Director, Assistant, Janitor and Slave at Pixel Cows Studio.
Currently working on "The Journey of Eko", a platformer action-RPG for PC.
About Gabriel (twitter: @pixel_cows)
Director, Assistant, Janitor and Slave at Pixel Cows Studio.
Best end of level goal
Awarded by hamster_mk_4 on August 29, 2012
I’m not sure… The idea of not working directly on The Journey of Eko for an entire month is kinda scary, to be honest… But I admit I’ve been having a lot of fun working on a Singularity post-compo version for the last weeks! Here’s how it’s looking now:
For those who don’t remember, here’s what the LD24 version used to look like:
In short, what I did from a graphics standpoint was importing assets from The Journey of Eko, and adding some shaders and particles. And of course removing the silhouette look, revealing Eko as the protagonist once again!
As for gameplay, I did a new combat system from scratch, now based in directional sword slashes and combos. For those familiar with Smash Brothers Brawl, it now plays somewhat like a fast Ike (“We like Ike!”). I’ve also focused a lot on visual feedback for the fight.
I was very, very impressed by deepnight’s Strike of Rage. If you haven’t played it yet, you definitely should! He was able to pull off a great, professional level look and feel for his beat-em-up in only 48 hours, it’s really freaking amazing. I played it over and over again, and decided I would implement some of his ideas in Singularity’s combat – specially particles and camera shake. Deepnight, sorry for reverse-engineering your animations aesthetics – that’s the price you pay for being so good!
Anyways, the game that used to be Singularity is becoming quite decent now. I’ve been further developing it initially because I wanted it to be all it could be without the LD time restriction; then I continued because it was serving as a decent prototype for The Journey of Eko’s combat system. Now I don’t know the reason anymore, I think I’m doing it just because it’s fun!
So, I thought: maybe I could turn this “Singularity / Journey of Eko crossover” into my October Challenge game? I could work on it for a month, get some experience on actually trying to sell a game, and get community feedback that could then be directly applied in our main project. Or I could just stop working on Singularity and get back to the ‘real’ Journey of Eko. Ohh, cruel doubt!
Tell me what you think! And while I can’t decide but can’t stop improving my sword combat prototype either, do let me know (tweet to @pixel_cows or something) if you are willing to receive the most current build to test / provide feedback. It will be greatly appreciated!
You know what this is? Look carefully:
Yeah, that’s a weird haired dude pissing on an alien. But it’s also much, much more than that: it’s McPixel, a game developed by fellow Ludum Dare veteran Sosowski being sold on Steam!!! Wait, let me say it again: it’s on Steam! STEAM!!! Here’s the link, go see for yourself (and while you’re at it, support one of our colleagues and buy it!)
This game was originally created for Ludum Dare, then Sosowski gave it a real polish, added tons of content and submitted to Steam’s new Greenlight system (for everyone living in a bunker, it’s a new ‘popularity evaluation’ system that Valve put in place to detect promising indie games that aim to be sold on Steam, basically based on ‘how many likes the game gets’). And McPixel is the very first game to actually be added to Steam through that new popularity method. It all started here, right here where we stand, in the Ludum Dare community! How great is that?!
There are no words strong enough to describe how FUCKING PROUD we are! I’m sure someone who’s actually important in the LD community (maybe Sosowski himself) will announce it here with a better explanation, better English, better wording and useful links. So Sosowski, in the meantime we’ll just leave you with our humble encouragement message:
Congratulations, best of luck with sales! We’re really proud, and I’m sure I speak for the whole community on that.
Results are freshly out of the oven now, and once again, the winner games are AMAZING! Congratulations to the developers who reached top 5 in the Compo and Jam:
To make it that high in the list, one needs a great idea, attention to detail, skill and discipline. You guys rock!
Also, everyone here knows it, but it’s never too much to say it again: Ludum Dare is all about making games, and we all managed to get that done.
So, congratulations, everyone! It’s an honor to jam with you!
Gabriel – @pixel_cows
Hello, fellow jammers!
we’ve had a bunch of family appointments lately, but finally managed to write a proper post mortem! This time, we experimented with procedural level generation – this is at the core of Singularity’s design and was where we spent the most time during that crazy weekend of sleep deprivation and an unhealthy peanut based diet. We wrote a post in our blog explaining in details how the procedural level generator works, take a look!
In our postmortem we do talk a little about how we spent our time, but the main focus is on what we learned about procedural level generation. But there are dev screenshots too, for we love those things, don’t we?
Yep, that awful head was the avatar in our first tests! For the close observers, you’ll notice that the bizarre archer enemy that starts spawning at about Difficulty 5 is actually the silhouette of a placeholder enemy that we didn’t have time to replace!
Anyway, several hours putting background graphics together and programming particles everywhere, the game got a substantial visual overhaul mostly during the last day. Here’s another screenshot of how it looked by the end of the day:
So, to cut to the chase:
*The level generation technology works well, and is fun to create and to play!
*The brainless gameplay summed with infinite levels gave the game a good replay factor, despite its very limited development time.
*The open, non-content-based design enables us to expand the game more easily, if we want.
*The ease to test game balancing and incorporate new mechanics in the middle of real levels makes it much easier to balance and prototype new ideas. A new jump height can be tested in an infinite amount of situations, a new kind of cannon can be easily tested in all sorts of level topographies and in the middle of other obstacles.
What could have been different
*Specifically in the context of Ludum Dare, most players don’t play the same game more than once, due to the need of playing many other games. The levels being different at each playthrough isn’t something that makes a difference for those particular players.
*The enormous amount of time spent with technology and playtest left us with a short time for aesthetic polishing. The silhouette based graphics is interesting and easy to create, but we’d need more particles, shaders and color balancing to reach the level of quality that we originally aimed for.
*The possibility that the level generator could create impassable levels led us to create ‘conservative’ level chunks and less randomization than we’d like.
Take a look in our blog to see how the level generator works, to know more about us, or our main project The Journey of Eko, for which both Singularity and Tiny Shard are some sort of prototype. Or just find us in Twitter (@pixel_cows) and say hello!
And for you hardcore platformer fans who missed it, you can get Singularity HERE!
This is our second time in Ludum Dare, and once again it was a lot of fun! It is a true honor to be part of this great community. You guys ROCK!
Cheers from Brazil
Gabriel and JP
So it seems my game will be something like Spelunky meets Super Meat Boy. All I was needing was an excuse to test procedural level generation, and now that it seems to be working well except for a few over difficult parts here and there, it’s time to start adding win / lose conditions and balancing difficulty!
This is how it’s looking like so far. The placeholder graphics keep sucking, but hey, all that stuff was proceduraly positioned there! Even I can’t believe!
Now I can only hope a fun game will emerge on the other side.
Ok, got a functional ‘terrain chunk’ creator, and a procedural platform creator that is able to put all those chunks together. Still very basic, with just obstacle/non-obstacle distinction, but hey, I’ve been DREAMING about procedural level generation, so it’s a good start!
Now for replacing some placeholder graphics… This little ugly head jumping on platforms is almost making me throw up on my monitor.
All right. Several months after the last LD, yesterday I got an encouraging message from a “Tiny Shard” fan. Yehaaa! Someone actually survived “Harday” and now we got at least ONE fan!
He and someone else on twitter were asking if we were planning to participate this LD. Well, the answer was “no”. We LOVED it the last time, but we’re in a real rush implementing a new tech in our main project The Journey of Eko, and to make it worse, we have several family meetings that we just can’t skip. Your gramma doesn’t turn 96 everyday!
So sad not to be able to participate! So we thought, thought, though… And you know what? SCREW THAT! We’re in, mo’fo’! Even if we’re really short on time, if we have to skip sleep, bath and other useless luxuries! The theme is still to be announced, but I’m seriously tempted to create something procedural. I’ll go with Multimedia Fusion 2 again.
We’ll be posting dev news on Twitter, follow us! @pixel_cows
Good luck, you all!
ps.: some info on The Journey of Eko, for those wondering what the hell is that – http://www.pixelcows.com/p/the-journey-of-eko.html
Hello, fellow jammers! Being a strong believer that later is better than never, here’s a link to the Tiny Shard postmortem. In truth, I started it during the jam and finished it at some point last week, but totally forgot to post here.
Before all that, though, I just wanted to thank the Ludum Dare veterans and the other newcomers for the warm reception and awesome feedback! This is my first time here and I’m amazed with the great community. You guys rule!
In the Pixel Cows blog (www.pixelcows.com – no idea why I can’t make it a link), there is a more detailed narrative of our rollercoaster method, for if you like narratives, rollercoasters or methods! Also, Tiny Shard is vaguely based on our main game, The Journey of Eko. It’s not the same game or setting, but the style and main character are certainly similar! You can find more info about this game in our blog as well.
All right, down to business.
What went right
-Using tools that we’re familiar with, specially Multimedia Fusion 2. We didn’t have to spend time reinventing the wheel.
-Dedicate enough time for polishing. Small details such as the weekday sign, the next day’s shard being shown at the background, the opening and closing animation for the gates, etc, ended up contributing a lot to the game’s setting and message.
-Low res. We’re still shocked with how quickly you can come up with reasonably well polished content when you work with a 200×150 pixels screen!
-Creating the type of game that we like to design and to play. This makes it easier to immediately notice if a feature is important or not, if the game is well balanced, etc. Besides, since The Journey of Eko is mostly a platformer, Ludum Dare wasn’t the first time we had to meddle with the science of balancing jump height, gravity, inertia, etc, which is a good thing from a time standpoint.
What went wrong
-Initially planning a scope that isn’t feasible in 48 hours. We fortunately had the idea of merging our projects and redirecting our efforts to the jam, also gaining an extra day to finish the game; but if it wasn’t so, each one of us would probably have submitted a poorly finished compo entry.
-Underestimate the time that level design and content importing take. This was pushed to the last hours, and we really had a very real risk of not being able to finish the game in time because of that.
-Think that iNudge is a magical tool for creating music with no time and effort. Don’t get me wrong here, the software is really good, but a random sound made in 5 minutes will most likely not convey the atmosphere you want for your game. To use it to its full potential, it certainly takes practice and time (that we still don’t have and that we didn’t have, respectively)
-Balancing the game difficulty based on our own skill level. Many people found the game to be too difficult, specially the already infamous last passage in Harday!
We have overwhelmed by all the encouragement and productive feedback we’re receiving from the community, and truly amazed on how many talented people are here! In fact, it’s being such a great experience that it motivated us to finish Tiny Shard. We’re working on the main things: making the final levels of the game a little easier and with checkpoints, rebalancing the Gentleman’s Rage, making the slime less anoying, and expanding the ending. We’ll publish it at www.pixelcows.com when it’s done, check it out if you like!
Finally, let me just take the chance to thank the Ludum Dare veterans and the other newcomers for the great reception. You guys are just great!
All right, we did it! Almost can’t believe it, it’s among the most insane 72 hours I ever had!
Tiny Shards is a tiny platformer with multiple levels and enemies, a few power ups, a little plot and the hope of some meaning!
Feedback is more than welcome! Hope you people enjoy!
All right, about 8 hours away from having it finished (hopefully!) Sleeping is something to postpone, it seems!
This is some rough art, before bloom and pixel enhancing, and completed in about one hour. Funny thing about Ludum Dare is that there is no time for things such as temporary art! If this is how a level ended up looking after you moved on to something else, odds are that this is how it will look like in the final version. Gotta have faith!
Good jamming, everyone! Look forward to see what you guys are up to!
Hello, fellow jammers!
I’m in, and here’s what on the Bat Belt today:
-Multimedia Fusion (with its free extensions available at the Multimedia Fusion website)
-Photoshop / Paint / Corel
-iNudge / Otomata / BFXR for those things that make our ears happy.
That’s it! Good luck everyone, try to have fun – right, one game in 48 hours, no sleep and piles of cold pizza… Sounds fun enough to me, alright!
Hello, fellow jammers / Fala aí, rapaziada!
We’ll be hosting a meet up at the incredible garage-office of Pixel Cows, in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. We’ll gather on Friday night and will remain open until the end of Sunday. Free pizzas on us!
If you intend to join us, please send me an email at email@example.com. We’ll announce details here and on the Pixel Cows blog. Do join us if you’re brave enough!