About Gaeel (twitter: @DrJarajski)
Ludum Dare 26
Ludum Dare 25
Ludum Dare 24
Ludum Dare 23
Ludum Dare 22
Ludum Dare 21
After a few months working on prototypes, this Ludum Dare pushed me over a limit I didn’t know I had, and I burnt out completely. A lot of the prototyping work I’ve been doing was pretty tough, and I’m afraid we might be spending too much time and effort on it, often by over-designing the prototype.
I’d like to know a little about other people’s jam and prototyping habits, so here’s a little questionnaire I cobbled together : Prototyping for good
I’m going to make the results public, and I’m also working on a follow-up about jamming fatigue and burn-out, which I’m not sure how to approach tactfully yet.
Please take a moment to answer these questions, with any luck we can learn a little about how jam-style prototyping can help, and also how to avoid associated problems.
Here’s for the presentations: I’m Kevin “Gaeel” Bradshaw, I’ve been making games by furiously throwing my face against keyboards for the past couple of years, and I’ll be participating with [REDACTED] “Mousseto” [REDACTED], who make pretty pictures for video games that are made by people who throw their face against keyboards.
I “studied” theatre, optics and computer science and have several years experience in the fast-food industry throwing burgers at people.
Mousseto is currently studying at SupInfoGame, where they learn how to make pretty pictures and the theory behind making a game not suck.
I’m one of the founders of Baptême du Jeu, we organise jams.
We’re running the event in Montpellier in the sunny south of France, if you’re in the area, join us, we have cookies. (Sign-ups close at midnight tomorrow, French time, so hurry hurry.)
I think I was going to write something else, but then I got distracted. Like… Wait, what?
Erm… I’m going to ask Mousseto if she has any ideas about what to say next…
Apparently not, but then, she’s busy reading Bakuman, which apparently is part of her job description. I’m going to use that as justification of the amount of time I spend on Super Hexagon during office hours…
Who we are
Down here in the sunny south of France, we’ve formed a small group called “Baptême du jeu” (a wordplay on “Baptism of fire” (“Baptême du feu”) and “jeu”, which means game). So far in under a year we’ve organised two Ludum Dare gatherings, a Global Game Jam event and the initial Fu(nky|ture) 1.0 beta event, with 15 to 35 people per event, a great community backed by awesome-tastic people like Swing Swing Submarine, Eric Chahi and NaturalPad.
What’s going on
And now, we’ll be running Fu(nky|ture) 2.0, a game jam focused on making multiplayer games (cooperative and/or competitive, multimachine or local), on the 19th!
Yeah it’s a bit short, but we’re sure some of you guys can make it over here!
If for the holidays you’re travelling to France or haven’t decided on a location yet, swing by and we’ll make sure you have a place to stay, and get to enjoy the pleasures of the amazing city we’re hosting this event in.
When and where?
19 rue de l’Ecole de droit
Friday 19th of July:
The doors open at 19:00 (7 pm) GMT+1 (local) and the jam starts at 20:00.
Sunday 21st of July:
The jam runs for 48h and we’ll be closing the doors at around 22:00
Sign-up is right HERE
Ok, I know, it’s in French, but the questions should be easy:
“Nom” = “Surname”
“Prénom” = “First Name”
“Email” = “Enamel” (no seriously, but it also means e-mail now)
“Si j’étais un super-héros, mon super-pouvoir serait” = “If I were a super-hero, my super-power would be” (this is important, trust us)
Then there’s some important details, we can’t really host people if these aren’t fulfilled:
“Je suis majeur” = “I am of legal age”
(We don’t have the insurance and don’t wish to take responsability of minors, so if you’re under 18, we can’t accept you at this event.)
“Je ramènerai le matériel nécéssaire à mon art (ordinateur, câble ethernet, clavier, souris, etc…)” = “I will bring the tools necessary to my art”
(We can be laxist about this one for people travelling, but make sure you let us know what you need so we can prepare it.)
“Je suis prêt à payer une participation aux frais de 10€” = “I will pay a 10€ contribution”
(This is for the food, drink, snacks and a few supplies over the weekend.)
If you want to participate, sign up on the form, and fire me an e-mail at email@example.com so we can arrange your arrival, stay and departure here to/from Montpellier.
The second rule we can be wobbly about, depending on demand we might be able to even supply a laptop or tablet, but we need to know as soon as possible.
During the jam there will be a rest room.
Before and after the jam, we have a tight-knit community, so we will be stowing you on people’s couches and in their guest rooms. Depending on how long you want to stay and how friendly your host is, we’ll have some other things to do (we’re a tram ride from the beach and have plenty of things to do in town).
I made this
Written in Lua for a bastardised version of Löve2D (fixes audio and optimises some thingies in 0.8, but is redundant since 0.9)
I used Sublime Text 2 with a heavily customised Arch Linux setup (AwesomeWM loaded with some funky scripts and a nice little dmenu kerfuffle which takes care of my workflow, YOU DON’T KNOW ME, DON’T JUDGE ME!)
For content, I used GIMP for graphics and Renoise for audio.
and I’m one of the founders of
and we organised this
with help from the awesome people at
So here goes for a DUAL Post-Mortem, commenting on the game itself, and the gathering we organised.
The theme really wasn’t an inspiration at first, and I found myself quite angry at it. After all, minimalism isn’t really a theme, but a quality. I laid down with my headphones, and played some Burial (a pretty awesome London-based artist) and halfway through Prayer (listen to this track for the next paragraph or so), I had this idea of a game where you find yourself as the last remaining human at the end of the inevitable yet inexplicable downfall of civilisation, and life itself.
I didn’t see this as a particular violent or depressing idea, simply the notion that nature just ends up overpowering order through it’s simple existence.
This kind of feeling is something that I come back to often, and sometimes I imagine characters fighting to their very last, terrified at the idea that their families, memories and belongings will simply fade away. Other times, I see a character accepting this fate as inevitable, and instead deciding to exit existence solemnly, discarding their fears to lay down and pass into the void.
This latter feeling is hard to explain in words, and I felt that maybe a simple yet powerful visual and audio experience might be able to impart it to another person. So with Burial’s soundtrack playing, I went to work.
This might be a good time to reassure you about something, I am a particularly extroverted and happy person, guided by my sense of humour and my ability to make friends anywhere and everywhere, so please don’t worry, I just like to explore various emotions in art.
Now, on to the actual MAKING of the game.
I’m a big fan of Löve2D, it has all the bits and bobs I need to load content, and throw it on the screen and through the speakers in a nice, tight, no-fuss package. It uses Lua, which is the juiciest language out there, it’s fun to program in it, it’s fast, and it has a bunch of features which give me nerd boners. It’s no wonder that it has become my framework of choice for jams, prototypes, and maybe even production code when I get round to that.
I have a bad habit of playing around with the visuals and feel of my games, and losing track of the core gameplay mechanics, which can sometimes lead to some fiascos (Crobal and Friends for LD#25, Robot in the Garden for LD#23), so this time I forced myself to have all the mechanics nice and solid, and a good level editor, before even THINKING about the visuals. This turned out to be a good decision, I know how long it takes for me to make things look nice, and I can kludge some nice feeling into a game quite quickly, and with about 18 hours to spare, I had the tools I needed to start designing my levels and bringing them to life.
PRO-TIP: I made my level editor in the engine. There’s a global variable (GLOBAL.mode) which I set to either “play” or “edit”, and gameplay code checks for GLOBAL.mode==”play” before updating and the editing interface checks for GLOBAL.mode==”edit. This means that when I press the hotkey to toggle, the game pauses, I can edit the level and then toggle again to see if the changes I made were good.
Also, the levels were built on three “layers”:
A tile grid with the various collision tiles
Sprites that can be placed freely
Tagged areas that can be accessed via scripts
The collision map is the only part that the player character directly interacts with, and uses a (clumsily written) platforming engine to provide the core gameplay.
The hotspots are naked objects that I override with context scripts, the obvious ones are the particle fountains the player can stand near to pray, but there are others for respawning the player after death, changing the colour scheme and making sure the player dies reliably when hurling himself into a hole.
The decorations are static objects that only draw themselves to the screen, the implementation is also quite clumsy, but it’s good enough for the purpose.
The editor interface was mostly mouse-driven:
This simple yet powerful system allowed me to design the world very quickly. Adding new sprites to use as decoration was simply a matter of drawing a new sprite in gimp and adding it with the correct name and number to the image directory. Adding new hotspots was only a tad more complex, in edit mode, hotspots draw to the screen at their location and display their number, I would jot down the number and the intent on my notepad (e.g: 12 – respawn point), and then I could add the appropriate behaviour to the level initialisation script later.
All this added up to a fun development process, and allowed me to pace my time quite well. However I had quite the struggle getting my platforming physics to work, and the end result is a very hacky and dodgy system that doesn’t hold up all that well.
I live in Montpellier in the south of France, it’s a nice placed to live, steeped in centuries of arts and science, a short tram ride from the sunny mediterranean beaches. Full to the brim with interesting and motivated people, Montpellier is an ideal place for budding game developers to meet and work. With this in mind, we’re working with various companies, schools and associations to bring all these beautiful people together and get them making awesome games.
Last Ludum Dare we had 14 people gathered in the computer science building at the Université Montpellier II, the faculty paid for food and security, and allowed us to use their workshop. That was the first Baptême du Jeu event, followed fairly shortly by Global Game Jam.
Global Game Jam was organised at Kawenga, a media lab in Montpellier, at the initiative of the students from the Master Fictions Numériques (Digital fiction) from Université Montpellier III.
And now we organised our second Ludum Dare gathering, again at Kawenga, which brough 35 people together making games.
We also have plans for our own game jam which will be called Fu(nky|ture) (the interpretation of this regular expression is left as an exercise to the reader) which will be focused on imposing genres and techniques, or maybe some strange rules (e.g: “you make the art for the person to your left”). We’re hoping to have this ready this summer, and you’re all welcome to come hang out with us.
Mixed feelings folks, mixed feelings.
I mean, I totally made a game in 3D, I learnt the basics of OpenGL, and I did it. I also learnt all the side stuff to that, exporting models and UV maps in Blender, texturing models with GIMP, and importing and rendering that shizzle with Java and LWJGL
But there REALLY isn’t much to this game.
I mean, people are getting used to my LD games having little to no actual gameplay. Solitas Exodae was the pioneer in the “pretty thing with no gameplay” genre I am defining. Solitas Exodae was followed next LD with Robot in the Garden, which didn’t yield quite the same success (more about that here), but definitely confirmed my distinctive “Hey this is cute, but erm… what am I supposed to be doing? Oh… Nothing… Kay…”-inducing games.
Now understand, I’m actually more of a fan of gameplay-rich games, give me Angband over Final Fantasy anyday, but for some reason, during LDs I spend so much time tweaking the visuals that gameplay gets boiled down to pressing arrow keys to explore the world.
So here goes…
What went well:
> I totally made a game in 3D, what up with that bro?
> The character is procedurally animated, that was fun
> I learnt Java (I knew some Java from school, but I learnt so much more here)
> I grew confident in my modelling skills
> Also, this was made at the LD gathering at my university here in Montpellier, France
—–> This event went really well
—–> There were 14 of us, and we had loads of fun
> I finally completed Hexagon and set a personal record of 81 seconds
What went wrong:
> It’s not very pretty, especially for a game with no actual gameplay
> It’s a game with no actual gameplay
> I didn’t have time to make music for the game and I LIKE making music
> I STILL don’t know how to make an applet, so choosing a Web-able language seems so futile now
I hereby declare my intention to upvote all themes referring to, or approaching the subject of, the end of the world, armageddon, planetary, galactic or universal destruction, and all other related concepts.
To further this effort, I will downvote all other themes.
This is, after all, the last Ludum Dare before the end of the world, as predicted by internet conspiracy theorists misinterpreting ancient and innaccurate caledars.
WTF Aliens!? is a Rythm/Shooter game. This post is a post-mortem of the development of that game.
This post is also a commentary on my Ludum Dare experiences so far, I found my involvement to be enriching and interesting so far, and I’m going to tell that story before going into the specifics of WTF Aliens!?
My first Ludum Dare entry was for #21. That entry was also my first ever video game.
The theme was “Escape”, and I recently played a tower defense game, and came up with a little mechanic of spawning the creeps in the middle, and having to place turret to contain them.
I opted for C++/SFML which turned out to not be the best option, I had issues with memory management and classes, which I don’t usually have, but given the tight timeframe, it was difficult to keep things tidy and functional.
One thing that DID work for me though, was that I came up with a simple, interesting mechanic, and rolled from there. Music has always been a strong point for me, so I made sure the game sounded nice, and I made the creeps green and said they were aliens in the flavour text. Hence the title I gave it: “OMFG Aliens!”
This first taste of Ludum Dare has changed me deeply, I’ve learnt a lot, I’ve gained confidence, I trust myself to be able to think on my feet and get things working when everything seems to be against me.
For Ludum Dare #22, I opted for a simpler framework: Lua/Love2D, and it turned out to be a good option. Making games with a high level scripting language pulls the focus onto the design rather than the implementation. Another benefit is the ability to change code and simply relaunch the game instead of having to recompile, which makes experimentation much more confortable.
The theme for #22 was “Alone”, and to be honest, I had NO idea how to build a gameplay mechanic around this. Instead I focused on a quirky happysad feel, and then added a twist near the end which brought in a more disturbing aspect. As I submitted “Solitas Exodae”, I was dissapointed at the blatent lack of gameplay, but the feedback I got was AMAZING. People who tried the game praised the amount of emotion the game induced, and some even told me they had to take a break afterwards to process it. These reactions may have been exagerated for effect, but it felt great to have offered a game that got such positive feedback. The fact that I scored 2nd for Mood, 3rd for Audio and 5th for Theme confirmed this feedback, and I was excited that I could make a game that had such a huge impact on people.
This is where things stay kind of good, but go downhill a little. Ludum Dare #23, theme “Tiny World”. I basically tried to reproduce the success of “Solitas Exodae” with “Robot in the Garder”, imitating the low resolution pixel style, with a few particle effects and a quirky audio ambiance. But this time it didn’t catch on, and in a way, I’m glad.
I didn’t make much of an effort making “Robot in the Garden”, I never gave gameplay much though, and assumed that if the pixels were pixely enough and the music was quirky enough, then I had another winner on my hands. The truth though, is that “Solitas Exodae” worked because the mood came from within, and I simply rolled with it, whereas in “Robot in the Garden”, I never game gameplay much thought, and instead chased after a mood that couldn’t really stand by itself.
The problem with this game wasn’t that the mood didn’t work, but that mood doesn’t often MAKE a game, instead in enhances a game.
I’m happy with this game in a way, but I’m dissapointed that I didn’t take the unique chance that Ludum Dare offers to go ahead and do something new.
This brings us to this Ludum Dare #24 that we just enjoyed, and the world famous theme, “Evolution”, has finally gone through.
The original idea that I had for this game was to have some kind of rythm game where the music would evolve as you went on, and your abilities in the game would also evolve. THAT aspect of the game I failed COMPLETELY, in fact, the only thing that evolves is that the game gets harder as time goes on.
I made the game alien themed, and decided that this game was a sequel to “OMFG Aliens!” and called it “WTF Aliens!?”. In a sense, the aliens from the first game evolved and now know how to use flying saucers. Yeah, it’s a totally cack way of shoehorning in the theme, but I ran out of time.
HOWEVER, I did what worked with “OMFG Aliens!” and “Solitas Exodae”, I chose something new, something that was just a slither outside my grasp and went for it. I like shooting aliens and I like music, so I went ahead and made them work together. And mostly, I’m proud of this game, it can come out last, and I’ll still be happy because I made a game I can see myself updating in the future, and I enjoy playing to try to get higher scores than my last playthrough.
What I’ve learnt here is : Make games that mean something to YOU, and you’ll be proud of your game.
“OMFG Aliens!” and “WTF Aliens!?” are lunch break shooty games with electronic music, a bit of humour and aliens, which always bring a smile to my face when I enjoy the cheesy brain dead fun that I get from them.
“Solitas Exodae” I made in a odd moment of my life, and while it isn’t a game I can replay, simply because there isn’t any actual gameplay to it, it meant a lot to me at the time. And I think the emotional impact came from the emotions I felt I needed to express when I made it.
“Robot in the Garden” doesn’t mean much to me, I’m proud of the technical feats, and I’m happy with the way it looks and feels, but it doesn’t carry the emotional weight that an “art game” should, and doesn’t provide the gameplay that an actual game should. I simply tried to cash in on the success of “Solitas Exodae”
And NOW for the post-mortem:
The idea of a game where tapping commands in time with a beat has been in my head for a while, and I was curious about how it could work. Note the key difference with a classic rythm game where you have to type the commands the game tells you to. In this game, you’re free to take your own actions, but doing so in rythm grants you bonuses.
In the original version, the player tapped four commands for the four beats of a bar, and then the game interpreted those commands while the player tapped in the next four. This was frustrating as it was hard to figure what was actually happening, and things got out of hand pretty quickly. So I implemented a “ghost” that would interpret immediately, so the player could see what would happen next, but it became apparent that is was more interesting to control the ghost directly, so I made the player character behave like the ghost and removed the ghost.
Another problem I had was syncing up multiple audio loops, which explains the lack of music in the game, since I only got that part working near the end of the compo. I would really have liked to have a little more variation in the music.
Then the final problem was telling the player how to play the game, since commands are tapped in with the beat, you get one “move” per beat, even if you spam the key faster. So if players didn’t understand this, they would become frustrated at a game that responds oddly. I didn’t want to include a forced tutorial either, since they get in the way when you want to play a game. And a seperate tutorial meant making a menu, and also making some kind of seperate level.
Instead, I added a dialogue between the player character and the commander, with speech bubbles which enhance the cheesy comic-book feel. And I simply go to the next part of dialogue when the player has performed the required action at least once. So players who know how to play can ignore the dialogue and get on with getting their high scores.
What went well:
- The game has an interesting mechanic
- It provides an addictive experience
- I like the humour and style I came up with
- Speech bubbles were fun to code
What went wrong:
- I was a little too ambitious, and didn’t have time to implement some key features
- It’s a little hard to communicate HOW to play the game
- Synchronising two beats is REALLY hard in Love2D, and I had to “cheat” a little
- Where’s the theme?
Play here! I hope you guys enjoy my game, and please let me know what you think. I’m thinking of making a revamped version with different levels, more weapons, more enemies and more music, does that sound like a good idea?
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: WTF Aliens!
This game brings you the HIGH-ACTION gameplay you expect from an alien game, and tells the story of what happens when REALLY STUPID aliens evolve enough (my excuse for theme compliance) to use flimsy broken down flying saucers.
In WTF Aliens! you have to shoot down aliens with your LAZOR and keep SYNC as high as possible by stay in sync with the beat of the music. Keep your SYNC high and charge up your LAZOR for MAXIMUM POINT OUTPUT!
Play the game HERE!
Hey guys, just wanted to say I’m in, I will be participating in the 48h compo, with the following tools :
My trusty Asus eeePC with Arch Linux, an old Dell Inspiron laptop with WinXP and my “gaming” machine with Windows7 (“gaming” is between quotes, because the machine has some severe problems and is about 6 years old now)
- Engine: Love2D
- Language: Lua
- Text editor: Sublime 2
- Graphics: GIMP
- Music and SFX: Renoise and FL Studio
I can’t wait to get this event on the road, and I wish the best of luck to all of you out there!
When I say “franchise”, I don’t mean a big commercial entity or anybody else’s property, what I actually mean by that question, is: “Would a Ludum Dare game that ties into a backstory or universe I have already created be considered within the rules?”
A little example to illustrate my point :
I’m currently working on a tabletop roleplaying game and a card game within a science-fiction universe I created, for the moment the working title is “Neurohack: Legacy” and “Neurohack: Mercenaries” (I found out that “Neurohack” is already something else, so I’ll change that soon, but I’m still calling it Neurohack as I play test the games with my friends).
Suppose I make a shooty game of some description for a Ludum dare competition, would giving it the Neurohack backstory and lore be considered against the rules, and if it isn’t, how do you feel about the idea?
(Note that I don’t have any specific game ideas for Neurohack yet beyond the fact that you’ll be shooting things with futuristic weapons and armor, so if I were to make a Neurohack themed LD entry, all gameplay mechanics would be built from the ground up.)
This Ludum Dare, I convinced a bunch of friends to join in on the fun and we got together to go through the pain and joy as a group.
We made an entry each, as per compo rules, sitting around a table in the offices of “ACN Services”, a company ran by Jail-By’s dad. This allowed us to have enough room to have computers set up, one each, one music/sound design machine (with software and hardware that Minimicro and I have), and a machine with a webcam pointed at us, and we called ourselves “Team #define true false” or #dtf, and we made a website at http://xi.gd/ld23
So this is a dual post-mortem, with a “What went well” and a “What went wrong” for my game, and for the #dtf event.
What went well for #dtf :
- Jamming with friends is FUN, programming fails are so much funnier when you have other geeks to share them with in real time.
- The location was great, we had plenty of room, tables, chairs, a kitchen, a shower and space to sleep.
- We ate well, we had plenty of fruit juice, and we had music playing all the way through on Minimicro’s awesome monitoring speakers.
- Four of us (Minimicro, Jail-By, Flower Power and Niavlys (in absentia)) were on their first Ludum Dare event, and also their first game development. I feel they learnt a lot, and are hooked.
- All in all, a bonding moment, great fun, cheese, music, beer, coffee, thousands of lines of code, 3 technologies (Lua/Löve, C++/SFML, JS/HTML5), random webcam shoutouts, fits of laughter.
What went wrong for #dtf:
- Sunday was the first round of the elections in France, so Niavlys couldn’t be with us at ACN Services, which was a bit of a shame.
- The internet connection was a little dodgy, which made uploading a bit of a struggle, and caused a few problems.
And now a little bit about Robot in the Garden.
What went well:
- I managed to write quite a bit of reusable code, and I learnt how to actually do object-oriented in Lua
- I doubled the size of my character from last event, and now he has 20 pixels of lush, high definition detail, compared to the measly 10 pixels of screen space of the main character of LD#22′s Solitas Exodae. Which meant I could make a 4 pixel highlight and a 2 pixel shadow, bringing this character to an unrivaled level of realism.
- I’m pretty happy with how the dynamic light and grass growing worked out, it was an idea I had in the back of my head for a while, will do it again.
- The computers were fun too. Since functions are first-class citizens in Lua, I could make a generic computer and pass the functions I want the computers to execute as an attribute.
What went wrong:
- I SCREWED UP AGAIN! I only started on gameplay around 10 hours before the end, so that means I failed on my promise to bring more gameplay into the game.
- I wanted to implement at least another few game mechanics, such as a gardening thingy (not sure how that would work), and a puzzle that used the computers. But you’re stuck with the two silly games you have there.
- The coins don’t do anything either.
Hey guys can we have “Senseless violence” next time?
Hey guys, we’re #dtf and we just woke up.
Hailing from the south of France, we’re a bunch of mates participating in Ludum Dare, most of us for the first time. #dtf hope to produce a grand total of five games (one each, naturally) and you can see how that goes over here : http://xi.gd/ld23/