Archive for the ‘October Challenge 2012’ Category
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I am proud to announce to the Ludum Dare community that I have finished my entry in the 2011 October Challenge.
The game is “Project: Wheatgrinder” and can be had for the unbelievable price of $2 here!
Back in October 2012 I had the bold idea of taking part in Ludum Dare’s October Challenge. Having done game engine and game development projects in the past I knew what kind of huge challenge this was going to be. Nonetheless I still knew I wanted to do it.
Already being in a game idea research phase, after having completed the circle of my last game Pop Corny, I comforted myself by thinking that this was a cool way to take one of the many ideas in my head and really try it out. The worst thing that could happen was to add one more idea to the “crappy game ideas bin”.
What I had was a game idea and a custom game engine. I arranged a meeting with his majesty Thanasis Lightbridge (the mastermind behind the Dol Ammad and Dol Theeta bands), and convinced him to take on the graphics, music and sound design of the game. How little he knew of the horror and torture I was going to put him through for the next 30 days!
With no time to lose I described the idea of a sandbox type game, where you can freely combine simple gadgets to create elaborate flying machines. Before the day was over and through a crazy brainstorming session we were able to find a theme to dress this concept, and that was how Mr. Herbie, the male ladybug, was born. We were going to make a game for a lazy, chubby, ladybug that is too bored to fly with its own wings. Perfect…
Having high standards and only one month is never a good combination when making a game. What most people don’t understand is that games are not created in a linear fashion. You don’t start with an exact game design in your mind, you write it down, split it up in tasks, make a list, start checking out entries on it, and when all are checked publish your game. Game designing is more of a tree building that a list building. You start with an idea and from there you have a number of separate ways to go on. Each one of these ideas then give you more ways. So this way you build a huge tree with branches about every aspect of how the game can be. If we had infinite time, it would be possible to go down every single different path in that tree and actually find the game that works best for us. That is never the case in the real world, and definitely not the case when you only have one month to do it. It is obvious that the key to success in such cases is having a good “greedy algorithm” (as it is called in computer science) that will decide early which way down the tree is not worth going -and be mostly right about it so you don’t miss the next big thing in games-, and being quick to iterate implementing ideas. This is important since you will have to go down to branches only to find out that it will not work. You should be able to quickly backup and try another branch. Yes, the games you play are what is left after you distill all the ideas that don’t work.
That was exactly what I did. I chopped ideas as early on as possible. When an idea seemed worth trying out, I did a quick prototype of and tuned it until it was good enough. If it felt wrong it was dropped and I back tracked to other ideas. The chopping of ideas is mostly a craft and I can’t really tell you how its done. Its mostly about experience that is gained the hard way. The quick iterations on the other hand are a combination of discipline and having the right tools.
Discipline is about being able to focus on what you really want make, not being distracted and being ready to dispose hard work when things don’t turn out as fun as intended. And that is harder that it seems, because as humans we have a tendency of thinking better of things we worked for. It takes great discipline to also cut the feature you think is uber awesome but you probably can’t make it in time and you will have to cut down other features of the game, resulting in a grand total that is less of what it would be without the uber awesome feature.
Having the right tools is greatly important. How can you quickly iterate when your processes take hours? You need to find ways to make iterations as efficient as possible. I live in a different city that Thanasis, so what would happen if every change had to be transmitted by email? You easily solve that with dropbox for example. But we can do better than that. For example I had build a system that was constantly deploying (incrementally) the game through dropbox to any number of computers. The game engine also supported hot loading of game assets and scripts. I could actually press save on the script editor and the change was effective immediately on all testing devices running… anywhere in the world. Action games require a lot of “tuning” to achieve the maximum fun effect, and doing it through a build-run-test cycle is not going to work. You will either not tune it, or it will take you enormous amounts of time. Both bad.
Doing this really allowed to save time for the artwork to get prepared and to try out lots of things. It wasn’t until the last 10 days that the game was exactly as I wanted it to be for a months project. All the fun parts of creating your flying machines and crashing them to the ground was there. In the last 10 days we had all the stuff around that made. The leaderboards, the settings, the menus, the gameover screens, item unlocking and progression, etc. Artwork finalization also took place during that period, along with the final sound effects.
The final weekend to the release was crazy. I probably slept for 2-3 hours, fixing the final bugs and glitches. It was then that I had to cut one of what I considered a major feature of the game. The flight replay. It was a long shot because determinism is a delicate thing, and requires paying a lot of attention while developing the system, which was clearly not an option during one month. The system was not 100% correct at that point, and I had to cut it during that phase. It was stressful. Lots of work had gone into it and I had to cut it. Thankfully not completely as I was going to revisit it after the original release when there was time. So I did and now flight replay is supported and you can even share replays with friends.
The development was done on a BlackBerry PlayBook at the time, as I needed a very stable platform. I knew I didn’t have the luxury of trying out different screen resolutions etc. The PlayBook was ideal as it was a very specific system with an app store and many users willing to buy a good game. Don’t forget that the October Challenge requires that you make a buck out of your game!
Also during that last days I prepared the ground for the coming of FlyCraft. I setup a website announcing the release and setup a mailing list for those interested. I created a teaser video and made a post about it on Ludum Dare website. People seemed intrigued…
The game was submitted for review and got available on the BlackBerry World on October 30th, where it sold about 700 copies at $1.99 that single day. Users really loved it, and 5 star reviews were hitting the store constantly. The game being a BlackBerry exclusive also got the attention of BlackBerry oriented press that covered the event as something extraordinary, bringing in more traffic and sales. It even managed to be voted “Best new game” in Crackberry’s Readers Choice Awards for 2012. The October Challenge 2012 was a success for FlyCraft! But things didn’t stop there, as fate had more for Herbie. FlyCraft was mentioned in BlackBerry’s Developer Conference in Amsterdam during the keynote. I think that this was the biggest highlight of FlyCraft’s path. Alec Saunders in the keynote stood up in front of a huge video wall with FlyCraft on it and he talked about the game and the story behind it. I honestly don’t know how I am going to top that in the future!
Looking back at the challenge and the events that followed, I often try to fully grasp the benefits of this competition. I now believe that learning to self constrain yourself is one of the major powers you can harness for getting better and achieving your goals. Ludum Dare teaches you exactly that. I really believe that without the mental goal of the challenge FlyCraft would have taken longer to complete (if ever) and it would be a lesser game. Big part of FlyCraft’s excellence comes from its simplicity and focused execution. That would surely be missing without the challenge.
[This post was also posted on my blog here]
But, it’s February…I think I’m the last one across the finish line here, but the development journey was much more entertaining whilst taking the scenic route
So, yes Super Grid Run is the game and It officially got released on January the 31st, as the first entry to the onegameamonth.com challenge. It’s a fast paced avoider with fun retro graphics and I think I’ve reached the 1 dollar goal now, which is a great thing to achieve. It’s a very simple one-touch game and there is lots more details about it over at http://www.supergridrun.com/
The Ludum Dare Game Jams have been a great experience for me so far and I’m looking forward to the next one whenever it may be!
Best of luck to everyone who enters and has allready entered the one game a month challenge and I’ll be back next Ludum Dare.
Sneaky Promo Video and Google Play Links below:
Promo Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7rvnwjvjbo
Yes…I know it’s January…But I finally finished getting all the web and payment processing stuff done for releasing my first commercial game, Bit Tanks. It’s released through my website with a “Pay What You Want” structure. It’s a pretty short game, but I really enjoy playing it and believe it is well worth a buck.
Anyway, just wanted to say thanks to Ludum Dare for helping me set the goal to do this. I learned a ton about how post-release stuff works (not nearly as fun or easy as I expected), as well developed a polished (albeit, small) game.
Mine too. It really takes a lot of hats to make and sell a game, and sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know until you’ve tried. Know what I mean?
Does that mean I’m giving up? HELL NO! Read on:
During September’s Mini-LD for “no-games”, I started working on The Call. I didn’t finish it in time. Then came the October Challenge.
A brief side story – around the time I started making games in 2011, I had picked up a copy of the HD re-release of Ico & Shadows of the Colossus. I was eager to play (I have never owned a PS2, and thus missed these games when they first came out). However, I decided to keep the game sealed as a form of personal motivation: I would only be allowed to open this game once I made my first dollar from a game. It was my own personal October Challenge, made well before I discovered the Ludum Dare. I failed 2011′s October Challenge – and unfortunately I failed 2012′s as well.
Well, let me amend that. I think I’ve won the 2012 October Challenge. I just won it two months after the fact. That still counts, right?
“The Call” eventually grew into I Get This Call Every Day. Writing the script became a very personal endeavour, and what I thought was going to be a simple comedy game became a very sick representation of one of the little ways my day job was grinding the humanity out of me. I determined to sell it not just for the October Challenge, but in the hope that sharing this experience could also afford me a way out.
I Get This Call Every Day went up for sale on Friday, December 21st, 2012 (or late night on the 20th, depending on your timezone). It’s available for as little as $2, though the option is available to pay more than that. One person paid $100. He later emailed me to tell me his story of two years being stuck in a call centre job like my own. He’ll soon be opening a game store in Columbus, Ohio, and I wish I could meet him so I could hug him in person.
I expected to make a few dollars from friends and family. Instead I have made over $800, and the game has only been on sale for about six days. This isn’t a hefty sum compared to other success stories, but for me it represents so much more. It’s a brand new fucking world for me, now. And I can finally play Shadows of the Colossus.
I wouldn’t be here without the Ludum Dare community. Thank you, each and every one of you.
Hi Everyone! This will be my second Ludum Dare, over my first (24) I created Panspermia, which I just submitted to both the Android and iOS app stores as part of an extremely tardy effort to do the october challenge.
Last time I decided to do LD as a last minute thing and already had several things planned for the weekend (karaoke and a baseball game among other things), so I didn’t get as much time to polish as I would have liked and didn’t get to sounds (the final version now has really awesome sounds).
This time I will use:
Art: GIMP, Blender, Inkscape
Sound: Audacity, Sunvox, and a headset mic
I’ve spent the morning fixing the last few bugs and making a few slight gameplay adjustments to my October Challenge game: “Bit Tanks”. I switched from XNA to Unity, so making a game from scratch took a little longer than I expected, but I’m glad to finally be able expiriment with some other ideas I’ve been having.
For now, the game is submitted to FGL for bidding, but once Bit Tanks is available to play publicly (It’ll be free), I’ll be sure to post a link here. Thanks for the kick in the pants, LD!
Another short update.
Finaly i’ve finished logo design (hate working on logos). I’m not fully happy with result but it will do for now. Comments appreciated!
Along side logo I’ve created microsite at anitower.eu with subscribe form (more will come).
In addition I’ve started working on main game menus (very minimalistic/lazy style):
What’s planned for upcoming week of work ?
I need to “code up” those screens. I’ve already finished writting simple UI page management. Nothing fancy but will make my life a little easier.
Also if time allows I would like to design simple tutorial page and inbetween map screen, showing score and gained skills/experience.
That’s all, see ya next week!
Hello fellow awesome game developers!
After 3 attempts, I completed a game for the October challenge. Ironically, it is not the one that I set out to make when the month started. It’s also late, but I digress. I’m sharing it now because I got to work with a bunch of awesome dudes at the begging of October. We met and finished this game in one weekend in Chicago.
This is how it feels to RELEASE a game to the public:
Presenting ‘Bells of Steel’ a Christmas Tower Defense Game. In the game, elfs must sacrafice themselves to save the north pole from an alien invasion. Not fast enough? Santa will handle the job himself. The game is now live IN THE APP STORE! The gameplay is sort of tower defense meets action. It’s ad based, so would love some taps of the banner, but it is free otherwise. Enjoy, share with friends. Team Krampus FTW!
Thanks so much to this community! It shows that making games(and completing them) is possible. Thanks for lighting the fire under my butt daily.
App Store Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bells-of-steel/id570914908?ls=1&mt=8
Two of my teammates from this project have other game projects going on. They both look cool. Give them a look if you’re interested in Bells of Steel.
Moby Dick Revenge: https://www.facebook.com/MobyDickRevenge
Hidden Treasure Games: Old School Adventure game; https://www.facebook.com/HiddenTreasureGames
Short update. I’ve finished camp fire with procedural animation. Below you can check out gif preview.
There is also available perfectly looped swf version.
Well.. I did not quit finish the October challenge But now 20 days due I’ve finally come up with an idea, created it and published it to the market.
Let my present to you my first complete game “Colours“. A game app for android. It’s a game about colours (duh!) and the objective is to match a randomly generated colour with the help of three sliders that represent the primary colours Red, Green and Blue.
The faster you do it the more points will you earn and you can submit your score to a high-score list. With every level completed the game also gets harder and harder.
I would be really glad if you would like to test it out and tell my what you think.
It comes in a “lite” version and a paid version. The paid version because of the goal of the October challenge to earn one dollar
Here is the links :
Feedback is greatly appreciated
I was working on this for the October Challenge, but decided to make the game completely free (no ads), so I won’t make 1$ from it.
Anyway, it’s on Google Play now, I’d be glad to hear what you think about it!
I’ve just published new version of my Ludum Dare October Challenge game on google play. Previous version required to print and assemble cuboid marker.
Now I’m using other library that can use anything as marker.
Here’s new gameplay video:
And link for LITE version:
I already have reports that it works slugish on some devices (Google Nexus and HTC Desire Z). Guys and gals – I’m waiting for your reports
Next – some obviously needed optimizations and iOS version.
I said I would post when my October challenge iOS game got accepted by Apple, so here’s the post! Play ma3e for free! Download some DLC and get me my buck!
Hi to everybody. Here is my post mortem for The Princess Digs Zombies, the game I made for the October Challenge 2012.
First, the result : I failed… I finished and submitted the game on Kongregate about 10 days before the end of the challenge but didn’t manage to make a dollar. On November 1, I was at $0.51 in revenue.
What went wrong :
- I completely underestimated ( again ) the time I needed to finish the game.
- I was so worried of not having enough time to make money on Kongregate that I published too early and didn’t play test the game enough. I missed a huge design flaw that was of course immediately spotted by players. From that moment the game never got better review than 2 stars ( and rightly so ) and could therefore never attract enough people.
- design flaw : I was so obsessed about how I wanted the game to be played that I could never imagine that their would be other ways to play it. There was : just push up and you can beat the game in no time, not even looking at the screen. So the problem was not only that I didn’t take enough time to play test the game, but I should also have had it tested by others
What went well :
- I had fun !
- I finished something in time and submitted it !
- I made not only 1 but 2 products ! There is the game of course but I am now also selling the ASCII console tool I developed for it on the Unity Asset Store. Look for TrueColor CP437 in the Asset Store if you are interested in it. Or checke the web page.
Well, if you went that far, thank you for reading. Congrats to everybody who participated. See you for the next miniLD !