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Ludum Dare 26
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Archive for the ‘LD #23’ Category
It has been a little more than two days that since the submission of my game NaMa Tek and I had enough time to contemplate about what went good, what went bad and what lessons I can derive from that.
- Familiarity with Lua and LÖVE: At this point in time I have made quite number of games (or game like things) using LÖVE. I have solutions (both in the form libraries and as design patterns) for most of the basic issues that keeps you from making the actual game.
- Brainstorming and Design: Because my last two attempts at Ludum Dare did not result in a finished game, I decided to take more time for brainstorming and thinking about the game. In a previous compo I would probably have gone with some other idea. I really liked to do a Settlers like ant colony simulation game, but it’s needless to say that such a game is way out of scope for an 48 hour compo.
- The in game editor: Being able to quickly build and test levels is super important when time is of importance. For NaMa Tek the level format was simple enough to build a level editor in almost no time. Using a third party level editor (e.g. Tiled, GIMP) would have worked, too, but the ability to test levels instantly is priceless.
- Frequent updates: I forced myself to write a short post every time I took a break. This helped to monitor my own progress and made me think of what had to be done next.
- Time Management: Although the brainstorming and game design phase went pretty well, I did practically nothing for the first few hours. I eventually got myself together and did what I set out for the first day, but having more time would have helped spotting bugs. On the second day I spent too much time playing with the circuit editor instead of doing important things like graphics, sound and level design. Which brings me to the next point.
- Level Design: The difficulty curve of the game is far from being linear. The tutorial levels are relatively easy to solve, but the next levels are near impossible if you did not spent some time studying logic circuits and how to build higher level components like latches, adders and finite state machines.
- User Interface: The only thing I can say here is this “what is intuitive for you is not intuitive for the rest of the world”.
- Music and Sound: I would have liked to devote more time to this. I really enjoyed doing sound design last time (in fact this was one of the only things I was happy with in the end), so it’s a pity this didn’t work out this time. On the other hand, I got to add some simple (simple!) music, which adds a lot to the game. Making music is fun!
- Graphics: I am neither talented nor experienced at this front and I know it. That considered the game does not look that bad, but it could definitely look better.
- Work environment: I had to work on a tiny 11.6” Laptop with no additional screen, keyboard or mouse. Compared to my usual setup this certainly was a downgrade, but turned out to be OK.
- Spend more time planning stuff. Plan a lot of time for level design in particular.
- Build an in game level editor for rapid testing.
- Get more familiar with the non-programming side of things. In particular: Learn how to sprite and learn how to make music.
That’s about it. I would be delighted if you try and rate my game. You can get it here.
… and now I am super exhausted. But it was so worth it. This is my third Ludum Dare, but the first one that I managed to finish with a full game. It even has an option-screen! And an option! Anyway, I’ll write a longer post after catching some of that precious, precious sleep. For now, I can offer a link to the game submission page and a screenshots (more on the submission page). Oh yeah, the game is called NaMa Tek. Whatever that may stand for.
Cannot … write … not think. Too much … coding … graphics … coding. Need … to rest. Cannot. Must make … sound. Tutorial. Levels. Must test. Must finish.
Hopefully. A recap of what I have done so far:
- Found my concept: Program a nanobot to solve different tasks – using logic circuits.
- Built circuit simulator.
- Built circuit editor.
- Nanobot reacts according to circuit.
- Awesome pause/exit screen.
What needs to be done?
- Graphics! Sound! Music!
- Rewrite of the circuit simulator. I want to be able to build latches. Somehow this does not work yet.
- Puzzle design.
- Title/Credit screen.
But now it’s time to get some sleep. Tomorrow will be time enough.
While the afternoon was mostly spent procrastinating, I managed to finish (large portions of) my circuit simulator and editor, as seen on the screenshot to the right.
In the beginning I had some problems with the simulation algorithm and loops in the circuit. This was mostly attributed to the desire to do it right. You know what I mean. What I’ve come up now is quite cool though; you can even build little state machines.
Up next: Go outside to fetch dinner and some snacks. Maybe grab a beer.
After that I will focus on the nanobot movement. If everything goes smoothly I will have something playable tonight and can use tomorrow for level design, graphics, sound and music.
I would really like to build an Ant-simulator (see my brainstorming post). You would lay traces of pheromone to guide worker ants to sources of food. You would spray another kind of pheromones on the spider that kills your workers so that soldier ants will kill it. It would be similar to Settlers (the good ones), but with ants instead of Knights and Romans. However, there are two problems:
- The concept is too big (much like certain spoons). It can be broken down to just a few components, but
- The game wouldn’t be very interesting until you are able to build a large economy.
So I will go with the programmable nano bot idea instead. Here’s a rough sketch of what I will implement next:
This concept has some good properties:
- It can have an abstract graphics style,
- It is reasonably simple to implement,
- It can be expanded later.
Time to fire up my editor
LD23 started 7am local time, but since I had a rough week I decided to wake up when it’s time. This happened around two hours ago. Before having breakfast I had a peek at the theme, but decided not to think about it too much. To get my subconscious mind working or something.
Breakfast is now over and the ideas start coming, even as I am writing this. I will throw some of them at you:
- Build circuits! In the beginning you have nothing but a NAND gate. At the end you will have a fully functional nano robot.
- Build circuits! Synchronize the actions of your cute nano robot using a clock, gates and other components. Similar to SpaceChem, but different.
- Quantum mechanics: States, tunneling, entanglement, weirdness. How to get this into a game? No idea.
- Uncertainty principle and probability distributions. Mechanics similar to the game (the name is on the tip of my tounge) where you guide a stream of particles using attractors, repellors and stuff.
- Very many people on very little space. And then you run around and … this is going nowhere.
- You jump from tiny planet to tiny planet. And you do stuff there. Like solving quests.
- Biology: You are an amoeba kind of creature and your goal is to eat other creatures to gain their abilities. Like Flow or Osmos. But different somehow.
I think I will stop here and try to work out possible directions with all of the ideas. My favorites at the moment are 2., 4. and 7. I will write again when I have my concept.
Edit: I couldn’t stop, so here’s number 8: Ants. This is my new favorite.
This will be my third LD, and this time I plan to ship a finished game.
I will achieve this by aiming low. Very low. Once I have my concept, I will throw away half, then implement 30% of what’s left. It’s always possible to add stuff later. Graphics will be very simple. I am no good at that, so there’s no point in wasting too much time there. Sound and music on the other hand might get some special attention. I am no good at that either, but like doing it anyway
These will be my tools:
- LÖVE – hopefully I can incorporate some of the new features.
- hump, HardonCollider, Quickie and some of my other stuff.
- Gimp or Inkscape or ASEPRITE to create graphics.
- bfxr and Audacity to make noise.
- milkytracker to create and atmosphere.
- vim to edit text.
- My Lenovo X121e laptop and my glorious No Name Keyboard to put it all together (a bit outside my comfort zone).
- Green tea to stay focused.
Let’s do this!