Help the character to find the level exit.
But be careful not to enter the darkness because of abstinence character by computers.
Well, it might be a bit late, but at least I’m prepared for next time
The quote is from Gabe Newell, creator of Valve
The background was created in Blender, using a plane and some lights.
If you were walking through a mall (like in the 80’s or 90’s when that sorta thing happened) and you spotted this big sexy… you wouldn’t stick some quarters in it???
This is the first game I made completely on my own and my first Ludum Dare!
Definitely learned a lot and can’t wait for the next one. (gonna work on my time management until then…)
Our LD31 entry is “BIRDS!”. You can play it here:
BIRDS! is a tranquil, light game where you can annoy or scare a gathering of birds. You can lightly disturb the birds, force them to move around, or if you’re not careful, scare them away entirely. The game starts in “Chill” mode, and is open-ended. You can switch on the power, and enter “Shock” mode where you must protect the birds from electrical surges before too many birds get fried.
Our team was made up of three active members of @GameDevLouKY (http://gamedevlou.org). Loi and myself have been working together since Ludum Dare 30 where we first collaborated on Sneaky Nessie. Rex joined our team for the Jam.
I’ve been working in Java with libGDX for game development for a little over a year, so we went with it as our framework. I felt I could get up and running most quickly with it, and Rex was comfortable picking it up along the way. We used IntelliJ for our IDE, Git (hosted on Bitbucket) for source control. Loi used the usual artist’s sorcery for visuals (Photoshop/Illustrator).
We worked the entire Jam at the Game Dev Lou “real-world gathering” working alongside at least 7 other teams. (See all of the GameDevLou games here: http://gamedevlou.org/?p=876)
When the theme was revealed we were pretty stunned that Unicode Snowman didn’t win, and it took us a little time to get out of the winter/snowman mindset. We did eventually break through that, and came up with several ideas. Without describing the concepts in detail, here is a quick list of some of the ideas we had, in no particular order, before settling on “Birds on a Line.” Imagine what you will:
Reverse Tower Defense
Screen is the Weapon
Click Escape from the Room
Build your Own Platformer
Longest Lasting Snowman
Direct a Play Perfectly
DJ Please the Crowd
Survive in a Bubble
Reverse Katamari Maze
Mind Controlled Goldfish
Birds on a Line
Of these, our top three were Reverse Tower Defense (RTD), Mind Controlled Goldfish (MCG), and Birds on a Line. (I really liked longest lasting snowman, and had some funny ideas for it, but as a team we decided it wasn’t likely to turn out fun). After some internal discussion, we actually discarded “Birds on a Line” and started a pros/cons list between RTD and MCG. Loi worked up a few sketches to get us visualizing the game, to see which we might LOOK more fun.
When we looked at this, we all agreed the Reverse Tower Defense (which had morphed into more of a overwhelm the giant boss) concept looked the most fun. Plus while we had some really funny ideas for MCG, we were afraid of some of the mechanics being annoying/frustrating rather than challenging. So we had decided on RTD.
We began clearing up all of the mechanics and effects we had individually been designing. The game sounded really fun: waves of upgraded minions that would get smashed, throwing cats to distract the boss, and simple controls. Then we realized how many different animations, sounds, and GUI elements we were going to need. To make the game we wanted, it was too much for the Jam time frame (We were limiting ourselves to the COMPO time frame so that groups could present their games Sunday night). We were pretty bummed, but that’s why we brainstormed right?
After giving MCG another round of redesign, we settled on switching to “Birds on a Line.” Our final reasoning, which I still stand 100% behind, came down to these factors:
- A simple mechanic is much easier to make FEEL good than complex interactions (Doing simple well > doing complex poorly)
- A simple environment gives us much more room to JUICE the game without being too busy (JUICE is NOT equal to “All the Features!”)
- Our concept felt like it gained more from the theme than it lost (the constraints work in its favor)
- We were all comfortable with how we might approach the unknown/difficult aspects of this game (this is super important for a Jam game)
- The game still contained challenges for all team members (Jams should teach you something)
Our process was simple:
1. Discuss the next feature(s) to build
2. Divide the programming tasks
3. Decide what art assets were needed next
4. Integrate current art iterations into working features
5. Discuss what is working, what isn’t
An unintentional part of our process (as was the case with Sneaky Nessie) is Loi not actually getting a chance to play the game until we stop Jamming. This occurs because of the development tools we use for programming offer no value to Loi so he never has a running copy of the game until we’re finished. We don’t do this on purpose, it just happens. It may help or it may hurt . We love the way things have turned out visually, so it didn’t hurt for this game. We plan to change this part of the process in the future.
What Went Well
The Art. Number one. Plain and simple. The Art makes this game. Loi nailed it. We are very proud of the way this game looks. The birds look awesome, the environment looks sleek, and the background transitions/movements add to the scene without too much distraction.
Keeping it simple. We were able to stick to our simple mechanics. We focused an entire day and a half on just making it feel good interacting with the birds. Rex and I caught ourselves just sitting there messing with the birds for long periods of time when we would be testing a new feature well after confirming it worked. Keeping the game simple also let us quickly add environment enhancements towards the end to make the game feel better.
Collaboration. Our team came together really well. Rex and I were able to easily split programming tasks and never really stepped over one another. Loi was able to produce more assets than we could actually add into the game. Not only was our team collaboration great, but having other teams working in the same open space was a great experience. It’s really nice to be able to take a break and see what others are doing, discuss a feature with someone who hasn’t been staring at the thing for hours, and just generally interact with other developers while building a game.
Mood. So far, it seems our main goal to make a chill, relaxing experience translates to other people. Those that have played it have all seemed to enjoy that aspect, and we were pretty worried we’d get a lot of “i don’t get it”, or “is this really a game?” kind of responses. We’re glad to see at least some people enjoy the experience.
What Didn’t Go Well
Ending the Game. We really didn’t have a good way to “end” the game. In fact, the Shock mode for the longest time was more of an annoyance (due to the sound) than a way to lose the game. Sunday night, we introduced the concept of only being able to lose X birds before all of the remaining birds fly away. In theory we thought this was a good end to the game. However, once we added this in, we found ourselves being more frustrated with the game rather than relaxed, and enjoying it. This is the version we demoed to the other groups, and we felt it didn’t really demo well this way either. So Monday we switched the game back to starting in Chill mode. We introduced the transformer box to turn on Shock mode for players that weren’t looking for a chill, goalless experience. While this seems to work a lot better, we ended up with some bugs in the Shock mode. (sometimes not all the birds scatter away. Also you have to flip the switch to reset the mode.)
Web Version. Using libGDX is great because we write the core game once, and can deploy to all platforms. Unfortunately, the worst performing platform is usually the Web version, which also happens to be the most accessible. I believe we just have some poor object management that I hope we can iron out in a post-jam version. If you feel like checking out the game, I suggest downloading the desktop version, or at least restarting your browser if you want to play the web version.
Some Math. Rex really pulled through sorting out some of the math that I wasn’t ready to tackle. This game didn’t require overly complicated math, but I had gotten used to leaning on some built-in utilities to libGDX that weren’t quite what we needed for this instance (or at least we didn’t apply them correctly if they were fit to solve our problems). There were also several features we wanted to add that were going to be heavy in calculations that we weren’t used to. This kept us from completing them. I really wish I had pushed myself to properly implement a “sphere of influence” around each bird so that you could start a chain reaction if you scared the right bird(s).
Sleeping. This one is just myself, as Loi and Rex intelligently rested up appropriately. I will be sleeping more for the next Jam.
We plan to release this as a mobile game. The game is touch ready. We’d like to polish up a few things, sort out the “ending the game” bugs, and add in a few more features that didn’t make the cut (even out the landing of the birds so they don’t clump, add some more ambient touches to the BG, and maybe that bird influence radius).
We also plan to create a version without the shocks as a Live Wallpaper for Android devices. This idea was mentioned to us by the guys of TwoScoopGames during the Jam, and it just so happens libGDX supports Live Wallpapers.
More Games! We’ll all be making more games, and participating in future Ludum Dare Jams.
Loi: “I was comfortable with the silhouette art style, but I initially questioned myself on how to make monochromatic silhouettes look lively. I overcame that challenge by adding a dark purple-black gradient and placing it over most of the foreground artwork. This promoted subtle contrasts throughout the level. Since we were only working with one screen, I wanted the level to look like an interactive canvas. This was achieved by animating items like the clouds, trees and a cycled day-night background; making it seem like birds aren’t the only living elements in the level. And humor, I love humor! Fortunately, I had the opportunity to once again “moon” the players.”
Barry: “I was fully comfortable working with libGDX, but I was nervous about teaching it as we went along. When you teach something is when you really find out if you understand what you’re doing, and I was afraid I did not understand as well as I hoped. Luckily collaborating with Rex was smooth, and he picked up the language and tools quickly. I think what helped us the most is that all three of us had a similar vision for the game, and felt comfortable putting forth design ideas, as well as explaining why we didn’t think an idea would work.”
Thanks for reading, Thanks for playing,
I’ve been hard at work tweaking my 4 Player arena platformer physics-em-up
Then There is also the MADNESS EDITION, which has all 4 players’ controls bound to P1 controls, for messing about if you don’t have friends around. Senseless, but oh so much fun! The MADNESS EDITION is also available as Web, Windows, OS X and Linux.
Post Compo updates
There’s been quite a lot of interesting learnings that I’ve made with No More Boxes. A lot more than I ever expected to! Thanks so much for everyone who has already commented and gave feedback on the compo version
Blood on the dancefloor
It’s been party season lately, and I’ve had two parties where I had the opportunity of taking the game with a full compliment of controllers. It’s gone down a right riot (I have videos, it’s hilarious despite terrible hand-shot quality), but what surprised me the most was that a lot more people remarked at it being “so violent”. That had not occurred to myself at all – everything’s so cute and all the foley sounds were so adorable, but alas, more than half people made the remark, some jokingly, a few with genuine concern.
So many people would say “it’s not a big deal”, and that’s what I would be inclined to say too, had I not heard it from so many people, gamers and non-gamers alike. So this has forced me to really examine my own tolerance for violence, and whether it’s right to inflict my own sensibilities on other people so freely and without care. Especially lately with the Hatred/Steam thing in the news right now. How much is too much?
So I came to a conclusion – that it doesn’t matter of the splatters are red or not, there’s nothing lost and everything to be gained by changing that up – as long as there are pretty particles flying about, who CARES if it’s “blood” or not? So I changed the splatter particles to the player colours. Which looks great! I may need to tone it down a bit more than it is right now (in volume terms) still.
The 6th character Amy has been implemented – she’s also a pickup/throw character, but she throws diagonally up, which makes her a really difficult character to master, but she does is really unpredictable with the way her shot rolls and bounces.
Porter received an update in his attack behaviour which is correct now according to original design – he teleports a random box in front of himself. This useful ability can be used in many ways, though the most obvious and easy way is to drop boxes on your opponent. Added juice makes it clearer what his ability does to people who don’t know.
Stompy has proven to be a super strong character if the players don’t have the experience to deal with him, so I’ve decided to balance him out a bit by making him marginally slower in movement speed than other characters.
Tosser, Punch and Sucker hasn’t changed at all.
10 Points To Win
I hadn’t the time during the compo to implement a winning system, and I very quickly realised afterwards that any game with points need a short term goal, or you very quickly lose interest/tension. 10 points to win REALLY helped people keeping up interest rather than “hey I’m tired, let’s restart”.
Keeping the player indicators on for super long
Nothing is more frustrating than not knowing where you are. The whole “wiggle your stick left and right” ritual gets really tired really quickly. Barring any other form of player identification, the indicator now flashes and lasts 15 seconds. Most players didn’t even register that they were there for so long – and in the beginning I thought they would be too annoying if they stuck around for too long. But that didn’t turn out to be the case in No More Boxes!
I had made the Physics slightly more robust, so that boxes are allowed to roll around more before snapping to places when they almost come to a rest position. This made much more emergent gameplay a reality.
Then there were a bunch of minor things, like adding some more sound effects, some more juice visually, fixed a few bugs that let players out of the “gate” when they weren’t controlled by players, and things things things.
Well, the stuff I learnt during the jam can be found in a previous post, where I talked about:
- Restrictions are good – and why this theme was pretty awesome for me.
- I set out with a few learning goals, and this is how I applied them.
- Things to keep in mind to get more people to play your game.
Take it further?
I don’t really know if I should take No More Boxes further. I LOVE games like Towerfall and Samurai Gunn, so I’m REALLY biased that way. There are still quite a few things that can be explored for sure! A few ideas and characters haven’t been implemented yet either, but what do YOU think? Yay or nay? Give it a whirl and let me know?
Oh and by the way, do you like the name “No More Boxes”?
Heres the Video from our game
Whenever you play Greeny GRUB could you please let me know where you died.
I’ve never written a LD postmortem before, so we’ll keep it brief.
First off, we made a game, and we’d love you to bits if you rated it for us!
Secondly, we’re very happy with our work. This has definitely been our best game to date, largely on the basis that we got it finished with enough time to put in a bit of polish. Surprising, as this was the first time we didn’t work together in the same location, instead from our respective Uni’s. Ollie (programming) has been delighted that I finally gave in and chose to keep the ideas as simple as possible (No bloody online multiplayer). We always aim to be innovative, and we really think we nailed that with the use of raycasting to make spotting enemies almost impossible, but the aid of a nightvision drone, to scout and spot enemies. We recognise from the comments that a lot could be done to improve upon the existing stealth mechanics and enemy AI, but hey, 72hrs, man.
See below examples of our core game mechanic. Drone off, and darkness everywhere, drone on, and all is revealed!
Third, here’s a lovely timelapse of our code in developement, because that’s the in thing with you lot.
We hope everyone had great fun on the games, congratulations to everyone who managed to submit a final product, and don’t forget to vote! <3
For a postmortem of our Sentinel I wanted our entire team to express their thoughts and feelings about the idea, the process and the result of a great game we made. So here I want you to meet the Game Designer, the Artist, the Programmer and the Animation Artist:
That evening I was watching Game Awards 2014 and waiting for LudumDare jam theme announcement. I was puzzled when I saw that “game on one screen”, it seemed too vague and uncertain. I began thinking, researching and surfing references for inspiration. Meanwhile, I was listening to the music that was written for LD # 31. Accidentally I discovered a screenshot of a game where the view and perspective have suggested the idea of a game we could do. The wounded knight would be the backbone of our game, and the sword would speak with the knight and the player. The remaining features of the gameplay were drawned upon me in the morning when I was half asleep on my way to the office.
Right after I heard the idea of the game, I imagined clearly the whole picture of dungeon, the wounded knight in the center and crowds of monsters. I started estimating the time for drawing all the elements and thinking about the animation. We were lucky that we had another artist, she helped us so much. It would be extremely unpleasant to realize that we do not have time to cover the entire scope of work (without her).
The best feature of the game is that it lasts no more than 4 minutes. This greatly simplifies the task. With this in mind the game needed only one location, a couple of mobs, a knight and a sword. I was also on to preparing some special effects. Luckily I was acquainted with Unity long before Ludum Dare, so the effects were made in no time. While I was preparing background , special effects, and the main characters, other artist was preparing monsters and their animation. In between painting, I overlooked the line-up of game elements and coordinated the common style in artwork.
Working with the team was very interesting. Due to involvement into another project, I had to work at an accelerated pace. I have to admit , I was not satisfied with the results in artwork. But, all in all we did it well! And the game came out even better than we expected in the beginning.
For me the project is decent for a two-day work. Not perfect, but worth being proud of. It’s a finished game, and it’s fun to play.
Most of the classic games actually do not contradict concept of “game-on-one-screen”. So the jam theme directly hinted: make an Arkanoid, Tetris, or text adventure. But we thought that there would be plenty of games in these genres. Eventually we settled on an idea of slasher in which the hero was limited to one screen, because he was not involved in gameplay And the effect of crowding and lack of a screen is achieved by narrowing the circle of enemies.
The most difficult part of the game was to make the movement of a sword. Not that Unity physics is hard, but to do an accurate and comfortable sword swinging wasn’t as easy as it seemed. The sword was either too slow and boring or too easy to swing. But as soon as we found a middle ground it became clear – it would turn out cool.
It took time to make a narrowing darkness around the hero and it seemed rather difficult to make the intro with two light spots. The final decision turned out not very flexible, but it worked almost immediately and looked great!
It was the third jam in which I participated. The third and largest! All discussions began with an idea, we talked about how each of us imagined the perfect game. At some point I felt nervous that the common idea would not found. And just at that moment the Game Designer came out with his great idea about a warrior and sword. The idea is so wonderfully coincided with the music he chose, it was so strong and sincere! We rushed into work, it was fun, and I felt pleasant confidence the team and our work) We were in a well-equipped room and we were making a game together, that’s a great feeling))) It’s a special feeling of unity and closeness of our acts and thoughts, I felt excitement and joy! In the end of the first day of our brainstorming and developing I ran home to fall asleep, wrapped in thoughts about the day. The next day, on Sunday, we met again to work and discuss the details, which was fascinating! Then the difficulties with monster’s animations began. I was limited to a certain canvas size and could not get a result that would satisfy me. Fortunately the friendly support of my team and their invaluable advice helped me find the final result. Everything turned out great! That was amazing experience! I’m happy we made it in time, and all of us were proud of our work)
It is impossible not to appreciate the opportunity of participating in jams like Ludum Dare! It’s a miracle that we can get together with friends over the weekend and create a game that will please and inspire many people. Working as a team with your friends means to be confident that the process will bring a lot of fun, and the result will be as good as possible. I found out about this jam just hours before it started. I am very glad that nevertheless I attended and received an unforgettable experience.
Wait, there was another guy.. But he didn’t show up, so there’s only a line in closing credits for him
Please let us know what you think of our original game:
We also have the facebook version with leaderboards and ‘Endless Mode':
// Team ‘Dostoyevsky Balls’