting derivation. It after all directly escalates with your manual dexterity, and optimizes your flow. However, since we have already established that manual dexterity isn’t at the core of strategy, then we are only left with optimization. Which allows me to change point #3 to: Optimization of resources.

    So here we have our 5 concepts that the game is going to incorporate:
    1) Sequence of actions to achieve a goal.
    2) Reward Meta-Game

    3) Optimization of resources.

    4) Strengths/Weaknesses

    5) Gather information.

    Minimalistic strategy?

    Posted by
    Friday, April 26th, 2013 10:19 pm

    So continuing from my last post http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/2013/04/26/brainstorming-7/.

    I started thinking about which game genres I really love, and it essentially boiled down to : RPG, Strategy, and DotA-likes. Well DotA-like games are fundamentally focused around multi-player, which under this time-limit I can’t code (And I probably couldn’t code even without a time-limit), so that’s out. RPGs are great for this theme, but unfortunatly most of the meat from RPGs comes from copious amounts of designed content, which with the imposed time-limit is going to be difficult to execute even if I procedurally generate it. So that leaves one genre: Strategy!

    So what makes a strategy game tick? Well, there in existence are two types of distinct strategy games: RTS and TBS. However, since we are focusing on Strategy games in particular we want to make a game that only really focuses on what is found in both games.

    So what is strategy?

    strat·e·gy

    /ˈstratəjē/

    Noun
    1. A plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.
    2. The art of planning and directing overall military operations and movements in a war or battle.

     

    Okay so we have a great start. In both TBS and RTS we perform a series of actions to achieve a greater goal. So I made a quick Venn Diagram vemm

     

    Obviously this is nowhere near comprehensive (Just drunk man rambling), but it helps narrow down the focus on what is in the center. Some of these are derivations of one another, while some aren’t necessary but make the game infinitely better for very little effort. Currently the only concept being incorporated into our minimalistic strategy game is: A plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim. I’m going to spend the next few hours researching good strategy games, and exactly what made them good and boiling them down to the core mechanics, comparing them against this list and creating a set concepts to be incorporated into our strategy game.

    Brainstorming

    Posted by
    Friday, April 26th, 2013 9:47 pm

    So, I’m best at understanding a concept when I’m explaining it to other people. Combined with my fairly inebriated state, I felt like just typing out my thoughts and hoping someone would get as much use out of them as I do.

     

    So one thing I noticed of how people instantly reacted to the theme, is that they immediately thought “minimalist” = minimal graphics. That’s a fairly strange assumption in my head. Minimalism can refer to many things especially minimalism game-play. However, I see minimalism to be very closely associated with simplicity; any programmer can tell you that the best way of solving a problem is the simplest, and these often require the minimal lines of code. Likewise I associate it with good design, breaking down a game or concept to its minimal core of what makes it tick.

     

    An example of a game that would have been perfect under this theme is Dive Kick.

    A video by TB, takes a closer look at the game.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uzaxQ5RF4I

    The game boils down all the core concepts of fighting games into their bare bones, and creates a compelling and deep game that only uses two buttons. This is what I really see this theme about. Not about minimal graphics, but minimal design. Boiling away everything but the very minimal requirements of the game to be itself. So my game is going to take a genre or game I greatly adore, and strip away everything that is auxiliary until nothing but the bare bones of the game remain.

     

    I’m in!

    Posted by
    Friday, April 26th, 2013 6:24 pm

    FlashDevelop/FlashPunk, Construct 2, or Unity. Depends on the theme and game.

    Photoshop CS6

    BSfxr and p22

    Third Ludum Dare. Have yet to complete game. Tonight brainstorming will mostly consist of playing drunken cards against humanity with friends.

    I’m sorry Flixel

    Posted by
    Saturday, April 21st, 2012 4:37 am

    So things I learned last night. Stay away from 3D. No matter how simple it seems to make minecraft esque graphics, it’s not. Incidentally, now that I hate everything 3D I’m a lot less inclined to use Unity even for 2D projects. This is kind of sad since this was on opportunity for me to practice Unity before making an iOS game with it, but screw it. Going back to my guns, come back Flixel my love, Unity didn’t mean anything, it was just a fling, take me back… Please!

    IM BAWK!

    Posted by
    Friday, April 20th, 2012 8:46 pm

    So I went out for a walk to get some inspiration and as you might guess there isn’t a lot of inspiration things happening a mid sized town at 12 AM. Just as I was returning from my walk with the disappointment of having no brilliant ideas I break a branch underneath my foot. BINGO! A Giant Sim! Sim’s are great for these types of events due to their open ended design, as soon as I finish the basic mechanics I can keep on adding additional feature until the time limit is up without making anything seem tacked on. The game’s main mechanic will be called force. The player will have a force meter which determines how much force he does each action with so “Throwing” something with 0 force will cause the player to drop it doing no harm to it, while using 5 force would cause the player to hurl it with great strength causing lots of a harm to it. Obviously throwing a human would be a very bad (but fun) thing.

    The problem is that I have obsolutly no experience with 3D stuff, some I’m just going to use a bunch of blocks to represent things esque Minecraft.

    My first mini GDD

    Posted by
    Friday, April 20th, 2012 7:37 pm

    Game is about getting your cult to control the world or the larger portion of the world. This is decided
    by the ammount of piety you have at the end of game. You gain piety by getting your minions to spread your religion
    and/or to massacre the faithful of other religions. The game is a realtime based strategy game that plays on two levels.

    First Level – Minions
    There are 4 types of minions
    Missionaries = Convert the population in the region to your belief.
    Inquisitors = Kill the population in the region that don’t share your belief.
    Seekers = Kill enemy units in their region
    Guardians = Defend allied units AND population in their region. Can only be deployed in regions with highest control percent.

    Minions remain in an area until they die or “expire” (In 60 sec)

    Second Level – Miracles
    TO BE ADDED LATER

    You gain points for killing enemies when the kill occurs. You get points for having worshipers AT THE END of the game. You also gain
    points for killing enemy units.

    There will be 9 regions in the game and 4 “Factions” thus regions will always be contested. Each region will be object which will have
    the following in it:

    Name, Array of units, population under the influnces of faction 1,2,3,4, total population

    Each player has the following variables
    Score
    Money
    Total number of followers

    Each game will go on for 10 mins
    Every two mins a new level “Might” will be reached, during which more powerful miracles can be performed.

    Money is passively gained based on the number of followers you have.

    CORRECTION! IT’S NOW ALL IN SPACE, BECAUSE SPACE IS EASIER! SO MUCH EASIER!

    Decided not to go with this, adds additional complications and doesn’t touch the theme enough.

    Better late then never

    Posted by
    Friday, April 20th, 2012 6:34 pm

    Ugh, almost forgot to make an I’m in Post. So here it is:
    Unity with Othello 2D free
    SFXR
    WolframAlpha Tones
    Pickles and Photoshop

    Tiny world hmmm… This is going to be difficult.

    The Concept

    Posted by
    Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 10:20 am

    The game is called Red America.

    The concept is simple, to oppress all the continental United States. Each state will have it’s own oppression meter, once it it hits %100 it stays there, otherwise it declines overtime. The United States a whole also has an oppression meter which is the mean of all the states.

    When the player starts he’ll look at a political map of the USA, and all states start at %30 oppression. Every few seconds an issue will arrise and the player can choose how he responds to it. At first he only has two options: Distract (Starts a new season of American Idol / Starts a random war with a random country.) And Propaganda. Distract is effective against large groups/organizations while Propaganda is effective against the individual. After about 6 events, the player gains access to the NDAA: Dissapear option, which makes an individual dissapear because the goverment says they are a terrorist. A more effective version of the propaganda option and the player should always end up using this option over Propaganda. After about 6 more events the player gets access to the SOPA/PIPA: Censor option, which is a more effective version of Distract. When the player reaches %100 operation, Russia invades America because they believe that America is a communist totalitaristic dictatorship and must be purged from the world. Russia obviously wins because most intelligent Americans decided to hide that fact on the account that they didn’t want to get NDAA’d and thus couldn’t help with the war even if they wanted too.


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