Posts Tagged ‘tips’
So, I’m done and dusted – first LD is completed, and I’ve built my first game in the process. I’m immensely proud, but also a little sad – I made some real rookie mistakes, and I think I could have produced a far, far more polished game with ten or so more hours and a little more motivation. So instead of the traditional post-mortem, here are what I’d tell my pre-LD me, if I had the good fortune to send him an inter-dimensional time-travelling message.
1. Learn your weak areas, and focus on them
I did this mostly right – prior to LD, I read a few tutorials on creating good programmer art, and those were invaluable. Sadly, I didn’t also realise that I didn’t know the first thing about making music, so had to figure it out as I went along. I lost a fair few hours figuring out whether I wanted to use SunVox or not.
2. Define your mood early, and stick to it
I knew pretty early on what I wanted from The Fix – the feel of 1940s New York underground boxing, with black and white pictures, quiet piano music, and a small crowd. What I hadn’t really figured is that I really don’t have the skill for that. I can’t draw boxers for crap, let alone make good piano music. Had I taken that into account, and gone for a more cutesy aesthetic, I would probably have ended up with a far more coherent game with fewer stick figures.
3. Think of which features you’re willing to lose
Early on, think about what’s core to your game, and what’s superfluous faffing around. Think about what you can lose, and what you need to implement – and get that done early. My game would have been massively improved with a rudimentary betting system, but I was just so out of motivation 2 days in that I didn’t get it done. That’s a huge shame, in hindsight.
4. 48 hours is actually damn long time
I assumed, like most people do, that I might fail LD because due to running out of time. I was nowhere near that happening – 48 hours is a huge amount of time for a basic game. What’s far more likely to kill you is burning out and running out of motivation. So take some time off: go outside and enjoy life. I spent all of Sunday morning outside with my girlfriend, and had a really, really productive afternoon.
I think that’s all for now. If you’re reading this and considering jumping into LD, then the most important tip of all is this – don’t worry too much. Enjoy yourself, build something that works, and finish it off. There are plenty more jams in the future. I’ll definitely be back for another
Don’t have a sensible workflow for creating movement paths? No problem! Just make a mesh in Blender that’s a long chain of vertices where you want something to move:
Export that chain as a .obj file. That format is an easy to read plaintext file, with each vertex’s position given by a line beginning with “v”.
Just grab the vertex positions from that and you have a path to walk along. You can even copy-paste the vertex positions into your raw code if you’re in full LD panic mode.
So, I’ve gone and produced my warm-up game. It’s called Driver Hunter, and it’s laughably abysmal, but I figured it’d be worth doing just to see if I could actually produce a working executable. Don’t trust that fancy tool you’ve been told does the trick, because it doesn’t. Distributing pygame is like fighting an angry dwarf. In my case, it turns out pygame doesn’t like my system font. Don’t ask why. So my game now uses Arial, because I’m hip like that. If Pygame2exe isn’t working, maybe it’s worth trying for you too.
So yes, lesson 1) check you can actually publish your damn game. Do you want to release to mac? To Linux? To Windows? Try it, and make sure it bloody works.
Lesson 2? Sound. I’ve never done any of my own sound before, but seeing I’m trying to enter the compo, looks like I’m going to have to! I discovered automata thanks to this post, and it worked flawlessly, producing something that was at least barely passable as game music.
Other than that? I’m good to go! Timetable is cleared, tools are ready, fridge is stocked with diet coke. I’ll be producing a timelapse if I can
Well, looks like we have a lot of newcomers again this time!
And as I appreciate all of the new guys, I’ll just welcome all of you! So have a warm welcome and a hug from me!
And now I’ll try my hand at a McFunkypants-style guide, which contains some teaching and hinting and also motivation!:
- To get the most out of the compo, join the #ludumdare IRC channel on the AfterNET IRC network. (You need a IRC client for that. Check here or here or here for these.) – There are tons of awesome, and really nice people there who are willing to help you. If you want to talk to me directly just poke Folis. I’m there very often.
- Generally get involved with the community as much as you can! People love to see photos of your desk, food, a timelapse (you can use ChronoLapse by Keeyai for this), or just a screenshot with some text every now and then. Also, don’t forget to write a post-mortem!
- Check out the LD survival guide by fellow LDer Sol_HSA – It’s a very nice guide that helped me a lot during my first compo! You don’t have to follow every rule, but there are a few I can recommend: Sleep, tool preparation (use the Warmup for that!), and taking breaks. Those helped me the most. You should probably avoid alcohol too.
- Check the tips section, it contains many useful posts written by other LD veterans! They know what they’re talking about!
- And some general tips for the game design:
KISS (Keep it simple & stupid)!Your game shouldn’t be a overly complex 3D turn-based online strategy sim! Try to get a small idea. Describe it briefly (about the size of a tweet. Thanks to Neonlare for that idea!)
Cut features when needed! Sometimes there’s this great mechanic you have, and it takes AGES to implement. This is where a mental battle begins. If a feature takes too long to implement, you should consider cutting it (except if it’s your core mechanic). Sometimes that’ll help with speeding up development!
Get something playable quickly! You shouldn’t waste any time getting some nice, solid engine going. You don’t need an all-rounder. Just get your core mechanic into the game as fast as you can. If all else fails, you can still submit something like that.
Avoid feature creep. Yes, there’s this great feature, and that great mechanic, but you have a very limited timeframe, so forget about all the unneeded mechanics. Focus on the main idea!
Playtest, playtest, playtest! Hop on IRC (see above) and let people play your game (there’s always someone who has time for this)! They will find bugs you might not see! And they can point out any balancing flaws, graphical hiccups and other problems (The experience of DLL hell isn’t exactly great.)
Polish! If you have time left, replace the placeholder art with some pretty pixels. Compose some music (check the tools section!), add some bleeps and blops! Give your game that “finished” feel.
- But there’s one rule above all others: Don’t forget to have fun! After all, Ludum Dare is a competition just for the fun of making games! You shouldn’t force yourself to apply all of these rules, if you don’t feel comfortable doing so.
And after you read through this wall of text, here are some final words of motivation: Even if the time is limited, I know that you CAN do it! We all can do it!
Perhaps you are like me and have never made a game before Ludum Dare? Don’t worry! My very first game ever was made during Ludum Dare #19!
And even if you don’t manage to finish: There is always a next time.
Alright, that’s all I have to say for today!
Maybe you’ll come to IRC for a chat?
(P.S: Is there like a position for welcoming and helping the first-timers with their questions? If there is, I’d love to do that! *looks at PoV*)
Hi, Gravity Games here, and I can’t wait until the next Ludum Dare! I do however have a few questions about the rules if you don’t mind.
1) I saw in the rules that we ARE allowed to use base code if its mentioned before the dare, but how far would be considered base? Like, a basic routine to open a window and draw graphics? A basic engine with a level editor (though I’m assuming that this would be a little bit too far to be considered a base).
2) Continuing the above question, I have a level format that I tend to use for every project I start. I was wondering if it would be okay to copy and paste the same code that reads these files, or would I have to recode the same format from scratch. Or would I have to make a completely new format entirely?
3) Continuing from the level format question, I already have a level editor for this format. Is it against the rules to use this level editor presuming I use the same level format? If so, would it be acceptable to program a new editor, or should I just type in the levels with a text editor?
4) Is it against the rules to submit a game to the dare, continue to work on it for the rest of the hours of the jam, and then resubmit it for the jam?
5) Finally, I’ve never completed a game before (not 100% anyway), much less in 48 hours. Quite obviously this is a big challenge for me, so how would I start practicing? Would you recommend going to past ludum dares and completing them, or is there an ongoing challenge I can use for practice?
Looking for established high-profile music? Don’t want to search websites for that one awesome track?
Then go check out Matthew’s Big List of Public Domain Songs!
Features several dozen folk-songs and classical pieces, used in such games as
- Vampire II: Bloodlines: The Masquerade (at one point in the background)
- Unstoppaball DX (shameless plug) (sorry)
Go check it out. Also features some pointers to locate more awesome usable tracks.
22 days into October challenge, and here is an update on the current version of Vox. Version v0.19 has just been released on Desura and IndieDB, so I thought I would share a post on here to list some of the new features and updates to Vox.
Here are the newest features:
- More Enemies in the world.
- Flying enemies.
- Skeleton archers shoot you from a distance.
- Skelebobs chase you and try to kill your with their deadly swords.
- King Slime boss spawns when you kill too many of his little slime buddies.
- Interactable NPCs.
- NPC movement behaviours – waypoints, world navigation and player follow.
- Questing system.
- Treasure chests.
- Particle editor in the game.
- Particle effects can be added to character parts. i.e head, body, feet, etc.
- particle effects can be added to created weapons and items.
- Undo feature added to creation mode.
- Much better character creation screen in front-end menu.
- Ore deposits that can be mined for ore.
- Collectable items (hearts, coins, ore).
- Damage text popups.
- Improved HUD graphics.
- Experience bar and leveling up.
- Gradient background and better sky rendering.
- Better intro animation.
- New custom frontend music and game music.
- Smoother mouse controls.
- X360 gamepad support.
Here are some recent videos demonstrating new gameplay:
There is a free version to download and test and I would really appreciate it if people would be willing to try this and maybe provide some feedback. As always I am really curious to hear peoples opinions and suggestions. I really like player feedback and love to hear what people’s opinions are (Unless of course they are just the 500th person to state that Vox looks similar to Minecraft or CW :P).
Okay, guys and gals – I’ll force myself to give you another little update about how my game for the OctoberChallenge is coming along.
Procrastination, Story & Concept
I have had some slow days in the last week, with some problems to motivate myself. As I’m a chronic procrastinater even for stuff which I really deeply care about (like games), I’ve developed few little tricks to overcome my anxious, lazy demons.
Most often – for me, atleast – the problem is, that I simply pick too broad goals for my to-do-list.
Something like „work on game“ will not work for me at all – something like „fix bug X and redo the art for enemy Y“, on the other hand, will work real wonders.
The former will enhance the feeling of „this-is-too-much-work“ as it doesn’t set boundaries. Also it doesn’t reward you for finishing todays to-do-list at all because it doesn’t emphasize any goal that has been reached. „work on game“ can mean a minute or 16 hours. It doesn’t break my vicious circle of procrastinating brain chemistry (I’m no doctor, but that’s how it seems to work for me ;)).
The latter – on the other hand – emphasizes exactly that. You can reward yourself extremely easy by checking easy and quick tasks. As you have clear goals for the next day it also happens really often that I come up with solutions while trying to fall asleep or being under the shower – because I know what’s coming next. That doesn’t happen with the more broad and general goals. To me, another really important aspect is that I have a clear end which I can work towards. If I have to do some things which I don’t find particularly fun, then I will work extra fast and efficient because when I’m done with them, I’m done for the day.
What I would generally suggest to those of you with the same bad habits as myself: try to find causes! When you procrastinate over and over again, even though you actually like what you do, it doesn’t mean you’re a lazy person (I doubt such a thing even exists) or it is somehow hardcoded into your genes, it just means that you formed bad behavioural patterns which form this sort of vicious circle.
I assume most of us are pretty good at analytical thinking (and creative at the same time, which seems to encourage procrastination ;)) – some self analysis can actually really help in these cases.
What are your experiences with procrastinating and overcoming it?
Enough of the rambling and on to my actual work!
As my daily goals got broader and broader over the last week, I realized that some concepts for my game really lacked definition. A few of these worked wonders for getting me on the right track again:
I had big holes in the story which I had planned as a major column of my games experience – so they had to be dealt with. After that sink was unclogged, creativity and motivation could flow again. Sometimes it’s the simple things!
Happy belated #ScreenshotSaturday
Some screenshots taken from a small testbed-level:
I would like to talk a little about my development process and pipeline. Maybe some of you find it interesting.
I develop my, yet to be properly named, game in Java with the aid of the Slick2D framework. Java was a no-brainer for me, as that is the only language in which I have some notable experience and it is also what we mostly use at university (and I actually LIKE it ;)). Slick2D – on the other hand – I will probably only use for really small quick prototypes after this one. At least until it gets some major updates (or I take the time to contribute some things myself). It caused me some very unnecessary bugs, also the TilEd implementation is not really sufficient and has a few weird bugs (including inexplicable, OS-specific ones).
That leads me right to my next tool:
It does everything I need for this project and quite a lot more, yet it also does have its quirks… Can somebody recommend another awesome Mapeditor with Java support? Don’t get me wrong – I would strongly suggest you try TilEd, it’s just that it’s not very stable for me and it could really have a more streamlined user experience.
Even though I work alone on this project, I actually don’t want to miss this anymore. Once it is set up, it is really comfortable for working on multiple computers and also for when you just quickly want to try some things in your code without the fear of breaking everything. Good integration in Eclipse via Egit!
Last but not least I’d like to bother you again with my twitter stream. I’m pretty new to twitter so I would love to have a chat (and maybe some mutual following? *the-rock-stare*) with more of you over there!
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 .
What is a timelapse?
A timelapse is a short video that shows your progress over several days, compressed into a 3-5 minute video. Here’s a good one of my last LD-game My Little Planetoid
How do you make one?
You need a timelapse-tool, which will automatically create screenshots, save them and compile then into a video. Chronolapse has proven excellent. If you have a webcam, you can also set it to capture pictures from it.
How do I make a good timelapse?
Edit your pictures!
There is no need to see you absent from the screen for 2+ hours. There is no shame cutting material or only selectively turning on the capture-program.
Put as much info in as possible
If you have 2 monitors, capture both. If you have a webcam, use it.
Keep it short + compressed
Long timelapses aren’t that interesting. Try to keep the total length under ~3 minutes. The capture-interval is vital for this too. An interval between 30 and 60 seconds works well, <30 seconds will probably result in too many pictures, and a too long video.
Preferably something that is either fun, entertaining, and/or cool.
- Everything looks super efficient!
- You can give people an idea what it’s like to create a game in 48 hours, especially non-designers.
- A timelapse makes it possible for fans (and you) to compare their workflows.
- You can see a game evolve from simple blocks to effect-laden masterpieces of joy.
- What cons?
Making notes on the screen
Some devs have a text/image-editor open, on which they write what they are doing. While it can be entertaining, I prefer to condense the material and let the pictures speak for themselves.
Streaming and timelapsing goes hand in hand. If you feel you can do a succesful stream, do it!
With this information in mind, let’s study my current timelapse of Boxy The Boxcat. What works, what doesn’t?
- Note how the video is tad too long. 2 minutes is good, 5 minutes borders on unwatchable. The song wasn’t even long enough, so I had to add a piece after 2/3 of the video.
- There is a bit at the end where the game is essentially done, but the recording keeps going, showing the submission-process. I should’ve cut it.
- Unlike my other timelapses, in this one I actually smile for a few frames. Yay positivity!
Now prepare your own for the next jam, and go play & rate Boxy the Boxcat while you’re at it
Just wanted to let you know that I have put Vox on the Steam Greenlight process.
What was originally started as an entry into the Ludum Dare competition a number of months ago, during the april competition, is now being made into a full ambitious game!
Would really appreciate it if you could visit the game page and hopefully show your support (favorite and rate up) and this would make me very very happy indeed, and I would be forever indebted to you!
As always if you want to follow my voxel engine tutorials or articles, they can still be found at the site:
I am happy to hear any feedback you guys have, or answer any questions you might want to ask.
Martin Jonasson (http://grapefrukt.com/) & Petri Purho (Crayon Physics) gave a wonderful 15 minute presentation called Juice It or Lose It, where they show how to make games “come alive” with simple techniques.
They start with a dull Breakout clone and a confused audience. When it’s over, that audience is applauding and cheering, loudly!
This is relevant to Ludum Dare participants because they:
- Take a simple game concept (like you’ll be creating)
- Make it rock (like you want to do)
- In a short amount of time (like you need to do)
It also has links to source code!
What are you waiting for? Juice It or Lose It! =)
A wise man learns by the mistakes of others, a fool by his own.
You’re all in for a treat, because I have been working on a HUGE post over the past few days just for you guys! It’s basically a postmortem of all my experiences in game jamming, as a relative amateur, and what I’ve learned from them. I wanted to make this post for two reasons: to focus on how to make my own jamming skills better (I’m the fool!), and, as a secondary goal, to help other people with their jamming (that makes you wise!).
Of course, I’ve done a lot of failing, so the post is a little long to put here! So, instead, I’ve put in on my blog to trick you into giving me more hits- I mean, keep my post from taking so much space. With my luck, this will be off the front page in a few days (CURSE YOU FOLIS), but oh well.
Here’s the link, and an excerpt from the summary near the end:
So, here’s a summary of all the lessons learned, or, as I like to call them, THE THIRTEEN COMMANDMENTS.
- Plan ahead.
- Do something you’re comfortable with.
- Let’s admit it, there are stupid questions, you just shouldn’t feel stupid about asking them.
- Make someone play through the game.
- Have all core features done by midnight on Saturday.
- Don’t use libraries if you find they need “minor modification” before doing what you want. Code it from scratch, or find a library that does exactly what you need.
- Don’t make a game without first knowing what you need to know to program it.
- If you’re sure you have absolutely no idea how to program it, don’t try.
- Don’t overestimate yourself. Make sure your design is small and well-polished and does what it can well.
- Have a very clear idea of how the game will turn out in the beginning. Especially when you’re working with a team.
- Know exactly what tools everyone is using. Seems obvious enough, but trust me, make sure you know them.
- Don’t immediately take someone else’s solution for your bugs. Try and solve it yourself until all else fails.
- Motivate yourself every second, before, during and long after the competition.