Posts Tagged ‘postmortem’
My game is a minimalistic puzzle game where we tell a history of a little boy called Ted, trying to make a better world around him with the imagination.
We receive in our page great reviews, and the most good thing is the surprise of the game be so polished. It’s because we fix in the idea that the game have to be something minimalistic at all, not only in the graphics, but also in the gameplay, and even in the story.
This was my second participation in LD, and while I don’t consider it a great success, I’m happy I produced something. Here’s the link to the game: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-26/?action=preview&uid=18395. It is basically a minimal (non-digital) painting simulator. You use your brush to spread and mix colors given in the palette on the right side. The palette is part of the painting and shares the physics of the whole paper. You can paint over any image files and see how well you are matching the image guide.
The theme minimalism didn’t really get me excited, so I initially ignored it and thought about what would be interesting to code. I came up with the painting idea, thinking I could make it into some kind of game in which the painting lives and the player interacts with it. However, in the end, I never got a good idea for such a game, and ended up just improving the painting simulation.
I used the theme as a guiding principle and managed to reduce color painting into just mouse movement with left-clicking. So unlike in an image editing program, there’s no “toolbox” or any kind of abstract settings that let you insert into the paper arbitrary stuff brought from “outside”. In this game, you are confined to work inside the painting itself (excluding the water-button, which is actually optional).
In conclusion, I think I managed to use the theme okay, coding went smoothly, but I just had no idea what to actually code. I started programming before planning the game and that didn’t work out. On the other hand, if I had just kept on planning unsuccessfully, I might not have finished anything. I’m looking forward for next LD!
After almost a week after the competition, here’s the postmortem for “Particles”, my LD #26 entry…
What went right
- Again, my wife helped me with the brainstorming of a simple idea that was doable early on, which let me focus on developing soon, instead of just dicking around with some concepts
- Theme… Although I wasn’t a big fan of the theme this time, the fact remains that it restrained me a bit and I managed to pull a very complete game.
- Time for level design: this time, I budgeted and got to work about 3 hours or so in level design, which was great for the overall feel of the game, making for a more interesting and cohesive experience.
- Development plan: making a development plan early on really helped me keep the game on track… Although I could only “finalize” it later in the first day, it really gave me a good perspective on what I could achieve
- Focus on gameplay mechanics: I’m more of a story guy, but that usually lead to games that require a lot of content, which is kind of a no-no in 48-hour compos… This time, by focusing on the gameplay, I could fine tune the game and add the extras I wanted.
- Motivation: since I was seeing cool stuff happen on screen (and I did it fast), it started getting my creating juices going, which helped me keep me motivated for the 20+ hours it took me to actually develop this.
What went wrong
- Music: I usually use Wolfram Tones to build the music, but someone pointed out in a previous compo that their user agreement doesn’t allow to use it in this way, so I had to find another way to make music… But I don’t have any decent tools for it and I couldn’t find anything that really allowed me to create something fast that I could master easily… I tried out iNudge and some other stuff, but I ended up resorting to a friend of mine that’s a musician. He has all this gear so he was kind enough to teach me how to use it and leverage it to make at least one music for the game… although it took me 3 hours to get it right!
- Particle physics: It took me forever to fine-tune the particle behavior, since the standard “magnetic” equations weren’t making for a fun game, which is kind of more important than actual being physically correct… I ended up by having lots of small parameters to adjust and specialized code to handle some circumstances so that the game felt right without being right.
All in all, it was one of my best entries ever, and considering the feedback I’ve been having so far, it seems people are enjoying the game…
This is why I intend not only fixing some bugs reported, but also improve the graphics a bit (get rid of Comic Sans, for example!), besides adding levels and new mechanics to the game in the near future…
If you’re too lazy to download and play stuff, you can always check the video below:
(would love to find out how the hell I embed videos on the posts)…
What’s the minimum time in which you can make a game that looks reasonably finished and attractive and is fun to play? In an attempt to answer this question, I decided to spend this LD48 creating as many games as I could. I wanted them to be classic arcade-style in a varied mix of genres, so that each game really provides a different experience. To shorten time, I decided each game would have only one (hard) level, one enemy type, and one goal criterion, based on which you get a bronze, silver, or gold rating. Art is always a problem. However, with my new sprite generator I can create lots of sprites, and combined with Evolvotron, I have a “psychedelic shoestring” art style of my own I managed to churn out 8 games, taking a little over 2,5 hours for each game in total.
I consider the project altogether succesful, and I am quite happy with some of the games, which I think could be made into stand-alone games with only a little extra work. However, I did get carried away with the technical achievement of creating games with very different mechanics. Next time I should maximise even more on fun, even if the games would be more similar to each other.
I also made a timelapse, which I will post later along with a graphical analysis of time taken, hopefully shedding more light on the biggest time wasters this time round. I tried to create all graphics and sound in a single batch to save time. However, my impression was that I’ve been fiddling with the backdrops a little too long for comfort, in order to get reasonable colour schemes. Also, just typing in the code seemed to take a lot of time. I produced on average about one line of code every 40 seconds. What was definitely better than last time is that I didn’t need to playtest and tweak the game and controls for ages.
NOTE: there is a postcompo version with a restart game option.
PLAY :: RATE :: TIMELAPSE :: WALKTHROUGH
Minimalism exposes the essence of a subject, through eliminating all non-essential forms…
Essense is an atmospheric serene first person “puzzle”. Really cool for a relaxing moment before going to bed.
In this post-mortem, I’ll try to explain what things of the development process made me mad, what made me sad, and what made me glad.
I Suck At Making Levels
Yeah, now I know. Usually I don’t play puzzles, so it was a real challenge making one. I was trying to figure out good puzzles to include in the game, levels that would be fun to play. I guess I didn’t chose well, because…
Levels Are Really Hard
I think it’s a problem of communication. I wasn’t able to find an effective way to communicate what the puzzle was about. Sure, you have to grab the red cube, but what’s the mechanic of the level? That and some difficult controls (which I modified now), has led my game to be almost unbeatable.
Power Outages And Plain Bad Luck
I guess the world didn’t want me to participate in Ludum Dare. I have gathered a list of things that happened to me this weekend:
- 3 power outages of about 2/3 hours each.
- Computer broke the first 3 hours. I had to waste 2 hours fixing it.
- Laptop has temperature issues and I couldn’t use it to develop at all.
- Internet went down for about 3 hours.
- One of the outages corrupted my Unity project so I had to start again.
Lot Of Time Testing
If you watch my timelapse, you will find that I was spending lot of time testing my game. That surely was one of the reasons why my game is difficult: the more I tested my game, the easier it was for me, so the more I increased the difficulty.
But why I tested it so much? Well because the atmosphere was really cool so I played lot of time to hear the music, read the messages, etc. That’s because I was…
Not Organized At All
So I had to make lots of things, but I couldn’t make a list like my previous Ludum Dare. I don’t know why, I just didn’t think it was necessary. So I wasted a lot of time working on the atmosphere first (I had the music very early on), and not much time in the mechanics.
So one of the wonderful things about Unity3D is that you can extend your editor to make custom tools. I created tools for the logic puzzle and the jumping puzzle, which allowed me to modify them quickly.
For creating the blocks in the dodge level, I made a parser that reads a simple script, describing how the level should be created. Then Generate creates all the blocks in the corresponding positions.
The first letter correspond of where the block will be coming from, North, East or West. The second letter correspond of what position the block will have, Left, Center or Right. If there’s an X at the end, then a Checkpoint is created instead. The special letter S is speed, and O is offset, both followed by a number.
For the logic puzzle, I needed something to tell me how was the level being connected. I figured I could do it using the Handles class, using a white arrow indicating a floor that turns on another, and a black arrow indicating a floor that turns off another.
Unity3D Pro Effects
So with Unity Pro it is really simple to add fancy post-process effects. I added vignetting and reflection, which lot of people told me it was really cool looking. I was about to add more effects, but that wouldn’t be minimal.
Easy Way To Make Music
I used Paul Stretch along with Audacity to remix a version of Four Seasons of Vivaldi. It was an easy and hacky way to have a beautiful dreamy music. I also was worried that it would be against the rules to remix a song, but I asked in #ludumdare and it was ok.
It’s been almost a week after I’ve finished the game, so I’m posting on the things that I like and what I don’t like from making the game… Maybe out of boredom.
What went right:
1. Output of the audio
I really got surprised on the output of the audio, because while testing the game, I’m starting to like my own music made with FL Studio. Well, sounds made with SFXR are just easy but also awesome. To be honest, I really suck on composing music and this was the first (serious) music made by me to use in a game, and yeah… 4 short-loops that is. After years of using it and get frustrated on my past outputs, those music used for MinimalFive is a sign… And I’m seeing that a lot of people who played and heard the audio likes it too… I thank for those people who commented the game in terms of audio, because I never expect to have those kind of output even I’ve composed (and even modifying them) for just 2 days.
2. Effect of “Minimalism” theme
Before the theme was announced, this theme was one of my expectations… Because as I read the themes, I got a lot of ideas when I saw this theme… Not just because of simplicity, I also love trying different art movements for me to see my games in different looks… And it did worked out like how I expect at the execution of the game in terms of the graphics. The effect of the “Minimalism” theme also made me go random… It goes like some random gameplays and some random texts (Yes! This was out of boredom! xD), and I made them as simple as possible… And I was glad that some people get the game and also some even finished it until the end. Thanks to some simple instructions I’ve typed in the game.
What went wrong:
1. Laziness at the 1st day and summer class
I got some advantage when it comes to the time, since the theme announcement here in the Philippines is at 10am so I probably have a lot of time to think and sketch the ideas and somewhat far before I sleep so I stay awake for hours and hours until night. But unfortunately, laziness just hit me… I knew it when I keep on just looking around or just chilling for hours (well, I took breaks, including on eating, breakfast, lunch and dinner… for just an hour) which made me wasted a lot of time. And I also expect to finish the game before Monday because when it comes to my studies, I started to get even lazier on game development and instead doing my studies (as a Multimedia Arts Student at college)… All of this just caused me to cram and stay until somewhat 1am at the 2nd day… And yeah, I was sleepy when I was at class LOL…
2. Limitation of Construct 2 (Free Edition)
To be honest, I hate the 100 events limit on Construct 2 (I’ve used this to make the game)… And that’s the only con that I want to say on this game making software. Anyway, after finishing the 4th game, I only have a very few events (I think around 10) left before reaching the limit. And this made me think that I might not put that shooting part because of it but I don’t want that to happen because for me it will be a boring game all-in-all without it. So I’ve spent an hour to short some events so now I have around 15, and tried to do the shooting part. I wasn’t apart of my expectation of the output but I think I made it simpler than what I expect, but still… It’s wrong for me to change the idea because of the software’s limitation, even around the last hours before deadline…
I therefore conclude, that I’ve made a simple game even some things gone wrong, I still learned to be conservative. It was still fun making the game and not to forget mentioning this, on the first day, I’ve worked this game outside my home… At Starbucks and at School (thank God the guards allowed me to get in because I just left Starbucks to eat lunch but when I get back all the seats were occupied), and that gave me an experience of a Ludum Dare outside home haha. It was fun after all… And, I also conclude to myself that I’m getting a hang on composing music, for that I’ll learn and practice more and more on it
That’s all, oh and for those who want to try it… Here’s the link:
And I also uploaded the short-loops used in my game (I might make a longer version of those music, if I get more motivation) if you want to hear them:
This was my 5th Ludum Dare, I was well prepared with a beefed up Frank Engine, my open sourced game engine that I’ve used for previous Dares. During the warm-up weekend I added some nice tile sheet support so I was planning to make a pixel art game to test out that tech. I ended up throwing that idea out the window to go with a cleaner un-textured look. I was able to use a debug display for the lighting system to create the unique visual aesthetic. Looking back I would have done a few things differently but overall I’m satisfied with the final result. Here’s a link to my entry for anyone interested in checking it out.
Friday – Core game concept and visuals
After hearing the theme was “Minimalism” I sat down and brainstormed for about an hour, making a list of as many game ideas as possible. I decided that simplifying the controls was of key importance to capture the theme. I settled on a platforming game with a twist of physics. The complexity comes in with the spin and bounce mechanics which are more physical then normal platforming gameplay. A few years ago I made a rough prototype called Pill Bug and I thought this was a good chance to start fresh and revisit that concept in a new way.
I searched online for visual inspiration from minimalist artists and I saw that use of pure color values and geometric shapes were a common theme and I wanted to explore that style. I’ve always been a fan of Mondrian in particular. I got to thinking about his use of primary colors and how in computers the color space works a bit different from what painters work with in the way colors combine. For example in computer images red and green mixed together make yellow! Cyan and magenta are secondary colors instead of orange and purple. With a game concept and an idea for the graphics I scribbled this rough sketch down on paper before I set to work…
Typically I don’t do any programming on Friday night but this time I actually made a good portion of my game. I focused on the getting core gameplay controls and visual look right. By late Friday night I had a game that looked and felt kind of similar to the final version just with much less stuff, no level design, and rougher controls. Here’s a screenshot I took very late Friday night…
Saturday – Game objects and effects
On Saturday morning I came up with the idea to start the game by zooming out from a lcd display of RGB pixels. I have used zoom sequences before with my game engine and had an idea about how to quickly program the lcd effect. Basically I’m just rendering a quad in front of the camera with a lcd texture wrapped many times while zooming out from close up, then fading off that texture at a certain point.
During Saturday I focused on building up a pallet of objects and effects while continuing to polish the gameplay. I’ve always loved the magnetic tracks in Metroid games that you stick to as a ball but I’ve never implemented anything like that before so I thought that would be a fun gameplay element to play with. I wasted some time adding stuff that ended up being cut, like water that you could float in for example.
Midway through the day I began working on the level design and made about 25 percent of the level. By the evening I was confident enough on my progress to invest some time adding visual touches to really show off the lighting system. The way light passes through the semi-transparent doors was a cool effect that I tried to accentuate by making them physically open up rather then just fading off so you can see the shadow move. It was raining really hard here that evening which inspired me to code up a rain system. It simulates each rain particle by piggybacking on my weapons system, each rain droplet is a bullet fired from above the player. This is probably way overkill but it looks awesome and it was easy to do.
Sunday – Level design, sound and music
For the first time in a Dare I decided to music more of a priority. I have been playing around with some iPad apps recording into Audacity to make simple songs quickly. I ended up using Figure by Propellerhead which is kind of like a stripped down version of Reason. I set it to the longest possible loop and played around for half an hour until I had decent drums, bass and lead tracks going with a few different variations. After I was satisfied that I had the proper elements I recorded the song live by play around with levels and effects and changing up the beat. This seemed to work much faster for me then actually composing the whole song with an editor. I wish that I had better control afterwards for editing the song, I made a few cuts but there’s not much you can do to a live recording. In a way though it was good because it forced me to move on to other stuff rather then continue tweaking the music.
I used BXFR for sound effects. My strategy is to use the random sound for pretty much everything to get more unique effects. I just hit random about 100 times, pick out anything I can use and play around with the settings a bit. I already had the gameplay implemented so I knew what sounds were needed. For the rolling loop I generated a sine wave in Audacity and added vibrato at a resonant frequency. I tied the volume and frequency of the roll sound to the player’s angular speed. Some players complained that the sound was annoying so I have since re-tweaked the levels but it’s easy to miss that when rapid prototyping.
Most of Sunday was spent building a level using all the stuff I had made on Saturday. I found that I had a bit too much stuff and ended up not using or only barely using some of the features I implemented. The level design also went slower then I had expected and took most of the day even though I already had nearly all the design elements. Also I realized that for future projects I must add something to my engine that makes it easier to copy and paste large areas of the map. Without being able to move stuff around easily I get locked into my choices about how the level is laid out. My brother helped by play testing an early version of my game and I made a lot of changes based on his feedback.
I noticed that the rain felt somewhat fake without sound effects or clouds and lighting so I took about an hour to hook that up. There wasn’t time to add new sounds so I re-used explosion sound effects played at higher pitches for rain drops and lower pitches for thunder. Towards the end I ran into some repository issues that cost me some time, and I also got pulled into fixing some really annoying bugs that I couldn’t afford to ignore. Minutes before the deadline I throw in a really quick ending to give the player some sense of accomplishment.
What I learned
I think this was my most successful Ludum Dare and my process worked well. Based on the feedback I’m getting players seem to enjoy it. Here are some of the key things I took away from the experience.
- Don’t hold on to tightly to any ideas you had going in
- Keep it simple, you only need a few elements to make a game
- Get at least one other person to play test your game before you submit
- Core gameplay and controls are the most important thing
- Good level design always takes longer then you would expect
- Put save points before anywhere the player can die
- Recording a live set is a good way to make music quickly without it sounding repetitive, I recommend Figure for iPad
- It’s easy to miss annoying sounds in your game when you’ve used to hearing them
- It’s ok to put in hacks to fix engine bugs but keep notes so you remember to properly fix them later
WORDHUNTER is a twin stick shooter (like Geometry Wars) where you shoot at characters. If you get a word together your multiplier rises. Well, that’s it. Two sentences for two days work. I started late at about 12 PM (GMT+1) Saturday. I had the idea of shooting characters early, but three different concepts to make a game out of it. One being a space invaders clone. I choose the twin stick genre and got started. I worked with black squares and a triangle as temporary art. The explosion was done by hand in Gimp because I wasn’t happy with the results of explosion-generators. Spent some hours with my girlfriends Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Got at coding again at 12 pm. The stress was building up and my head started to tell me that I could just quit, but I wasn’t going to quit as I had a working prototype at that point and I NEEDED to finish. But no game over event, no high-scores, menus or music. I started with the menus, trying to get them right at the first time (which I did), then the game over event. After a (late) lunch I wanted to compile a demo for play testing That’s where the terror started. I used Slick2D before, in other prototypes, but I did never reach the state to actually export a game. In that moment, high-scores were cut and the music fell a bit short. I was aiming to enter the game at 12 pm (because I had to work on Monday) and entered it at 2 am I guess. Cooled down a bit after that. Viewed other submissions and finally got some sleep. I’m happy with the result, well, if you get over that fact that it get’s too hard too soon. And the hit boxes have a slight (8 px) offset to the right. And words are hard to get. But well, it was my first time and I loved it. I already fixed a lot of bugs for a release the next days on my website.
What went great:
- I had a Slick2D template ready
- Used OpenMPT, Gimp & sfxr before
- Some experience in game writing from a couple of prototypes/demos
- Went out with my dog a couple of times to get fresh air and free my mind – That helped a lot
- Setting myself a deadline was good
- Trying to export a play testing demo was a good idea
What went no so great:
- Exporting – You should figure out what you need and have to do BEFORE entering a contest
- If you need pixel explosions – do them by hand. Don’t try out 3 different generators for nothing
- I thought my idea was small enough to get everything done – it wasn’t. Next time: Start small – Use the time I have left to add stuff.
- I had to cut some stuff in the end: High score lists, better Music, more types of enemies and better balancing of waves.
For the next time:
- Take Monday off
- Get to bed early on Friday and start directly at 4am
Thank you for reading and enjoy the game. And if you liked it, rate & visit my website soon for a better version
This time, not only did I finish a game but I’ve also made a timelapse! I can finally try to understand why I usually waste so much time. xD
From the start of the compo, I wanted to use the theme within the gameplay. So, after some thinking (and one scrapped idea), I decided to make a game where you would use abilities (jump/run/shoot/etc) to solve puzzles, but you would only be able to use one of those at a time. I also wanted each stage to feature few different objects and require few abillities. A simple use and not that great, but the game was possible.
What went right:
- I quickly decided on a game idea that I knew I would be able to implement
- Most of the possible interactions were implemented without problems
- I used the tilemap editor I created after the previous compo; there’s nothing like using a program made to you (and by you xD)
- I noticed that I wouldn’t be able to come up with good stages and polish the game, so I made sure it was the most polished possible
- The graphics and the music came out pretty nice (imo).
What went wrong:
- Bugs! The pushable box took a long time to work (almost) as I intented
- I spent too much time drawing instead of doing the rest of the game
- The background looks really weird; it could use some better colors
- I decided to make a platformer-puzzle game, and I don’t play those games that much (so, I couldn’t come up with nice level design)
- Let alone nice levels, I just made tutorial levels
- I though the game’s name on the last minute (literally)
I’ll have to try and keep art to a minimum next time. Otherwise, I fear the same thing will happen again.
And here’s my timelapse. =D
If you still haven’t played it, why not play it now? It’s really short!
Phew, so after two and a half hellish days, here we are. The Call is actually finished (kind of).
Last Friday I never made a game in my whole life and never thought I would.
Now, just three days later, I completed my first game.
The feeling of accomplishment is overwhelming, even though the result is not spectacular. This, plus the fun I had making it, are worth the sleep deprivation and stress of this last week end!
Let’s look back in time and analize what made the development of The Call possible and what made it Hell on Earth, so that next times I’ll ake a game I won’t have to keep the phone near me to call 911 in case I have a heart attack.
What went unexpectedly smooth:
As I said in another post, this engine is pretty amazing once you get to know its possibilities. It’s so much more than a visual novel engine. This weekend helped me appreciate the qualities and fun of scripting for this engine. I have to say it was a neat choice for my first game since it allowed me to save a lot of time on many things that would have taken forever in another, lower level language (for example sound). I was really satisfied of its scripting language and its extensibility. I will use it again in another game, that’s for sure (even though I’m thinking about using Haxe for the next LD for making something more interesting gameplay wise).
- Deciding the engine/language I would use before the start of the competition.
I knew way before the theme came out on saturday that I would be making a game in Ren’Py. That saved me a lot of time on brainstorming ideas later on cause I already knew what the possibilities and limits of my engine were. I also had some time to become familiar with the engine itself, so that I would not start for absolute zero at the start of the compo, thus saving a little amount of time.
- Brainstorming ideas.
As soon as I knew the theme for the compo, I sit down on my desk with a piece of paper and a pen and nothing else and started writing. Writing, writing, writing. I wrote down ideas, comments on ideas, random thoughts, imprecations, everything that passed in my mind. Pure freeform mindflow. The result was that, after a few mediocre ideas or some amazing iddeas that I would have never had the time to do, I finally struck an idea that appealed me: making a game with minimalistic dialogue.
The original idea was completely different and probably more interesting as far as the competition goes: it was about a game where you have to save a princess and can only choose to save her. After that, the game would end. The only additional choices would change the context of the things happening, so you could save princess Diana with a motorbike on fire or save princess Peach killing all the Goombas with a machine gun. The idea was cool but way more ambitious, so I had to scale it down a lot. In the scaling down process, a lot of stuff changed, ending in what you have played (or will play, or won’t play, your choice) which in no way resembles the original idea. The original title was also different (The Mission). I still think it is a cool idea and may implement it in the near future.
Still, after less than three hours in the competition, I already had a rough idea of what my game would be. This gave me an immense motivation that I would have never had if I didn’t have a clue on what I would be doing. This played a huge part in me actually being able to finish my first game.
- Knowledge of the tools.
Most of the tools I’ve been using (Ren’Py in part, REAPER for sound, GIMP for drawing) I know very well, meaning I saved a shitload of time on a lot of stuff that I would have to learn, subtracting time from the already limited time pool of the competition. A little hooray for me!
What went horribly wrong:
This engine is a double edged sword. While it has great potential, actually being able to use it means having over the top google fu abilities. Its documentation is extensive, but lacks examples. This implies that implementing new stuff isn’t immediate and requires some attention.
Luckily PyTom (the head behind Ren’Py itself) is an exceptional dude and posted tons of helpful posts in his forum, and the whole community is very supportive; still, districating the gold out of the World Wide Web is not immediate and lead to a lot of time spent in the browser instead of in making the game. This to be honest is more of a nuisance and less of an issue if you do not have deadlines; doing it for a LD (especially my frist one) was instead particularly stressful.
Still, I have to say that the new stuff I learned over these three days made me want to explore the possibilities of Ren’Py even more. I already have an idea for a new game, and this time making it will be way smoother since I actually know how to do stuff.
- Failing to follow my own advice.
On Friday I posted a list of suggestions to actually make my first Ludum Dare go smoothly. I feel slightly guilty in saying that I completely ignored my own advice, and as a consequence nearly fell asleep on the keyboard trying to correct bugs at 4 AM after a 20 hours day. My biggest failure was not remembering that details are EVIL. As a perfectionist, details have a devilish charm and it never feels too soon to start working on them (whil eit actually is). What I did wrong was starting to work on art and music while not having any idea for a script. While at least it gave me something interesting to put into the game, it put me back more than 36 hours on the script, which I completed on the last few hours of the competition. I actually finished the script for the interactive novel less than one hour before the ending of the compo, meaning that it would have been impossible to finish all the debugging and proofreading in time for the LD48. I still made it for the jam, but it still disappoints me that I came so close to the deadline without actually making it.
(In my defense, I have to say the original script I though of was crap and putting it back on time allowed me to rethink a lot of stuff and refine it a lot, making a lot more interesting to read at least. Still, doesn’t hold up as an excuse to me.)
As they say, there are two ways to learn stuff: the hard and the easy way. This time I went for the hard one. Next time hopefully I won’t make the same mistake again.
- Time management.
This was the number one issue for me. While I actually scheduled the times for everything quite rigidly, I didn’t include any time for debugging. This was HUGE. As an excuse I can say this was my first project, so I had no idea debugging could take so much time; on the other hand, thinking it would take NO time was foolish from my side. I mean seriously! Thinking about it, how could I think the game would just fall in place by itself? Another big mistake that I won’t make again.
- Sleep deprivation.
I didn’t think this would be such a big issue. I’m probably getting too old for 4 hour sleep schedules. Or, more probably, thinking intensive activities like making a game actually reuire the brain to be well rested before going on a marathon. The fact is, the last few hours before the end of the 48 hours were an agony. I had an half finished script after 16 hours of work in that same day and 4 hours total of sleep and it was extremely hard to maintain focus. In the end I did it (sort of), but I would never repeat that again. You can make more in an hour with a well rested brain than in 5 hours with a sleep deprived one.
So, I’m guessing that’s it. Being my first attempt at this, I learned quite a lot, some in the hard way, some in a softer manner. This post was immensely useful for myself and I really hope this may help others startng out on what to expect. Good luck to everyone!
PS: I’ve played now over 140 games in this competition. I’m completely and honestly in awe for some of you guys out there. I’ve seen so much creativity and talent in those games that it actually warms my heart. I sincerely hope all the best for all you guys!
Welcome to my Ludum Dare Postmortem. After completing my second Ludum Dare, i try to reflect on what happened in those two amazing days. If you haven’t played my game yet, take 5 minutes, play and then please rate my Game, leave a Comment and give me some Feedback!
Day 1 started pretty late into the competition. Due to the Time difference i had already missed out 5 hours of the fun. Here in Berlin was a pretty awesome Indie Meetup, the Indie-Connect AMAZE. There i met some friends to join the Ludum Dare. I was pretty bummed about the theme in the first place, because i just recently finished a super minimalistic Puzzle Game DELETR for the iPhones. Therefore i was kind of exhausted on the minimalism theme. I had the wish to work on some fantasy/hack&slash theme like ancient or fortress. But its not always like you want to, i guess. I decided, instead of making an uber cool new idea, to mash two minimal Game concept together. I pretty quickly came up with the idea of pong combined with sword fighting. I started to work on something but after 5 hours i completely gave up on the idea. Pretty sad i left the AMAZE Location and headed home.
After some food i sat down and tryed to tackle the whole theme again. Maybe instead of mashing two minimalistc concepts why not minimizing one minimalistic concept? I sticked to Pong. What could i do? Make Pong single player, so you would play arcanoid style against a wall. What next? Reduce the control mechanism, which could mean that the paddle would only move into one direction and would have a screenwrap, but that would be pretty boring to play… At this point something pretty interesting happened. I have a notebook (actually a lot of them) in which i write down ideas pretty regularly.
Once i (round about 2009) had the idea of making a Game about a Character swimming around in an ocean eating other creatures and while consuming those creatures, the character would become the same specie. I magically remembered this concept and came up with the Rock Paper Scissor idea. You would need to destroy the weaker enemies, avoid the stronger ones and ignore the equal ones. But when you would destroy one of the weaker once you became this enemy and the whole enemy/pray relation changes.
Once i had the basic idea implemented it was clear to me that this was a pretty minimalistic and also fun concept to make. I decided to try to make the game feel like a Vlambeer Game and play as fast as a Terry Canavagh one. I spend only a short amount of time on the Graphics and blandly ripped of my own style for DELETR. It was 3pm already when i looked up.
Started pretty early. A lot of Gameplay polish and also Menu transitions were made on Day 2. A internal Highscore system was made which is based on three stats and should encourage the fast gameplay.
- 1. The Amount of Tokens you destroy
- 2. The Level you reach
- 3. The time it takes you to get there
So when you had a draw in level and amount of tokens destroyed, the player with the best/fastest time would get the better score. When i had the local Highscores implemented, i was in a rush and created a small php/mysql backend to provide Global Highscores (remember i’m no programmer). That worked pretty well and i still had some time left. Again i worked a little bit on the polish of the Game.
The last thing i created was the Music. Music is always a problem for me because i’m hilariously bad a making Music. In Garageband i slapped together some of the Techno loops and uploaded my final Build. With 8 hours left my second Ludum dare ended.
In the end i was super happy that i overcame the motivation hole at the end of Day 1 and without my notebooks that i can take and look through, scouting for ideas i think i wouldn’t have made it this time. I highly encourage you to get yourself a small notebook and write down ideas every day, those things can pay off years later.
What went well?
- Idea: Small idea plenty of time, constrain yourself, don’t make huge things
- Gamplay: Polish was pretty good this time, controls felt right and the flow of the Game is pretty good
- Graphics: Good artists copy, great artists steal, if you can steal you own stuff – even better
- Tool: Stencyl is one hell of a Gamemaking Tool, 3.0 gets better and better
- Learnings: Learned how to setup a Global Highscore and how to build customizable Facebook links
What could have been better?
- Theme: WHY U NO ANCIENT????
- Music: Need to improve my music skills big time.
- Motivation: Theme was unlucky for me personal, but i could have approached the whole thing a lot more positive. In the end you can build great games with every theme.
- Location: The first 6 hours i spend at the AMAZE Location where it was way to cold. My motivation was improving when i went home, which i should have done earlier.
- Risk: Next Ludum Dare i should try to get me out of the comfort Zone, it went a little bit to smooth this time.
- Documentation: I had set up a Screenshot Tool to take a Screenshot every 10 minutes. When i started to work on stuff i forgot to turn it on …
Ludum Dare is awesome, Gamemaking is awesome! If i can continue to make games in the future, this would be the best thing that could happen. Keep on making Games and don’t let a stupid theme stop you! I can’t wait for the next Ludum Dare!
See you next time!
Just wanted to take some time to think about how my second Ludum Dare game came out.
What went right
- Playable build very early: The game was playable with almost all features by about noon on Saturday. Some pesky things took until Sunday to add, but this gave me a lot of time to playtest the game and make little tweaks to the flow.
- Simple controls: I like mouse-only controls to begin with, but the theme of minimalism solidified my desire to keep the controls simple. This in turn kept the game’s focus in check and prevented it from expanding beyond the 48 hour scope.
- Preparation helps: I devoted Wednesday and Thursday of that week to making a small game with the tools I planned to use in the compo. Having confidence that everything was working and ready for use took some of the usual stress away.
What went wrong
- Getting sick: I woke up on Sunday with a bad cold. I stopped working because of it at about 1:30 in the afternoon and went back to bed. Thanks to some of the stuff that went right, this meant the game still turned out okay, since I was already on a good start. But it robbed me of a good amount of polish and playtesting time.
- Bugs: The game has several bugs with the drag and drop mechanics that I couldn’t iron out in time. They don’t render the game unplayable, but they can be really annoying when you are in the middle of a heated play session.
- No music: Music was one of those things I decided to leave until Sunday. Oh well. I was in no state to come up with anything that would have helped the game rather than hurt it.
- Color blindness unfriendly: I forgot to check if the game was color blindness friendly before submitting. It’s probably not. Can’t forget to do this when color is a mechanic!
- The name?: I have… ahem… “mixed” feelings about the name. It’s short. Minimal. It also does describe the mechanics. But I can’t shake this feeling that it’s not a good name, for whatever reason.
Overall, I think the weekend was a success, and I’m proud of the game I made. I’m disappointed that the amount of time I had was cut short, but this just gives me something to look forward to next time.
Play and rate Mix if you are so inclined
It took us a few hours to decide on a theme but it eventually blossomed into a game idea. We wanted to keep the gameplay as simple as possible to fit with the Minimalism theme so we decided that the mechanic would only be clicking on stars to connect them. We got some incredible feedback already on features people wanted to see included to keep the gameplay from getting repetitive and stale and hopefully we’ll invest some time into a post-LD version of the game to incorporate some new ideas and mechanics. For this LD though I think keeping it minimal was a necessity and it helped us really polish the game.
Once the idea had been decided upon I started prototyping the gameplay while Cake started work on the graphics. It didn’t take long at all before there were dots on a screen that could be clicked and linked up to each other, then a bit more and the level would “end” when you linked back up to the star you started with. That was all well and good but we needed a way to evaluate how well someone did. I ended up doing a bitmap comparison system that draws the “correct” constellation and compares it to the drawing of the constellation the player created. It’s not a perfect system but it worked well enough.
The most fun was probably working on the moon cycles. Looking up documentation for curveTo and tons of examples of people using it to draw circle segments so that I could accurately represent a shadow traveling around the moon, it was awesome. We originally had bigger plans for it, and you all might see the fruits of those ideas in our post-LD version of the game.
As always, LD was totally worth it. I would trade away restful weekends for LD anytime. I can’t wait to play all of your games! Now then, we’ve got games to play. Thank you all for being such an amazing community!
Also, something that Zeik didn’t mention is that this LD is marks the 1 year mark of when Zeik and I started making games!
Hey, I decided I’d write a short post-mortem for my first Ludum Dare entry – Terminally Ill. Quite fitting I thought…
Before I begin, let me introduce myself: my name’s Sebastian and I’m a sixteen year old aspiring game dev from South Africa. I think that covers everything important..
I stumbled (well actually crawled on all fours) out of bed at 4am on Saturday morning to read the theme announcement. I had spent a half hour the previous night sketching out some rough ideas for the themes I thought most likely, so the first thing I did upon hearing the theme was minimalism, was to just flip through my notebook to find the relevant page. This is what I found: http://bit.ly/theLDSketch
Not the most awe-inspiring of GDDs! But I decided to go with the idea anyway.
So the first hour or so I spent just getting a basic text system down where I could give the program a string array and it would type it out nicely and not go over the edges or anything silly. And of course I also had to get the player’s side to work with basic functionality like backspacing and detecting commands. Nothing too difficult, but it still took a while, groggy as I was.
Then I decided I should probably give the player some context, so I started working on a few basic story ideas. At first I wanted to have a kind of Portalesque story where computers have taken over the world and are performing tests on humans to determine whether or not humanity poses a threat to them. I had some vague ideas of making it so that you had to do very badly in the tests so that they wouldn’t wipe your entire race out, but I struggled to find a way to turn that into enticing gameplay. Unable to find a story I was satisfied with I decided to leave it until later, but I did make the decision that I would take a rather dark theme. In general I prefer more light-hearted games so I’m not sure what the logic behind that was, but anyway…
At this point I thought it was time to start working on some actual gameplay so I decided to create the first minigame – pong. Pong is pong, so it didn’t take much time to make (although I do think I could have implemented it a lot better than I did) and I started thinking about some other ideas. In retrospect I think I should have sat down and planned all the minigames out because as time went on I started running into problems with things like the multiple games requiring the same controls and I didn’t want to make the player use obscure controls like IJLK to move around, because thats just completely unintuitive. Another thing I feel I should have planned better is the layout of the game. I am quite happy with the end layout, but I must have changed it at least six times during the creation process which really slowed things down. One of the main problems there was that I couldn’t figure out how many games should be playing at once. I also wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep the players’ terminal open so they could type stuff in, for example I was going to have a minigame where the computer would ask you a random question and you’d have to input the answer before the time ran out.
By the end of the first day I had a fairly decent system where I could add games in and the terminal would output what game was being added and what controls were required to play it. I had only managed to complete two minigames however, pong and a falling block dodging one. At this point I was unhappy with my progress and contemplating spending Sunday just relaxing and not submitting my entry after all. When I woke up I decided I might as well just see where the game would go if I spent another day working on it.
I dawdled quite a bit, watching some tv series and the like and by midday I had only managed another three minigames. I decided I should at this point turn the game into something playable and from there I could refine it and add more minigames if I had the time. So I decided on a final layout with two games split horizontally and the computer terminal on a strip on the side. After some intense arguments with the framework I set up on day one I had everything working semi-smoothly.
Now it was time for the part I was most apprehensive about – the music. I play a bit of piano and I have a nice little midi keyboard that I’ve never learned to use properly, but I’ve never actually tried to compose anything. Well I did try once, but the results of that once was the main reason I was feeling so apprehensive :P
After listening to the Castlevania song Bloody Tears a bunch of times over I finally started bashing away at some keys and after a little over two hours I had something that could be considered more or less not completely unbearably awful.
I then put everything together, spent a frustrating hour chasing down elusive bugs, spent an even more frustrating two hours trying (and completely failing) to get my mac, pc and linux builds to not completely break when downloaded (not sure if there’s something wrong with dropbox at the moment or what) before finally admitting defeat and just uploading a web build.
So I think in the end I’m quite happy with my game. I’ve received a number of positive responses which is very gratifying. Despite some ups and downs my overall impression of the event is a very good one and I’ve found it extremely fun playing through everyone else’s games. I think the main thing I need to remember for next year is simply more planning!
Well that’s it for me, didn’t mean to write quite so much..
Cheers – Seb.
Saturday morning , around 6:00 CEST ( Paris), I woke up and immediately turned on my computer. After some everlasting minutes, I saw the theme : [Minimalism]…ok: Challenge accepted!
[Brain)]: “so Minimalism…minimalism….hum…[open google]…ahh!…That’s great…yep there is something there…[See Mondrian stuff]Uh?…wait a minute…oh yeah!….YEAH! This is THE THING I WANT to do!”
>>|Saturday|6:40 am | CEST|: CONCEPT DONE <<
[[ Code, code, code...]]
>>|Saturday|3:40 pm | CEST|: AVATAR CODE DONE <<
[[ Code, code, code...]]
>>|Sunday|00:20 am | CEST|: CORE GAMEPLAY DONE <<
[[ Code, draw, code...]]
>>|Sunday|02:30 am | CEST|: SLEEP TIME! <<
[[ Brain's dream : code, code ,code...]]
>>|Sunday|07:00 am | CEST|: What year it is?What is that place?….Aah right: Ludum dare! <<
[[ Code, code, code...]]
>>|Sunday|1:40 pm | CEST|: GAME NAVIGATION (menu&stuff) DONE <<
[[ Code, rage, code...]]
>>|Monday|2:50 am | CEST| H-1h: LEVEL IMPLANTED <<
[[ Think, write...]]
>>|Monday|3:10 am | CEST| H-30m: PROJECT NAMED <<
>>|Monday|3:30 am | CEST| H-30m: PROJECT PUBLISHED <<
A thousand lines of code and a blurry vision later, I had a little “game” (without real tweaking ) that I threw in the arena and went to bed.
Today, I wrote a post-mortem about it…
What went right ?
- Using the tech: at least enough to be comfortable for coding the whole core concept without researching and being stressed about how to do every little things.
- Having fun : what a relief it is to just enjoy the challenge, the community and all the little things that community produced. As a result, I just enjoyed the whole LD and even more, touched from the tip of my finger this “territory”: where you built your game without be harassed by technical pitfalls or unknowns life crisis and having fun by doing it! Well it’s the key…
- Loving and quick idea/concept : or how to have a core concept about forty minutes after waking up ! Well, as a “beginner programmer”, to have a concept that you love,that you are capable of doing it and this the earliest possible is a rare delicacy: that allows you to be focused on the damn coding thing!But it has its hidden traps…see below!
- Mondrian : I know…It wasn’t the theme…But I do think it help me designing the concept and that concept is well adapted to the theme as a minimalist dungeon explorer!
What went wrong ?
- Too focused on the production aspect: At the point that I didn’t pass much time on the conception: questioning the theme, thinking about different ideas, deepening the core gameplay. I did have others ideas but I quickly chose to go with that’s one. It’s not entirely a negative thing to quickly choose but it became a major weakness if you didn’t clearly identify the core features of your gameplay, the ones which are literally the border between an experimental “thing” and a game(with defined rules, a goal…) .To be too much focused on the tech part ended like: – My brain : “Is it a scoring game?But you have too much to do. So…here, write a score formula in 10 seconds, it will do! Trust me…” Ahem…So this time, I did have flaws in my game design and I didn’t said :” Stop! Stop producing like a mad man and take a moment to think about your gameplay!”. Next time, I will…
- No level Editor: Raaaaahh! I can’t use a tiled editor and I don’t have time to create my own level editor. ‘have to place every little things the old way! (by the way: thanks Mondrian for the basic Level Design.) – My brain(again): ” So we said about 4 or 5 levels? How about one fake-tuto level and one basic level? Yeah…That’s it! Oh! And you have to forget the polish&sound time because this task will take you every minutes left…Have a good night!”
What I failed to do :
As expected for a 48H project, There is many defaults but I only have one little thing about which I’m a bit mad:
Why I treat you so badly, so unfairly? Because you’re not important? because I don’t have any time left to make you? It’s a mistake… Sounds = Universal Feedback, Music = Mood levels up like hell! In my case, the solo use of the sound should have greatly enlightened what happen to the avatar entering my little white rooms. So I failed that part…(this time at least!)
- For the project itself – (link)
I want to take time to polish that one. That means:
- Add sounds,musics…anything even noise!
- Change Avatar’s controls
- Add dynamics feedback.
- Insert a real Scoring formula…
- Maybe, potentially… create a level editor.
-For the next Ludum dare-
Be even more comfortable with the tech…
…for really focusing on the concept and theme!
Make and use sound, music and noise !
Having fun again and again and forever…
All right. My entry, YAHG, was my 2nd LD entry. Last year, I worked on this, which was also my first game made alone, my first “Jam” game, the first time I made graphic & sound assets for a game… it was a lot !
But anyway, this time, I was up for something a bit different. It was mostly a technical Jam for me, not really a fun one. Let’s get into details !
What happened ?
I had two main objectives in mind for this LD : learning how to use Wwise and code something.
The Wwise part is obvious : I never used it, only watched some tutorial videos, and I really wanted to learn, as this engine totally blows my mind. Fortunately, an alumnus of my school, Cédric Liaudet, created a Game maker plug-in… which happens to be one of the only ways I know to efficiently create video games.
I could learn how to use something else (like… Unity), but leaning both how to use Wwise AND a new engine in 48h seemed too much of a task for me. Plus, I didn’t take the occasion to code something finished, even with Game maker, for almost one year, and I didn’t want to loose one of the few technical skills I have. So yeah, Game maker studio was a natural choice.
I worked 36h. I actually had some ideas about the concept before the LD, something in the lines of “let’s make a game with creepy robotic narration with very minimal graphics so I can pretend I’m a hipster” (whatever that means). So when I saw the themes, I was like “okey, let it NOT be minimalism, because I would be stuck with my idea”. Well, there was no way around it.
The successes !
* Wwise ! WWISE ! – Well… Yeah. My main goal is a success : I made a decent use of Wwise engine, with some RTPC’s on volume and pitch and a random container. I learned how the whole thing works : post events, soundbanks, all that stuff which were abstractions 4 days ago. As I put everywhere, I owe a lot to Florent Dumas for his help on how the thing works.
Here’s the best part : I heared my very first Wwise-generated sound RIGHT on the CLIMAX of the music of this scene, and my God was it epic. I’ll never forget it.
* I can actually code ! Somehow. – I don’t think there’s anything really complex about the game. Maybe the “line drawing” part was a bit tricky, but that’s it. Nevertheless, I was pleasently surprised that I was able to add more and more fonctionnalities with everything going on smoothly. I’m able to create as many levels as I want with minimum extra coding ! So even if I’m not an ace programmer, I feel like I may be able to use another technology next time.
* It’s sort of finished – It obviously lacks some polish (see : “The failures”) and is quite short, but the game is playable, has a beginning and an end, and I reached my objectives. This feels good. I even had the time to make some tests thanks to some friends of mine, which revealed several big weaknesses, part of which I could adjust (not everything unfortunately).
* Looking at it isn’t unbearable – I’m a terrible artist. My graphical choices are mostly bad ones, it takes me a lot of effort just to draw basic things, even making something sober yet not desperatly ugly is a miracle for me. I don’t say the game is beautiful, but I feel like it’s style doesn’t fuck up the global experience by its ugliness, and that’s a lot to say.
* Some people enjoyed it ! – This is my biggest success. I didn’t expect anyone to say they’d enjoy the experience, mostly because of the failures described afterwards. I don’t know if it’s because I was too much into it to be objective or if I took it too much as a technical exercice…
* No music – The other points are way, WAY more important, but the absence of music is my biggest disappointment. I’m quite sure it would have brought something, even if it was a simple 30s chiptune loop. But I simply didn’t find any place in my “pipeline” to create it, as I always either found something more important or wasn’t in the right condition. That’s even more ironic for a game using a sound engine !
* Barely understandable voice… and game – Yeah, well. I had several feedbacks of people not understanding either what’s the goal of the game, how the volume system works, or just what the goddamn voice is saying.
I couldn’t do anything for the latter as I only had very basic Text to speech softwares on which I had little control. Plus, the whole technology seems to be not so accurate, which is quite understandable. Having no decent microphone (this is bad), I couldn’t record & modify my own voice, so I had no alternatives but to take 2nd speech center.
The game understanding is much more concerning. I tried to put one extra indication on the title screen, but the voice control system is quite messy and confusing, and many people don’t understand it. I’m not sure what I should have done unfortunately. Any ideas would be appreciated.
* Weak use of my gameplay system – So, here was the idea : you have to use the voice volume to make good use of the voice.
Sometimes it gives advice while it’s too low so you have to up it. Sometimes it’s too high and threatens to kill you, so you have to lower it. In fact, I tried to add an extra “analysis & reflex” challenge component, hindering the player while working on the core gameplay experience (finding the exit), along with the moving spikes.
I really believe it’s a decent idea… Unfortunately weakly used, mostly because of my low level of control on the voice changes (I had to use Game maker timelines : it worked, but it’s quite annoying to do) and my lack of time. So the game may have this boring feeling due to the weak gameplay.
* I wanted to do 10 levels… – [SPOILER ALERT] – 7 is a dumb number. I like round numbers, like, 10. And I had extra ideas for 3 more levels, so I was a bit sad no to have the time to make them. Actually… I sort of “had” the time, as I had 2h remaining before the end when I submitted the game. But I was too afraid to fuck something up, even more with my high level of tiredness, so I didn’t even try.
* Minimalism ? Where ? – Yeah, well, I thought “Minimalism” could be a very weak theme for the LD, basically because I was afraid to see too many “whatever the game is, it has minimalist graphics with geometric forms so it’s OK” entries, even if there is a lot of great things to do, as some games I’ve already played so far showed me.
And guess what ? YAHG is exactly this kind of game. :p
* No HTML5 export !! – Little disappointment here. I have GM:S with HTML5 export so I was excited to be able to export it for web. But Wwise makes this impossible due to the DLLs. So… no HTML5.
Would you have any feedbacks, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment here or on YAHG’s voting page.
…and then I completely forgot about posting something about the finished game.
Well, I’ll do that now:
Here is Rocky Flight Balloon!
I ran short on time, so I had to scrap the not-so-perfectly working bramble code and replace it with some simple rocks, which is also the reason for the new name.
But overall, that’s not necessarily a bad thing: I really like the new direction which also offered me a rather simple Background Story.
From the first feedback I got here and off-site, I’m quite tempted to port the whole game to mobile platforms — namely Android — because I can imagine it working rather well to pass some time on a touch screen device.
I tried recording me solving the “Impossible” difficulty, yet I just couldn’t pull it off (one attempt I’ve been off the goal by about one screen…) and at once another hour had passed…
Feel free to try it, if you manage to solve “Impossible”, make sure to record it, I’d like to see. But don’t be disappointed if you can’t pull it off: the “level generation” is completely random, so this game requires perception, planning, reaction, and luck.
A short post-mortem
I had quite some fun participating this time, despite being rather short on time. Finding some idea to do has been rather hard for me (“Minimalism” is sooo minimalistic idea wise and so generic!).
At first I haven’t been 100% sure about the art style, which is completely different from my last entry, Black Knight Blockade. Especially with a white unicolored background the game looked just too simple.
Fortunately, adding the sunset as well as the mountain range solved this problem rather well.
The player character works rather nice, considering his simple design; someting that really got me by surprise. I might adapt that style for future games.
Not being able to create some mean looking collidable brambles has been a small bummer, but as mentioned above, the rocks work rather well, too.
I’ll most likely spend next weekend looking for opportunities to port the whole thing to Android (I’m not really a big fan of Java). If this is successfull, I’m definitely going to add more things to the game like different obstacles (birds? brambles?) and make the game more configurable, possibly even adding some way to speed up or slow down the game also providing some kind of highscore.
Some people suggested adding some kind of progress or score display, but I’m not really sold on this. I tried to keep the UI minimalistic (i.e. non-existant) to have a clean and clear look. I don’t think I’ll depart from that. Also, just to mention it, the mountain range works as some kind of hidden progress indicator. The smallest mountain disappears once you’ve reached the goal. Just have a look yourself using the easiest difficulty.
One more last thing…
I’m still looking for a cute name for this still nameless hero(ine):
So, if you want, get creative: I don’t want him/her to stay nameless I think.
So I made a whack-a-mole game this time around. Was it my original Idea? NOPE!.
You can try my game at http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-26/?action=preview&uid=16392
I can get to level 8 because I am a fan of Tontie. I don’t think anyone can survive level 9.
What went wrong?
- Minimalism didn’t suit my over the top tower defense game idea that I wanted to write. fooey.- I spent nearly 20 hours of the competition sleeping or doing other things because I was more anxious about a font system than I should have been. In the remaining time, I spent nearly 20 hours building my framework and only 8 hours on gameplay and media creation and testing the core components to be sure the game performed well.
- This was my first time using SDL and I got stuck in the mindset of using colorkeyed bitmaps to do transparency. In this age of anti-aliasing and alpha blending being prevalent in tools, this didn’t work out well as there were some artifacts left around the edges of my images. As I added all of them late in the last day, there was not much time left to fix them. I know SDL supports alpha channels in bitmaps but didn’t spend the time to simply convert the source gimp files into rgba bitmaps.
- Sound was a last minute endeavour as well, throwing in SDL_Mixer and some non-optimal BFXR sounds in over the last 20 minutes of the competition time.
- As it turns out, many people use laptops! What a bad combination with a game that requires a number pad for optimal play! ouch! Lesson learned!
What went right?
- the framework appears to run solid with rendering tied at 60 fps and the logic running at 30 fps.
-I have a framework to build on/improve that I may use for the next LD!
- I am a fan of games that push a player into overload with a simple mechanic, not many mechanics that overload from the get go. I am a fan of progressive difficulty and my game sits perfectly in this paradigm as it increments the level of difficulty every 30 seconds you survive. I am still quite pleased with it, even if some say it doesn’t have the depth of some of the other games. Who said games always have to have a story!?
What would I do differently?
- visuals and sound
- code wise: plan ahead more. never really built texture animation into a game, or had to write my own font loader/text to screen stuff.
- in future, consider having a framework ready or using potentially something like unity that can offer web play. Even as a windows game, the download and play bit is probably much more hassle than some want.
- google drive didn’t make the download button (bottom right) so readily apparent for people. maybe I’ll use drop box next time.
- plan implementational details for my game more than just “this should do that” design. knowing what lower level functions need to be added to the framework or 3rd party engine to support your game ahead of time can really shorten dev time in the compo.
TLDR: first completed LD48, graphics and sound suffered. core performance is high. DON’T agonize over things like “I have to build a font system?” just sit down and start designing/coding it, it will go easier and faster than you expect!
Again, please try my game! http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-26/?action=preview&uid=16392
So the code has settled and the sleep has been regained. I’ve thought a lot about how I did this time, especially compared to last time. I think compared to last time, I wasn’t able to spend as much time on it. Back in Dec. I was able to get about 20hrs of work in, but this time I only got around 16. It was also the 48 competition instead of the jam, but both times I was done on Sunday night.
What went well
- The idea went really well with the theme this year.
- I was able to make the game winnable
- I did a good job prioritizing
What didn’t go well
- I didn’t have as much time as I had hoped over the weekend
- I wasn’t able to add mouse input
- There’s no polish to the game
- I could have spent a little less time on the excel look
All in all, however, I’m pleased with the results. I think the game is fun and will probably take a couple nights and polish it off. It’s a good time to add mouse support to fission_engine. It’ll be interesting to see it as a complete product.
This was, as always, an absolute blast. I’ve had to miss the last two, due to commitments beyond my control, and last weekend I remembered just how much I’ve missed.
# is a game about shooting squares. That’s really all there is to it. Wait… and sometimes the squares grow back. And sometimes they shoot out at you. Oh… and there’s a piano.
We all know the theme. My take on it was more of an aesthetic than a game play one. Soft colors, simple objects, piano music playing simple chords. I think it worked.
# was a lot of fun to develop. I had the basic concept in my head prior to the theme being announced, but some of the big mechanics, basically the “layer” shifting and the audio component just sort of happened.
The layer thing was introduced as sort of a player control mechanic. It is really easy, as was pointed out, to beat the levels by holding the left arrow and space bar. The layers gave the lower squares a fighting chance to get established, as well as forced the player to do something than just “sit and spin”.
The balance however, was off a bit. I initially balanced the game, unaware of a bug that could would make the last square invincible to most, but not all bullets. This made the game considerably harder than it really was. When the bug was fixed… the game became super stupid easy.
I made corrections, but didn’t get a chance to get back in and really do the balance work the game deserved. You can eventually get yourself comfortable enough where it’s not frustrating, but probably not in the time the average person plays a LD entry. I tried to make the early levels as accessible as possible, then ramp up the difficulty rather quickly there toward the end for the more interested. Not as hard as pre-bug unfortunately… but a decent challenge if the dice don’t roll your way.
Like I mentioned before, I wanted to go clean and simple, and that’s what I did. Not really a lot to say about it, except I really like the green, and the purple. Red needs work.
I’ve never been an “audio” guy, and this game has a lot of sound happening really fast, bullets flying, blocks breaking… I knew sounds generated by sfxr would have a high potential for ear bleeding (at least the ones I generate). As I was shifting through layers, I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if the music chords changed when the layer did?
I jumped into the idea with absolutely no idea how I was going to accomplish it. I almost scrapped the whole thing entirely. I generated a lot of sound files, and tried to tweak them to work with the rapid pace, with ear splitting results. I did, somehow, manage found a bright piano sound that would pass, although not perfect.
What went right
- Fun and easy to develop
- I believe there’s a solid concept in there somewhere.
- Graphics / colors were nice and fitting
- The audio idea worked.
What went wrong
- That stupid invincible square bug wasted a lot of time.
- Balancing issues, especially consistency.
- The Red Layer
Thank you all for your kind feedback. I look forward to playing some more games!