I make and play games.. poorly.
About Kitch (twitter: @KitchsTweets)
This was, as always, an absolute blast. I’ve had to miss the last two, due to commitments beyond my control, and last weekend I remembered just how much I’ve missed.
# is a game about shooting squares. That’s really all there is to it. Wait… and sometimes the squares grow back. And sometimes they shoot out at you. Oh… and there’s a piano.
We all know the theme. My take on it was more of an aesthetic than a game play one. Soft colors, simple objects, piano music playing simple chords. I think it worked.
# was a lot of fun to develop. I had the basic concept in my head prior to the theme being announced, but some of the big mechanics, basically the “layer” shifting and the audio component just sort of happened.
The layer thing was introduced as sort of a player control mechanic. It is really easy, as was pointed out, to beat the levels by holding the left arrow and space bar. The layers gave the lower squares a fighting chance to get established, as well as forced the player to do something than just “sit and spin”.
The balance however, was off a bit. I initially balanced the game, unaware of a bug that could would make the last square invincible to most, but not all bullets. This made the game considerably harder than it really was. When the bug was fixed… the game became super stupid easy.
I made corrections, but didn’t get a chance to get back in and really do the balance work the game deserved. You can eventually get yourself comfortable enough where it’s not frustrating, but probably not in the time the average person plays a LD entry. I tried to make the early levels as accessible as possible, then ramp up the difficulty rather quickly there toward the end for the more interested. Not as hard as pre-bug unfortunately… but a decent challenge if the dice don’t roll your way.
Like I mentioned before, I wanted to go clean and simple, and that’s what I did. Not really a lot to say about it, except I really like the green, and the purple. Red needs work.
I’ve never been an “audio” guy, and this game has a lot of sound happening really fast, bullets flying, blocks breaking… I knew sounds generated by sfxr would have a high potential for ear bleeding (at least the ones I generate). As I was shifting through layers, I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if the music chords changed when the layer did?
I jumped into the idea with absolutely no idea how I was going to accomplish it. I almost scrapped the whole thing entirely. I generated a lot of sound files, and tried to tweak them to work with the rapid pace, with ear splitting results. I did, somehow, manage found a bright piano sound that would pass, although not perfect.
What went right
- Fun and easy to develop
- I believe there’s a solid concept in there somewhere.
- Graphics / colors were nice and fitting
- The audio idea worked.
What went wrong
- That stupid invincible square bug wasted a lot of time.
- Balancing issues, especially consistency.
- The Red Layer
Thank you all for your kind feedback. I look forward to playing some more games!
sell it to the butcher at the store….
My LD26 Entry is called #. It is a game about shooting squares. Get it now while it’s still full of those tasty bugs I haven’t found yet…
Spent about an hour or so getting the “music” correct… working out pretty well I think. Still not quite right… but very passable for 48 hours.
I believe the sound system is quite apparent in the following screenshot.
game is still missing the level of “fun” that I would like it to have… that will be my focus for the remainder of the day…
Off to bed… but managed to cause quite a bit of damage tonight.
The game fits in with the minimalism theme very well, while still being somewhat complex and interesting (at least by my standards). Game is feature complete. I’m very happy with it’s state this far in. All of the gameplay features are in, level control and difficulty are implemented, and even the menu states are complete. Spent a bit of time on audio this evening, and while it’s rough… it’s more ambitious than anything i’ve tried in a Ludum Dare before and i believe with a little polish, it will be quite the little go-getter (or a massive failure).
The game runs in two difficulty modes currently. Really frickin easy, and “Oh for the love of everything that is good, please make it stop” hard. I see this screen a little more than I’d like
The Plan For Tommorow
- The combination of the bullets firing, and cells exploding creates chords. The sound files need to be just right for this to work, and they are not right now. It’s not BAD, it’s just not good. This will hopefully be a quick fix tommorow
- I want the game to be difficult… but the kind of difficult that can be appreciated by the person that is playing the game for 30 seconds before they rate it. Currently we’re at the “rage quit and send death threats to the developer’s family” level of difficulty. The balance hammer needs to come out.
Well.. after almost a full days work… I’m here
It looks exactly the same as it did last night… however, menus, and levels, and collisions, and powerups and a whole lot of little things are in place.
Just a couple minor things on those front to clear up tonight…
Hoping that clears the way for a full day of polish and audio tommorow.
Welp…. after a somewhat heated argument between me and a quadtree, i got off to a start at least. think its about time to call it a night.
I’ll be streaming most the day tommorow.
Gonna be in for this one… after missing the last two (sad face).
Using this LD to say goodbye to XNA, probably try and port it over to monogame once completed.
Also throw some paint.net, sfxr and FL Studio in the mix.
Using my 2D starter project, with basic gamestates and such, P32D.
Going to follow my traditional Ludum Dare plan of attack
- First Hour : Panic because I have no ideas for the theme
- Next 2 Hours : Start working on the game
- Next 43 Hours : Continue working on game
- Last 2 Hours : Finish working on the game
Gonna attempt to stream some of the dev time as well, if all goes smooth… don’t want to spend those precious minutes working out streaming problems…
Mage duel is a game about playing with yourself.
This was my second Ludum Dare. My last Ludum Darewas a 48 hour stress-fest. Although I had a blast and created a pretty cool little game out of it, and given the fact that I have a lot of other stuff going on right now, I really wanted this one to be more of a relaxing experience. Before I started, I took some inventory of my last experience to see what I could do this round to make things a little easier on me. First big thing that stuck out was scope. Voxterium was a simple game, but had a lot of hidden elements that greatly complicated it. Another big issue was experience. That first time, I really had no idea what I was doing time-wise… no real idea how long anything would take.
With the knowledge that I could spit out a menu system and add music and sound in a fairly small amount of time, and I could cut down on rendering time (a big chunk of the first one) significantly by going 2d, I decided to go with a simple 2D game, with some simple basic mechanics, and use the remaining time to add in a few cool tiddlibits.
I had messed with the concept of “recording” playthroughs and playing them back as opponents a few years back for a completely unrelated game. I had that idea, plus a few others on my mind before the competition began. I had a rough idea of how to apply that to most of the themes on the final list, but didn’t want to get too invested in planning on any one theme, as I made that mistake the last time. When the theme was announced, I was instantly drawn to the idea of an artillery game on a small map, an artillery game is one of those where the “playback” mechanic would actually work out well.
Overall, it went really smoothly. A few snags along the way, one involving a nasty gravity bug and another with particles, but all in all I had more than enough time. The map generation worked out well and was simple. The mage firing mechanics and collision were easy to implement. Art was simple. The playback mechanic turned out to be really easy to implement.
Then I changed my mind. Originally, the game was turn based like Scorched Earth. (Sorry to all the kids in the room for the “Scorched Earth” references, maybe put in “Worms” where you see that title. I never played Worms, but it looks similar ). So, blue mage would fire, bullets would fly, collisions would occur, gravity processed, Red mage’s turn. It was true to the genre, and really easy for the playback mechanic. But it was slow, and really didn’t hit the actiony feel that the game was telling me it needed. I then decided to switch everything to real time. Was a little worried at first, but turned out to not be so bad, and I really think it added a lot.
Two mages were fighting… why? Mages just seem like the types to disagree a lot and get into long and boring discussions, so I came up with the idea that these fights were over a way for these mages to settle these little disagreements. I added a list of little petty things that they could disagree over. Wish I could have come up with more and better, but you know… the whole time thing…
Menu system, sound and music is now pretty much second nature for me, and so many nifty tools are available, that that part was cinch. Spent some time balancing, but not nearly enough. It could have used a lot more, but I believe it checks the ‘acceptable’ box.
What went wrong
Early refactoring of my terrain generation code introduced a bug that made tiles fall through the bottom of the map. Seemed simple enough, but was a real pain to find and kill. Wasted a good hour on that one. An hour that I could have been better used somewhere else.
I made the mistake of assuming rendering 2D in XNA would be a lot like an easier 3D render. It’s not. Should have done some additive blended particle practice before this all started. A 48 hour deadline is not the best time to learn something new. Eventually, using multiple render targets, I was able to get a result that was close to what I wanted… but in the end, it was not what I wanted and it took up waaaaay to much time.
I was hoping to work out a way to introduce the “play yourself” mechanic organically in the game. I could have used the time wasted above to actually do that. I considered leaving as it is was and not pasting warnings over the place. However, since most people spend like what? 30 seconds with each game, I figured players not getting to the core concept was more damaging than players feeling that I gave them a “spoiler”.
Wish I could have spent a lot more time balancing the spells.
What went right
You never have enough time to do everything you want, so even with the hiccups above I believe my time management was great. Although I didn’t get to everything I wanted.. I got to everything I needed.
The “play against yourself” mechanic turned out way better than I expected. It blends in well I believe, and builds in a natural difficulty curve. As you get better, it gets harder.
The art and sound are great (For me). I’m particularly pleased with the spell icons.
I liked the way the terrain generator turned out. Not all matches are great, but you always have the option of blasting it away.
Another great Ludum Dare. Many thanks go to everyone involved. I really can’t think of a better way to spend the weekend. I’m very pleased with the way the game turned out, and left the weekend knowing a little more than when I started.
Goal for today was to complete the game and spend tomorrow fishing.
Long story short.. that doesn’t look like its going to happen. In other news… I did take out gameplay today… Spells, cooldowns, mana, health and all that. Threw in some particle effects and even did a bit of balancing. I could post that and be happy.
Also spent the last hour or so, putting in intro screens and menus and what not. Also got the “story” in place, and gave it a name…
Tomorrow is dedicated to three things…
Tiny World. Seriously people?
Anyhow. Decided to go 2D this round. Gots a basic tile engine up and running, plus a few sprites. After the theme police raided my last entry, I thought my first goal should be to create a tiny world.
I know.. I know… It’s more of a small world… not really a tiny one. I’ll work on that… I promise.
It is not a platformer. I repeat. It is not a platformer.
Although it looked like I was going to be overly swamped… Last one was such a blast I just had to make time for this one.
Going to be using XNA again, just to irk some people.
Just want to say that I REALLY like some of these themes coming out so far.
Finally got my timelapse up for Voxterium
Found out I’m not good with video editing software. Just another thing I’ve learned from this compo…
That was a blast! This was my first Ludum Dare, but will defiantly not be my last. Thank you to everyone involved.
Before the competition started, I had designs in mind, wrote some stuff down, and was testing out a million 2D platform game mechanics. I’ve been doing primarily 3d stuff over the last year, so I began to question why I was entering a realm I wasn’t comfortable with for a 48 hour competition. At the last minute I decided to switch to a 3D approach.
The whole process was really organic, I let the game design itself. I didn’t take time to write out a plan or design document. Design documents are great, and serve their purpose… but they are no fun to play and I can use that time to add cat powered mega bullets.
What went right…
I got the full support of my wonderful and loving family. Every minute I wanted to work on the game, I had, distraction free. Can’t express the importance and appreciation of that small fact.
I completed the game. By using a definition of ‘complete’ that really only applies to games made in 48 hours. There is a hint of a story. Win/Loss conditions, mechanics, sound… The basics are there.
The game is fun. I enjoy it at least. Once I turned it in last night and the LD website went kaput, I spent a while playing it… not play testing it, but playing it. It was nice.
I believe I did a really good job with my coding time management. I worked a short time on each mechanic then really took a step back and decided if it “just didn’t feel right”, or flat out just didn’t work. Rather than beat a dead horse, I was able to drop them and move on to the stuff that did work. What I was most concerned about, generation of the antagonist and controlling it’s growth actually just worked out with minimal issues. In the beginning, it reproduced so fast it would kill the framerate after a minute or two playing… I ended up calling that “hardcore” mode, with a warning, but optimizations and balancing added later killed the fun in that
The hardcore mode “bloom attack”. The visual and sound… It just works for me.
What could have gone a lot better
I resorted to lazy coding a bit too quick. Played the “public” and “static” cards way too early. Some last minute bug fixes were a challenge, (and there are still a few minor ones lurking that I believe are tied into the above).
I got in a good chunk of time in to work on balancing and difficulty levels but it wasn’t nearly enough. A few more hours to work on balancing would have helped a lot.
The “art”, if you can call it that needed some more love. Some may find the color shifting thing a bit obnoxious… but then again, others will want more. All the modeling was done in code and consists solely of cubes. Some more interesting powerup and bullet shapes would have been nice.
Some of the sounds just don’t work for me. Except for the “bloom”… did I mention the bloom? I like the bloom.
The jealous side of me is trying to decide if next time I should go for a web game. Probably going to lose a lot of plays and votes for being a Windows-only application. Lose several more for XNA’s outside requirements. It may not be right, but it is what it is.
In the end though.. I didn’t do it for votes… I did it for the fun and the experience. And by those measures, I already won Ludum Dare.
Sell it to the butcher at the store…