I make games http://www.farmergnome.com
About farmergnome (twitter: @farmergnome)
The Rad Game Award
Awarded by SonnyBone on December 18, 2012
So I just pushed a decent post competition build of my entry, Undercolor Agents out, along with a Youtube video here!
I have addressed most of the difficulty and control issues I found post release, and also has a new soundtrack written by Surasshu, to play the latest jump over here. I Look forward to the feedback on the improvements and the video!
This is my 3rd Ludum Dare compo outing, I will be keeping my tools mostly the same as last time to the ones I used to build Happy Little Murder Friends for LD25 , with exception to music, my music attempts weren’t very good last time so I figure I would try something different and actually do a few fruityloops tutorials before the whole thing begins. So as follows:
MMF2 + box2d extension which means windows only again…..
Graphics Gale for the most part, though I have Photoshop ready if I need something that isn’t pixels. Going to do my best to keep the art to a minimum this time…
BFXR for sound effects, fruityloops and Audacity for music. This is my weak area, gonna try to not suck so much this time.
I want to try and go light(er) on the art this time, and focus on something a little more complex code wise, though it never really turns out that way hopefully I can resist my urge to spend more than a few hours on art this time around! I can’t really say what genre yet without knowing the theme, but if at all possible I would like to stray away from making a platformer if at all possible. Oh and make the music less sucky, but most importantly take a break from real life and write another game
So this is my second Ludum Dare, and I think for the most part it went a lot better than last time (in case you are wondering – my last entry… http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-24/?action=preview&uid=10234 ) mostly down to the technical details and sleeping better (or worse?)
So this game is called HAPPY LITTLE MURDER FRIENDS ( http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-25/?action=preview&uid=10234 ). It is about serial killers going on a homicidal rampage. You control one of 5 killers and each town you enter you must kill your targets that you have marked out – all while avoiding the law and killing too many people who aren’t on your hit list.
What went Right…
Box2d was quite possibly the best decision I made for this project, a lot of my time on Soul Jar was spent fixing weird platforming glitches (and they still weren’t entirely fixed) – it saved me maybe 6-8 hours of messing around and headaches. Totally worth it. I think MMF2 was an excellent choice as far as tool-set also, I can’t seem to move as quick with Unity (Though I am still learning it!) My familiarity with it definitely speed things along.
Lack of sleep due to being well rested before was probably the second biggest factor in adding the content required to make this game happen, I got tired on day two but I tricked my body into waking up again (tons of coke/coffee right before a power nap did the trick) – I tried this when developing Soul Jar but I ordered my tasks wrong, I was tired when I was coding and fresh doing the art and music. I focused on nailing down the programming elements while I was fresh this time, and as soon as my mind wandered I fell back onto doing the art/music- productivity was definitely better.
I knew I would need TONS of variation in a game like this, not only in the backgrounds, but the characters also. I wrote a really basic R,G,B randomizer and did a variation version of it to be used in contrast, then I applied this to everything without mercy. This saved a lot of time rather than painting variations by hand, as they were done in Soul Jar, and looks quite good also!
Basic Art Style:
Everything in Murder Friends is extremely low res, but more importantly than that I focused on broad colors rather than details, this allowed me to block out entire landscapes in a matter of minutes rather than hours which was something that drastically slowed me down last time. Probably the only thing I put some focus into as far as pixeling was the UI and main characters – but that was kind of unavoidable as they are onscreen constantly and need to stand up.
All the effects are done with a similar method to the color swaps, just tinting a certain color channel rather than animating it by hand, definitely saved some time on this one. I don’t think I will be hand pixeling fades glows much anymore, thanks to MMF2′s rather powerful set of effects with the hardware acceleration turned on.
What went Wrong…
I spent a fair amount of effort designing features that never made the cut, and while it doesn’t chip into my design time (I designed the specifics while I mocked up art/music – so it really didn’t cut into my time too much), I think I have a habit of not spending enough time sitting down with the design which leads to a lot of cut features. Most notable that got cut was the ability to drive cars and hide in houses (I ended up adding the later, though much more ghetto than you may think)
I wasted a solid hour or two this entry having to pixel over most of the fonts in-game, was absolutely a giant waste of time and tedious to boot, I kind of left this till last as it wasn’t core to the game working, but next time I think I will pick a good pixel font that scales well, rather than using Impact font and touching it up.
This was the constant weak spot of the code, probably broke more than anything else across the 48 hours, I think if I redid this I would find a way to cheaply animate the characters without having to have separate animations for each character, not only does it take time to pixel in, but managing animations is extremely expensive time wise.
The win screen was in concept going to be a newspaper that had the recent massacre on the front page, and act as a win screen/score screen of sorts. But I had to throw it out after day one as I hadn’t even done the main UI yet, let alone the win screen. The win screen that I went with was just a almost direct copy of the credits screen, just with the items swapped.
Well that about covers it, thanks for reading. If you would like to play it head over here : http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-25/?action=preview&uid=10234 and say hi!
So over the weekend I knocked out Soul Jar, and between lack of sleep and constant LD high, this is what went right and wrong in order! So first up a quick trailer to give you an idea what the game is like:
What went right:
Atmosphere & Theme:
I am happy with how the overall feel of the game turned out, originally I had planned that the game was going to be two parts, the first part were you learn from the human on earth, and the second played solo as the robot returning home, though I had to scrap that pretty early when it was clear that I wouldn’t make the deadline in time, instead I just focused my efforts on making the desert believable, added sandstorms and such, I thought it turned out pretty well but I would like to do some more with the areas I missed in future. If anything I would have liked to invest a bit more time into the landscapes to make them a bit less procedural, since they are quite bland at times, but I think that is an adventure for another day also.
I think I managed to get a great deal of personality out of two (almost) silent protagonists, the droid beeps really added heaps, and the way he learns new abilities was pretty decent, even if lacking in prompts to tell the player what is going on, it was vague but I think with a bit more polish here it could be something really awesome.
What went wrong:
Long story short, I started the game using box2D for mmf2, but a series of problems and my lack of experience using it had me frustrated by about hour two, I just fell back on doing a standard mmf2 platforming fastloop movement, which probably resulted in some less than optimal controls. I think the major problems are the climbing up controls, and the odd up/down pickup controls, though due to the time restraints I don’t think much of this could have been avoided. Definitely going to overhaul it with box2d when I find the time.
I wanted a pretty intricate item system at the start, with hopes to have around 20 items, and a complex digging/scanning system, the whole thing just fell apart though with lack of time, since the digging wasn’t fully implemented and the controls were clunky and the items were about 10-12 in number including the story items. The whole mining system just sucked. Other content that provided a bit of a problem aside from the extra levels mentioned earlier was a pushable block system that I had half implemented but didn’t get around to actually using, so there was a bit of wasted effort there also. Oh well.
Another thing that due to lack of time, had to take some cuts. I initially wanted a text system in the game but that seemed pretty unrealistic after day one, I had to settle for a bitmap popup of what the human says initially when the robot lands, also hints related to finding the item that removes the ships shield so the robot can return home was also scrapped due to time, and I think the game is much more vague because of it. Ideally if I did it all again I would probably try to tell the story more visually if that was even possible, and scrap the idea of having dialog at all.
First time sound making and music making:
I knew I wanted to use SFXR, but when I had the sounds in-game they sounded really out of place within the context of the game, I ended up wasting too much time into the night and just had to cut the sound effects short, and instead tried to cover up the flaws with a sandstorm-ish sound constantly playing and I filtered all of the sound effects previously made in SFXR through Audacity and gave them a more high def sound, some were redone with my mic but they didn’t turn out the best. I think I will leave the audio to people who know what they are doing, I am totally out of my element here…
Well thanks for reading guys, you can check out the game here:
Happy to answer anything I missed!
Hey everyone, well I finished up my LD48 entry and really want to make some pretty competition breaking changes (music and sound effects that is not my own mostly) Would it be okay to include another build of the game within the zip clearly labeled “post competition version” or some such? I don’t want to break the rules of the competition, but I want to do a few updates and bug fixes if possible also! Feel free to check out the game too, I hope you guys have as much fun playing it as I did making it.