Ludum Dare 26
Ludum Dare 24
Ludum Dare 21
Ludum Dare 20
Ludum Dare 19
Ludum Dare 17
Ludum Dare 16
Ludum Dare 15
The A+ Post Founding Award for Excellence in Explaining Code Monkeys ("Well, of course, the problem is there are virtuosos out there that can accomplish a ridiculous amount with code.")
Awarded by GreaseMonkey on January 10, 2011
The "I got your cookies. I got your cookies right here." Award
Awarded by GBGames on August 26, 2010
A jagged trophy as tall as your waist blocks your path
Awarded by HybridMind on May 2, 2008
The Planning (or Lack Thereof)
It’s funny the way things turn out. Every time the contest comes around, I hope that I have honed my game-making skills so I’ll really be ready to make something great. The reality is that I only make games as a hobby and I don’t have that much time to spend on it, so I’m always ill prepared when the time comes. I think I know what language and framework I’m going to use, but I’m always watching the board to find that Magic Bullet to help allow me to spend more time making the game and less time on all the other crap.
So this time the Magic Bullet that would save me was Stencyl (at least I was praying), which I noticed in posts on here a few times. It is a tool that lets you make games without coding. It is one of those, do-it-all game making environments like GameMaker, Multimedia Fusion and Unity. Out of those three I only really like Unity, but I don’t think it’s ideal for contests like this one because 3D tends to add a lot of complexity that can keep you from making a great game in the time frame allotted.
Stencyl is a java based IDE that generates flash games. Internally, It uses many popular frameworks such as flixel and box2d. I guess the idea of it is based on some sort of MIT project. Basically it lets you code your game with “lego-like” blocks that you drag and drop around. Here’s the funny thing. It actually works. It saves time. And it’s fun. It lets you visualize all of your code in one page, which is pretty amazing.
Wait, there was no coding actually. I wrote not a single line of code. Now you can do that with GameMaker and such, but I always found them limiting. Building your game with Blocks in Stencyl did not feel nearly so limiting to me. Here’s the thing. When I started I knew nothing about Stencyl. The first thing I did when the contest started was build the 15 minute game which allowed me to create a few actors and behaviors and create a scene. I had something working immediately.
But I had no idea of what kind of game to make. All I knew was that I wanted to make something that looked like a classic arcade game. I was tired with doing experiments and weird stuff and wanted to try making a platformer for the first time ever.
Scratchy Get Out actually just came about through playing with the actors, deciding to try something, creating an actor or behavior, and seeing how it turned out. I was amazed at how quickly I was able to add AI details that I never would have had time to do if I were just coding this in FlashPunk. Every actor has multiple AI behaviors. All of the behaviors are simple but there were so many, that the game started to develop into something I had not comprehended before. I was very simply able to lay out accurate collision boxes (or other shapes) and control what actors interacted with what. For example, the crane was probably the most complex AI. It could catch boulders or players showing different animations for each action. When it was loaded, you could control it. It passed messages to tell the player to halt all movement. Then you could release the object the crane was holding (actually the crane created the object) and it would reset itself and reactivate everything. I know from my past experiences, that I’ve never had time in one of these contests to delve into such AI details and polish things as much as I was able to.
The thing is I didn’t have that much time so I was only able to do one level. I had to do all the graphics (including animations) and I barely had time to create some sound effects with SFXR. But later I made another level. A totally cool indiana jones style levels with falling boulders that would shake the screen when they hit the ground. I think I could easily pump out ten more fun levels today if I set my mind to it because stencyl makes level design so ridiculously easy.
And even though Stencyl was easy to learn, I did learn a ton over that 48 hours. If I was to redo it, I know some things that could probably cut my work time in half. I’m now aware of some things I was doing the hard way or incorrectly that should be much easier now.
I am really crappy with graphics. Stencyl really helped for this though. What I did was just design my game by picking out placeholder graphics provided by the Stencyl community. I think this has a big advantage to just making quick temporary graphics. I was able to pick out images that I actually liked and enjoyed playing with during development. I think it helped with the actual development because I was inspired by how cool things looked. Then when the game was completely done and I was running out of time, I fired up the Stencyl graphic editor and created my own likenesses of the graphics that were in placeholder. Because I kind of knew what I wanted, it was really easy and I actually think some of my art turned out better than the fine placeholder art (like the cannon for example).
I was determined to get sounds in. Usually I try to do something ambitious with my synths and effects machines, but I just didn’t have time on this one. I only spent about an hour on sound, generating a few sound effects with SFXR which is a wonderful time saving tool. Ok, it’s a classic must have for when you only have ten minutes left in a contest and you want sound! I mean what else is there for that?
What Went Right
Well, everything went right this time. I’ve done this enough to know every time the contest starts, the experience is going to be different. Sometimes it’s going to be easy as smooth sailing and somethings things are going to go so badly that I will want to kill myself (or at least just give up, which I have done more than once). This time I felt very calm the whole time because when using stencyl I was spending about 95% of time actually making the high-level AI for the game. I knew that at any point, I could just add a couple more actors and behaviors and whip up a game of some sort. So the whole time I could just work with total confidence and spend the time adding more and more cool game AI like fun death scenes and little animation details like the player’s head stuck in the crane.
What Went Wrong
I wish I had had another few hours because I really didn’t get to utilize one aspect of Stencyl which is its great level designing tools. Once I had the first level done and the art and the sound and all those actors and behaviors, I could have easily built ten more cool levels in a matter of a couple of hours. I mean, just with the actors and behaviors I created, I left so much on the table that the player will never see that it is kinda sad. Because of that, I’m going to work up about 40 levels or so and release a new version later on. Hopefully it will have the things I didn’t have time for like a menu screen and all the features a game should have.
As always, it was a wonderful experience. I look forward to trying everyone’s games. I hope all of you got what you wanted out of this contest as well. In the end, we aren’t competing against each other, but against ourselves and if there’s one thing I learned is that doing as many of these contests as you can, will only make you better and better at making games.
Wow, finished my game and am just exhausted.
This is an arcade game that I tried to model after classic arcade games like Mario Bros. The objective is to escape from the room (alive).
I should point out this is as much a puzzle game as it is an arcade game. It is pretty tricky but it is solvable. You will definitely have to use your brain to escape the room.
Well, please check it out. It is in flash and I posted it on Kongregate. Let me know if you like it. Hopefully I can do more levels now as that should be super easy.
Warning, this thing is probably buggy as hell. I got what I could, but there have to tons of issues left.
Ok, it’s probably a good time to take a break and post an update. I’m at five guys eating a nice cheeseburger and some peanuts. Dig Dug, my Jack Russell, is barking in the car. I’m saving him one of the patties. The wife is gone for the day at the spa.
Yuummm, these burgers are really delicious.
Anyway, it turns out I’m doing my first platformer. It’s very arcady like Mario Bros or something like that.
You just have to figure out how to escape the screen by doing a bunch of arcady things like getting shot out of a cannon and jumping over baddies and so forth.
Ended up using stencyl which is awesome. No coding whatsoever done so far. For graphics I’m using the stencyl editor and graphics gale. I give stencil an A+. It’s a bit buggy and crash prone but besides that it really lets you get done to the task at hand – making fun games.
I think this will end up being my best game in terms of fun if I finish it.
Well, I better finish this delicious burger and get back to it.
Good luck guys!
Missed the last couple minis even though I had intended to enter. But I’m going full board on Ludam Dare. Already pre-allocating the time with the wifey.
I’m hoping the theme is fun. Somewhat silly is cool. It seems like most the themes end up being so generic. It would be nice to really have to put a lot of thought into the theme.
well, since this minild so closely aligns to the kind or game I’ve been working on lately (including the last full ludumdare), I’ve just got to give it a go.
I think I have a terrific idea for a dialogue based zombie thriller. It will be another chance to use all my audio equipment.
Basically you make contact over cb radio with a man in a neighboring city which is under seige from zombies. You have to use your general knowledge of zombies from books and movies to help the man make the right decisions so he can rescue his girlfriend and escape town.
It will be a first person affair in which you listen to him describe his situation and then you choose from a dialog tree on what to say to help him. In some cases you might lead him right to his demise.
To improve on my last game, the audio clips will be shorter. No more than a paragraph or two and there will be more interaction.
Let’s see how it goes!
A: Destroy All Kittens!
B: You have a limited number of bombs you have to place in order to destroy all the cute, sweet kittens on the screen.
D: 5 levels, soundtrack, some narration
I’m going to use flashpunk starting from scratch. This is memorial day weekend, so not sure how much I will get done. But can’t wait to blow me up some kittens, so that might drive me to finish this.
Wow, my entry Change of Heart was #1 in audio and #7 in innovation. I would have never expected it.
Thanks guys. I’ve never had a game win an award before.
I should probably stop now and retire but I think I’m going to try to utilize some of these audio skills in a more action oriented interactive type of game. So let the fun continue with the mini this weekend!
Hey, and just to get the party going here, here is a little song I performed the other night (House style dance genre):
Well, let me tell you my foray into game building this time was an interesting one. My goal was to create a dramatic movie experience using just audio and music.
While everyone else in the competition was busy playing with game ideas or throwing together some code for their game infrastructure or perhaps even creating a level editor, I was just trying to fight back writer’s block. I had about 15 pages of narration to write (and that was after cutting the initial scale of my game in half) and initially I had allocated about 6 hours to do it. I was planning on being done by the time I went to bed that night, but when I was too tired to work any longer, I had only a third of the story written!
In the end it took me about 12 hours and it was still unfortunately a pretty rough draft but I had to go with it. The end of the narration definitely suffered compared to the beginning when I was able to add so many extra details, but that’s life in a 48 hour competition. At this point it was 1pm on Sat. and all I had to show for it was a stack of papers.
Luckily I was prepared for the recording session. I had done a test the day before and knew exactly what I wanted to do even though I had never narrated before. Of course, the fact that I didn’t have time to even rehearse the material meant the narrations didn’t come out as well as they could of. And of course it’s harder to narrate than you may think. Sure a paragraph or two is simple, but when you are reading page after page, the mistakes add up and so you end up doing everything several times and then have to go back through all that later and sort out what is good and what is not. There is just a ton of painstaking processing involved with audio.
In order to get the best possible sound, I shut down my pc and got rid of every possible sound in the room. I recorded the audio using logic pro with my mac mini. I recorded through the preamp of my Mackie mixer and through a comp54 compressor (which is an amazing reproduction of a neve compressor). I used a Shure sm7b microphone which was the one that Michael Jackson actually used to record Thriller. It works as well for voice as it does for music. So I was pretty confident that technically the narration would come out well and it did.
So I finished the recording and then that evening (maybe 4pm) I exported everything to my pc and put the chapters together using Cubase 6. Cubase is by far my favorite daw; it really is the best there is if you are using midi and virtual instruments and don’t want to feel limited with what you can do. I had originally planned on scoring the narrations using my prophet 08 analog synth, but I realized there just wasn’t going to be time to do all the tweaking necessary to get the sounds I wanted (I did use it for that intro sound though), so I fell back to using Omnisphere, which is a software synth in a class by itself. I had never scored a narration before (a lot of firsts here). I tried several different techniques during the process of creating the 12 different scores (which is a heck of a lot of music to try to create in such a short time). I think from the first one I did to the last one I definitely improved quite a bit. I hate the first one (chapter 1) and plan on redoing it for the iphone version. My favorite is the helicopter flight score. Well, that and maybe the score of the hive with all of the gross creature sounds. I found my process was getting much more elaborate during these last few scores. I spent the rest of the night working on the scores, maybe to 3am.
Next morning I was on schedule but immediately things went horribly wrong. I had used Unity in the last LD to make a nice little 3d game, but man when I tried to use it for the simple purposes of this game, I was just fighting it the whole time. All I wanted to do was a simple fade, but I was jumping hoop after hoop and things weren’t coming together. It was noon and I had nothing, so I switched immediately over to flashpunk which I had used to make a game last year. Thank god I did. I didn’t even have flashdevelop on my computer, so I had to download it all and follow the flashpunk instructions to get it all working, but that only took about 10 minutes. Almost immediately things were working and I was coding the game. The actual code was about as simple as could be, so I won’t spend much time talking about it.
The final big hurdle I hit when I was all done and testing was that I found that flashpunk (probably flash actually) was very picky about the sample rates of my mp3 files. In order to upload the game to Kongregate I had to get the game under 10MB so I had to make the sounds mono and as low a sample rate as possible. I had done all the final wav files at 96k and I was having a heck of a time getting wavelab to convert the 96k wavs to small mp3 files that flash would actually accept.
I finally ended up creating the mp3 files in Cubase actually, which I think gave me a higher quality sound in the end. I went with mono, 32kb, 11khz and I liked the quality of the output, but ran into a huge problem. It was really affecting the volume levels of the different tracks. I had the music much quieter than the narration and in some cases the output mp3 had actually silenced the music. So at the last minute I had to go through my projects and adjust the volume levels, bringing up the volume of the scores so you could actually hear them in the mp3.
That’s it. Overall, to be honest, I’m just amazed I was able to complete it. There were several times when things weren’t going right that I considered just giving up. But I think I continued because with this project I choose to do the things that I enjoy the most, writing and making music, and so that’s why I was able to persevere. I know a game like this is sure to be rated poorly, I knew that going in and accepted it from the start. Even if my voice was like Orson Welles and my prose like Hemingway I wouldn’t have a chance. And yet I really think there is a niche for this kind of game. Sure it falls more under interactive fiction than game (it is less interactive than dragon’s lair even), but there’s almost limitless potential for the number of epic stories I can tell. I almost see it as a way to bring game-players back into fiction.
If you feel like listening to a good story, check it out. It is a dark, apocalyptic science fiction / survival horror thriller that will depend completely on your imagination. I’m working on a mobile version now that will have some beautiful artwork and a bunch of other features as well (not to mention a re-write or two). I should warn you that there is a ton of profanity so I would say if you don’t like listening to audio books or if strong language or gross imagery disturbs you, then stay very clear of this one.
Change of Heart (flash 10)
So much work. So many problems. The story took twice as long as I thought it would to write. The audio files took forever to record and process. My voice is so unprofessional – I just suck – and make it so hard for myself. This morning started with an aborted attempt to program the game in Unity. Unity just sucks for 2d to be honest. I punted it for flash punk and working every second managed to throw it together. Then I couldn’t upload to any flash game sites because it is too large (30 megs). Funny that is less than many hi-res pictures i click on these days. Anyway. I have thrown it in my dropbox for now and will release a much smaller version on kongregate when I have time.
If you like audio books, specifically dark science fiction/horror novels (like world war z for instance), then you might enjoy this. Before you try this make sure you are in a mellow mood. This shouldn’t be the first game you try. Turn the lights out and just chill. If you feel in the mood for a good novel, then that is a good time to try it. The story will probably take you about 20-30 minutes to listen to, depending on your decisions during the game.
Anyway, it was a blast. I am going to recover now and then read every post since this epic LD started.
Hope everyone had fun!
One hour brejiomf drhvul;r nui iz finish ton time. REally tiimred. Good anightg all.
Finished narrations. Now going into recording. Ugh, so much work! Why do I put myself through these things?
Crap, already behind. It’s 2am and only half of my narrations are written. I have to go to bed. I am setting a goal of finishing all of the writing by 2pm tomorrow. Then I’ll have 12 hours tomorrow (until 2am on Sunday) to finish all audio. If I accomplish that I will manage to stay on schedule.
Hope things are going well for everyone. I am not going to have much time to peruse these forums until after the contest this time I’m afraid.
I have done about ten ludumdares. I always try to do something new in each contest, to push myself in some unique way. Sometimes it might be learning a new programming language or utility or other times it might be trying a new game genre. One of my favorites was when I did a text adventure using inform 7.
This time I know exactly what kind of game I want to make. I only need to know the theme.
The game is going to be a cross between a ‘choose your own adventure’ (remember those old books?), an old time radio broadcast, and a podcast of a dark science fiction story (something in the realm of Scott Sigler’s Infected).
The game is going to have little or no graphics. Instead all work will go into the sounds of the game. I have had a difficult time choosing a platform. I want it to run on the web so people will actually play it. But the platform has to support sound really really well. I have chosen Unity Pro even though it is way overkill since it supports sound well and then I can run it on my iPad/iPhone eventually.
The first night I am going to spend the entire time writing the story.
In the morning I’ll do a redraft and then I expect to spend at least 3 hours recording all the narration. My attempt is to make this recording as professional as possible, and from my tests I think it will sound great, like broadcast quality great. I will use Logic Pro 9 to record with a Mac mini (to minimize background noise I can’t use my pc). Then it will go to cubase 6.0.2 for a ton of processing and I will come up with a custom musical score for each narration. (I expect probably 20+). This I expect will take all of sat day and night.
Sunday morning I’ll put together a quick program in unity that will play the narrations and offer the users choices. It will be about as simple a program as there could be. Hopefully I’ll get it finished in time to test properly and give it some polish.
That’s what I’m doing. Good luck to all entrants!
Finished a song about zombies AND Ludum Dare…
The Ludum Dare Zombie Song
I have been really getting into making music lately. I have cubase 6 and a lot of nice tools to help me now, including a nice pair of KRK studio monitors.
Anyways, I would love to make a soundtrack/sound for your ludumdare game. Of course it is completely for free and if you don’t like the song I make feel free not to use it (no offense taken at all). I have accepted a dare to release a new song every day for one year, starting today. So any songs I make will be included in the 365 I have to make of course and so I want to keep all personal rights to the music.
Here is song release #1 which I whipped up today:
The Universe is Getting Colder
Email me and I’ll be happy to make a song for your game. I would like to know what the genre of the game is, what you are thinking the music/soundtrack should sound like and also I’d like to play the game if possible to try to match the music to the game as closely as possible.
I’ve been working on a game this weekend for the mini-compo in xna 4. I’m not going to finish it, but I will probably spend the next two weeks or so trying to finish it up because it seems like a pretty cool idea.
It’s a steampunk game about a flood destroying the earth in 2012. You have to prevent the waves from destroying the datapods which contain all of the information of mankind (think of the them as google servers). So you lay out girders and use funky steampunk machines that shoot steam to try to prevent the datapods from becoming ruined in the flood. I’m hoping to build maybe ten levels to start. The water will be particle based.
my game this contest:
This was the first time I used a toolkit like Unity to make my game rather than writing it all in code. I chose to do this because I knew I would be limited on time; I had two long Christmas parties scheduled for that weekend. In essence, I only probably had about 12-15 hours to make my game.
Well, thanks to Unity I think the game came out pretty well considering how limited my available time was. It is a pretty fun game (though super simple) and there are five levels and some cool sounds and music too.
My determination after using Unity in this contest, after having written code in all my many past entries, is that clearly those that use Unity and the like have an unfair advantage in the game competition. In fact it is not even close. I spent almost no time writing code and completely leveraged the physics and other aspects of Unity that came for free in the toolkit. Instead I could spend all my time in 3DS Max creating levels. I love the fact that I have finally done enough video courses in 3DS Max to actually use it effectively for the game competition! Besides the music and sounds effects, all my time was spent creating levels and testing levels (probably 50/50 time spent on each).
I think as a result, for this contest to actually mean anything, we need to consider separating the game toolkit entries from the code entries. I can say from actual experience now that there is no comparison between the two, and comparing what one person does in code is just not in any way fair to compare to what another does in a toolkit such as Game Maker or Unity. Let’s maybe consider this for next time. Why bother to rate at all if the competition is fixed, right?
My levels were static, so I created them as one gigantic model in 3DS Max, rather than assemble them from prefabs in Unity. I think this saved time as well. But it limited what I really could do on levels (no moving platforms and such). But I accepted that I wouldn’t have time for any extras anyway. I just wanted a basic game, simple but fun, with a win case and a lose case, and i think I accomplished my goal. I love how Unity handles levels. It makes it so easy to build additional levels once you have one finished.
To give you an idea of how easy it was to create new levels for my game in Unity. This is all I had to do. Save level1 as level2. Delete the level1 terrain model. drag in the level2 terrain model. Scale the terrain to the appropriate size. Place the player at the starting position for the level. Place the win marker where I wanted it in the level. Save the level again. Play and test. That’s it. Took about one minute to setup and begin testing a new level.
I wanted to spend no more than one hour on sounds and music. So I quickly assembled a kind of new agey tune with my Axiom Pro 61 keyboard, Cubase 5 and Omnisphere. The sound effects for falling and winning were actually tunes I created with the keyboard and Omnisphere as well. I really like the falling sound for some reason. I was pretty happy with the sounds and spent no longer than an hour on them. And Unity made it less than trivial to bring them into the game.
At first, I wasn’t planning on having a start screen, but then before going to bed on the first night, I thought I would give it a try. My goal was to spend less than 20 minutes on it. I quickly sketched something out on paper with pencil (my favorite way to draw) and scanned it into photoshop. I love to draw, but I’m not very good at it, but I do much better with pencil than the mouse or tablet. The only way I can really do decent computer art is to create something with pencil and then use illustrator pen tool to redo it to make it look decent. Didn’t have time for that here. Wasn’t really happy with my little sketch, but didn’t have any more time to allocate to it. So what I did was I tested a few different filters and found one that made it look like it was night and I thought that it at least conveyed the idea of the game and gave it a bit of style. The text really needed to be redone, but I just didn’t have time for it.
With Unity, it was easy to add buttons, but I had no idea how to make buttons that would fit the art, so I didn’t bother. Had to move on. Think I spent probably about an hour on the start screen including art and the coding of it.
So I then spent the rest of the time creating the levels. One level I created I didn’t use because I tried to create rolling hills, but for some reason I couldn’t get the lighting to show that the hills and valleys even existed. It made it impossible to get through the level because the player couldn’t tell you were trying to go up a hill. I tried a black and white checkerboard texture on the level floor (ala marble madness) and that showed the depth, but the lighting was off, so the player could see the entire level at once. I didn’t have time to mess with it any more so I just decided to try to keep the levels more or less flat (although there is a slight depth here or there, nothing too outrageous). If I did a new version that is one thing I would definitely add because I think I could create much more fun levels with more bumpy terrain and curves and stuff.
Anyway, I’m happy with it. It’s on kongregate. I’m already getting some inquiries on companies interested in it. And I’ve already made my $1+ from advertising!
Hope you enjoy and I hope the powers that be consider separating out the code entries from the toolkit entires, because I can now tell you having done them both, that the amount of work needed to make a game with these toolkits is just a small fraction of what is required to make a game with all code.
Thanks to information provided by bernardfrancois (thank you!), I have released my Unity game competiton entry on Kongregate.
It is kinda like Marble Madness played mostly on ledges in the darkness.
You can try it here:
*** I have fixed the problem with the jerkiness in the web edition. Please don’t review for this compo on the version submitted to Kongregate as I have published some fixes and tweeks to levels on there. The windows version is the one to review.
Wow, can’t believe I finished my game! And I think it might actually be sorta fun! That has to be a first
I have to thank Unity. I probably worked about 16-20 hours on the game. Spent most of the time designing levels with 3ds Max and testing them in Unity. So much fun to build a game this way. Music and sound effects were created using Cubase 5 and Omnisphere. My voice was recorded with Soundbooth CS5 and a Shure microphone. I sketched the intro screen with a pencil and scanned it into photoshop and then ran it through a filter.
It was cool because I had time to try to do all the things I like to do, such as pencil art and music composition. Unity REALLY makes a difference in a 48 hour setting.
So far I just have the Windows version. If you like Marble Madness, you might like it. Will try to create other versions later.
Try it Here:
In the Darkness I Shall Fall