Highschool Student & Programmer. Likes food, water, oxygen, etc..
Ludum Dare 27
Ludum Dare 26
Ludum Dare 25
Ludum Dare 24
Ludum Dare 23
Ludum Dare 22
Ludum Dare 21
Ludum Dare 20
Qeelom - xCode user
Awarded by Peter on April 24, 2012
Ideas I’ve had so far!
- Something to do with suffering consequences from your actions. Specifically, something where the ONLY way to do anything is to do something currently which will incur some consequence later. So, the past you is your enemy. This could be sort of like an arcade game with some character who, to be upgraded, agrees to be attacked by N enemies in one minute. Then, to survive, one must advance fast enough to handle the enemies, but not so fast as to spawn a deadly wave of enemies.
- Some sort of traditional game, except you play as the enemy instead. I’m pretty sure this idea has already been had by, say, everyone else, so I’m not going to do it.
- A sort of “puzzle” where there are mirrors and other objects that make copies of you, reflected and perhaps in a location with some differences. For instance, mirror you might be next to a box of TNT (conveniently), but you might not be, so if you punch it, “KAPLOW!” goes mirror you.
- A game where one has to fight against a lot of “good” people who think you’re the villain in order to… to do something.
I like the first one the most because it is totally within the scope of a Ludum Dare and uses the theme in gameplay. Maybe I could play with the idea of you being a villain more than just to yourself – maybe you’re in a position of power over others or something. E.g. you have to guard them, but you’re a really crappy guard who also spawned the monsters. I shall get down to business tomorrow after the magic of sleep (or, a variant of sleep I like, waiting in bed, thinking about stuff) has made my mind clearer and chewed over this idea.
I haven’t had much luck developing recently, somewhat due to interruptions from homework/not being very familiar with Java (C++ is my thing, you know?)/sleeping. But thankfully, to that there’s a cure and it’s called the Ludum Dare! Trust me, I’ve tried it 5 times before, and it works unbelievably well. Although, on the flip side of that, it’s unlikely I’ll get any work done on my other game, which is an adaptation of the this game I made a few months ago for Ludum Dare 23.
In any case, this time around, I’m hoping to make a game which is awesome or weird or creative or (adjective other than “average” or “normal”). To do this, I intend to use Processing, GIMP, Garage Band, cfxr, and whatever else proves useful. Providing that my house doesn’t/hasn’t already run out of food, this is going to be fun!
Well, it seems like a good time for a postmortem, having gotten a little feedback.
What Went Well
- Originality, theme-connection. The product I made this time is fairly unique from ones I’ve made previously: this game is fully based on the theme and is very original. I’m proud of this and I think it results from a pretty simple rule I try to follow and think that, this time around, I achieved: The game must relate to the theme even before any assets are made.
- Respect for Evolution’s Elegance. This is a bit of an odd thing to have come out of a game jam, but I have a new respect for how awesome evolution is. My code has nothing in it that says a whole species should be able to gain new, positive traits if they are introduced via mutation, but that happens. It was really rewarding to, after a few hours of work, be able to see a beloved theory in action.
- More confidence. I had only one day for this dare, but it turned out to be one of my favorite experiences with the Ludum Dare. Also, what I made is genuinely something from my own imagination, not a copy of anything else. Really, that’s why I love this competition: I get to have an idea then realize it.
- Graphics. I cannot draw fish. At least, in this amount of time, I can’t. I probably should learn something more about making graphics some day, but it’s not really what I’m passionate about. In general, at the end, I felt I’d done something cool, but didn’t really want to polish, therefore, I didn’t polish.
- Goal of Gameplay. I think that what I have is a neat toy. You can play around with it and try things out, but the goal isn’t very strong – making the most mutations doesn’t really give the depth of gameplay I wanted and was really just a thing of “I don’t know what to do. I don’t have time to figure it out.” I still don’t know an appropriate goal.
- Focus. I wasn’t at all focused this time around. I think this was really mostly a thing of circumstance though; I wasn’t able to start until about the midpoint of the competition, and even then, I’d been away from home for a while, so there were other things I wanted to do (and then I did them). I felt sort of like I couldn’t do more at the end, even though I could see areas for improvement that I could accomplish before time was up.
Well, I’ve run out work to do on my game (I’m gonna be honest: these graphics are about the best I can do for fish…), which means it’s time to submit! Click me if you want to see it. The game still has a really prototype-y feel to it, which is a shame, but there’s not much to help it other than going almost back to the drawing board. I’m still proud of it though – in terms of “how much fun users will have with this” or “how pretty it looks”, it can’t hold a candle to my submission from LD23, but in terms of how original it is, this submission wins out. I think I’ve got an interesting start, but a good execution of this idea was infeasible from the start; although I avoided anything nasty like evolutionary algorithms, I ran into having a system which is hard for users to play with. Really, there needs to be more depth in the ecosystem to pull the idea off – right now, there’s no way the herbivores will ever find a niche and live unless they drive their predators to extinction, and that’s a problem. I’d love to pursue this idea further, but it’s not a project for 24 hours.
Or, so the theory goes. It’s coming down to the last few hours, so I think I’m going to shift my focus. The game is *playable*, but I’m not too happy with it. It feels like one of those games where I need to change its course a little (well, enough to need major rewrites… so not a little), which is pretty common for me in these competitions. Unfortunately, I don’t have another day to do that with. Therefore, this gameplay is complete! Anyways, I’m going to get down to polishing it. This may be hard because, as it stands, my graphics are:
1. A fish. They’re a lot like gray blobs.
2. A bigger fish. They’re just the fish before, but turned red and given spikes.
3. Algae. These are green dots.
Anyways, I guess I’m going to make the deadline and have a disastrously original game on my hands.
I’m worried that people aren’t going to be able to really feel the impact of their actions on the game; it’s sometimes hard to get a good balance between the simulation and letting the player be in control. I’ve hard this problem before (See: Dwarven Isolation), but I think I’ve got a solution this time: Let the player shoot meteors!
Suddenly, I feel stupid for attempting this idea. Also, I feel like a god. This isn’t a game yet (which is why I feel stupid), but it’s actually remarkable as it is. It does a fair simulation of two species (which are generalized! I could probably add in some more without much effort – I’ll bet a 3rd would make everything unstable – perfect for a game). One is algae, which are small, fast-reproducing and photosynthesizing things. The next are… algae eaters (I’m not a biologist). They eat the algae and reproduce. They also starve though, ‘cuz they don’t know how to control their budding and can wipe out all but an epsilon of the algae in an area. Also they’re profoundly stupid and have been observered travelling in hoards towards a single piece of algae then all dying. In general, the system is about in dynamic equilibrium.
I really hope I can game-ify this (and I have the general idea), but I can’t work anymore tonight. I think that this game will be pretty different from the others I’ve made and from the others that will be submitted, and I’ll be happy with it if I can pull of the execution…
Also, I have a property called “birthRange” in my code. It makes babies go everywhere. I think that’s pretty cool.
Well, I’ve put about an hour of work in so far (not much), but it’s starting to look like a good ol’ fashioned “Oh crap, this game concept isn’t actually fun” jam. I was kind of envisaging a lot more pillaging and stuff, but it turns out that AI are hard to program. I just need some organisms that will eat and fight, but my “move randomly unless you see something – if you see something, kill it!” seems to be poorly implemented and not really a good strategy. Also, the bottom of the food-chain is hard to make. I mean, everything’s gotta eat, so everything’s gotta be able to kill it, but it has to be abundant… so… I’m going to have to figure out how to make it reproduce…
Ugh, who would’ve thought that biology was so complicated. I wonder if I can somehow evolve the whole game field into a starting state – it worked on Earth didn’t it? Also, on an unrelated note, I just made life a whole lot happier: when animals don’t fight, they reproduce like mad!
(Of course, brushes with failure are how I know I’m doing it right! You don’t get into trouble without taking risks.)
Yeah. I’ve been driving (well, being driven) home all day. I haven’t started yet. I’m going to go with my idea for making a game where you facilitate evolution and try to make everything not kill each other. It seemed like it was a game begging to be made, just because I’ve not seen any games with a similar concept.
Alright, as I always do, I’m gonna post some of my ideas. However, Evolution has given me more lucid visions of games, so maybe longer descriptions are in order.
1. Evolution v. Creationism: The Final Smackdown. Basically, much like a typical side-scrolling shooter (which I’ve always wanted to make!), but you get to design your ship once (probably with a few different types of items). Your enemies start out weak, but follow some sort of evolution algorithm (e.g. if this ship survives, “breed” it with another one and have its children come back. In breeding, two similar ships are chosen and their equipment is randomly distributed in the children, with some chance of mutation). This one would be technically challenging, and dubiously original, so I probably won’t do it. It would be fun though, since side-scrolling shooters are sweet.
2. Planetary Overseer. The player is acting as a god-like character trying to build and maintain an ecosystem on a planet. It’d probably start out with ~4 species: some plants, herbivores and maybe a carnivore. As planetary overseer, you must ensure that, whatever happens, no species ever becomes extinct. Ever. You do this by dropping upgrades (and bombs!) which individuals can consume and then pass on in future generations. Also, the organisms might be space-ships because space-ships look cool and have an excuse to shoot each other (er… that would be eating/trying not to be eaten). I mean, if I’m going to be circumventing how evolution works in reality, I might as well have space-ships too… The challenge here is somewhat technical, although I think it’d be doable, but it’s also the sort of concept which could be boring or confusing. It requires some form of chaos so that it’s not just a management “game”.
Edit: 3. Sterilize Everything. Something about killing bacteria. All of them. You know, not doing that lame thing where you kill the weak ones and the strong ones reproduce and kill you. This could end up just being a themed, but not original game. I don’t like those, but there could be some cool mechanics from the difference between killing everything and killing most everything.
4. A game where the rules evolve. This is a little vague. That could be a problem if I actually want to make it…
And that’s all the ones that I haven’t yet rejected. However, I can’t start developing until about 20 hours into the competition because of real life stuff, so I’ll keep thinking of other ideas and trying to determine the feasibility of these. (Also, for the purpose of this competition genotypes ARE phenotypes)
Personally, when it comes down to the wire (which it will since I’m going to end up starting my game around 20 hours into the competition), I intend to be listening to awesome piano-ing.
Chopin’s Second Sonata (Okay, the third movement is a funeral march, but it’s still good music for near the end of the compo)
Well, after having spent the majority of my summer doing math and making pretty picture (with math, of course), I’m ready to finish off summer with a good ol’ fashioned Ludum Dare. This will be my 5th Ludum Dare and I’ve always made something I’m happy with in the past dares (and I’m pretty proud of what I made in LD 23). I’m excited to see what I’ll make this time.
After rating 21 games (most likely none of them yours), here’s a 3 games that I especially enjoyed playing:
Full Circuit – JMRante
This game has an interesting concept – your goal is to push wires around the innards of a planet to complete a circuit. This sounds easy, but the levels are cleverly designed so that a lot of forethought has to be put into each movement to succeed (in fact, the game punishes you quite severely for bad moves) and so that many moves have to take place in tight spaces. The graphics are distinctive and fairly stylized, but look very nice in the game and clearly illustrate each block’s function.
Subatomica – SFBTom
The visual appeal of this game is immediately obvious. Beyond the sleek graphics is a fun little game. The game takes place in the subatomic world, with various charged particles. You only have one control, which is to change your own charge, causing you to be attracted or repelled from the other particles in the level. The game is fairly short, but displays a good range of levels in that time and challenges the player to complete them quickly.
No Space – Jeremisa
You play as an astronaut stuck on a ship whose computer is refusing to return you to Earth. Most of the gameplay happens on various planets where you can gather resources using a clever system involving conveyors. There is some time pressure, since you can run out of oxygen, but the large constraint is how much energy you have – if you deplete it, you won’t be able to leave the planet and you’ll die. It takes a few failures to get used to the game, but it’s pretty fun afterwards. Additionally, the game effectively conveys the mood of being trapped and is, overall, polished.
(Also, for those of you not opposed to the good ol’ shameless self promotion at the end of a post, I made a game involving rogue planets, an astronaut, and survival)
Well, this may be a bit early to do reflecting on the actual game, given that I haven’t gotten much player feedback. Although there were no major snags in my process this time, there is still quite a lot to take away from the experience.
Stuff to Remember for Next Time
- Processing is a good tool. While I can think of plenty things I’d like improved in it, and while I couldn’t successfully export an applet from it, it saved me from having to set up a project file as I would in C++. I didn’t have any trouble with adding graphics or audio.
- Fake the physics. Last April, my greatest challenge was the physics engine. This time, I wrote another physics engine. It only worked with circles and the hardest math it used was computing a component of a vector. Also, most the math was created through the process of, “this seems to work,” rather than through any deductive reasoning. Overall, it’s not very realistic, but it passes for a game.
- Get a prototype out early. In this Dare, I had a prototype ready 18 hours in. I found that it was really boring. At that point, planets crashed into each other and stopped when they did, creating a big clump. This was not at all challenging to avoid. I ended up writing a basic physics engine and changing the goal of the game entirely to make it better. These tasks were fairly significant in scope and took a good amount of time. I also made a lot of tweaks to the movement mechanic based on some comments of, “Your game nauseates me.”
- Add variety to the game. Late in the development of the game, I decided to add difficulty levels (which are based on the score). This led to the advent of huge planets and fast planets, which make the game more interesting. I also found this in the game I made last April, when I added falling platforms, moving the game away from a pure puzzle (since it wasn’t a very good puzzle).
- Google can help you make assets (indirectly). While it’s obviously cheating to use premade assets, it is useful to look for resources on how to make assets. For instance, for my astronaut, I wanted a really easy walk cycle, so I looked up, “pixel art walk cycle” and found some useful tips.
- Details matter. The game feels quite a bit more professional now that it has fades between all the screens. The Earth graphic looks just plain weird without clouds. The tiny jump sound makes the game feel different than if there were nothing.
Yep, I actually finished early. That’s nice, since I have other stuff that needs doing today. I’ll write a postmortem later, although I can say right now that this Ludum Dare was, in many ways, the best I’ve yet had.
Processing is refusing to export applets properly (although it does seem to export applications well), even when I sign them. I can’t figure out what I did the last time I used processing to make it so that I got only 1 jar as output (using the same libraries), but oh well. I’ve wasted enough time trying to get an applet to export – maybe someone else will feel kind when I publish it and give me a bit of help.
Also, my screen capture program broke.
Yay! This whole sentence is a link to another page, listing Windows, Linux, and OS X versions of the software. There’s also an applet uploaded (and signed), but it doesn’t seem to work and it won’t give me error messages so… don’t use the applet, I guess. If anyone knows why this might be happening, I’d be glad to hear it. The game is pretty intuitive (I think), but if you want instructions:
Use the right and left arrows keys (or A and D) to move your character around. You can jump by pressing the up arrow, W, or space bar. If during your jump, you hit another planet, you will stay there. Planets are constantly being spawned and will collide with each other. Red warnings will appear on the edge of your screen when planets approach. The planets will become damaged and ultimately explode (except without the explosion because I’ve not added it). There is a white peg in the middle of a circle. The closer you are to it, the more points you earn. If you travel 3000 units away from it (as indicated by the yellow bar in the top right), you lose.
This is probably the last *really* productive thing I’ll get done tonight, at least on the game. What I have left for tomorrow is (this is the optimistic list. It is pretty much in order of priority, so we’ll see how far I get):
- Code to detect when your character is pinched between two planets and to terminate you accordingly.
- Add stars to the background. This is actually a gameplay element, since otherwise you have no idea how quickly your moving.
- A title screen.
- More images for planets.
- An astronaut graphic and animations.
- Sound effects! The gentle thud of planets as they hit each other, the sound of a spaceman jumping, etc.. Yes, I am aware that sounds don’t travel in a vacuum. No, I don’t care.
- Explosions for when things explode. Maybe some other particles
- Maybe multiple difficulties.
- More types of obstacles in the arena.
- Witty instructions.
- A good explanation of how this exactly relates to the theme.
- Create an a priori physics engine instead of the a posteriori one I have now.
- Do schoolwork.
For the last 90 minutes or so, I’ve been getting nothing done because I can’t think of what to do, and everything seems either out of the scope of 48 hours, or not effective at correcting my problem. However, I thought of a nice, small change that will make my game better. Rather than trying to not get crushed, which is fairly easy, the player must stay within a circle in space. This is made challenging by the fact that nothing will stay stationary, and planets will keep getting destroyed by other planets hitting them. Sure, I may have made a slight departure from the theme, but oh well.
I still don’t have any good screenshots to show, though…
Well, I got a working prototype and, as is usually the case, I’ve found that it’s not really what I want. The game depends on being exciting – there must be constant action. It needs to constantly put you in peril, and you need to constantly be able to escape. Unfortunately, I haven’t captured that. It just feels very easy at this point, even when I set every parameter to as high as they’ll reasonably go. Doing the math, it seems that around 60%, if not more, of the incoming asteroids are not a threat at all (and, in fact, serve to block more asteroids), which is a problem. I’m thinking that the randomness of it might not be working, or maybe it’s the uniformity of everything being an asteroid.
- Incentivize staying on the home planet somehow (and make it possible to do so). Or, have some other thing that, rather than saying, “DON’T be under the asteroid when it hits”, have something that forces or encourages the player to be somewhere specific. You could gain a bonus from mining an asteroid.
- Do exactly the opposite – destroy asteroids after the player steps on them
- Make the player control two characters simultaneously.
- Strategically send asteroids to be extra-problematic for the player.
- Add more obstacles. I mean, it is space, so adding lasers shouldn’t be a problem. Then you’d have to use asteroids for cover (and then the game could send all the asteroids from the useless direction) or something.
In any case, I suppose I’ll do a bit of graphics at this point as a bit of a break. Maybe the secret ingredient might be an absurd amount of particle effects and shaking the screen.