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GTA – Post-mortem

Posted by
Saturday, August 30th, 2014 9:24 am



My LD#30 entry is called Galactic Tollway Authority (GTA).  The idea is you manage a tollway system that allows cargo ships to instantly transport across the galaxy by entering gates through wormholes. Pirates are attacking the ships, so you have to create toll routes to bypass the pirate threat while managing your cash.

What Went Right

  • Using Phaser for my game framework. I first used Phaser during the last GGJ, and have not used it or JavaScript since, but was able to make my game without any major problems. Thanks to the html5gamedevs.com Phaser forum, phaser.io docs and examples.
  • Kept to a graphics time budget. Instead of spending time tweaking graphics and trying to be a perfectionist (since I’m no artist I would never be happy anyway). This gave me more time to work on the code. The one minor tweak that would have been nice is to make the ending gate more distinctive. This has caused some users difficultly.
  • Making a web based game. Previous entries required you to download my executable and run on Windows. Since I was using Python this was a large download and sometimes there were compatibility problems for the audio and OpenGL support.  Then there was the fear people had of downloading malware. That’s why I decided to switch to a pure HTML5 based platform like Phaser. I’m glad I did it. I think it has made it much easier for people to try my game. I personally, don’t want to play anything but Web based games anymore.
  • jfxr for sound effects. iNudge for music. I didn’t spend a lot of time, and got decent results, thanks to the magic of these tools.

 What Went Wrong

  • Adding winning/losing states and level advancement so near the end. This gives no time to make it more satisfying and properly balance the game. I continue to make this mistake. I was lucky that just adding planets when you advance the level did increase the difficulty, but then I didn’t balance other factors like the cost of buying gates should go up a lot more. Once you get past the first level you have so much cash that cash management is no longer much of an issue.
  • Counting on the random planet generation to produce fun levels. It was quick at first to just randomly place the planets. This really leaves too much chance to making a level fun to play. I have a few simple planet generation rules, such as no overlapping planets and a minimum distance so that pirates can attack. I wanted to be able to drag planets around so I could manually generate the first set of levels to ensure they were fun, but never got around to implementing this.
  • Not knowing every browser does not support the .ogg format. The morning after the deadline I tried to load the game in Safari and it appeared to hang while preloading. After figuring out how to bring up the debug console, discovered it was related to the music/sound files not loading. Quickly used media.io to convert to MP3 and got that working. Luckily, the compo rules allow these types of fixes after the submission deadline.

Last Thoughts

In the end, I’m happy with my entry. I’ve done about a dozen LD’s (going back to LD#1), and each time manage to get farther along with less work.

I will continue to use Phaser for future competitions. I have a long list of improvements to this game I would like to make before the next LD so I can keep in practice with Phaser. I hope being more familiar with the tools will give me more time to focus on making the game more fun to play.

GTA progress

Posted by
Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 1:05 pm

Here is an early progress screenshot of my game Galactic Toll Authority (GTA). The purpose of GTA is to manage gates that transport space ships via wormholes instantly to distant planets. You will have to find the best placement for your wormholes to maximize your toll collection and profits. You can direct the toll revenues into production of new worm hole gates, maintenance, and security.

I’m writing this in JavaScript using Phaser. I have used DrawPlus for the graphics when it’s not crashing.




LD27 – Team Seconds – Final Thoughts

Posted by
Monday, August 26th, 2013 10:04 am

I started the competition Friday night at a Ludum Dare meetup at the Dallas Makerspace. It was great to meet other people (about 10-12 showed up) who are interested in Ludum Dare. It was also really exciting to be in a group when the theme was announced and talk about ideas.  There was definitely an atmosphere of minor disappointment with the theme of “10 seconds”. I think almost everyone was hoping for another theme. I gave my prepared pep talk “the first obstacle to Ludum Dare is accepting the theme.”  Next everyone started brainstorming ideas. Everyone left after about 3 hours. I think it was a great way to start the LD experience.

I started my entry early Saturday morning. Within about an hour I decided on my idea. I was certain I did not want to interpret the theme of “10 seconds” as having anything to do with time. I arrived at the concept of “second stringers”. People who sit on the bench or are alternates to the first picks. In my game, the 10 First’s were lost on a mission, and the 10 Second’s are sent into rescue them. In the game you have very simple start/stop controls to manipulate 10 separate characters to clear rooms of enemies, rescue the firsts and then continue searching a building.

I feel I was mostly successful, and pretty satisfied with my final product. It is playable and thankfully the sound effects vastly improve the experience.

I ended up spending about 22 dedicated hours in total. About 10 hours on Saturday and 12 hours on Sunday.  I did all the code and graphics on my own. I used bfxr for sound effects.


  • bfxr
    This is a miracle program for LD. I wouldn’t have sound effects without it.
  • Python/cocos2d/pyglet
    I Love programming in Python and this is the best framework to do it. Sadly, I will give it up next time. See final thoughts.
  • Sleep
    I went to bed Friday night and I did not work on the game for about 12 hours during the half-way point. Coming back to the game the next day helped me focus on what was important.
  • Accepted theme from start
    I did not like the theme. I did not like the last one. I may never like it. But I won’t let that stop me from building a game, which is what I love most.


  • Music
    I tried using  iNudge, but wasn’t happy with what I produced. I have no music ability. Wasted about an hour. One day I will have music with my entry, but not this time.
  • Created assets I did not use
    Create the assets as you are going to add them to the game. Otherwise, it’s lost time when you cut the feature. I spent time creating versions of the rescued characters so they can follow around the primary characters as they are rescued. I had to cut this feature and lost about 30 minutes with graphics assets that were never used.


10 Second Clip:

 1 Minute Demo:


After my previous entry I came to the realization a web-based game is the most logical solution for competing in Ludum Dare. I don’t like downloading and running executables, so I can’t blame anyone who doesn’t want to download mine. And since getting people to try my game is one of the main points of LD for me personally, I am going to switch to one of the many Javascript/HTML5/WebGL based frameworks. I was going to do this for LD27, but never spent the time learning one. I MUST do this before the next competition.



Team Seconds

Posted by
Saturday, August 24th, 2013 12:08 pm

All 10 Team Firsts members have gone missing while infiltrating a building on a secret mission.

The 10 member team Seconds has been called in to rescue the 10 Firsts.

The team is eager to show everyone they are just as capable as the first team.


I tried to come up with an idea that avoids “10 seconds” referring to time. Instead, you control 10 people who happen to be second stringers (substitute/backup players).

Although not much to show visually, you can click each team member and together they have to be positioned over these areas on each floor.

When all our positioned they will advance to the lower floor and continue searching for the Team Firsts members.

Using Python/Cocos2d/Pyglet.


Susie’s Xmas Hit List – final progress update

Posted by
Sunday, December 16th, 2012 10:17 am

Less than nine hours left. Here’s a current progress update.  Implemented limited snow at each spot. Susie can only fire five snowballs in a given spot. The meter on the lower right indicates there is not enough snow left for any snowballs. She will have to move to another position to make another snowball.

I thought of a lot of good ideas I would have liked to have drawn for a title screen, but it’s beyond my artistic capability to implement.  I also spent more time than I should have on the background, but I think it turned out pretty nice with the moon, stars and trees. Simple graphics, but I think a great overall effect.  In this screenshot, you also see Susie hit two reindeer which are tumbling out of the sky.

Still need to implement Santa dropping presents on Susie, and some kind of leveling up. Will code for another 5 hours before I start packaging it up. I used Python + Cocos 2d + Pyglet.
Susie Xmas Hit List progress update

Susie’s Xmas Hit List – update

Posted by
Saturday, December 15th, 2012 4:26 pm

Have santa/sled/reindeer moving back and forth, Susie can move and fire snowballs at Santa. Still need collision detection and Santa dropping gifts to try and stop Susie.

If I have time, I also want to make snow a limited resource for Susie’s snowballs. She will have to move around if she stays in one place too long because she will have used up all the snow at that spot.

I’m at about the half-way point before I try to start packaging and getting the entry ready. Still a lot left.

Susie Screenshot 1

Susie’s Xmas Hit List

Posted by
Saturday, December 15th, 2012 9:25 am

Little Susie has a top ten list this year for Christmas. It’s not a gift list. You better watch out Santa you are #1.

Susie X-mas Hit List

Susie is the Villain. Susie is pissed Santa got her the wrong doll last year. So, this year she’s going to take it out on Santa and his reindeer.

It’s going to play a little like Centipede, but I’m hoping to try and bring something unique to it.

Caveman Speak update

Posted by
Sunday, August 26th, 2012 2:25 pm

I doubt I can finish for the main compo deadline. Shooting for Jam now. I never used Cocos/Pyglet before so wasted a lot of time with stupid stuff. And my toolchain was new too: Serif Draw, TexturePacker, and Tiled.

Screenshot Update shows the concept in the opening screen and game screen. The caveman roam, you can select a particular caveman (Ughh, Naag, Angh, Oorg, Dorr). As you kill your prey, the vocabulary expands and words become more distinctive.

Evolution of Language

Posted by
Saturday, August 25th, 2012 9:23 am

I started about 12 hours late. At first, I was disappointed in the theme. How many organisms evolving games are there going to be. I was out.

Then I was inspired by the keynote. I struggled with myself and worked hard at coming up with a theme idea I thought might be different and could get excited over. I apologize, if someone else has a similar idea. There are just way too many posts to read them all.

The concept I came up with is Evolving spoken language. The game characters themselves would not change much. But, there language would evolve to make them more effective at winning.

Multiple nomadic caveman wander around a hunting area. You can affect their movement using a few basic grunts. The objective is to get them to kill prey. As you complete a level with the most basic grunts, you get a new word that makes the hunt more effective. Such as a directed KILL. Or the word DUCK for more effective hiding, and then words for coordinated attacks, stealthy attacks, evading more dangerous prey. As each level progresses, the words also become less ambiguous sounding, increasing effectiveness.

Anyway, no code yet. But some basic graphics and I think I’ve nailed the caveman voices.

Did not make this compo deadline

Posted by
Sunday, August 22nd, 2010 8:23 pm


I have an almost playable game ready 1 hour past LD48 compo deadline. I got to the point I regret not staying up all night Saturday and spending too much time fiddling with the graphics. The game is a real-time game where bugs are trying to breach the reactor shield kamikazee style. You can operate various gates to redirect the bugs away from your reactor and into each other. When all the bugs have destroyed each other you advance to another level. Next compo I need to spend less time on graphics.

I used Python/Pygame and PSE8 for graphics.

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