My Ludum Dare 72-Hour Jams
LD#24 -- One Last Chance (Unity web & Android .apk)
About recursive frog (twitter: @RecursiveFrog)
My Ludum Dare 72-Hour Jams
Ludum Dare 26
Ludum Dare 25
Ludum Dare 24
Ludum Dare 23
Ludum Dare 22
recursive frog's Trophies
Quality Reviewer Award
Awarded by caranha on December 23, 2011
recursive frog's Archive
So, what is it like to play a game where you don’t see anything, but only know what you can hear?
Here’s a video with unpolished voiceover for Agent #2 for your enjoyment. Right now, all you really do is just wander the halls and listen to descriptions. You *can* ask to know your status or inventory but there isn’t voiceover for it yet.
Yes, the bug in the beginning of the video should be resolved now.
This game has VOICE ACTING.
It has SO MUCH VOICE ACTING.
I have been writing and recording VO for Agent #2, a sneaky, shifty thief, for the past 3 hours almost.
My sound partner is doing the part of Agent #1, a demolitions expert who is itching to blow something up, for almost the same time.
Considering that your only window into the game is their verbal descriptions of what the Agents see, and what you hear around them in the ambient sounds through the phone, this is all incredibly important. Aside from just a bare phone UI, there really are no graphics.
And, by the way, it’s proving incredibly trippy to hear the ambient sounds change as you direct your agents through the building. This is turning out so much better than I had imagined and we’re still only halfway!
You say into your phone : “Agent 2, head to the sewer”
You hear from your phone : the sounds of a sewer when the Agent moves there
No screenshot obviously. :p
You can ask the Agents questions now, such as “Where are you?” and they will tell you what room they are in.
Likewise, you can tell the Agents to go to an adjacent area, or even an area that isn’t adjacent but that they know how to find, and they will do that too. You can use relatively natural language for this as well. So when you speak phrases into your phone like:
“Go to the courtyard”
“Head over to the courtyard”
“Make your way to the courtyard”
All will basically just translate to MOVE COURT_YARD.
Meet your nameless, faceless henchmen:
- Demolitions expert
- Tasked with destroying the weapon prototype
- Is strong, but not stealthy
- Expert at picking locks and stealing items
- Expert at computer systems
- Is stealthy, but not strong
Using only what you can hear from their surroundings and what they describe to you, can you guide them through this top secret weapons facility to wreck your opponent’s only hope for survival against your coming onslaught?
It’s time for bed.
To recap here’s what we’ve created thusfar:
- 75% of the game’s UI and Graphics
- Got the speech recognition up and running (omg)
- Settled on a plot for the game
- Started drawing up a world map
And now, off to the bed!
Recursive Frog is curious.
- How many times have you done Ludum Dare?
- How many times have you used your chosen toolchain to make a game?
- Why did you choose the tools that you have chosen?
Will the Recursive Frog execute again for the 4th consecutive Ludum Dare?
Will Recursive Frog be a team or a solo endeavor this time?
Will Recursive Frog make *yet another Android game?*
I don’t quite know the answers to these questions just yet. See, after the last several jams I’ve been inspired to take those games and make them into something bigger and that’s exactly what I’ve been up to for the past couple of months. Ludum Dare has been an incredibly fertile ground for ideas, and the seeds I’ve planted all bear sweet fruit… but is it time to tend the garden that exists currently, or is it as important to keep planting those new seeds?
No matter what I choose to do next weekend, I’ll be jamming along with you all. Maybe it will be on my older entries, or maybe it will be something entirely new.
In any event, the most likely tools involve :
Unity3D & MonoDevelop
SPC Music Sketchpad
Or whatever else, really.
It’s been a crazy week since finishing the Jam. Since PAX and PaxDev were in town, and because these are such social venues, I decided to take my trusty Nexus 7 out on a trip to the convention center.
And what did I do with my Nexus 7 at the convention center?
I bugged convention-goers and asked them to try out my LD24 game on my tablet!
Of those who were okay with it, I recorded their play sessions for study on how they interacted with the game, the device, and what trouble points they encountered. I also asked about improvements, concepts, and how the whole thing “felt” and got a wide variety of very keen observations, praises, and criticisms. Pretty much the whole week has been filled with such activity, and as such the only improvements I’ve had time to make were UI-related and adding a bit more narration from the main character to help flesh out the missing pieces.
However, I now have a lot of good feedback from “the man on the street” as to what they think of the idea.
As is traditional, I can’t stop myself. I have been doing more work post-competition. A lot of you said the idea was really golden but that there just wasn’t enough content, and were confused by the “Force Close” that happens. I was already planning on expanding the story and the gameplay, but seeing all the encouragement really helps.
There. That one thought bubble is what I should have added from the start. Of course it still wouldn’t have given me the time to write part 2 of the story, or lead the user on into a different day in the relationship, but it would have been *something* at least.
Perils abound down the Ribbit Hole.
This was by far the craziest of my three Ludum Dare experiences, and the first time I’ve jammed with a team. On the one hand, we’re all ridiculously happy with what we’ve managed to do, in terms of the game mechanic and the quality of the art production, and the potential for a much larger game built on top of what we’ve got here.
On the other hand, there’s no getting around the fact that the amount of content and story in the actual official jam build is painfully small… just one scenario. It’s really short, and it doesn’t even really have an “ending” screen.
What went right?
The theme :
I admit that I didn’t like the theme when it was announced. We all struggled to come up with an idea that wouldn’t be derivative or play into the whole eat-or-be-eaten trope. After spending two hours brainstorming we felt like we’d hit a brilliant twist by making a game about the evolution of a relationship, or rather correcting the de-evolution of one via time-manipulation.
The team :
The textures are gorgeous. Jordan rocks scene lighting and ambience like nobody’s business. You see how alive the scenery in that apartment looks? It’s all in the lighting. Ray on the modeling and the UI took one look at the little frog pictures I’d taken during LD23 and decided to just run with them. The scenery and the model have a certain charm and warmth that there’s no way I alone could capture.
The tooling :
I’m no stranger to using Unity, but the tool really made the job of rapidly testing and building very easy.
What went wrong?
Everything that went wrong in this project, and the reason why the game really isn’t very complete, is all down to how ambitious we were in our ideas. In order to really sell our take on the theme, here’s a short list of things we had to build out, in ascending order of OMG levels of work:
- A fake smartphone operating system
- Translation of raycasting from the user’s physical screen to the virtual “phone” screen
- A convincing script with relatable characters
- A conversation engine that ranks your responses to questions, including timeouts that are interpreted as you ignoring the questioner
Did I mention we didn’t have any of that stuff just laying around?
And how much time did it take us to concept out these ideas? I feel confident in saying that we spent almost a total of 10 – 15 hours doing nothing but writing up scenarios, playing with dialog options, running through things you could pick up and use in the phone world.
All this is to say that the idea was big. It was really big. It’s way bigger than a game jam game should be, but it felt like too good an idea not to pursue. It’s still astonishing to me just how much we did accomplish even with a game idea that required such heavy investment in nothing more than script writing and screenplay.
One thing I think I as the programmer really should have done was to actually flesh out why that force close screen happens. It’s actually part of the story and intended to signify that you’ve completed the scenario… but without some messaging or apparent effect after it happens, it just leaves people confused. It didn’t have to be that way. I could have diverted some effort away from things like making the textures all import at the best quality level, or fiddling around with dialogue during the encounter, or adding in the pickup items, and I could have used that time to just give the player a clue that “hey, you did it! But there’s a mystery afoot.”
To finish this story. The idea is too good not to follow through on, and it deserves more than what it’s got as of 6pm Monday evening.