Hi. I'm johnfn. Reach me on gmail (same username).
About johnfn (twitter: @thedayturns)
Ludum Dare 26
Ludum Dare 25
Ludum Dare 24
Ludum Dare 23
Ludum Dare 21
Ludum Dare 19
After a nice rest (about 8 hours!), I’m back into the fray. I’m going to get kicked out of my university in about an hour and a half, which means I can’t use my external monitor any more, so I’m going to take advantage of it as much as possible until then. Which means…
I still haven’t written >100 lines of code. Uhh oh.
For some reason I can’t stop making art.
Wait let me rephrase that.
For some reason I can’t stop making BAD art.
Easy answer: going to bed. Who knows what I’ll get done tomorrow. Wish me luck :3
Going to be a super-ambitious top-down (first time!) moody story-based game. Why would someone become the villain? Is it really as black and white as the word villain indicates?
Here’s hoping I can pull this one off.
Ludum Dare is pretty much the best thing ever. But we all know that, right?
- Framework: OH god, I don’t know what dev framework I’m going to use. I’m probably going to develop on top of Haxe/HaxeFlixel, but that could fall apart if they seem lacking for some reason. Regardless, I’m compiling to Flash. Python, as much as I love you, porting you to other platforms is a nightmare.
- Pixen: There’s this great pixel editor called Pixen for OSX that I’ve been using for the last few LDs. I recommend it to anyone who needs a good editor.
- FL Studio: Aw ye. I’m not skimping on audio this time. Beware.
- Sublime Text 2: Sublime Text 2 is a phenomenal editor, and its support for autocompletion with Haxe is sick!
- SFXR: Indispensable in generating those chirps and tweets.
- Git: For those moments when you’re like “Oh God, what happened, it was working like 5 minutes ago…”
- Coffee: SO MUCH COFFEE
- Wait, what was I talking about
- Nevermind I’m ending this list
- Above 4.0 in audio. I’m so much better at audio production than I was the last time I actually did audio in a LD game.
- Improve in graphics. Baby steps here. One of these days I need to drill down and really improve my graphics, but for now I’ll be lucky to get something passable.
- Beat all my previous submissions in overall. YEAH THATS RIGHT. AND NOTHING IS GOING TO STOP ME!!!!!
I’ll be committing all my code here regularly: https://github.com/johnfn/ld25 Follow me! I’ll also be putting up base code there, if I ever get around to it…
Whew. With that out of the way, let’s get on to the Post-Mortem.
Despite what the Professor may think, 48 hours to develop a game may be one of the best ideas I’ve ever encountered. I learn more in those 48 hours than I do in whole months.
What went well:
- My dialog writing. It was Saturday night, I hadn’t slept well the previous day but I was feeling full of energy because I had a ton of coffee a bit earlier. In this weird hazy sleepy/alert state I got on a roll and wrote pretty much ALL of my game’s dialog in the space of an hour or two. It started from a little seed where the professor made fun of the protagonist because he couldn’t even jump. I realized that the mechanics of a pretty dumb protagonist + annoyed professor could be hilarious, and I ran with it.
- My graphics. Finally. I’ve churned out a lot of crap graphics in past Ludum Dares. I’d always tell myself “I’ll come back and finish it later…” and we all know how that turns out I am very satisfied with these graphics, with the exception of the clouds on the upper background. I obsessed over almost every tile that I drew, going through many iterations and tries until they looked good.
- Prioritization. I’ve had big issues prioritizing what needs to get done in the past, especially LD23. I came up with a really great solution about halfway through. The way that I prioritized was that I kept a huge list of things that I needed to fix in order of priority. Top was most important, bottom had crazy stuff like “KILL INNOCENT CREATURES” (don’t ask). Whenever I had a new idea or something that I should fix, I added it into the list at the correct priority. On the final day, I went as fast through the list as I could, from top to bottom. This REALLY helped – it probably saved the game from disaster.
- The level design. That was a surprise. I’ll get back to this.
What went poorly:
- My sleep. I slept a total of 11 hours during LD: 7 on the first day, 4 on the second. I just can’t function without sleep, and I’m sure that I could have done better with more sleep. I’m not sure how to fix this though. I woke up going “OH MY GOD IT’S LUDUM DARE!!!!!!!!!!!” and was unable to get back to sleep. Too excited.
- Scope creep. Holy crap, you should see all the stuff I had planned. Lava, monsters, death, multiple soundtracks, different areas… what was I smoking?
- Scope creep. I know I just said this. It was that bad. At the 24 hour mark I was seriously considering giving up. I knew that I had absolutely no hope of completing my game. Instead, I totally changed my game, trashing TONS of features that I had planned. (A good example of this is how, when you switch to Ice, you make grass icy. This used to have a gameplay effect, but then I decided it was too much work and tossed it out. I kept the ice because I thought it was cool.) I tossed all my crazy and epic level plans, and instead made levels incredibly simple. I decided to toss any hope of making this a serious game and wrote tons of silly dialog… which was actually a huge success.
- Music. This is depressing, because my production skills have really improved since LD23, and I wanted to know what people thought. But I forgot to schedule some time to do it on the first day or early second day, and we all know what happens to things that we put off in LD.
- Sound effects. I tossed these in last minute, and it shows. Pretty much everyone hates them.
- Animations. These are really important for a game to appear polished. I totally forgot to do them.
- UI. My God, EVERYONE hates the card selection screen. I remember thinking to myself while writing the game, “wow, this screen is annoying to use.” Why didn’t I fix it? I think what happened is I designed it before I had my priority system in place, and then after that I had a learned blindness to how annoying it was to use.
What I learned:
- Levels you make to be hard are impossible. Levels you make to be medium are impossible. Levels you make to be easy are perfect. In LD23, I made some really hard final levels. I don’t know how many people beat them. I think most people just gave up. This time, I made tons of REALLY simple level designs… and most people are saying “wow, the level design was just right!” That’s truly eye opening.
- Have a very high sensitivity to things that seem wrong. If something ever seems wrong, immediately jot it down so you can fix it later. If you notice the controls are slippery at one point and don’t fix it, you’re going to get used to it. But people who play your game wont – they’re not going to play your game long enough to get used to it. Fix it ASAP!
- Your first test of a gameplay element is the one that matters. The first time I tested my card selection UI, I was like “Wow, this blows!” But after dealing with it 50 times I was like “Huh, this isn’t so bad.” Of course, no one other than me is going to deal with that screen 50 times.
- Get at least one beta tester. If you can’t see the problems from the upper two points, this is the 2nd best solution. One guy who tested my game afterwards immediately suggested a fix to the card selection UI – put arrows below to mark which ones were used. It was so obvious that I facepalmed. That is the power of a second pair of eyes.
- Implement the biggest stuff ASAP. Later you’re going to be bogged down in minor bugs, and you won’t have time.
If you read all that, I am truly impressed! If you just skimmed the bold parts, well, that’s pretty good too. Thank you for reading. Here’s the game!
After all, Ludum Dare is a rare time for you to get constructive criticism on your game, no matter what weird platform or framework you build it on. Heck, I see people building stuff for Android, iPhone, and even assembler. I wouldn’t want to hamper their creativity by telling them I’m going to pass over their game without even trying.
I can switch browsers, no problem. I’ll even compile it from source if necessary!
I’ll try as hard as I can to play your game.
(note: although this is a response to a previous post, it is not an attack or anything of the sort. I just wanted people to know that there are people like me who are willing to put in the extra effort to see what kinds of cool things you did. )
If you guys just can’t get enough of game jams, there’s another one going on at BaconGameJam this coming weekend. They usually get a modest turnout – 10 or 20 games – so it’s pretty chill.
I thought I’d be too exhausted, but after sleeping 12 hours a day since Ludum Dare, I feel great! And I’m excited to use this as an opportunity to correct my mistakes in Ludum Dare without waiting 4 months for the next Ludum Dare
So if anyone is insane like me, maybe I’ll see you there
I was recently reading over the guidelines to figure out exactly what mood is when I read this:
- Mood – Storytelling, emotion, and the vibe you get while playing.
I didn’t know that mood was storytelling too! And I bet a lot of people won’t realize this. Would it be possible to have a theme rename? (If not, I guess this is a PSA. )
I bet this was because the theme was really hard.
Anyone want to share stories about difficulties they had with the Dare this time, or the theme?
For my part, I scoped WAY too huge. I spent most of the 2nd and third days scratching out different ideas for my game that I realized I had absolutely no time to do.
Every Ludum Dare is harder than the last, mainly because I can’t reign in features to save my life.
Earlier today I was considering giving up. I’d scoped too large, I had a huge headache that made editing painful, and basically I was no where near what I had aimed for. And I nearly did give up… but then I checked out this website. Holy crap, all the stuff you guys are doing is inspirational. There is just so much cool stuff here.
So I cut out features or reduced them like crazy, padded my game out with loads of inane dialog, and I’m ALMOST (not actually) back on track. I’d say the gameplay is 95% done, the assets are 60% done, and bugs… well, it’s probably in the negatives, let’s not talk about that.
I’m going to bed now. It’s going to be a mad dash to the finish tomorrow. But I will not give up. SEE YOU THEN!
Squandered like 4 hours last night on a bug. I woke up and INSTANTLY solved it once I thought about it with a fresh perspective. SERIOUSLY I need to learn to just go to sleep when the going gets tricky!
Here’s a picture of where I’m at so far!
I admit, that background is a little lacking… but I’m pretty happy with my tiles so far
According to the link of this post, 982 other people have already beat me to titling their post “I’m in!”. I guess I’ll just have to deal with being unoriginal.
- Scala. With this codebase: https://github.com/johnfn/scala-2d-game It’s a scrappy thing that uses OpenGL for some straightforward 2D work. It’s a little underpowered right now and missing out on some basic features… oh well.
- LWJGL - bindings to OpenGL from Java.
- FL Studio: For epic chiptune soundtracks. yesyesyesyesyes
- Pixen. For AWESUM GRAFIX.
- Eclipse. Normally I don’t use such a heavyweight editor, but you get so much good stuff when you use Eclipse and Scala that I can’t refuse.
- Coffee. This is definitely a tool.
- 1000 kittens. All these kittens I have will surely come in handy somehow.
See you on the fields of battle!
Extend the deadline to enter your contest by 1 month.
- There is no more incentive to cheat on Ludum Dare. You’d now have a whole extra month to work.
- It allows us to polish our games.
- It allows Kongregate to get better games, not rough 48 hour pieces.
Hey guys, for this Ludum Dare I’m thinking about using my own game engine: Fathom.
The source is here: https://github.com/johnfn/Fathom-AS3
Fathom is in an extreme alpha state right now, but I’m currently using it to develop a big-ish game, and it has a lot of cool features. A big one is built in support for vector art, which engines like Flixel don’t make easy. If you’re interested in using Fathom, get in touch – I’ll help you out, and that may be a nice impetus for me to clean it up and make it presentable.
If you just can’t wait for Ludum Dare, the Reddit community is having a game jam over at Bacon Game Jam: http://bacongamejam.org/
It’s starting, like, RIGHT NOW, and it’s going for 48 hours as usual. Hope to see you there!