About FireSlash (twitter: @fireslash)
Ludum Dare 25
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Archive for the ‘LD #21’ Category
I’ve found more than one Love user now who uploaded nothing more than their game’s .Love file. Now technically this is fine, since it’s everything needed to run the game AND source! How convenient!
Unless you don’t have the Love game engine installed.
Now in a normal circumstance it might be reasonable to ask someone to install the engine to run your game. However, in the case of Ludum Dare, we have a mere 599 games to play, test, and rate. When I find games that require much more work than “click link and play” or “download, unzip and run”, I find it very tempting to just move on to the next entry.
The fantastic part is that there’s a very easy solution to this! As detailed here, you can easily build executable packages for windows, linux, and mac! These binaries will be easy for users to download and run without being burdened with installing whatever additional software you might have happened to use in your project, making it quick and painless to rate.
Note that this process falls under “Porting” which you can do at any time after the submission window! So go forth my minions and make your entries ready to run!
After breezing through two previous LDs, I felt this time I should push my game design out a bit further, both technologically and in design. I wanted something that I knew would be challenging; not just a game I knew I could complete in the timeframe.
With this in mine, I added some goodies to my game such as an upgrade system, expansive map sets, multiple weapons, and complex enemy types. I looked at parts of games I loved and used them as foundations for various game mechanics. In the end I had a lot more than I could hope to achieve, so i had to trim some fat, and began coding.
At first progress felt a lot slower, dangerously slow compared to previous LDs. I was worried I wouldn’t make the deadline so I trimmed out multiple weapons, shortened the game a bit, and scrapped additional enemy types. I figured I could add these back in later as time allowed.
When I woke up on Sunday I was pretty unhappy with the game. The nature of projectiles made them frustrating when facing Banshees, which were the most common enemy type in the game. I tried nerfing the banshee’s move speed and changing the movement patterns, but nothing really helped. The game had content and was going well progress wise, but it wasn’t fun. I actually considered throwing in the towel here.
After about an hour of level design to take my mind of gameplay, I had a bit of an epiphany. Prior to LD I had been playing Quake 4, and started drawing connections to my gameplay flaw and my frustrations with Q4′s nailgun. Ultimately the machine gun worked better in Q4 due to not giving Strogg any time to dodge your attacks. While the AI in my game didn’t dodge, the movement patterns were hard to properly lead. So I changed the player’s gun to an instant fire laser.
Everything just clicked at once. Suddenly you could easily hit most targets with minimal issue if you lined up your targets well; and early game energy limits prevent you from just spamming down everything in a quarter of a second. Upgrades made you choose between various gameplay styles. The aiming mechanic of enemies made sure you couldn’t just camp one spot and shoot when everything lined up; but instead rewarded you moving WITH the banshee, constantly leading its shots but still keeping lined up.
After taking some time to balance upgrades and flesh out some levels, I was cutting it a bit close so I ran a final polish run on the level set (though I would have liked to expand it), and submitted.
In the end I have mixed feelings about the final result. The endings aren’t really “proper” endings, and there’s no menu/config/pause/etc. It feels incomplete to me. But despite having some spare time at the end where I could have mocked up some quick simple menus, I was sick of coding it when I submitted; and I felt that a rushed menu would be worse than no menu at all. On the other hand it’s a lot more than I could have done previously, so as a progress indicator it’s great. LD is never about winning to me, it’s about seeing what you can do. Testing your limits and learning new things. Seeing what you’re capable of…. And in that regard it’s been a roaring success.
I’ll see you nerds in October :3
A lot of XNA users get flak for it because lots of older and simpler video cards won’t run it. A good example of this is Intel HD graphics, which are common on laptops.
Did you know you can fix this? Well you’re about to.
XNA has two profiles. Each profile has different minimum requirements, and as a result different capabilities. If you were developing a retail game you might stop me here and say “But FireSlash, I need shader model 3.0!”. However, in almost all Ludum Dare cases you’re never going to break outside of the XNA Reach profile’s limitations. These limitations are effectively the limits of DirectX 9, which are fairly generous for most games.
The best part of this is that using Reach is very easy; especially if you’re using the XNA content pipeline. Simply right click on your project
Now click properties. You’ll get defaulted to the XNA studio tab (probably, if not it’s a mere click away!) where you can change your profile to Reach. Do this early in your project as it saves you possible issues later with recompiling textures.
Also note that if you use any kind of engine or supporting libraries, you’ll need to adjust the profile there as well. If your engine has compiled textures in HiDef you’ll need to remove these and recompile them for Reach. I suggest doing this before you start as it saves time and rage later.
Going for my third LD entry. So far each one has been progressively easier as I get a better feel for the time constraints and workflow. I feel LD has become a bit of a benchmark on how I’ve grown as programmer. I love it.
The tool list hasn’t changed from last year much
Code: FlatRedBall (C#/XNA 4.0)
Sound effects: Sfxr
Art: GIMP / Corel Draw / GraphicsGale
Target platform will be Windows again. I’m hoping this theme is a bit more focused, as the previous theme was basically a non-theme.
Also for anyone who enjoyed my previous entry, I may be porting it to Windows Phone 7 soon, followed by android.