Ludum Dare 31
December 5th-8th, 2014

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Posted by (twitter: @themindstream)
August 6th, 2012 10:59 pm

I’m In.

This will be my first LD. I’ve done the Global Game Jam three times before with varying levels of success…as an artist. This will be my first time doing a game jam solo and the first time as a programmer.

Given that limitation, I think I’ll be happy just to finish something playable.

I’ve been interested in game design as “something I want to do with my life” since around 2005, but it took me until last year to come around to the realization that if I want to get serious about it, I had to make what was then a big scary jump. I’d attempted to grasp programming a couple times before without any real progress. What helped me get over that block eventually were some supportive friends and a particularly good book.

By day, I currently work as a sysadmin for a small software company; I’m not here to plug what they do but I will say that the guys running it are very good at what they do and I’m glad to have them as teachers and mentors. Sometime last year, several copies of The Land of Lisp were delivered to the office, and knowing I was on the fence, my boss made a proposal to me: they’d up my schedule to full time on the condition that I spent some of the extra time working through that book.

Now, granted, LISP is not a particularly popular language these days (though we use it heavily internally). But even if you never expect to use LISP in a real world setting, The Land of Lisp is a pretty awesome teaching tool. If you find other programming books boring (which I’ve seen to some degree with nearly every book since), this book is anything but. If you want to write games, you will be thrown into (text based) games right from Chapter 2.  If you’re scared of programming, its light tone and actual humor got me much less scared about it. (And being paid to learn didn’t hurt. Did I mention my bosses were cool?)

Anyway, I’ve been taking college courses, and since then have committed to a programming heavy “Game Technology” curriculum. Learning one language, any language, makes the next one easier. Learning three languages means you have a good chance of looking at an unfamiliar language and have a good chance of being able to make something work in it.  So far I have “properly” learned ActionScript and Java, I am currently giving myself a crash course in Python/pygame for a class next semester that will be using Panda3d, and I’ve had to dabble in PHP and Javascript for work-related stuff. I am not especiallygood in any language yet, but that’s what practice (and doing LD!) is for.

Onto the obligatory tools list:

Language: Either ActionScript or Python + Pygame…I haven’t decided yet, but the Python will be more fresh. If I use ActionScript, it might be with an assist from Stencyl (I’ve used Gamemaker for a class, but Stencyl looks nicer for supporting real ActionScript alone).

Editor: FlashDevelop/Stencyl if ActionScript. I’m still trying out editor options for Python, currently Geany. (I’m open to recommendations in comments; it needs to be cross platform for at least Windows and Linux, and Ubuntu package support is a plus.)

Graphics: Photoshop/Illustrator/Flash CS5 and related Adobe suite products.  Sorry open source fans…I’ll recommend things like The GIMP and Paint.net (NOT Inkscape; its not at all stable in Windows and sucks at tablet support) to people starting out or with light-duty needs, but once trained on Photoshop and its power tools and having used them in a professional capacity, I’m never going back. And yes, I paid for my software (though student discounts helped this upgrade cycle). Also, a Wacom Bamboo tablet (because I don’t have infinite money to shell out for the Intuos or Cintiq).

Sound: Audacity.

Caffeine: Tea. I’m not British, but I agree with them that tea is a solution for everything.


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