Software Development Engineer by day, Indie Game Developer by night. You can find my blog at http://iarke.us - I post regarding my projects... And stuff.
About arkeus (twitter: @arkeus)
Ludum Dare 26
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Ludum Dare 24
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Archive for the ‘LD #22’ Category
The planning for the game started ahead of time. There were 2 things I wanted to have set in stone before a theme was announced, and that was a genre and a name. I wanted to pick a genre that could easily be tailored to any kind of game, but the one I chose far ahead of time was a Metroidvania, mainly because I have a project on the backburner that is a metroidvania, and if I can get a similar kind of game out of my system, I can feel content with keeping my planned project on the backburner for a long period of time (in order to work on my main project at the moment, which is an RPG). The name was something I also really wanted to lock down. Last time I wasted about 30 minutes near the end coming up with a name, which I felt wasn’t a good use of time for the competition. This time, I pegged down the name Arzea ahead of time, with the intention that if something better came to me while working on it I would change it.
When the theme was announced (thank goodness it wasn’t randomly generated, that was one I just wasn’t feeling in the mood for, and would have required me to change my genre I believe), I immediately started planning out various parts of the game. I chose to go with a magic theme, since I wanted something different than I’d done before, and in the process I also started thinking up story elements for “Alone”. In the end I interpreted it as being the only one of his kind in a place overrun with monsters, but it seems most people interpreted alone as being a single entity. The main character had always felt kind of alone being that he was different than others, but being thrown into an unknown world made him feel even more lonesome than before. I feel I didn’t get a chance to tie very much story into the game, but I felt that it was definitely one of the better areas to skip for time.
Once I had the basic gameplay elements and story pegged down, I dived straight into art. I went with basic dirt and grass tiles, and just went on instinct for how they should look. I was very happy with how the first draft turned out, and there was very little modification after that. By choosing a magic theme, I was able to magic a wizard main character which was a big plus, as it let me keep things really simple with the hat and robe. I also ended up drawing some objects that I didn’t have time to fit into the game.
Once tiles were done I dove into the map generation code. I wanted to keep it quick and easy, so I decided to autotile pretty much everything, and just draw the top tile layer with a single color. I had seen a neat effect with backgrounds in other games (my biggest inspiration was Level Up!) so I did something similar which worked really well, as it was also very easy to autotile. My tiles ended up tiling extremely well (I was incredibly surprised at how well, since I hadn’t put any thought into it while drawing them) which made it really easy to quickly map up a world.
The movement and jumping were very familiar as I’ve done a few platformer games in the past. I think my jumping ended up feeling a bit more floaty than I would have liked, but overall it felt pretty tight to me. Once that was working, I added my first spell, the fireball. This time around I was able to quickly add particles, and the particles were one of my favorite parts. It was fun working with the colors to make the particles look neat against the background, and I also liked trying to make unique particle effects for each spell. Once the fireball had particles I moved onto adding the other 5 spells I had planned. This was long and tedious, but I managed to work through it without losing my motivation, and was able to move on.
After that I added some very basic enemies, and then expanded the world. From there on out it was mostly adding small things repeatedly, such as keys and doors. I worked all the way up to the deadline, but in the end I felt the game was polished and complete, even if not as complete as I had originally envisioned.
What Went Right
Planning – I feel my planning worked out well. I saved time on choosing a generic name and genre before hand, and putting all my thoughts down into a document before I dove into coding game me a good linear track of what I needed to work on. I wasn’t stuck figuring out what spells I needed in the middle as I had planned it all out from the start.
Art – The art wasn’t something I was expecting to go so well, but even with my very limited pixel art skills I was able to come up with something quickly that I was extremely happy with.
Genre – Since I had been wanting to work on a metroidvania for some time, choosing to do one gave me a lot of motivation. However, there was a downside in that I really did want to do a full fledged metroidvania with all the bells and whistles, and when it came down to it, I had to strip it down to a very basic form in order to make the deadline.
Tools – Using flash with flixel was again a really good choice, as I now have a year and a half of experience with it under my belt, so I could focus on making the game rather than fighting with the language.
What Didn’t Go Right
Tweaking – There were some bugs and some tweaks that really needed to be fixed for the game to feel less tedious. For example, there are some problems with the spawning logic, so sometimes thing don’t spawn properly (which is very important when that thing that didn’t spawn is a boss). Also, the respawn way turned out to be buggy in that things would respawn as soon as they were off screen if you kill them. These are the first things that will be tuned/fixed for a post-competition release.
Scope – While I feel I did a much better job than last time of limiting the scope of the project, I still had intended quite a few other features that didn’t even have a chance of making it in (pause menu, map, achievements, spell swap popup). In the end I felt I was able to cut things that weren’t essential and it still felt very complete, but I would have liked to have more.
Performance – If you have a low end computer (I managed to test with my netbook right before the deadline) you may have problems with playing. I was surprised at this, but I didn’t get a chance to look into it before the end of the competition.
Theme – While I thought I had hit the theme much better than the last couple times, it turns out that it wasn’t quite enough.
What Comes Next
I’ve already begun working on expanding the game for a post competition release. I want to include some of the features that I had to cut for the deadline, along with expanding the world to be much bigger. As a comparison, here are the original competition version worlds, and the expanded world (not yet finished):
I’m probably not going to put too much work into it, as I would really like to get back to work on my current main project, but hopefully it will feel much more balanced and fun before I release it!
Here are the links to the game:
Play/Rate The Game:
Watch The Timelapse:
Read The Journal:
Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the game!
During this past weekend, in addition to streaming, I made sure to screencap my main monitor every 10s for the duration of the competition. From this, I created a timelapse for you to watch how Arzea was created from start to finish.
If you would like to play or rate the game:
(Issues with embedding…)
I’m exhausted, but Arzea has been submitted. I’m planning to do a general writeup (including things like design decisions), a timelapse (soon!), and a full postem. Watch for those!
Now I take some much needed rest and maybe see a movie or something.
Challenge complete! PS. It’s killable if you collect all 15 orbs first…
2 and a half hours left… I’m almost there, but not quite! But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel…
Continuing to make progress. I am almost to the part where you can play through the game start to “finish”. It still has no story, no menus, no HUD, no dying, and no last boss/ending yet… But we’re getting there! Not to mention the lack of sound, music, title screen, saving, loading, etc etc etc. I should probably shut up now or I’ll quit out of frustration that there’s not enough time to finish it all…
But here’s a bit of a different environment and a different spell, since I realized all the screenshots were of the grassy area and the fireball spell. I still need to fix the lava against the sides/corners!
In the last few hours I’ve made a lot of progress on the world map for Arzea. All the basics for progression (spells, keys, doors, etc) have been mapped out. I still haven’t added in all the secret and collectible items (health/speed/jump increases) yet though. But if anyone gets stuck on the game when playing, you can always come back and look at this for help.
Who would have thought that designing a (relatively tiny) platformer world would take so long. It’s kind of crazy… I was really against procedurally generating anything this time around, but I have a feeling that probably would have been a much better way to approach LD. Perhaps I’ll remember that in the future. Or not.
But at least I am making progress:
Hopefully I can get the map and content done soon because there is still so much more to do. Thankfully a lot of it can be dropped if time is short, but I’d rather not drop anything if I don’t have to.
Here’s one of my cats for good luck!
So I’ve continued making a lot of progress on Arzea. I’ve gotten all 6 spells and their charge abilities in. I’ve gotten various enemies in. I’ve gotten the orbs in that you can collect to learn the spells, along with to gain double jump. I have keys that remove locked blocks, the douse spell destroys fire blocks. Save crystals are in but don’t do anything yet. But unfortunately I have a long ways to go still! But things are still looking up, and hopefully I can finish at least most of what I have planned by tomorrow night.
Or more precisely, mid-afternoon. I didn’t get much sleep, but I’m ready to go. Also, my boxers have penguins on them so I’m pretty sure I can’t fail now.
Breakfast of champions:
And something more related to Arzea:
It’s MUNCH TIME.
It’s been a few hours and I’ve been hard at work. Arzea went from being some art in photoshop to a working basic platformer. World building, running, jumping, collision, and casting a couple different spells is working so far. Currently it looks like:
Currently my biggest worry is not being able to finish it on time, and not being able to make the character not look so lame when he moves. Also I haven’t even begun thinking about HUD, menus, and the like. But I got a few more hours in me before I sleep I think.
I’ll continue streaming all weekend while I’m not sleeping, so check it out at http://www.twitch.tv/iarkeus if that’s your kind of thing! Thanks!
Making progress, like a true wizard should.
Remember to include a kitten somewhere in your game. Bonus points to whoever finds the cats in the most LD entries!
See http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/2011/12/16/kitten-challenge/ for more information!
I didn’t manage to get home in time to prepare beforehand, but I’m slowly catching up and finally beginning to code. For anyone interested, you can check out my live stream of it here: http://www.twitch.tv/iarkeus
I thought of random words to use as a game title before hand, and the one that suck was Arzea. While it’s still just a code name, it might end up being the name of my entry. Last time I spend an hour just before the deadline thinking of a name and wanted to avoid that disaster.
I’m super excited that the theme didn’t end up being Randomly Generated. It’s the one theme that would have discouraged me this weekend. So here’s hoping to come up with something cool for Alone!
I’m in for my third Ludum Dare. The last two have been incredibly fun, so I don’t want to miss this one! For LD 20 my entry was Diamond Hollow and for LD21 I made Glissaria. Each time I’ve made sure to create a timelapse, and this one will be no different. However, I also plan to stream my progress live this time right over here. Also, I’ll keep updates on Twitter, so feel free to follow me if that’s your thing. And finally, I have a circle of LD people on g+, so add me there so I can stick you in my ever growing circle!
I’m going to stick to my strengths with pixel art and flash. Going to try to brush up on music this time, so I can at least have something listenable. I might try to find a music generation program simpler than Fruity Loops due to me being musically challenged. More formally, the tools I will be using are:
Programming: AS3 (Flash) via FlashBuilder (Eclipse)
Library: Modified Flixel (extra plugins such as a flixel bitmap font library, etc)
Music: FruityLoops (unless I find something better)
Sounds: As3sfxr + Audacity
Other: Fast food, sleep, cats, alcohol
Last time I was overambitious, writing 3 games in 1, most of which I had no experience with. This time I’m going to play the safe route and make a platformer. It’s something I have experience with, is easier to make art for, and will hopefully mean I can create a full game in the alotted time. Let’s just hope the theme lends itself to a platformer. Also, if kittens wins I will cry because I can’t draw a cat to save my life.
Good luck all. =]