My Ludum Dare 72-Hour Jams
LD#24 -- One Last Chance (Unity web & Android .apk)
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My Ludum Dare 72-Hour Jams
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Archive for the ‘LD #22’ Category
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the HUGMONSTER has snuggled his way into your tablets and phones!
In another lifetime, four Ludum Dares ago, I entered my very first game jam with a little platformer called “HUGMONSTER”
HUGMONSTER was a Unity web player game (yes, there was a time when I wasn’t making only Android titles!) It had a title screen, and ending, and six or seven levels. It also had art completely composed of typefaces.
Very soon, HUGMONSTER will have its official, world debut as a mobile game, specifically designed for tablets! It features:
- 20 Levels of puzzle platforming pandemonium!
- 5 Animated movie intermissions!
- An awesome soundtrack!
- A touchscreen-friendly UI!
- Art still mostly composed of typefaces!
And here’s a quick trailer
More details to come!
My compo entry for LD#22 was a little game called Hug Monster, and it was seven levels of ASCII art fun. A reasonable number of people played it, and their comments were a mix of happy praise and criticism. I am really happy that I received both, and have taken to heart the feedback. Therefore, over the past few weeks, I’ve done a number of thing with the game.
- The player’s momentum and inertia is toned down, and his top speed a bit slower.
- Many of the bugs related to jumping (particularly double jumping) are squashed
- More cutscenes! It’s not just the title and ending that have little movies now.
- More levels! And in fact, some of the levels from the compo build that were rather weak have been tossed out.
- Local storage – The game remembers how far you got and lets you start from where you left off
- More focus on puzzle solving
- Even more ways to trick the Hug Monster into helping you escape a level
- Hug Monster shouldn’t get stuck in certain walls any longer
And I’m not done yet! I still have plenty of ideas for levels, puzzles, and even plan on adding music to the final build eventually.
I want to thank everyone who took the time to play the compo game and leave feedback, as you have all helped to make Hug Monster (-o^_^)-o a very happy creature, and a ridiculously fun game.
It’s been a while since the HUGMONSTER (-O^_^)-O has been around to play your games, but it’s back just in time for the final leg of the voting and it has a few under-played gems to bring to your attention. Remember, let’s try to get every game up to 20 votes if possible, but if you’re having trouble deciding which games to start with, here are a few really nice ones.
One Player Co-Op – by Redbone
In this puzzle-platformer, you can spawn a ghostly clone of yourself that you move simultaneously alongside yourself. Use your clone to flip switches and stand on plates for you, and use it to reach areas you cannot. A game this inventive deserves more votes than it’s got right now.
One May Pass – by binarycoder
Much like the previous game there are multiple copies of your character that all run around at the same time as you use the keyboard. The object here is to use your clones as sacrificial lambs in order to provide stepping stones and/or depress plates / flip switches to clear a path for your chosen one.
Frostbite – by saint11
I may have mentioned this one before, but it bears repeating because it still has so few votes. There’s a nice hypothermia mechanic in this game that keeps you looking for burning barrels to ward off the cold while you need to find rations to stave off hunger. Unfortunately, you’re also quite delusional and are seeing ghosts. Don’t let them touch you! They vanish into oblivion when you stare at a nice warm fire. You can shoot them to dissipate them for a brief moment, but mind your ammo… it has to last you until the end.
I’ve had a week to reflect on the Ludum Dare experience and when I think back on what was the most fun aspect of making Hug Monster the answer surprised me :
It’s the title screen and ending
What could possibly be so compelling about the title and ending that makes me rate them as my favorite part of the experience? I think it’s because I wasn’t really expecting them. The desire to have them came out of nowhere. I honestly didn’t even think I’d have the time for them so I didn’t really give them much thought. When I realized that I would in fact not only have the time for them but that I would even have the time to make them fancy I decided to stretch what I’d already made for the game itself and see if it could be used for my very own machinima title and ending screens.
What I ended up with was programmatically generated motions for all the characters. There isn’t a keyframe or a baked animation in sight in either the intro or the ending. The same code that powers the game’s core mechanics right down to the Hug Monster’s player seeking behavior are all used to give the illusion of a movie sequence in which the characters are making intelligent decisions. So I went from having no concept at all of a title screen or ending to having fully animated ones that illustrate and enhance the concept and theme. And there you have it, the biggest surprise and possibly the most unexpectedly fun aspect of the development process for my game.
I’m back with another round of really interesting entries from you!
A Weekend Alone – by NoLan Labs
Did you enjoy your experience making a game for LudumDare? Do you want to do it again? Now you can! Play this LudumDare simulator to balance your need to eat, sleep, and use the toilet and hope you can crank out a finished game for the jam (easy) or the compo (hard). Easily the most “meta” game I’ve played since Game Dev Story.
Frostbite – by saint11
This game is a really tight package with great pixel art, smooth controls, well-considered level design, and light challenge. I very much enjoyed the fireside mechanic where you cure your hypothermia and simultaneously stop hallucinating while watching the flames. An excellent entry and a must-play.
(-o^_^)-o The HUG MONSTER has taken a break from its furious game rating and reviewing spree to work on self-improvement. Naturally, none of these improvements will be posted to the official LD site for judging, but the feedback from people who have already played the LD original has been taken into account.
- Changes include:
- The jumping in the new version should be better when flying face-first into a wall (not perfect still, but more approaching what I would expect)
- Some of the levels that were unintentionally hard have been tweaked to be a little easier
- Two new levels exist, both of which make you trick the Hug Monster into helping you get home
- The level order is a little different now, hopefully with a more even progression of difficulty
- Earlier levels show more of the game’s internal rules and logic more prominently
- The final levels are still intentionally difficult (but still winnable as before)
Most of the games I’ve recommended or publicly pointed people to in this LD have been really high on the graphical production value chain. I want to point out two particularly nice games that completely throw fancy graphics out the window while still maintaining a polished feel. As of this writing, neither of them have gotten much attention, and I think it’s time to change that.
The Library of Madness – by Pre-order Cancelled!
Some things once seen cannot be unseen. Such is the nature of the horrors that lurk beyond the shadows of space, and within the murky depths of our oceans and caverns. Great cyclopean edifices pay homage and tribute to nameless horrors that could as soon exterminate our species as look down upon it. Perhaps it is for the best then, that this game of Lovecraftian horror is a roguelike? In this game, one must try to escape the library of madness amidst shambling horrors that may drive a man mad at the mere sight. Some things in this world are simply best left to the imagination, and as such, the letter C will be seared into your very being until the moment of your death.
RGB – by Benn
A testament to the philosophy of gameplay over everything else. This game’s graphics consist merely of red dots, green dots, and blue dots. You are the green dot. Rescue the blue dots from the red dots. Simple premise and fun execution. The red dots dance in magnificent sine wave patterns, whipping and waving, circling about. It’s as artful as it is engaging. This is, to me, the essence of game design. It’s not necessarily original, but it is definitely worth a playthrough.
Here’s another round of really intriguing games that I’ve found that I want to share with you all:
Midas – by Wanderlands
TaintedFork in the irc channel turned me on to this one. It’s a platformer / puzzle style game with an interesting twist. Everything you touch turns to gold, including the person you want to marry, unless you break your curse by stepping on a water tile. Be aware that the gold blocks are heavy and will fall if not supported by something under them! This jam entry was really inventive and delightful.
Lonely Star – by Dietrich Epp
Another platformer / puzzle game, this time with the object of clearing the board of other people (or rather the one other person). Pick up a shiny star and show it to your arch enemy, and he’ll race after you to grab it. Lure him off a cliff for some peace and quiet. The art style is, as described by the author, crayola and construction paper. It’s beautiful.
A Tale of Seven Kittens – by digital_sorceress
I was charmed by the art style here. Huge pixel textures in an otherwise high-res environment, in a 3-d 1st person adventure. I am ridiculously amused by the fact that you can equip a kitten as a weapon.
Since you all enjoyed having the chance to rate some really nice hidden gems in my last posting I thought I would dig up a couple of diamonds in the rough for you as well… ones that have really unpolished graphics, or were first-time LD entries, or even better by people who have *never* made a game before, but still show real potential even despite their flaws. Since I don’t have a lot of time before work though, I’ll leave you with just this one :
Alone?! – by SamuraiOfHoly
The graphics and sound obviously leave a lot to be desired, but on the entry page you’ll see that this is SamuraiOfHoly’s first attempt at making a game ever. Bearing this in mind, I think you’ll agree that this is a valiant first effort!
Tonight, after I rate more games, I may have a few more of these to share. In the meantime, give some love to the new blood coming into the game world!
While I’d love to see even more ratings on my own game, I feel like I should take this opportunity to callout some games written by all of you guys that really caught my attention :
Embers – by NMcCoy
Very exploration-based, but with a “listening” mechanic that is visually wonderful and a completely creepy and compelling vibe. The ending is existentially terrifying.
The End – by kebabskal
This is one of those games that really pours on the atmosphere with great graphics, and possibly the single best music track I’ve heard yet in the competition. It’s not perfect, and there are plenty of things that could be improved, but it’s more than worthy of a look!
Alone – by Jesse Freeman
More of an intro than a game, but the design aesthetic and the poem make for an impressive piece, and the start of something grand, even if the current LD entry is a bit thin on gameplay.
Head South – by MurrayL
A 3D exploration of vast, beautiful landscapes, meeting people who are just like you… all alone… Why don’t you help each other? Interesting question…
Solus – by morganquirk
The sprite graphics on this game are jawdroppingly beautiful, which is impressive given how dark and gritty everything is. Note the white noise overlay on top of everything, the creeping pace, the awesome sound effects, and the tense, claustrophobic action.
!! VICTOLY !!
I personally consider it a victory to have completed a game at all for my first Ludum Dare, much less one that’s actually kind of charming. So without further ado, let’s have ourselves a post-mortem!
(-o^_^)-o PLAY AND RATE THE HUG MONSTER HERE o-(^_^o-)
The Concept: Thankfully the idea for this game came quickly, but it was not the first idea I had. I threw out two other concepts before settling on the Hug Monster.
The first idea was a game where you’re a zombie who just wants to make friends because he’s lonely, but invariably when he makes a new friend he eats them. While I liked the idea for its humor value, I wasn’t convinced that the gameplay would be much fun… or rather that I wasn’t sure I had the time to make it fun.
The second idea was one in which you play a shoplifter who tries to steal as much as he can from a store while avoiding the watchful eyes of the clerks. While it fit the theme, I didn’t really have any great ideas on how to turn it into a fun game.
That’s when the Hug Monster came running through my head. I figured that most people would choose to make their games about avoiding the state of being alone, so I would flip this on its head and make the game about becoming alone to seek safety. I find the particular emoticon that the hug monster is made of to be really cute and compelling, and I liked the thought of it wiggling its arms as it chases you around. I thought that if I stuck with the ideation that I might come up with a better concept, but an hour and a half had passed already and this game concept seemed just viable enough to have a shot. This turned out to be a great plan. The idea was solid and the execution was just as cute as I’d hoped it would be.
Unity3D: I’ve been a fan of the Unity tool for almost a year now, and this game proved that it is sufficiently versatile to handle both 3D games as well as 2D games on a short timeframe. I still believe that Unity, being a 3D engine is primarily best at rendering 3D. There are certain idioms and assumptions that Unity uses which make perfect sense in a 3D world, but which sometimes get in the way when you’re thinking in 2D space. That said, Unity does offer you the ability to “break out into the 3rd dimension” if you want to with ease. Top it off with a nice, sane language like C# and you have a real winner of a tool.
The Art Style : I’m not saying it’s perfect. There’s a lot I want to clean up in the graphics for Hug Monster, and it’s certainly not on the level of some of the incredibly beautiful entries I’ve seen from others such as morganquirk, but it works to reinforce the lighthearted feel I was going for when I concepted the idea. I don’t think a “realistic” or even a “cartoonish” Hug Monster would have nearly the same charm, and a protagonist with any detail might take away from the real star of the show, the monster itself!
Wingdings : No kidding, the Wingdings font saved the day here. The character’s standing pose is actually an 8px sized rendering of the skull and crossbones icon with no aliasing. Now that I’ve told you this, you can probably see it if you look at the main character hard enough. Of course, at the 8px scale, it looks more like a daring little guy… one who is very easy to animate, as it turns out!
ALL OF YOU GUYS : I don’t want to sound cliche, or like the end credits screen of an old Nintendo game, but the Ludum Dare blog itself was a huge inspiration and a motivating force to help keep me focused. Just knowing that there were dozens of other people doing this at the same time helped keep my head in the game, and if I had a moment to breathe I could look at the progress other people were making as well. I even played a demo or two along the way. Additionally, posting my own progress got me some nice feedback from the community regarding what I could do to improve the game. I wish I’d had more of this actually!
The Ending Rocks : Even though the ending took about 3 hours to make, with all the precise fiddling I did to make everything timed just right, I think it’s worthwhile. I would love to add more movie sequences at various mid points in the game as I expand it over time.
Sound Design was a big time suck : I have no experience designing sound. None. Why I thought it would be a great idea to hang out on a sound generator website and try to make sfx and music for this game I have no clue. I’m sure I wasted at least 3 hours playing with sound effects that didn’t really work, and that I didn’t even quite know how to form into what I wanted in the first place. I could have used that time to better balance my level design, or give people clues about the properties of the game world (for instance, make some levels where Hug Monster plows through blocks early, just to show you that it can, before you find a level in which it actually needs to happen.
Level Design was a big time suck : And I still didn’t fully express all the ideas I wanted to. I was hoping to have more novel behaviors for switches, such as opening pitfalls or dumping rocks down to block passages. I was also hoping to have more environmental hazards, such as falling Wingdings, and possibly motorized platforms. Even what I have really isn’t perfect. When the game started coming together I knew it was begging to be a puzzle solver, but the problem with this is that the puzzles need to be challenging and at the same time actually solvable… and with the Hug Monster’s AI being a bit on the dumb side, that wasn’t so easy to accomodate.
Hug Monster’s AI : It’s not that the AI is really “bad” but it’s very simple, and I feel its lack of smarts is somewhat of a hinderance to game and level design.
Unity3D : Or rather, the physics engine in particular. It wasn’t all bad by any means (after all, it’s prominently listed as one of the good things) but I found that while it bought me a lot of time for other things in not having to roll my own full physics engine, I still lost some time fiddling with Unity’s built-in physics which can seem somewhat opaque. I’m sure this will come more naturally in time.
I’m sure there’s more to be said about the game’s good and bad points, but right now I’m just spent. I think I’ll go rate some more of you guys’ work!
Obviously the LD entry time has passed for any further improvements to the Hug Monster game, and I’m okay with what I’ve submitted. For a first try at a 48 hour game competition, I’m really happy with how it turned out and I am happy to call the entry “complete.”
(-o^_^)-o LD48 submission page for HUG MONSTER here o-(^_^o-)
But that doesn’t mean I’m done working on more levels for the game, or adding polish by any means. IT IS TOO MUCH FUN TO STOP WORKING ON IT! If you’d like to play a version of Hug Monster with more levels and more puzzles you can do so on my website at the following link:
The Hugmonster is now officially submitted in the compo! Yay! o-(^_^o-)
As mentioned, I declared 2DToolKit as my one and only library to use, but I did not include the tk2d source because I’m unsure whether that’s allowed in its license. I decided to err on the side of caution and excluded the tk2d files and as such the source will not compile. All other code and art was created by myself, and is all otherwise included in the source zip. If this knocks it out of the compo, then so be it. I’ll resubmit it as a jam entry and note that it followed the 48 hour compo rules in all other respects.
And as always, you are welcome to play the game on my site as well:
(-o^_^)-o OFFICIAL HOME OF THE HUG MONSTER! o-(^_^o-)
Post-mortem coming soon!
I’ll be honest, the level design for the early levels is pretty simple and was mainly built to teach players the rules of the game world. Only after I started making level 5 did I start to get truly imaginitive with what I could do in the game. I’m particularly happy with the proof of concept that level 7 represents, in which you must use the Hug Monster to complete the level, but it made me look back at other levels and feel like they were lacking… especially level 4!
Level 4 was just a straight copy of level 3 but with the ability to knock the home platform out of reach. I like the floating platform idea, but I felt like I should have been more imaginitive with the rest of the design… so I revamped it completely. It’s not as tricky or complex as levels 5, 6, or 7, but it’s finally worthy of being its own distinct level.
I also had to spend some time working out the kinks in my smooth camera following algorithm… in that there *is* one now.
(-o^_^)-o PLAY THE HUGMONSTER DEMO – with a newly imagined Level 4 o-(^_^o-)
Additionally I took care of a couple of stages in which falling out of bounds didn’t actually kill you when it should have.
Another 7 hours asleep. What a late night last night, and definitely not particularly productive after the last posting. I’m pretty sure there’s going to be another coffee break this morning before I get down to any polishing.
I think that rather than create more new levels that I should tweak some of the ones I already have. Level 4 isn’t that inspiring. It’s mostly just level 3 with a trick floor. Maybe I can rework it? Same for level 1, as it is so simple. Maybe I can introduce switches earlier? Maybe have them drop blocks rather than open doors? They can really do anything…
I think I’m leaving sound and music on the cutting room floor. I really have no idea how to start on production for this, and part of where all my time went was playing with 8 bit sound generators, and I’ve got nothing to show for it.
Here’s the other one of those book ends I mentioned before… Hug Monster now has both a title screen *and* an ending, both of which are programmatically animated storytelling devices. Now you can play and finish so you can watch the ending!
(-o^_^)-o Play and finish HUG MONSTER o-(^_^o-)
I have to say, that ending sequence was grueling after the long day I put in polishing up everything else. I started working on it almost immediately after my last update. Fortunately it was really easy to piggyback the existing switches and doors functionality into an animated movie, but what took more time was fiddling with the exact velocity values I wanted the little guy to use when he moved across the screen. It was harder than you think, since the monsters are all just using their normal in-game AI to achieve their seemingly smart behavior.
After spending some time making another level I decided that I’d better hurry up and put some nice bookends on the game.
(-o^_^)-o ||||| o-(^_^o-) <– Bookends
So I started with the Title Screen, complete with a programmed movie sequence!
(-o^_^)-o PLAY THE HUGMONSTER DEMO o-(^_^o-)
The Hug Monster is clearly alone and is looking for his friend!
The player is clearly alone and wishes very much to stay that way!
TehWut was kind enough to play the
(-o^_^)-o HUG MONSTER DEMO o-(^_^o-)
And offer some feedback. You know, TehWut was correct, the jumps really were unresponsive at times and that really needed to be taken care of. Now that play actually works like I feel it should, I can work on making some really neat levels where you try to lure the HUG MONSTER around and have it plow through switches, and through blocks for you. Alllll in good time!
It’s much easier to jump now. I don’t think I’ve seen any of the old issues in the newest builds.