About frnknstn (twitter: @frnknstn)
- Generations: build and program bots to survive on a desert island. Unlock new components as you go, but the island’s resources don’t replenish
- Two Worlds: business management sim in two parallel universes, one where your kickstarter succeeded and one where it didn’t.
- We Must Go Deeper: Sopwith, except underwater
- You Are Your Own Enemy: beat yourself up while having an out-of body experience to make the NEXT out-of-body experience intense enough to rob a bank.
- OR -
You Are Your Own Enemy: design security systems to please clients who you later go back and rob
Here’s my complaint and confession: I have entered about five LD or Mini LD events, and have yet to complete a single one. Frankly, it is easy to get disheartened about my meagre from-scratch solo projects. I look at the blog filled with Jam groups, with talented artist and interesting music. They are leveraging their middleware or frameworks or engines or personal “Base code”, being productive and interesting.
So, this time around I am going to surrender. LD compo is no longer about making a game from scratch in 48 hours. I will be using my own personal code base that I have developed over these last 5 jams, including but not limited to:
- my slow and buggy tile engine
- my fork of PyTMX for loading Tiled maps
- if decide I make a hex-grid based game, my hex helper classes
- my previously-written functions for things like framerate calculations and text rendering
No game logic will be reused (but if the them Contrast wins, I will use my unstarted idea from the Mini LD with the same theme). The aim being to imagine what the median level of functionality Ludum Dare participants get from their frameworks, and pull code to that effect from my history of unfinished works. I don’t know if this strictly counts as “personal base code” in the eyes of the rules, but it seems to be the only way to finish a game.
You can track my development here: https://bitbucket.org/frnknstn/ld29_beneath_the_surface
I am in, will give it my best shot.
Some terrible theme ideas, free to an irresponsible home:
- Death is Useful – Tower defence game where instead of kills earning gold, they directly become the maze of towers
- Deep Space – Stealth game with using “portable hole” extradimentional spaces as hiding places
- Everything is Connected - xbill clone
- Isolation -Like Shelter, except you are a Glacier
Things I should probably do before the Saturday start time:
- Download and install a recent version of PyGame
- Acquaint myself with this new PyCharms editor everyone is talking about
- Failing that, do a practice app in Sublime to re-acquaint myself with the whole games-making process
- Failing all that, say “fuck it”, wait for Saturday and learn to make a Twine game
Clearly, I have a list addiction, but I am an enabler. If you like lists too, try Workflowy.
Thanks to this month’s MiniLD, I may get to do awesome things for the price of one!
- Finish making a game for the first time in 13 years
- Complete my barely-started LD #25 entry for the theme ‘You Are the Bad Guy’
- Make my January entry for One Game A Month
The game is still untitled. In it, you compete against other evil entities to swallow the most galaxies, thus ending the universe. In practice, it is just a re-theme of Hey! That’s My Fish, but I think it is turning out pretty cool It will definitely have hotseat support and really bad AI, but I will try to add the following by the end of the MiniLD:
- Remote multiplayer support
- Better AI
- Cool graphics effects
- An installer
- SFXR-level sound effects
- Music-generator-level music
In case you hadn’t noticed, I like lists. If you do too, consider using WorkFlowy!
There are an interesting set of themes, prompting me to do an idea dump. It’s the closest I am going to get to doing any real preparation for this weekend.
- Colonize – You are a strain of bacteria, trying to spread to nearby jars of mayonnaise. Call the game “Colonnaise”.
- End of the World – I have been playing a lot of Pharaoh lately. Maybe a level of a city-builing sim, where instead of trying to construct vast monuments, you are collecting resources to make the artifact that brings about the apocalypse?
- Fortress – Fighting game with badly-animated anthropomorphic castles beating the turrets off each other. Or maybe a clone of a game I vaguely remember from my youth, where you flew a helicopter to drop off troops onto a side-scrolling battlefield so that they can assault the enemy’s fortress.
I am in! My leave start on Friday, so no work stress.
However, history is not on my side. Of all my game programming jams, Dare or otherwise, I have yet to complete a single entry. I didn’t do the warm up last weekend or ever. In fact, the last time I completed a game was when I was in high school, twelve years ago.
Still, I will try put something together in pygame.
I am in. At least, I want to be in. Or I want to want to be in.
I am actually feeling less enthused about this compo than for any of the previously participated in. If I do finish an entry (which would be my first completed game jam entry) it will not be all that interesting or all that exciting. Looking at what some people considered to be their throwaway entries, I would have a hard time coming up with something that interesting or inventive.
Still, we will see if the theme selection leads to inspiration.
- mtPaint, and GIMP
- If I end up doing a tile-based game, probably will use PyTMX to load Tiled maps
In past game jam events, I have always felt the jealous stab of pride when it comes to talking about my game idea or theme. I know that when it comes to programming, ideas are cheap and success comes from perspiration, marketing and luck. The ten thousand people and five hundered fully-featured websites that came up with ‘Facebook before Facebook’ can attest to that. That doesn’t make it any easier for me to admit that nobody wants to steal my dumb idea.
So, my simple idea for MiniLD #36 is a top-down team-based military shooter. As you lose health, your display loses contrast and it become harder to tell friend from foe.
Thanks to the relaxed rules of this MiniLD, I will be ‘borrowing’ some of the graphics functions I made for my unreleased entry in MiniLD #34 ‘Aspect’.
Will this be the first game jam I actually finish? Probably not, based on my previous experience, but I hope to achieve my super-secret goal of learning how to properly package Python projects.
Some reasons why most MiniLDs are awesome:
- Know the theme earlier: It’s nice that everyone is given an equal handicap for the full LD48 by only announcing the theme at the beginning of the compo, but I like to know in advance. It’s fun to be able to scheme and plan and throw away bad ideas before the pressure is really on.
- Flexible timeframe: The MiniLD runs STRICTLY from the Saturday to the Sunday. NO EXCEPTIONS. Unless you are going to be busy that weekend. Or you have a great idea and just can’t wait to start. Or you decide to do it on Friday and Saturday instead, but your idea on Friday didn’t work out so you restart on Saturday and work until Sunday. Or…
- Good themes: The LD48 theme voting process is good and fair, but choosing a theme by committee means that the truly odd themes get weeded out, as do the more open-ended generic themes.
- If you finish making a game, you are already a Guaranteed Winner ™! Tied for first place!
Some MiniLD hosts may be more or less strict about some of the above, so YMMV, but the MiniLDs are mostly known for focusing on the fun.
I missed the deadline by a wide margin. If I didn’t have to work today, I would be making my entry entry-able.
Postmortem: What went right:
- Timezones: Being UCT+2 is pretty cool, but I would say that UCT-1 would be best. It means that the theme comes in around midnight, you can get a full night’s sleep while your unconscious mind is working on ideas, and then still get two days (8am – 12pm) to work on the entry.
- Paid attention during voting: Especially during the final round, listening to the chatter on IRC gives you insight into what the theme is likely to be. Although my favorite didn’t win (Vote Alchemy in LD #24!), I still had a couple proto-ideas for the top contenders
What went wrong:
- No actual planning: I didn’t actually sit down with a pen and paper until 12 hours before the deadline. This was my fatal mistake. Simply jotting down what systems and objects I would need for the idea gave me a much better idea of the scope of the project; if I had done that on day 1, my time management would have been much improved.
- Library bug: I got bitten by a bug in Pygame. This shouldn’t have cost me more than an hour or two, but I tend to obsess about these things. Once I found the workaround, I should have just done it and got on with the project.
- Waited to long to get things *moving*: Nothing beats that moment when you start to get some actual movement and feedback from your game. Working on a game is one thing, seeing it in motion is something completely different. The morale boost it gives is astounding. Next time, I will get something up and running as soon as possible, instead of getting bogged down in the internals or producing art.
Okay, so I am one day in, and what have I accomplished? No actual gameplay, not even a real design. I also was bitten by a pygame bug, but that cost me only 2 hours. The other 14 were my own fault.
I need to sleep, and then I will decide whether to call it off entirely, or to completely dump my original idea and try something I can accomplish in ~12 hours, or even just see if I can get SOMETHING working with my current progress. I will admit it is tempting to just slack off tomorrow, see some friends, and leave nothing but this subpixel sprite editor to be my weekend’s contribution to the ‘corpus Ludum’.
So, here’s me saying I am lost. I had an ‘interesting’ idea, but it is probably either too technical to ever become anything more than a toy. What I did was spend all day writing proof-of-concept code and a shitty editor to do what I wanted.
Then I thought, hang on, let’s see if anyone else has done a roguelike using subpixel rendering, and I see that none other than Terry goddamn Cavanagh had suggested it in back in 2008, and there is a really awesome library for Roguelikes called libtcod which I don’t have time left to learn.
So now I am going to take a nap, maybe gonna get something to eat, and reconsider my future.