Posts Tagged ‘LD #20 – It’s Dangerous to go Alone! Take This!’
Here’s the last push for a bit of attention to my LD submission, if you have a second and haven’t already done so, please check it out and toss me whatever rating you feel it’s worth.
This whole experience has been absolutely fantastic. Thanks and much love to the organizers and participants for making this such a great ride to be on!
Here I present the “edited and abridged for LD’ers” version of the post-mortem:
What Went Right
1. Leveraging the Power of Unity Prefabs
All of my past projects up to this one had been done almost exclusively in C#, with almost no special use of the Unity environment. They were done that way to help me come to grips with coding in C#.
For this LD, I threw that mentality out the window and crafted nearly everything in scene, using prefabs. What an amazing difference it makes! Defining game objects, exposing the variables on them, and using drag-and-drop to configure game play is really what Unity is all about, and I’m glad I had this LD to finally realize that.
2. Scripting Tight
Sort of a knock-on effect of switching over to prefabs, code bloat was immediately reduced to a negligible amount. With all the variables explicitly used and exposed on the game objects in scene, it was far easier to manage what was going on and limit the overall messiness of the scripting process. That’s not to say there’s no kludgy-hacky nonsense going on, but there’s far less than there was when I was in pure code mode.
3. Winning the Theme Roulette
This time I followed the theme selection very closely. I hadn’t before because I didn’t want to set my sights on any one theme before the final was announced, and avoid any kind of disappointment. This time I didn’t really fixate on a theme, but I had a very strong feeling that ‘It’s Dangerous…’ was going to be chosen. The night before the compo I dreamed a fully-formed concept for a game that used this theme, so you can imagine my relief when it turned out to be the one that made the cut. Lucky advantage.
What Went Wrong
1. Uneven Production Process
When tackling any long-term project, I tend to break things down into manageable chunks and then assign levels of ‘completeness required for play’ to them. This means there’s a round of building, and producing passable assets so that I can start to see if a game is going to be fun or not.
For Ludum Dare, though, it seems that one thing that makes games stand out and get recognized is the end quality levels of art. I’ve always envied these 2D wizards that can crank out beautiful pixels for their projects that really make them shine. So, I told myself I was going to push it to the limit with the 3D assets this time out. The problem was I focused so much on making the 3D nice that I had little time for audio and controls polish.
It’s always a trade off, a fine balance of managing just how much to produce in the time given.
2. Not Enough Kitties
Apparently this is also an important thing to producing a popular entry, and I’ll endeavor to add more cute meme-cats to my future entries.
3. Not Enough Zelda
Looking back at it now, I probably could have taken the time to insert at least a few nods to the venerable Nintendo classic, but I’m still happy with my interpretation of the theme and glad that it left enough leeway for all the other creative entries that weren’t strictly focused on emulating the Tri-force hunter in one way or another.
It’s really important to note that this LD sparked enough of a creative fire under my butt to finally abandon another project that I wasn’t really having much fun with and shift all of my production over to creating an improved version!
Thanks again and congrats to all that participated in this LD, I’m looking forward to seeing you all and more come the next one.
<click here for Dark Acre Jack’s entry>
Upon starting this Ludum Dare competition I was, like many others, surprised. But only for a short moment. The thing being, I believe you can pick really a lot of different “themes” or “words” or “sentences” – and distill something out of them. When I read the theme I wanted to try to make a mechanic that would “read“: “It’s dangerous to go alone. (Take this)”.I believe this is possible and that someday we will be able to pronounce it through games and play.
So this was my main goal for this Ludum Dare: Try to build a mechanic that feels like (or incorporates) an interpretation of the very theme-sentence.
And honestly: this took me a very very long time. It took me so much time that I was (often) at the point where I saw, that this would fail. Fortunately for me, Ludum Dare is a 48 hour competition and with a little bit of determination you will pull it off anyway, in a way where it doesn’t matter whether you can submit the game or not. Certainly that’s what we tell ourselves during development but in the end it makes all the difference. We can learn from both. But while one variant is hard and painful, the other one is rewarding and encouraging. I’m sorry for all who weren’t able to finish in time.
My Ludum Dare concept started out as a stealth game. The reason why it was dangerous to go alone in the first place, was that the player character was different – but not in the sense as it turned up in the final piece. At first, the avatar was something like a thief. But she should’ve looked like the rest. In one of my notes it says: ‘like blending in AssCreed‘. That was essentially what this game would’ve been. I wanted to design the rules in a way that you’d have to switch between moving crowds and you would only have a small time window to switch from one crowd to another. Then you’d have been spotted and – well [insert punishment here]. But after half a day I still wasn’t happy with that and in the end I was glad I changed everything (if only by little).
What went wrong:
1) I had no plan. I had tools but I hadn’t checked that everything would work fine. I.E. Since the last time that I had used flixel a lot of stuff had changed and I forogt how to do other stuff. Bottom Line: I wasn’t prepared – at least not coding-wise.
2) Ever-changing core concept: As I illustrated above, I tried to interpret the theme as a mechanic. But I never actually got around writing everything down. I knew roughly what it should play/feel like but never set clear directions for myself. This cost me a lot of time. Time that I should’ve invested into building everything in an according size.
3) Tilemaps: I said before, that I had not worked with flixel for quite some time and therefore wasn’t sure (I never really knew) how tilemaps in flx work. My bad. Again. Should’ve checked the engine out before. In the end i hardcoded the borders of the levels. But then again – I’m an artist not a coder (so I wouldn’t even call it a hack).
4) Visuals: Jumping into the production of graphics too early made me develop a character, and a style, that was too expensive resource-wise. I even had a walk animation for the character. So much wasted time. I never fell in love with the character and the visual style I was about to enforce on this project. This most likely had to do with the lack of fleshing-out the main concept of the game.
5) Audio-stereo: Upon waking on the 2nd day I had this great (at the time) idea of measuring the distance between player and a soundsource and then adjusting the amplitudes of left and right stereo channel. I never did that – but sure enough I wasted time on it.
Some things went right as well, and I’m glad they did:
1) Visuals: During the failing process of my first art-attempt I discovered a black-and-white character which was much smaller than the one I developed at the time. And it worked perfectly. This lead me to rethinking everything. I don’t know how and when I came up with the new concept. Looking at the character now, she looks like a negative of Chell’s jumpsuit (I didn’t play or possess Portal 2 but it was in the media lately) + I like to have other ethnicities in my characters + white for contrast + a hairstyle I personally find very interesting. The remaining visual style was really a lucky accident that came about after realizing that the dominant green of her jumpsuit didn’t fit the colors of the environment.
2) Music: I did all the “composing” in Logic Studio, which comes with a huge library of Software Instruments. Although the look proposes something 8bity I decided to go with some more-real-sounding instruments. Bass plays a very important part in my pieces (I used to play bass in the past) and it is my belief, that this instrument can support a lot of emotionality. Instrumentation is in fact a key aspect I try to think of. E-Pianos and Pianos have this deep melancholy to them. You can do so many amazing things with that. Basses can span from cool to confident-melancholic – which is it’s role in my ambient track. I think pad sounds provide sort of a transcendent quality. These are all things I didn’t learn but hear from other pieces of music. At the time I was listening to a lot of Tortoise and Mogwai – hence probably the focus on bass. The composition came out of a variation of bass patterns AND the . I really like how the track turned out.
3) Finishing: Although I found it hard to submit such a short game in the beginning – I realized that I had implemented the core gameplay I wanted to have in there. I think the mechanic has the potential to expand on it. The comments suggestet that the game
was too short and that the mechanics could’ve been conveyed better with a certain length and I absolutely agree.But finishing some game and achieving my main goal – if only in part – was quite something.
1) Never constrain yourself to do something other people can enjoy lightheartedly.I know I was never that kind of guy – and boy did I try. I obviously can’t make “fun” gameplay? My understanding of “fun” is broader than the term suggests. Deep down I probably am a mess. But resigation and melancholy have a unique aesthetic to them – and I think we should embrace that.
2) The lack of clarity in controls or mechanics can be backbreaking for a game.
I hope some of you could enjoy the game. If you haven’t played it yet I would appreciate if you’d take some time and play it once or twice HERE. I am very thankful for all the comments Entity has received and am glad for every single one of them. Thank you organizers and staff of Ludum Dare. It was a great experience for me. I hope I’ll be able to participate again. That’s it from me – take care everyone – LeafThief
My thoughts or rules behind the design of Entity (spoiler alert?):
1) You strive for independence – some may call it individuality as well.
2) You can not go alone for long. It is dangerous not to have social contacts.
3) A majority of people are not really interested in you. They wear a mask and won’t open up to you.
4) If you become independent from that social pressure people will take their masks off and open up to you ( this feature wasn’t implemented – you could’ve turned masks into people without masks who’d provide you ).
5) If you depend too much on a society that is not interested in you, you will become one of them, thus putting on a mask yourself.
6) Memories can content your social needs. They can help you build up your independence ( this feature wasn’t implemented).
Here’s my timelapse guys… Enjoy!
I made it in HD so if you want the best view stick it on 720p and hit full screen
Thanks again to everyone for making Ludum Dare a fantastic thing to be a part of!
Finished the Dare, just in time I’m really quite proud of myself for this one, not only did I really push my technical skillset (first time integrating a full-on level editor in a game!) but I also kinda pissed away the first 12~ hours Anyway, in the end it turned out pretty well, check it out if you want, hope you enjoy it!
I GOT MY GAME SUBMITTED! WOOHOO!! I think it was technically 1 or 2 minutes late, but that’s because I was having upload troubles. At any rate… I did it! It’s not complete! It’s not perfect! It IS playable though! I had to disable a couple half-finished things for the submission version, but there’s still enough there to see where I was going, I think.
Also, I’m entirely too exhausted. And I have work in about 9 hours. I’ve gotta go to bed, which sucks… I’d love to hang out with the festivities on IRC and here on the blagosphere. Tomorrow, though, I’ll start looking at everyone’s stuff! Good job, y’all! It was an amazing experience for sure!
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!! THREE AND A HALF HOURS LEFT AND I’M NOWHERE NEAR DONE! HEEEELLLPPPPP!!!!!
I’ve made a bit more progress: I can shoot now! And the shots will collide with things and react accordingly! Now to add some things for them to collide with, eh?
Sorry, I can’t capture audio with what I’ve got right now… but you’re not missing much:
As you can see, I’ve got movement, scrolling, and collision pretty well covered… still need enemies, combat, status screen, NPCs, bonus items… oh, and the in-between scenes need more coding (the hard-coded levels)
Well… I can’t fight it any longer. I’ve got to take a nap. Hopefully ~3 hours will be enough to let me get up and go for the 12 I’ll have left to finish? I’ve been continuing with the good progress though! I’ve got scrolling ground and rocks spawning now. Next step’ll be to add collisions with obstacles and the edges of the screen. Then it’ll be time for enemies and attacking! Hooray! (Oh, and the status bar thing) The end is getting towards being in sight! I’ll post a video as soon as I can A: figure out how to and B: have enemies + combat.
Maybe I’ve already fallen asleep in my chair, and the progress is just a dream…
I can display (The first layer) of my dynamically/procedurally-generated level maps! Still no collision detection going on… and I don’t have the art yet for the things to collide with anyway! And the screen isn’t scrolling… but all of that feels very close now! This was really the big step (I hope?)
I’m actually really impressed with how nice the terrain looks! I had no way of knowing how it would look ahead of time, but the results are much better than I ever expected! See for yourself!
It’s been many hours since my last update. I haven’t slept in that time, and I’m far from my peak programming performance right now… but I’m still making progress. I could actually show an underwhelming screen shot at this point, but I’d like to get just a little further before I do that, so that I’ve got a bit more substance. Basically this update is just to show that I’m still alive and chugging along! I promise my next post will have much more content, one way or another!
And all I could think about was my game…
RUNNIN CROSS DAT MEAT!
SO YEAH. Back to work! My plan is to get the core gameplay down TONIGHT and use tomorrow for SFX / MUSIC / POLISH.
17 hours down, 31 to go! How have things gone since my last update? Well… it’s really hard to say. I took about a 4 hour nap/sleep in the middle of the night, which was probably a good idea. I’ve written about an additional 300-400 lines of code. So far, though, I still have nothing to actually show beyond a (new, slightly improved) title screen.
I’ve set up the bulk of my procedural map generation system, which is probably the single largest piece of code for the game… so I’m probably actually quite far along… but so far I still have no art and have ability to actually put a dude on the screen and move him around. That’s what I’m working on now; a little bit of artwork, and then I’ll be trying to move around a simple test screen before jumping him into the game-proper.
Energy wise I’m doing okay… very drowsy, but a steady stream of caffeine, sugar, and music are keeping me focused and on task. I’ll probably end up having to take another nap this evening, though, especially if I plan on being up most/all the night.
Hopefully I’ll report back in another few hours with some screen shots, or possibly even gameplay video!
I dunno what to do, I have some ideas but none of them are convincing, and for now the project’s codename is Taken (no, I mean, that’s the codename)
Anyways, I am preparing my workspace and all necessary stuff for my project, here a photo of the first one:
Got up and read the theme, over breakfast this song popped up in my head originally it had more of a ballad character but for sake of simplicity it kind of went down the electronic vocoder synth road, enjoy!
Ah and usually I dont sing, so this kind of the first song I recorded, well it’ Ludumdare, anything is possible.
So we’re about, what? Six and a half hours into this thing… seems like about time for an update. Python is going quite well! I’m having no trouble picking up the syntax… and only a tiny bit of trouble remembering how to get my tabbing right. Pygame, too, has been generally very intuitive. I lost more than half an hour getting sound to work though… apparently Bxfr’s .wav exports cannot be directly pulled into pygame’s mixer, so I’ve got to run them through Audacity first. It’s not a big deal at all… I just had to figure it out!
So right now, I’ve got a title screen and a sound effect… and a game idea! Maybe that doesn’t seem like much, but I really feel like I’m moving along. Let me stick a screenshot up of my title screen… it’s not impressive in any way:
And how does this game work? What is my amazing idea? Well… I’ll keep the details secret until I can show them visually, let’s just start by saying it’s a horizontal shooter (think R-Type), with an… interesting power-up system? Yeah, that’ll have to do for now. If you’re interested, keep tuned to my later updates! HA!
Well, let me add myself to the giant list of new folks for the upcoming LD #20. I dropped by the IRC room last night and got some nice advice on useful tools and whatnot… thanks everyone. A snag though! I realized this morning that I’m actually moving that weekend! This might not be as big a deal as it initially seems, though, as I’m only moving to the other side of the same building I’m already in, and I’m already pretty well packed up; it just means some valuable time is going to be eaten up by lugging boxes. I still plan to compete!
I plan on using a SDL-based sprite framework that I’ve been working on lately… right now it’s in an unusable state though (being moved from using SDL blitting to sprites as textures in OpenGL). Assuming it’s fixed in time for the competition, I’ll post the code somewhere for y’all so that I’m within the rules and whatnot.
Uuuhh… yup! Nice to meet you all! Let’s have us some fun!
EDIT: Aaand… that SDL->OpenGL conversion I mentioned? I think I’ gonna abort it and instead move to SFML. I’ve been reading about it some today and it really seems like the way to go. There’re benefits to working with SDL and learning how things like blitting work, of course, but if the API for SFML is as much better than SDL as people are making it seem, it would really speed things up for me… in addition to saving me from having to link in extra libraries for some of the stuff I’m doing. I’m pretty sure this is one of the useful things someone told me about last night on IRC, but I never managed to get around to looking at it at the time because I was too busy playing with bfxr! I should have listened to y’all better! Belated thanks!