I'm a game developer from Melbourne, Australia. I'm currently working on Dungeon Dashers!
About JigxorAndy (twitter: @JigxorAndy)
Ludum Dare 26
Ludum Dare 23
Ludum Dare 22
Ludum Dare 21
Someone made a great gameplay video of my game, i need to lie down!
If you haven’t played the game yet, you can play it here.
And an animated .GIF
How much time does it take to create a Ludum Dare game?
You should play i need to lie down, before reading this post-mortem!
When the theme “minimalism” was announced at 12PM Saturday (Australia) I pretty much knew what I wanted to make. An idea came to mind immediately, and I was able to start work straight away.
I knew that I wanted to build a game based upon a particular set of emotions and feelings, and I wanted to convey these same feelings to the player. Normally I create action games, but I wanted to try something a bit different this time around, something a bit more experimental.
Make a Flash Game?
I started with the intention of making a Flash game so that it would be easily accessible, however after following some tutorials of Box2D integration with Flash-punk, I ultimately gave up, and decided to use Multimedia Fusion 2, the tool I use for most of my projects.
MMF2 has the ability to export to Flash, however I found that the Box2D extension had different behavior to the EXE builds. I decided to cut support for the web and make a Windows-only game. I know that it means less people will play my game overall, but the upside of this was that I could use shaders and full screen to enhance the experience. And this was definitely worth it.
I began the project by getting making the player move with Box2D, and then I had the various black squiggles swarm around. Due to the art style I chose, I was able to rapidly create assets with multiple frames. With each frame only typically taking a few seconds to create.
From here, I continued to play the game over and over again, iterating on designing an experience to evoke a certain emotion in the player.
I constantly had RescueTime (referral link) and Procrastitracker running on my computer so I’m able to tell you the exact time it takes to make a game like this and where the time goes. Here are the results:
Social is made up from Twitter, IRC, and Ludum Dare Blog writing. Audio is Audactiy, Labchirp, and FL Studio. Development is Multimedia Fusion 2. Testing is me playing the game.
As I expected, I spent a large amount of time testing and playing my game as well as developing it. It’s interesting to see how much time I spend playing the game, and I’ve noticed a similar pattern in my other game projects. Note that these results don’t take into account the fact that I used MMF2′s built-in image editor to create graphics, and it only captures the active time spent on a window (e.g. I could be reading IRC on my second monitor even though I didn’t have the window open). Overall I spent about 15 hours, 40 minutes, over the course of two days. For a larger set of data, including a breakdown of the times, you can view the Google Doc.
Using a tool like MMF2 was a valuable asset since I was able to continually tweak values, polish, and iterate on my design until I reached a stage where the game finally expressed what I wanted it to.
As for the meaning of the game, I initially wrote some dialogue to be displayed, but apart from being unnecessary, it was also a little too personal. I felt a little strange explaining what the game was based on, and in not explicitly stating it, people are able to apply their own experiences and generate their own interpretations. I was pleasantly surprised by the range of interpretations, and judging by the comments, it definitely impacts people the way I wanted it to.
(This is of course assuming that the player reads into the game a little more than a few black and blue squiggles on a screen!)
Quicker than expected!
At the end of the first day (Saturday evening), I felt the game was close to completion. This is a rare feeling for me in a gamejam. Typically for Ludum Dare I’ll work all of the first day, have a normal amount of sleep on the first night, and then work until 11am on the Monday morning when it’s time to submit (as you can see from my Stray Whisker time lapse). For this LD I was happy that it didn’t take so long. This was primarily due to the theme and the fact that my game didn’t need large amounts of content (such as levels) to be generated. In games like Stray Whisker and Ant Surf Hero, I had to build large levels and test them to make sure they were fun. For this game, it was just about iterating on getting that one mechanic right.
Besides the decision not to include narrative, the only other major decision I made was to change the pink triangles and golden circles in early builds to more meaningful symbolic representations. I think this added a more personal touch andeven if the symbols mean something to me, other players can apply their own interpretations once again.
Most of the graphical elements are synchronized to the breathing which is based on how many black squiggles there are and how close you are to them. The breathing is based on a simple cosine function. I was happy with the sound design, and I think it’s an important aspect of the game. I recorded my own voice for the breathing sounds and I used LabChirp to generate the other sounds. I did further processing and editing with Audacity and FL Studio.
I’ve made a fair few timelapses now, and I think I’ve got some good settings down. I use Chronolapse to capture my primary monitor every 30 seconds as a PNG. Contrary to what you might think, taking screenshots more frequently isn’t of much benefit, as when you make a video, the frames will flick by too fast and they take up much more diskspace (if you’re aiming to make 5 minute 20-30 FPS video, who can be bothered watching something longer than 10 minutes?). So those are the settings I recommend.
(Timelapse of the 48 hours)
It’s always fun to have a token of your work in this way. I like watching the clock tick past minute by minute into the early hours of the morning.
I submitted my game on the Sunday night 12 hours before the deadline, and the following day I simply fixed up the description and links.
Overall I am very happy with how the game turned out. And participating in LD has boosted my creative energy for my other projects.
As a bit of fun, I also bought a domain for the game http://www.ineedtoliedown.com Please check it out and share it with friends!
If you want to find out more about my development and current work, you can Follow me on Twitter @JigxorAndy.
I recorded a Timelapse over the whole weekend with Chronolapse. Here it is!
You can play my game here: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-26/?action=preview&uid=3289
I submitted my entry last night, but there’s still a bunch of fun things to do:
- Upload Timelapse made with Chronolapse
- Create a website (I bought a domain for my game!), and update my personal site
- Write a post-mortem
I might also update the Readme of my game to mention that you can use the F Keys to change the screen resolution.
You can see my entry, “i need to lie down” here: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-26/?action=preview&uid=3289
i need to lie down
I’m extremely proud of how this game turned out. I chose to do a very different kind of game than I normally do for Ludum Dare and I think it paid off. It conveys exactly what I wanted to say. I also finished much earlier than I normally do!
I put a potato in my game! It’s super abstract in the style of the game, and appears as an animation frame for a fraction of a second, but it’s in there.
The game is now complete.
I’m really really happy with how this turned out. I’m almost done. I just need to tweak a few more things like minor sounds and add a couple more frames of animation.
Since the last post, I changed the symbols (like the gold circles / pink triangles) and made everything have more impact. I also added in some more sounds.
The game conveys exactly what I want to convey. So I’ll send it around for people to test and get some final feedback, and then I think I’m pretty much done!
I’ve gotten a lot of different opinions about what my game is supposed to be about, and it’s very cool to see how my game can be interpreted lots of different ways.
I still have my own meaning for what the game is about, but I really like that people can apply their own meaning and reflect their own experiences onto the context.
If you’d like to try it out you can play the current build here:
(Needs sound and has flashing lights, Windows only.)
I’ll keep polishing some stuff. I need to fix some of the sounds I think. Then I’ll work on the title screen and I might buy a domain for the game as well.
Try out the current build here, (turn on the sound!):
I would love feedback
edit: Warning: contains flashing screens.
Just woke up. Eating breakfast at the moment. Feeling good.
I found out that there is different behaviour between the Flash version and the EXE version of Box2D in MMF2. The developer of the library told me the function of one of the expressions I’m using is different.
So again I’ve got to choose between making the Flash or the EXE the primary version.
If I make the EXE the best one then I can also do cool stuff like Shaders and Fullscreen which might make the experience more engaging.
But Flash reaches a wider audience. Decisions decisions!
I’ve been working on the game since the theme was announced, and it’s getting on late here. Time for a rest I think!
I’m very happy with how it’s all going. I think the game works without narrative. I’ll do some testing of it tomorrow. And I think I’ll also include some “Author’s Notes” to explain what I think the game is about, which people can read if they’re interested, after they’ve played.
I pretty much just need to polish the game up a bit more. But I’m disappointed that MMF2 and Flash don’t work so well together. The game seems to run in Flash now, after fixing some stuff, but the behaviour is different. And in a game where I’m trying to polish and tweak the values to convey certain feelings, I want it to feel the same.
So I’ll release the EXE as the main build, and then I’ll see if I can make the Flash version match it as well.
For most of the LD games I make they have a decent amount of content, however for this game, and perhaps due to the theme as well, it seems like I’m going to finish the game much quicker than normally.
And I’m making a different sort of game this time around, so I think the extra time will help me do some fine tuning as well as some external playtesting, which I rarely get to do.
I’ll get to think about how this game impacts people a lot more than I normally do.
Still don’t really want to say what the game is about just yet. I’m not sure if I should state it explicitly through narrative text in the game, or lead people to draw their own conclusions and figure it out on their own.
In one sense, I want to tell a story, and share an experience of my own. And that’s easier done through a bit of text to help communicate what it is you’re doing in the game. But on the other hand, it might create more interest in the player’s mind if they’re trying to understand exactly what it is I’m trying to show them. Though if the game doesn’t make any sense, then a lot of players also won’t bother to play through it. There might be a good mix between too much text and enough to keep them curious.
In either case it makes me feel a little bit vulnerable. That’s definitely not something I think about when making games normally. And it’s just a few squiggles on a blank screen!
So I’ve been going since the competition started and now I’m at the stage where it seems to be coming together somewhat.
I started by trying out some stuff in Flashpunk for a couple of hours, however I’ve never made a full game in Flashpunk and I also wanted Box2D physics. So after following some tutorials and getting some basic stuff up and running, I decided I should take a look at Multimedia Fusion 2′s support for Box2D in Flash. I want to make my game primarily in Flash this time around so that it’s got a wider audience (as compared to a EXE binary). I think the idea I’ve got is pretty neat and I want to share the experience with as many people as I can.
I’m making a physics based game which is meant to convey certain feelings and emotions, to do with being trapped.
I’ve got the basics in Multimedia Fusion 2 working and I’ll keep working on it today. I should probably eat lunch at some point.
We tested the online game that we’re making for the Jam. There were around 20+ people playing throughout the session.
Here’s a screenshot of a few of us running around:
I’m hosting the game from my computer in Australia and it seemed to handle itself pretty well. At the peak there was about 30kb/s being sent.
Time to package it up and submit!
I’m working on an Arcade MMO with a few other developers. It’s ambitious but we’ll finish it.
Here’s a WIP screenshot with some badly resized tiles. The game is going to be a platformer where you’ll be competeting to gain skills, evolve and kill other players.
Also it’s in space.
I literally woke up 1 minute before the theme was announced, and I hadn’t put my alarm on. Good signs!
I think I should take a powernap to think about the theme and then I’m heading to my friend’s house to Jam..
This will be my 4th Ludum Dare that I’ve participated in (not including some mini-LDs!).
I’m not sure if I’ll be doing the Jam or Solo this time around. I’ve never done the Jam before, but I’ll be heading to a friend’s house with a few other devs, so I might end up doing the Jam which would be a nice change.
I’ll most likely be using Multimedia Fusion 2 for the main part of my development as it’s the tool I’m most familiar with. It’s great for fast development.
For sound I’ll be using LabChirp and Audacity for editing.
For music (if I do solo) I’ll probably use FL Studio.
Art will be probably be pixels for their speed!
Chronolapse for forming a timelapse later.
Recently I’ve been making a lot of good progress on my main project, Dungeon Dashers, so I hope I don’t break the flow on that by taking a couple of days off for LD.
Also, don’t forget that all the cool kids do the Kitten Challenge.
I’ve played and rated 100 Ludum Dare entries so far, and along the way I’ve found a fair few games that are really a lot of fun which I’d like to share with you all. What follows, in no particular order, are my favourite games from Ludum Dare #23
Tiny Wizard – kebabskal
Actually, this one probably is my favourite. I love the bite-sized levels, slow difficulty increase, and of course the general gameplay. It’s really very satisfying to simply shoot and move around, and beating each level feels great!
Dude, where’s my planet – Zamando
Beautiful to look at, though challenging.
Celia – Finn Stokes
Stunning graphics, a cool core mechanic and a lot of fun.
Inside My Radio – TurboDindon
A unique and innovative take on music games. It’s good to see a music game in Ludum Dare. Extremely well polished.
Prince of Leaves – evilseanbot
A feel good game. Cute graphics and an original bespoked music track which make you want to play all the way through to the end.
Corebound – Ryusui
Challenging at times, but very rewarding. Unique gameplay mechanic which is sort of an automatic twist on VVVVVV’s gravity system, allowing circular orbiting movements.
Lililput – Incredible Ape
Amazing pixel art and educational fun! Learn to type like a pro while destroying aliens!
Astro Break – hulahulahest
One of the most compelling games in the competition. Powerups and new weapons can keep you blowing up rocks all day!
Little City – dustmyte
Hilarious game with entertaining dialogue. Nice black and white visuals as well.
Microscopia – azurenimbus
The premise is simple: Navigate to the center of the screen. The real question is, where are you? Very innovative.
And, I may as well shamelessly plug my own game too!
ANT SURF HERO: THE SURFENING – Jigxor (Me!)
Thank you to everyone who has submitted awesome games. I’ve had a lot of fun playing them so far, and I can’t wait to play some more! I hope you all do the same.
It wasn’t obvious in the original version, but you can press down to make the ant run faster. I’ve built an Enhanced Windows version which makes this clear, has better performance and has fullscreen support:
If there’s demand I can make a Mac OSX build and a Linux one too (though the fullscreen support might be lacking or undesirably smooth the pixel art!).
Things that went well:
- Core gameplay. I was pretty happy with the way that the shooting and movement turned out. It’s generally quite fun to kill enemies.
- Art. I was inspired by the graphical style of Another World (mainly for the bullets and crouching) as well as Sword and Sworcery (for the long limbs). This is really the second game that I’ve tried my hand at proper game art (after last LD’s entry, Stray Whisker)
- Movement. I spent a fair bit of time tweaking the movement in response to feedback from people in the IRC channel (thank you!). I had a lot of people say that the movement was initially too ‘slidey’ and ‘fast’. I slowed it down and tweaked it a lot. I think changing this made the game more accessible to a wider group of players.
- Flash exporting. I developed my game in Multimedia Fusion 2, and I used the Flash runtime to make the game web based. I wanted to do this to allow a larger group of people to play my game. As I know from past as well as personal experience that web games get played much more in LD than those which have to be downloaded. It’s much easier for someone to simply run a flash game than it is to download one. Not to mention that flash is also cross-platform. I had intended to build Mac/Linux/Windows versions as well, however I decided it wasn’t necessary in the end. The only advantage would have been giving the player fullscreen.
- Storyline. I am quite happy with the storyline in my game, even if my sense of humour is quite strange. I’m glad that I got around to putting in an ending with some dialogue. A fair few people have said that the game is quite funny, so I’m glad that it entertained a few people. I was proud of the way I weaved the theme into the end dialogue as well.
- Kittens. The game contains at least two!
- The Ant. I put the ant on early in the game, it was actually one of the first features right after shooting. I liked the way that the ant’s role changed in the game’s development. I wasn’t sure if there was going to be more than one player ally ant or just the one. What I think is cool about having the ant is that it’s not necessary for gameplay, yet people will often stay on it because they feel they should. You’re able to run through the whole level without him, and it’s really up to the player what they would like to do. I intended for this sort of freedom, though I’m sure it will go unnoticed by many (just as the ability to run faster with the ant by crouching on him).
- Different playstyles. In addition to using the Ant to your playstyle, I also purposely made the death the way it is to allow a wide variety of players to play. For more ‘casual’ players, death isn’t much of a deterrent, and they can still complete the game and reach the end storyline. For more ‘hardcore’ players, they are able to collect all of the stars and try to play for a highscore. Death brings a penalty of 300 points. I have still not seen anyone get 50/50 stars, which does in fact display a very small Easter egg – please screenshot and post in the comments if you do!
Things that could have gone better
- Music. If you watch my timelapse you’ll see that I spent a lot of time trying to make music. I had a fair few attempts in a variety of programs. I even pulled out my old Gameboy and Gameboy Camera and tried to use the tracker on that for chiptunes! In the end I used FL Studio with some free VSTs and created a short looping track. I think it was better than having no music at all, however it still wasn’t a very good song and it took a while to do. I mainly just wanted something that didn’t make people’s ears bleed, so I think I achieved that
- Camera. The camera works in the finished version, but that also took a couple of hours to get right. It was the only thing that actually frustrated me while making the game. I had a lot of glitches with it (jumping around too much, not being smooth) but it worked out okay. I wanted a camera that looked ahead, but also took into account how fast you were moving. I think that since you don’t really notice it in the finished game then it must be okay. I would have liked to spend much less time working on this.
- More levels. I would have liked to do one more level. I had intended some sort of running out of an exploding base scenario, but time being what it is, got the better of me. I think the level design was quite successful in the levels that were completed though. There is a fair bit of variation, and I would have liked to explore different types of enemy placement.
If I did this game again, I don’t think I would change the way I made it. I used my time quite well and I think I made a fun little game that is entertaining for a short coffee break. I am interested in taking the idea a little further, perhaps taking the main character and putting him in another setting.
I had HEAPS of fun during this Ludum Dare. The IRC channel and Twitter were especially exciting, I felt there was a constant buzz happening and I talked with a lot of cool people about their games. It was a really fun experience.
I hope this Post Mortem helps other players in developing their next game!