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Christmas Made Me Lazy

Posted by
Monday, January 2nd, 2012 12:06 pm

Long belated Trainlapse.

Also, since I might have made my game obnoxiously difficult as opposed to “roguelike difficult”.

Christmas Eve, the perfect time for the belated post-mortem.

Posted by
Saturday, December 24th, 2011 6:49 pm

Ah, finally got this out of the way. Was dragging my heels on this post-mortem as I didn’t feel like I had made any significant mistakes this time around, so there wasn’t a ton to reflect on. However, I haven’t had a ton of comments on my entry. So hey, if you’re in the festive spirit, give the gift of criticism!

In between zooming around from NS to NB this past weekend, I knocked out a Ludum Dare game. Neat little randomly generated retro style platformer. Posting this both on the Ludum Dare site and my own blog. So LDer’s enjoy an expository preamble!

Click to play

Preamble

So if you’re unfamiliar with Ludum Dare it’s an online, solo game development competition. They release a theme and you have to develop a game using that theme in a forty-eight hour timeframe.  A large list of themes is created and after a few rounds of voting , the list is culled to a dozen or so final themes to vote on. After the final round of voting is complete, the theme is released and a sleepless, hectic weekend begins. I was rooting for “Randomly Generated” to be selected as the theme and was already salivating at the prospect of making a roguelike.

Over the last few years the only games that really stick out to me as being actually fun and life destroyingly addictive were the new wave of roguelikes. Spelunky, Transcendence, and The Binding of Isaac have taken a mostly inaccessible genre and made it almost casual. If a player can get over how masochistic these games are, it really scratches their drive for mastery. There is nothing that can foster that “Just one more turn…” effect better than these games. But I digress, this is a subject worth a post all on its own.

Spelunky was a harsh mistress

The weekend of this Ludum Dare coincided with a friend’s Christmas party I few hours away. I didn’t want to lose six hours driving back and forth so I opted for twelve hours by train. After packing everything for the trip I settled in and waited for the theme reveal. “Alone” ended up hedging out Randomly-Generated by a few votes.  Even though I was bummed over my pet theme losing, I figured I could still work Randomly-Generated into my concept. What I roughed out, was that you were a monster created by the government, you wanted to escape their pursuit and be left alone. I pegged the gameplay as a platformer with randomly generated level sections. I wasn’t sure about combat and mechanics but I was hoping it’d grow organically throughout the competition. My main goal was to produce something playable that had some random level generation in it.

(more…)

A Sigh of Relief

Posted by
Monday, December 19th, 2011 8:23 pm

We made it to the end together, my disgusting friend.

That Ludum Dare high really wears off during the final few hours…

Awesome LD, even if I wasn’t a fan of the theme. Even though testing out a new library usually ends in disaster during an LD I had a pretty easy time of it with Flixel. Feeling good, big scope, lost a lot of time to real life things, and still pulled something out that I’m proud of.

I’ll toss a post-mortem and timelapse up here tomorrow. I don’t know how you folks manage to think clearly enough at the end of the competition to do any sort of critical reflection.

A hearty congrats to everyone else who, like me, unexpectedly added 24 hours to their LD.

Play Me

Trainbound and In

Posted by
Friday, December 16th, 2011 11:31 pm

Ack, there were only a handful of themes that I didn’t have a concept for. Skimming the other rounds after all the votes had been cast, I didn’t think “Alone” really stood a chance. Have to make a trip to a friends this weekend. Going to be stuck on a train for 12 hours of the jam. I figure it’ll make the time pass a little quicker.

I’m thinking I’ll go with a bit of a Hulk rip off. You’re a man who’s been turned into a grotesque monster during a government experiment. All you want to do is escape the facility and be left alone. I’m still itching for a randomly-generated game, so I figure it’ll be a platformer with randomly generated levels. Some simple combat, and some pixel art.

If I can knock that all out quickly enough, I’d love to implement something like the power-up system in The Binding of Isaac, with random power-ups that cosmetically alter your character. So you’d end up with a different play style and look with each run through. But heck I’ll be content if I get to the point where my randomly generated levels work out I’ll be happy.

Good luck to all the jammers!

Late Timelapse – Catlapse 2: Feline Boogaloo

Posted by
Saturday, May 7th, 2011 1:50 pm

Hectic week, but finally had the chance to toss my timelapse together.

Click to play!

Enjoy and critique!

Narrated Gamplay Vid

Posted by
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 11:22 pm

Few folks were having trouble finishing the game, between the clunky controls and hit boxes. Figured I’d toss up a quick narrated gameplay video. All the joys of the game and no frustration!

Woo! With time to spare!

Posted by
Sunday, May 1st, 2011 7:04 pm

Ah, so glad to have this LD wrapped. Came into it sleep deprived wasn’t sure if I’d be able to put a huge effort into it.  Had to friends participate in their first LD’s,  helped for a little bit of motivation, didn’t want to be one upped 😛

Thanks so much to the organizers, this is the best jam organization by far!

Timelapse, post-mortem and narrated gameplay coming up.

Almost There!

Posted by
Sunday, May 1st, 2011 3:57 pm

With a few hours left all I have to worry about is the art for my third level and some sound effects.

The kitty is just sleeping, dear... Click to Play

 

The game isn’t polished, but its a nice mish mash of tiny neat things.

What do you guys think I should focus on with the time left? (I’m addressing the two of you that aren’t sleeping, or feverishly coding)

Furious Fighting Felines – Mini Progress Update

Posted by
Saturday, April 30th, 2011 10:34 pm

FFF is coming along pretty well, have most of the engine done, a good chunk of the assets. Feeling comfortable now that we’re just past the half way point. If worse comes to worse I can limit the game to one screen as opposed to being a side scrolling beat ’em up, and have something “finished”.

 

Click to play!

Not a whole ton of gameplay yet (press space to punch, timing your punches on the right frame lets you combo {or you can just mash the space bar}).

 

I'm not a furry, I swear!

Things are going relatively smoothly, basic framework layed out. Levels, characters, hitboxes and all that. Have some basic animation done. I usually make the mistake of eating up my first day getting the art to where I’d like it. Just using place holders this time around to avoid the timesink of getting my programmer art up to snuff.

Everybody was kung-fu fighting!

 

I am noticing something as I go along though, I’m having tons of fun animating rigged characters (Torso, head, front and back limbs).  I’m also noticing how time consuming it is. I screwed up my last Mini LD sinking all my time into animating one character. This makes me really want to build an open source canned library of 2D flash animations. All you have to do is set up a rig, or swap symbols in a provided rig. All of the canned animation data(run and walk cycles, simple attackes, etc) would be saved in XML.  TweenerMax would be used to animate the rigs, I’d toss some extra controls in there so you can control the speed of the tweens. It’d take a ridiculous amount of planning but, how many folks would be interested in something like this?

Would have liked to have something to show before I conked out for the night, but that seems like quite a leap from where I’m at right now.

I Have Consumed Food and a Reconsideration

Posted by
Friday, April 29th, 2011 10:04 pm

Quick food photo, nothing fancy. A few adorable left over Easter eggs, some Kielbasa and assorted things.

 

Poor adorable eggs. You're going to a better place.

And the result:

I guess technically, not the final result.

Totally set food wise, good into the early morning. Was busting my butt trying to get a trailer done (check it out it’s spiffy), and game up for XNA peer review for the past 24 hours. Starting to wish I would have gotten at least a little pre-compo sleep. Hopefully the over abundance of food keeps me going.

After playing a bit of Dad N’ Me and thinking about other similar Behemoth games, I just can’t bring myself to fire up Flashpunk. Looks like I’ll be going the normal Flash route for this compo. It’s such a shame too, because I’d love to come up with a simpler concept just to get some Flashpunk experience, but I’m drawing a blank for this theme.

By a landslide?

Posted by
Friday, April 29th, 2011 8:45 pm

So a meme really took it eh?

It’s a nice open ended theme, but I can’t eek out a creative or gimmicky design around it. So as per the usual I think I’ll use the LD as an opportunity to test out some technologies I’ve wanted to play with (Flashpunk and Flint. Also buffering inputs). Going to go with a simple side scrolling feline beat em’ up. Something pretty similar to Dad N’ Me.

A snapshot of my inspiration

Totally a brawler

 

 

How do you creative folks manage to knock out non-derivative LD titles anyhow? I need help working my creative muscle.

Tools

  • Photoshop and Paint.NET
  • sfxr
  • Likely some sort of online music generator (http://www.earslap.com/projectslab/otomata possibly)
  • Flash CS4
  • Flashpunk and Tweener(unless Flashpunk has some built in tweening methods) for my libraries.
  • Flash Builder
  • Chronolapse – Yay timelapse!

Any suggestions on good sprite sheet / pixel art tools? Should I use Graphics Gale?

Oh, and a parting workspace snapshot:

I had a choice between cleaning my workspace area, and sleeping. Which of the two I chose is self evident.

 

HOMMage Post-Mortem and Post-Competition Build!

Posted by
Thursday, December 30th, 2010 2:38 am

A week late, but after a break here it is, a post-mortem and a more coherent version of my game.

Click here for the new and moderately improved version of HOMMage

My main goal for this competition was to develop social game within the 48 hours, or at least something that had the hooks for a social game.

When discovery came up as the theme I figured I’d rip off Heroes of Might and Magic, that way I wouldn’t have to focus too much time over the weekend on design, and could make this game, mostly a technological challenge…. Should be easy enough to get all these features done then eh?

Woohoo, all the design is done for me! Cake walk, right?

What I ended up with at the end of the competition was a nice start of stitched-together half-finished features. If you squint really hard, you can see the start of a HOMM style game, and I couldn’t been happier with the result. I wanted a nice little tech/scope challenge and to develop something that could transition into being a social game, this LD scratched both of those itches.

Hey, I still think it's pretty.

Positives

Goals, Planning And Scope

I had a clear vision of what I wanted for this LD, a HOMM style social game (ugh).

So I may have overshot a bit in my scope, but it broke down into simple milestones. Be able to navigate a hero around a hex map, unit management, combat other heroes, end condition for the game.

Having the design already done made the informal milestones a lot easier to place over the 48 hours. The last few game jams I’ve participated in I’ve tried to play around with exploratory gameplay and found it was even harder to wrap the jams up in time. In a lot of timelapses, and post-mortems I’m seeing a lot of the great games generally end up being the developer’s second attempt that weekend (It’s a Fricking Cave, Quarters). How do you know when to cut and run, when the funs not there, and wont be?

Timelapse

First time I’ve done a timelapse, and man was it fun. Nothing more motivating to actually get something finished for the competition then investing in recording the whole thing. Awesome fun to watch it and show it off to friends afterwards. It also goes a long way to keep you honest, you end up spending a lot less time slacking when you’ve got a camera focused on you.

The catlapse really tied it all together

Regardless of how useful or entertaining it was for anyone else, I loved it!

Choice in Tools

This is the first jam I’ve done that I’ve had experience with all of the libraries and tools I’d be using going into it. I find it so hard to apply Box2D, Flynt, or any of those fun libraries in my day to day that I figured a game jam is a great time to give this stuff a test run. And I mean it usually works okay for evaluating an engine.

On paper 48 hours is a lot of time, Ill get up to speed on whatever lib in 3 hours and It’ll be smooth sailing, this has never been my experience.

Tweenmax was a god send, simple tweens really easily took the place of more time consuming little effects (combat screen).

Community

Oddly enough I was pretty excited about my food photos, even if they were pretty mundane.

Loved reading LD posts during a competition, so many new types of technology to try out. It’s a Frickin Cave(totally have a crush on this game) makes me really want to take a look at MMF.

In previous LD’s I’ve picked up and used Musagi and SFXR, so I’m pumped to see what technologies I end up taking away from this LD 😛

The only downside to the whole community bit was that I was so swamped with my scope that I didn’t have a chance to take a look at the IRC channel or to jump onto Mumble, hoping to do that next time around.

Negatives

Unintuitive Gameplay / Ease of Play

Biggest problem with HOMMage. If you haven’t played Heroes of Might and Magic, you’re completely lost. If you have played HOMM you’re only mostly lost 😛

This really stuck out like a sore thumb, a lot of the comments I’ve gotten on the game have done a lot to echo it.  I wasn’t unaware, I realized how rough around the edges the game was, and provided a narrated play through. Ick.

Reflecting, I’m not sure if there was much I could do within the 48 hours to really lead the player along any easier, other than a detailed tutorial… I feel like this genre of game is so focused on user interface interactions that the amount of consideration it’d take to make this a pick up and play game for a casual user could not be accomplished in 48 hours.

At the very least I get to come away from this thinking a lot harder at the concept stage about how the user will interact with my systems.

Planning and Scope

I don’t know how I held any illusions that I would get this done:

This game will be built with AS3 using PHP to make database calls.

  • Finding the time to design and develop the DB structure and getting it working properly with AS3.
  • Is my little tower enough of a web server to handle multiple games?
  • Working with hexes and simple pathfinding.
  • Simple AI in place of human players.

Initially the whole game will be single player with AI, I’m hoping thats not as far as it gets but well see how I can manage my time.

!!!

Honestly? Anyway, even paring this down to the smallest scope that constituted as a game, it still would have been painful to polish it, let alone find time to put sound into it. Huge flop here in terms of making a game for the competition,  the sting is mildly dulled since I at least met most of my initial goals and motivations.

Art

I wanted to use my tablet for everything. Wasting time on the HUD by sketching it out on the tablet was a huge time suck. I figured even if the result was so-so, it’d give the game a little character. But no, no I was way off.

Even though the rest of the art wasn’t terribly gorgeous, I had a blast doing it, huge time suck though.

Castle Greyskull was totally worth it.

Interface Design

All things interface really kicked my butt here. “How should clicks act if the currently selected hex is ____ and the user clicks ____” trying to figure out a lot of the interactions and then implementing them consumed a ton of time that could have been spent polishing gameplay, or spent trying to make the game more intuitive.

Fun

After reflecting a bit, this stab at a HOMM style game just isn’t fun. Even the post competition version, is still just a neat tech piece and not really something people would want to play.

This really got me thinking about “fun”, and where it comes from in the HOMM series, and even in other strategy games.

Thinking about HOMM and other strategy games, you could say fun comes from the progression, building up a units, becoming a force within the system of game mechanics. Theres a lot of minutia there in making that an enjoyable experience, carefully balanced units, carefully balanced progression of AI opponents, and a lot of pretty window dressing.

Any fun strategy games I’ve seen as a result of game jams do well to avoid the majority of the genres trappings. Something simple like, setting up a simple top down map, and simple units with flocking behavior. Only allowing the user to point to where the flock should go. Or letting a user choose his units before the game starts, and once engaged the units will automatically interact with their environment.

With some time to reflect on it, I feel if you really take a hard look at the strategy genre, you can boil the core “fun” of a strategy game down to “conflict between units”. With the focus I spent in pretty much every other aspect, it seems like I may have totally missed the mark on this one.

Bottom Line

Even ripping a game off HOMM’s design, there are so many bits of interface minutia to consider that there was no way to deliver an intuitive quick to play game within the 48 hours, but the trip getting there was a blast.

Post Competition Build

Loved the comments I was getting, gave me enough motivation to bring the concept a little further along. Pretty strapped for time over the holidays but I came up with this build.

Added features:

  • Fog of war.
  • Working combat, more information.
  • Working unit purchasing.
  • Tons of small bug fixes.

I figured this would be about where I should have ended up for the competition. It does well enough to showcase most of the main elements of HOMMage.

Time consuming things I wish I could have added:

  • Racial abilities.
  • Abilities for the special characters of each race.
  • Hero abilities.
  • Enemy AI.
  • Castle garrison combat.
  • Title screen + tutorial.
  • Items on the world map.
  • Multiple heroes and castles.

You guys can play it here.

And just tacking this on here since it’ll be my last LD19 post. Big thanks to the organizers, you guys do an awesome job every LD of putting this together, the rating system for games is just awesome now. And a big shout out to the community, I’ve learned tons and garnered tons of neat things from posts here and there 😛

HOMMage Time/Catlapse

Posted by
Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 2:24 pm

Figured I’d toss my rocking little time lapse up.

Click here for the youtube vid http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kY55gj7rGhQ (can we embed here)?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kY55gj7rGhQ

If I didn’t play around so much with the editing I might have had more time for a jam entry, oh well had a blast with it.

Post-Compo build and Post-mortem to follow!

Ahhhh…. *Turn off Chronolapse* … *Scratch-self*

Posted by
Sunday, December 19th, 2010 8:16 pm

Done finally done!

In hindsight, I guess my feature list was pretty ridiculous. Seriously… a social game?… bah…

On the bright side in the last hour before submissions I was able to pare things down a bit, and get all of the semi-working features tied together.

Learned tons this LD, the timelapse was a great motivator / distraction.

Post-mortem and timelapse with some sweet cat-stop motion going on in the background, coming soon!

Oh and one last food photo

Took a quick break to knead the dough for this Monkeybread

Crunch Morning Photo

Posted by
Sunday, December 19th, 2010 9:43 am

Passion fruit and shredded wheat. Trying to bounce back from last night’s junk food.

This probably looks like exotic baby vomit if you've never had a passion fruit before.

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