About Lacutis (twitter: @ryroper)
I had a great time this Ludum Dare. The theme threw me for a bit of a loop, like I’m sure it did to a lot of people, and I wasn’t sure I could commit to the weekend like I did last compo but I knew it would be fun so I was in. Plus, even if I didn’t succeed it would still be a learning experience, and who couldn’t use more of those?
THINGS I WISH I HAD OR KNEW BEFORE HAND
I had a lot more knowledge coming into this ludum dare about what was possible in the time frame and what was going to eat up most of my time. My first LD entry I did in flash punk, and while I liked it I thought I would try something different and went with Construct 2 this time which is a great engine for fast prototyping. I think I would have liked using FlashPunk again but I need to sit down when I’m not in the middle of a compo and actually design a generic engine on top of it to make LD faster.
I wish I had a better way to do graphics. Right now I’m creating all my pixel art in Pixel Editor for android on my Asus Transformer and while it’s not bad, I’m a pretty bad artist and I need something that will allow me to make better looking art, even if its simple looking, faster. Although, I am getting faster at creating pixel art in the editor, I wouldn’t even know how to start animating them.
THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT
First, I knew when the theme was announced that Ididn’t want to create a game based on cells, or bacteria, or mutation. I figured those ideas would be beaten like a genetically altered dna consuming deceased horse. So I thought about evolution and what we where doing and came up with the idea for an evolving game, and even better, showing the evolution of classic arcade games. I think it turned out really well, especially near the end when I came up with the idea to go one step further and create a new game from the elements of all the previous games.
Construct 2 was an awesome choice for an engine. I never felt rushed, it did everything I wanted and I generally enjoyed using it.
SFXR, again for making arcade sounds easy. I was even able to make sounds I think closely resembled the arcade originals in a lot of cases.
Pixel Art Editor for Android, it’s free and is a great simple pixel art editor. It’s what I made every graphic in the game with except the Start and Replay buttons.
Having fun, because that’s what its all about, right?
Ludum Dare is awesome and I am glad I got to participate again. I’m glad I was able to finish my entry and I am happy with how it turned out. Please check it out! Especially if you like classic arcade games.
I reproduced 4 classic arcade games, evolving one into the other and finally evolving them all into a brand new game.
My entry was pretty much done about 2 hours ago, I’ve just been polishing since then.
I’m very pleased with what I accomplished this year!
Anyway, my entry: Game-Age: A visual evolution of gaming
So I have 4 levels completed. I’m not going to post a link to the game till it’s done I think, but Im encouraged by what I have so far.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to end it, but I think I just came up with a solid idea and I think it’s both doable and going to work well.
So in the end I should have a 5 level completed game, I guess we will see tomorrow.
Also, for the record Construct 2 is amazing for prototyping and doing little 2d projects like this.
I think it’s almost time for bed. I am 5 hours from the time I’ve started and I’ve completed 2 levels and started on a third. I have a good idea where I want to go with my game to finish it. I think its definitely doable by the end of compo, even without spending full time on it.
I think I’ll take my tablet and go lay down and try to create some pixel art while I try to go to sleep.
Well, I’m on my way to a decent entry I think. I’m trying to think out of the box this year.
I’ve completed level one, and I’m working on level 2, here is what I have so far:
It doesn’t give very much away, I don’t think.
In case you couldn’t guess though, it isn’t bacteria.
So I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to dedicate the time I did to my last entry, but I think I’ll give it a shot anyway and see if I can at least crank out something simple.
I’ll update if I can think of anything else. Maybe I’ll try to use Inkscape.
So what does everyone think, what are you going to do with 1000 Kittens?
My original Postmortem is here.
Since LD submission and I released my game I’ve found that I learned a lot of additional things from the reviews I’ve gotten.
Even if you put an Instructions link on the first screen of the game, people won’t click it and then will ask how to win your game.
I’m not sure how to solve this one except to somehow reveal the win condition during play, or if this is something to be worried about.
Even if you think your instructions are informative enough about your game, they probably arent.
I included a mini tutorial system in my game to guide the player through playing and instructions but I still didn’t include enough info. I should have had more friends play test the game when it was near submission time so I could polish these things more.
If you have random enemy generation, make sure it’s right.
I had a really stupid bug in my submission build for my enemy wave generator, I didn’t realize it until people started commenting how easy the waves where. I went back and found the bug right away.
If you build a web based game, don’t just link to the game itself, but embed it in a page with more info.
This one I just kind of realized. I ran out of time at the end and just posted a link right to the swf file instead of making a simple page to embed it in so I could put FAQ or other information in front of the player in case they are linked to it from places other than LD.
Anyway, I just thought others might want to learn from my mistakes. You can find my game here. I’ve also added a link for a Work In Progress version with bug fixes and updates suggested by players.
Thanks for reading!
I had an amazingly fun time participating in Ludum Dare. This was my first and I’m incredibly happy with what I have accomplished. I havent written a complete game in some time and doing this was just the jump start I needed I think. So here are some of the things that worked, some that didn’t and where I go from here.
THINGS I WISH I HAD OR KNEW BEFORE HAND
I wish I had better researched my intended platform beforehand. I decided to do LD about 4 days before hand and settled on FlashPunk 2 days before the start. Never having done any work with flash before I wish I had researched the graphic and sound formats that were importable and what the limitations were.
In addition to that, I wish I had better resources for converting files, especially sound. I wasted at least an hour, probably 2 or 3 just finding programs and websites to convert sounds back and forth to different formats.
I wish I had planned the weekend out better. I had a concert in Vegas (3 hour round trip) to attend saturday night, and 2 BBQs on sunday, all of which cut significantly into my time. I don’t regret any of my activities, just my planning.
I wish I had come up with the storyline for my game sooner so I could have built in more than one level. I ended up not being able to include more than a single level because I came up with a more involved story saturday night, and by then it would have taken code refactoring to allow me to reuse assets in the way that I wanted to carry the story.
THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT
FlashPunk, it’s awesome. I had no experience with flash and made a game in 48 hours. Also Punk.UI. Caveat: I’ve been programming in multiple languages for over 20 years.
SFXR, it also rocks, it allowed me to add sound where I never would have made any kind of effects before.
Pixel Art Editor for Android. I used this on my Asus Transformer to make most of the pixel art. My “art” has always been the definition of programmer art, but I am proud of what I accomplished.
Making something different. When the theme was announced I wrote down a bunch of ideas that I thought were obvious and then told myself I couldn’t do any of them. Everyone was going to do a certain list of games and I wanted to do something different. I think I accomplished that.
Using a tool that allowed me to iterate rapidly. I think this is huge. Being able to make a change and see the change almost instantly was key. Especially when I was making a bunch of AI controlled entities.
Keeping my scope small and manageable. This was also a big thing, I threw away a bunch of ideas I thought were cool, but knew there was no way I could complete in 48 hours with no outside assets.
Lastly, but not least. Having an awesome girlfriend who is supportive of what I want to do and also likes to playtest (Sometimes too much!).
So I took a small (6) hour break or so and came back with a lot of ideas. I have an idea where I want to take it after LD, which is nice. I also figured out what I needed to finish the project for LD., which was Title screen, win and lose screens, some sound effects, and to clean up the way a few of the entities behave.
So I spent some time creating some simple menu screens, heres the title screen:
If I have time once I wake up, I will get the sounds recorded and inserted. If I have time I will get the second level working. If not, that will have to be a post LD project.
Just a quick edit before I go to bed.
I’ve got my ai working for my player npcs, as well as my enemy npcs, also in game hints that help you play:
Did I mention my game has zombies?
Sometimes I think the best part about programming, games especially, is the bugs.
While trying to get my tiny people to hunt for their food, a bug cropped up where they killed the beast but didnt realise it was dead. So they continued to beat the corpse repeatedly till they starved to death.
It’s the things like that you can’t ever really plan, but just make your day.
You can see in the trace log what is happening, but its the dead beast in the middle right with the person behind it.
So, I decided to get some sleep and pick up in the morning but I have made a lot of progress on my game.
From a screenshot I took earlier in the night:
To where I am now:
Ill do a better write up tomorrow with the premise of my game and everything, but so far I have about half the classes working, a good idea of where I want to go with it and I’m happy with where it is at.
I’ve got a good idea what I’m making now. It took some debate and throwing out a lot of ideas before I came up with one I felt was feasible and worth doing.
So I’m in the middle of building out my classes and some of my art. I think it’s interesting but still perfectly doable within the timeframe I have.
Also, obligatory workstation shot.
So, I’ve watched LD happen for a while and I’ve finally decided to participate. I’m not sure how much time Im going to have but we will see what happens.
Depending on the theme and how fast I come up with an idea that I like I”ll either use:
Unity3d w/NGUI and EX2d
For tools I will most likely be using the same stuff everyone will be using, paint.net, sfxr, etc. I’ll be using 2d GuiHud to generate quick assets. I’m sure there are other tools which I will list as I use them.