Posts Tagged ‘theme’
“You only get one” is not a bad theme at all.
I spent one hour thinking about the different ways that I could tackle this theme, and had quite a few ideas. One thing that came up almost immediately was a “shoot them up” where you only get one upgrade – every level you must choose which upgrade you are going to use for that level.
Now, that seems such an obvious Idea, that I tried to think a few others before setting.
Something that also came up was a “dating simulator” – You only get one also fits very well with that. The problem is that dating simulators depend too much on their art and content to be fun, and that is something that I know I can’t do well in just a weekend. After playing with the idea for a while, I soon tossed it out.
Another idea that came up was “EXTREME GEOCACHING” – basically a dungeon game where you have to find a hidden item, and you can get the help of one friend, who will give you some sort of power. Then I realized that this is just a more complicated version of the first idea (one power), and a variation of my first LD game to boot. To the trash!
Another idea is some variation of “You only get one (try)” – but that seems even more obvious than the first idea, and no good implementation comes to mind.
So I’m going to go with the Shoot Them Up thing. If the idea is not unique, how can I make it an awesome game?
One word: DINOSAURS!
Hey Guys, makehimanoffer here. This was my first actual Ludum Dare jam thing. I’ve done plenty more jams before though. But alas, this wasn’t my jam at all at all. I didn’t really like the theme at all. 10 Seconds was sort of annoying with whatever coming to your mind being: like X but in 10 seconds.
Like I had plenty of ideas, but with regards, implementing them.
You’re about to OD on acid in 10 seconds, so you have to take more acid to extend your perception of time. Platformer where more acid = more powers. But I quit it after I got platforming in because I was meh about the whole thing.
Like the first one but as a topdown roguelike similar to binding of isaac. But there’s already a binding of isaac so I didn’t bother continuing on past room generation.
This one I liked, but I really felt was missing something. And I will possibly expand upon it later. You’re present with a button and over the course of 10 seconds a bio of a person is give, you must decide whether to push the button and kill them or let them live. If the death is just you gain points based on when you pushed the button. if not you lose points.
It was cool concept. I could definitely expand upon it in an interesting way. But for the most part coming up with the bios was alot of effort. For something where I feel the emotional impact of what you were doing was lacking. More Design is needed.
This was basically a way of trying to have some fun. It was called Tense Conditions. And you basically would masturbate on a house by pressing space rapidly. Would have expanded. But got sick of the effort of this. In case I scrapped it tomorrow.
So that basically rounds up a fairly meh experience at Ludum Dare. Wasn’t a fan of the theme. Bit me in the ass this time round.
Oh well. I’ll be back for the next one. Cheers
Let me put my rant hat on:
Death is useful +426
“Death is useful” is a really cool idea. I’m pretty sure that a game made around this idea would be really unique and interesting.
But I don’t think it is a good theme for Ludum Dare. The reason is quite simple: It directs too much. It points very clearly to a direction, and removes a bit of surprise, a bit of creativity.
Ludum Dare nowadays has upwards of 1500 submissions. With this many games, I think a good theme has to be as open ended as possible. In short, not a “sentence” term (“death is useful”, “you are the companion”, “protect your enemy”), but rather a “noun” theme (“Glitch”, “Illusions”, “Colours”, “Castles”).
A noun theme allow first time LD’ers to make simple games with simple interpretations of the game (A 2D platformer in a castle), while veteran LD’ers can spend their creative juices trying to surprise us out of our socks (A dialogue-adventure game where the end goal is to convince feuding families to collaborate in the construction of a castle to defend against foreign invaders).
This LD, let’s try to choose an Open Ended theme, even if it doesn’t sound cool at a first glance (or because it doesn’t sound cool at a first glance!). You can always use the cool candidates that didn’t make it to further define the open-ended game (A castle-building game where progress must be paid for with the deaths of your workforce!)
Off with the rant hat
I have posted saying I will be in, which I fully want to live up to. But at the same time, some of these themes are just a bit too dark for me.
Just to name a few:
IF any of these are picked, I’m out. I can’t deal with any more dark shit in my life (let alone 1500 other people’s take on it) right now. Sorry.
The first thing I said to myself before the start of the Jam was this : “I will do my best to respect the theme in every aspect of interpretation or development.” Then the theme was announced : “Minimalism“. I was very frustrated because I knew that obeying THAT theme would kill almost every fragment of creativity I have could put into it my game. I wasn’t creating a personal game anymore, but a thing resulting of the maximum extrapolation of an invasive theme.
My thoughts are a battlefield with Conformism (C) against Anticonformism (A).
I do hate the C part, but it’s keeping me sane. This is how I proceed, talking to myself :
- A : What is the Minimal in a Game?
C : Interactivity. Without interactivity, it’s just a show.
A : But is a show a real game with unconscious inputs and inexplicit outputs?
C : Don’t mix show and game or people won’t understand.
- A : What is the Minimal in Interactivity?
C : An input, an output.
A : It seems to be true with 2 people (considering Player and Game).
- A : What is the Minimal Input or Output?
C : A click and displaying a pixel I think.
A : Where are your arguments?
C : In common games you just have to click and pixels are small and light.
C : Remember, people need to understand.
A : MAN, stop attacking your liberty of thinking by using understandability as a filter.
C : Do a game for your yourself if you want BUT UNDERSTAND that shareability is primordial in LD.
A : Go **** ******** C!
– Cerebral Meltdown –
I’m not going to show you everything, because it took hours.
And my head hurts.
- A : So… what’s the minimal game engine?
C : Notepad.
A : LOL, are you trying to mimic me? You’re bad at this, you know.C : It was a serious answer.
A : It was unoriginal originality, around 10 people will have the same idea.
C : So what’s your idea?
A : No game engine.
C : WHAT???!! We are NOT going to make a game??
C : GOOD JOB, YOU’RE RIGHT : 0 octets, that’s Minimal!
C : Who won? Everyone who did NOT submit a game.
C : You’re going to be hated for that.
– Conformism ragequit — Long wait — Conformism comeback –
- A : Bro, try to understand me,
A : I was saying : no “standard” game engine.
A : Let’s use Ludum Dare website as a game engine.
A : One possibility : Title = Question ; Download links = Answers.
A : Let’s minimize everything
C : Wow, you’re a genius, no kiddin, but can we?
A : It’s not forbidden, I think. Let’s submit in “Jam”. In case of.
- C : So, what’s the minimal question for you?A : “How are you?”
C : Answer links : “Fine, thank you” and “Not so well”?
A : I don’t like this, the question must be more challenging.
A : What about “X = 3 – 1“, btw : weird name, easy to see.
C : That’s not challenging at all.
A : Well, it looks challenging so people UNDERSTAND where the game is.
A : Remember, there’s no downloadable game, no Flash, no HTML5!
C : Why not “48÷2(9+3) = ?“, we will get more points in fun.
A : Too hard, and minimalism has a difficulty interpretation.
A : Note : We must do minimalism in the most diverse field of interpretations!
- C : Where the “download” links are going to redirect?
A : Maybe to wikipedia, to the true or false page.
C : I like the “true” or “false” idea, it’s very “game-like”.
C : However, some people will not understand that wikipedia is a part of the game.
C : They will say “the link is broken” or something else.
C : I will write “you need a web browser” so people don’t search a “physical” game.
C : And it’s funny at the same time.
- A : Good idea, hhmm, for the links I will write true or false in images.
A : I will then upload the images and use their direct links.
A : It’s important to lure people into thinking we spent minimal time and skill.
C : I think you’re right.
A : Haha.
C : Be careful, some people will look at the URL, so upload the false image several times.
And that’s roughly how I got this :
I’ve been going around trying to test and rate some of the games. One thing that I like is how this competition heavily encourages you to rate games, so your own game gains visibility. I feel this helps create the great community for this competition.
I’ve personally been checking my entry page every once in a while to reply to every comment and thank them for checking out my competition, and check out their game if they have a submission. I feel like I really want to give back to the community, and really like getting constructive criticism.
I remember there being a lot of complaints on the IRC chat after the theme was announced. I personally really liked the them, because it forces you to cut out unneeded elements from your game until you get straight to the core of the game. That, at least, is my interpretation of the theme. I feel like if you really embrace the theme, you can get a lot out of it, no matter the theme. It really gets you to think outside the box, and outside your comfort zone.
This theme had me thinking of something either way too complex or way too simple for this competition. I’m no novice to the tools, so doing the least bit of work would be a waste. Pushing myself beyond what I feel comfortable with is the key to the Ludum Dare for me.
The Theme Announcement: After the theme was announced last night, I took a while to think about permutations of the minimalism idea. Admittedly, it’s pretty abstract, not easy to visualize. So I thought of the zen/taoist view of minimalism, which is the emptying of ones self, the binding of mind and body, and the ability to calm distractions. This narrowed it down, and I had considered some sort of heroic Rampage-style game. Way too big and most likely not readable by you great Ludum Dare judges/developers. After another hour of plans in my head, I was exhausted so I went to sleep.
That Archimedes Moment: A great experience occurred while I was drifting into dreams. I had a major ‘eureka’ moment, as visions of a hero became clear, and of a platforming game, a fun mechanic, and a theme tie-in boiled to the surface of my sleepy-brain. I lept up and jotted down everything I could, messaged my best friend the great news, and smiled widely. This game development challenge now has a direction!
Morningtime: So, this morning has been piecing together a platforming engine. It will be very similar to platformers I’ve done before. Except for the gameplay twist. (No spoilers this time). I drew a placeholder hero character, and have enjoyed a nice breakfast and iced coffee. Momentum is high! No fear!
Plans for the Day: Actually, even with this momentum and good vibes for dreaming up a good idea, I’ve only got about 3 more hours before a long break in the middle of the day, to continue at about hour 19~20. Not letting it bust my groove for this moment. My plan! The plan is to have the level map system and moving the player around, jumping, attack hitboxes all before hour 14. The graphics are all placeholder until tomorrow. I do my best sprite work at 3am anyway!
That is a hard theme… but using the good, old “think of 5 ideas, throw them away, and pick the 6th”, I think I got something.
I have this notion that “theme” is something your game should move around, not just the window dressing. Using “minimalist art and sound” is something that went out of the window right away.
So what can we do? Minimalistic gameplay… another quick idea is a “1 button game”. That might be fun, but I decided to think about things a little bit more.
How about a game where “minimalism” is the goal? A game where “less is more”? (Strip poker? Lol, kidding) – Hmmm, I work a lot with “minimization functions”. Not the same thing as minimalism, but close.
Most “puzzle” games are about putting pieces together to form a system. How about the opposite? A puzzle game where you have a very complex system, and you need to take as many pieces from it as possible, while still allowing it to work.
Now we got something! Of course, creating rules for such a different puzzle game might be a bit complicated. I will give myself one hour to think about it, and if it doesn’t work, I might just go with a 1-button action game anyway.
… is terrible. Did people honestly find this more inspiring than Potato or ANYTHING else?
I got luck and had a nasty flu this week. This made me be stuck at home for a whole day – and this time was well put into rating games
When I first heard the theme, I thought about a few ways that the theme could be approached: simple villain dressing, reverse-games, or villainous game design. I should have kept my trap shut. In just playing a few dozen games, I saw some very interesting approaches to the theme.
Today I want to highlight some games with such interesting approaches. Go play them!
- Evil Wall, by Zaszx
- Meteors: Look at them go, by Fonserbc
- Cure 48 – By Sonnybone
- Ludum Dare Musical – By ILO
- The Villain Complex – Maxim Schoemaker
This was the first time Zaszx joined the LD. It shows – the graphics of his game are really simplistic, and the game is lacking a lot of polish. That said, he had a genial idea for the gameplay: You play as a ghost that can turn into walls. There are “good guys” in the game area, and a “bad guy” is trying to kill them. The bad guy is evil and slow, he cannot catch the good guys. There is where you come in – your character can materialize and become a wall, blocking the path of the good guys so that the bad guy can catch them.
What is so fantastic about this idea, is that this game makes you FEEL evil based on game mechanics alone. You could stay put. You could not interfere. But you do, you stand in front of the good guys who are trying to flee from the bloodthirsty evil guys. You FEEL evil while playing this game, in spite of the bad graphics and no sound.
This is another very different game. You observe the earth as it succumbs to a deadly asteroid shower. You can click on the asteroids and move them around a bit, to mess with the earth’s defense, but in the end your actions don’t affect the end result too much. This is one of the main faults of the game, which otherwise is quite fun and creative.
In this game you play as the hero… until you find out that you’re not. I won’t say much as to not spoil the game, but it is really worth your time. If nothing else because of the gorgeous musical score and the very polished feel given by Sonnybone.
another unique take on the theme. In this game you are literally the villain — of a musical! The game simulates a school play, where your character has the role of the villain. The partner, controlled by the CPU, will sing a verse, and you have to pick a matching verse, taking into account the rhyme and the contents of the verse, as to fit your villainous persona. Very original.
This game’s take on the theme is interesting, but it is not what hooked it to me. It was the very original idea of letting you design the weapons available in the game. This game is a shooting platformer, and between each level, you can change the weapon’s range, strength, fire rate and many other properties at will. The enemies will be equipped with a random selection of the weapons that you create, which makes an interesting dilemma: make strong weapons, and your enemies will eat you alive. Make weak weapons, and you can’t properly use them against your opponents.
Hope you enjoy these suggestions, and please play my game as well! Feel free to plug your game in the comments, I will give it a fair shake
I’m torn into two ideas at the moment:
1- QIX: you control the snake, the computer controls the ship.
2- Pacman: you control the ghosts, the computer controls pacman.
Both ideas are rather simple, and cool. Designing a good AI for both is the main challenge. I’ll think about them for a while, pick one and begin coding.
“You are the enemy” is an amazing theme, but not necessarily one that is easy to do.
The simple way to do it is to simply create a game where your character is the bad guy. This sort of “theme as dressing” can work if you are very good at designing a theme and a feel to go around it. But if you aren’t, it will just look boring: Packman with a goth, furious pacman? Karateca with an bloody evil karateka?
A second way is to design your game around the concept of evilness. “Infectionator” of ludum dare fame, or “dungeon keeper” are two such examples. Your game becomes a bit more complex this way though.
A third and harder way is to take a common game, and change it so that you control the enemies, instead of controlling the hero. Space invaders, where you actually control the invaders, or pacman where you actually control the ghosts. This can be very interesting, but like all interesting things, can be hard. The big problem is that most games are designed so that the player has many choices, and has to rely on his skill and decision making, while the enemies often rely on numbers, so making the player control the enemies in an interesting way, and making the computer controlled hero behave in a challenging way can be quite difficult.
With all this in mind, the first thing that I thought for the theme was to make a “reverse-QIX”. In this reverse QIX, you control the QIX, and the computer controls the spaceship trying to fence you in. Since QIX has one enemy and one player, it makes sense to switch them around. However, making a competent AI for a QIX ship seems like a hard programming challenge.
Since my initial idea for this LD was “a simple action game”, I have to think of a few more things. One thing that immediately springs to my head is a “You’re a shark and you have to eat people”. This is a great idea, but has already been done before.
Another idea would be a “reverse missile command”, where you can throw missiles at a city protected by turrets. This time, the challenge would be A) making the gameplay interesting to the player, and B) balancing the turret AI (it is very easy to make a super strong AI in this game).
I will go cut my hair, make a decision, and begin coding… so far I’m favoring the reverse QIX game.
I took the results of the four preliminary rounds of voting and graphed them to see how popular certain themes are compared to the others. I ranked them by the sum of the pluses and minuses. The top twelve are in the Final Round.
[click image to embiggen]
Looks like there are three themes that are obvious favorites over the others–End of the World, Construction and You are The Villain–with between 800 and 1000 plus votes (green) and around 500 minus votes (red). For the most part, pluses and minuses for themes stay between 500 and 800 of either kind of vote. The neutral votes (yellow) stay fairly flat, but you can see what appears to be climb on the left side of the neutral votes before it starts it’s up-and-down. I believe what sets those three highest themes apart from the others is that they managed to get more people than average to select plus instead of neutral, as well as have less people vote negative. In other words, they’re more polarizing. P.S. I don’t know what I’m talking about, look at the pretty colors.
My official prediction is that the top vote getter End of the World is going to be the final round winner. The timeliness is perfect and probably what drove it’s numbers in the first round. We won’t get this chance again, whether the Mayans were right or not.
UPDATE: I added another pretty graph. Since each round had a different open/close time there is obviously a flux in the number of votes cast in each one. Also, some people actually refrained from selecting an option, even neutral, for some themes. This graph shows the percentages of total votes plus or minus based on the number of votes cast for that theme.
I’ve seen a few posts from people talking about how they voted. Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about that. I like the voting to be an organic decision, not something engineered by campaigning.
That said, you can’t stop campaigning, so I guess it’s legit. So here’s my thoughts:
Overall, I liked all the choices in Round 1. All of them felt like viable themes. A few felt too close to previous themes, so we’re easy reject on that basis. Although, I’m not opposed to reusing avoid theme if it’s been a while – as the event grows there will be a lot of people should missed out on the theme the first time around. I had to adjust my thinking from “which of these *could* I build a game about to which do I *want to build a game about.”
On first pass I had 8 +, 1 0 and 1 – votes. Wanting to be more decisive, I took a second pass. Here’s what I thought.
Construction: previously used.
End of the world: I’m sick of zombie apocalypse and mayan calendar stuff.
Guardian: a game where you have to escort and protection could be fun.
Ghosts: I’ve had some ideas for a ghost game for a while, this could be a good time to do something experimental prototyping.
Inverse World: wouldn’t be a bad theme for a game, but I’m not sure how I would invert to make a unique game that was playable. There’s definitely potential, though.
Mirrors: I can imagine a few cool mechanics using mirrors, and some neat graphical tricks.
Outer Space: done to death. Admittedly, a great theme, but I feel like it’s tapped dry by now.
Quarantine: Just doesn’t grab me for some reason.
Salvage: I can imagine a fun game based on finding junk and trading it in for points, or building a New Thing with it.
Symbiosis: a player and a player-aiding AI team up. How would they synergize?
Trapped: Similar to Escape, true, but not necessarily. Maybe it could be a prequel for your Escape game
Unstoppable: all I can think of is the Halting Problem, and Blast Corps on N64.
Oh, so the voting has finished… Let’s look at my result ! With comments !
- Bronze Coolness 67% : Hey, so 1 rating!=1% Because I have rated about 45 games….
- #76 Overall 3.63 : Woooooooo … OMAGAD I’M 76th on 1406 GAMES I’M …
- #77 Fun 3.51 : Having 133 kittens trying to kill is fun.
- #86 Humor 3.16 : Oh yeah. Kittens . They do everything for you !
- #152 Mood 3.10 : Uh. I though It was impossible to make a moody game with humor, apparently I was wrong.
- #161 Audio 3.06 : Uh, again . Just using autotracker-bu and bfxr can give you a good rating . (But I wish I was better at SunVox) .
- #275 Graphics 3.17 : The graphics were simple pixel-art, and apparently, it worked .
- #364 Innovation 2.86 : Ok, it was just another rogue-like, after all .
- #647 Theme 2.09 : Oh. I think we have here my main failure , and here is why :
- Take your time to find the idea .
- Don’t make personal libs if you are fast, it’s too easy -> not fun.
- Try to be better each time at each points. If you are bad at graphics, try to be better at this .
Okay LD-ers, you’ve actually had quite a long time to think about the theme this time, not just the 48 hours. That said, I’ve categorized games into 7 categories based on how they examine the “evolution” theme. I’ll pick five good games from the fifty that I’ve played for examples. To clarify: I’m picking games based on whether they represent these categories.
- Munch and evolve (7/50): In quite a few games, you play a critter which has to eat things in order to evolve into better things. I’m choosing Nom’s Evolvathlon to represent this category. This is the “movie science” version of evolution — totally not how evolution works, but no matter. I like Nom’s Evolvathlon because you have to evolve the right set of abilities to eat everything on the board. This category also includes “Osmos” clones (3/50), and by extrapolation we can conclude that there are 84 Osmos clones in the contest.
- Evolution as cultural topic (3/50): You don’t have to incorporate the theory of evolution when you can work with evolution as a cultural phenomenon. Evidently chose this route and made me laugh harder than I’ve laughed all week. These games usually play Church versus Science, perhaps in an utterly ridiculous way.
- Upgrades (11/50): If you’re having trouble matching the theme, you can always think of upgrades as a kind of evolution. This gives you a lot of flexibility since just about anything can be an “upgrade”. I’ve chosen A Castle in the Desert for this category, which is a fun game but uses a broad interpretation of evolution. It has an impressive gameplay script.
- Simulation (4/50): Some people made a valiant effort to actually simulate some evolutionary process, and Galapagos is a great example. You’re influencing the evolution of birds, but I managed to make the simulation go horribly wrong — I gave the birds too much food at once, which lead to overpopulation. They wiped out the food supply and completely died off. That’s what I love about simulation games — they embrace emergent behavior.
- Evolution of the game (3/50): And some brave participants decided that it would be the game itself that evolves. Stevie Asteroid Rescues the Hovercredits is a great example in this category — at first it looks like the most horrible, primitive game. Then you get to the next level and suddenly the graphics and music are better — they keep getting better as you get farther in the game. Now you have to understand the reason I say brave here is because if you took this route, you basically committed to making multiple games during the contest. It’s hard enough to make one!
- And finally, I think the sprite from my game, Digital Generation looks like Freddy Mercury wearing a space suit. Or something. The walking animation is more like a pelvic-thrust dance animation than anything else. (Incidentally, my game is also in category #5… and stringing together multiple games drove me crazy!)
The sixth category is none/background (21/50): for some games, evolution only really appears in the background, and you’ll miss it if you don’t pay attention to the text that scrolls by. Or evolution isn’t relevant to the game at all. I’ve played a few platformers this time where you just jump to the level end… I think if you can string a few words together you can make a platformer about anything.
And the final category is unique (1/50): games that I feel just don’t belong in other categories. The example I have is Vesuvius, which takes a “what does not kill you makes you stronger” approach to the game.
Well, time for bed, then I can play another 50 games…