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You were there *Award* #LD30
Awarded by alvivar
on September 2, 2014

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You Brought A Knife To A Gun Fight! Audio postmortem!!

Posted by (twitter: @AlexDJones)
Monday, May 4th, 2015 8:35 pm

Instead of a written post, I thought it would be a good idea if Alan and I recorded our thoughts on the jam, what went right, what went wrong, what we liked and what we’d improve for a podcast! The result is linked below. Enjoy!

You Brought A Knife To A Gun Fight! – DONE!

Posted by (twitter: @AlexDJones)
Monday, April 20th, 2015 1:52 pm

We’re finished! It was a mad rush on nothing but nervous energy in the end but we made it! You can play You Brought A Knife To A Gun Fight! here


 

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It’s the bi-monthly meeting of the Gun Fight Club again – but disaster! You only brought a knife! To a gun fight! What are you like?

The only way to save face is to survive this deadly meetup. Thankfully, you have unexplained powers that allow you to slow down time! Use them to great effect as you mow down your opponents. It only recharges when blood is drawn, however, so prepare to be brave, charge headlong into the fray and get those combos!

We’re THIS close!

Posted by (twitter: @AlexDJones)
Monday, April 20th, 2015 8:56 am

We are – God willing – going to be ready to submit within a few hours. We have music, scene progression, the difficulty has been balanced and all the bugs we’ve seen have been dealt with! I’m really proud of what we (mostly Alan) have done. That, and I’ve learned how to make gifs so that we can show off some bullet dodging action, in glorious 5 frames per second! NOT PICTURED: the slashing animation, which has managed to perfectly fall into the cracks of gyazo.

Second day of the jam – You Brought A Knife To A Gun Fight!

Posted by (twitter: @AlexDJones)
Sunday, April 19th, 2015 7:06 pm

Nearly done!

We have combat, a fully fledged time mechanic, about half of the levels completed, and some UI!

daytwo

We made a lot of progress today, but tomorrow Alan’s travelling all day and can’t man the coding helm. Thankfully, there are only a few things left to do:

-Finish implementing levels
-Add music
-Finish up game start/end states

All of this, I’ll be able to do by myself, even with my paltry knowledge of Unity. Until then, bed. It’s been a stressful weekend, but we both feel a ton more confident in our abilities for it.

First day progress

Posted by (twitter: @AlexDJones)
Saturday, April 18th, 2015 7:36 pm

Whether we did loads or nothing today is hard to gauge because we’re a two man team working together online passing files to each other through Google Drive (which doesn’t sync as often as maybe it should). Nevertheless, we have a tileset for making basic levels, objects to put into rooms that act as cover, movement animations for the player and enemies, and, most crucially, a time-slowing mechanic!

Sleep now, but tomorrow will bring more animations, prettier level design, any level design, and the gamplay will hopefully start to come together as we refine the time slowing, add attacking and start to get a sense of how the game flows.

For now, here’s a screen of our test room. I absolutely promise you this will look more interesting eventually. Maybe one day I’ll learn to make gifs from screen capture but until then uninspiring stills is all you get:

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We’re bringing knives to a gun fight

Posted by (twitter: @AlexDJones)
Saturday, April 18th, 2015 11:02 am

You’ve brought a knife to a gun fight. Great job. This can only go well. And if you do die, then maybe you’ll learn a lesson: read your email.

So the “unconventional weapon” for us is a knife, not because a knife is itself an unconventional weapon but because of the context of the situation. We are, however, throwing the player a bone: you’ll be able to slow down time and dodge bullets in order to get through each room unscathed. In terms of how this works in gameplay, we’re hoping to make each enemy encounter (a lot of people came to the gun fight (It’s the weekend, people want to do something outside, they all have guns, I don’t know)) into a challenge of reaction times and tactical thinking. A lot of the details of that are hazy at the moment so we’ll have a better idea of how it all blends together tomorrow.

In terms of what we have right now, Alan has mocked up a basic system of player movement, complete with the world’s most incredible placeholder art:

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The POW! represents the player attacking on pressing LMB, I am reliably informed. We also have a mockup of what the player sprite will look like, complete with David Lynch-esque wisp of grey hair:

Playerstandin

We may not have as much showable stuff as everyone else, but since the theme was announced while we were asleep, we’re pretty confident that we’re making good use of the time. Also, we’re both learning our roles as we go along: Alan’s learning the ropes of Unity 2D as he codes, and I’m learning how to make decent sprite art as I make it! I’m quietly confident. More as it comes.

x

We’re in!

Posted by (twitter: @AlexDJones)
Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 6:32 pm

This will be my second Ludum Dare, my first being #30. Whereas last time I was joined by my good friend Sandy Gardner, who came on as an artist, I’m joined this time by Alan O’Brien, who’s going to be taking charge of the coding side (thank God) whilst I’ll be doing the writing. Not sure what we’re doing for graphics, but it’s not such a huge issue that we can’t cross that bridge when we come to it.

We’re entering the 72 hour Jam, and we’re using:

– Unity or Unreal
– Twine (for planning writing/gameflow)
– Photoshop
– Maybe bfxr, maybe not?

I’ve got a good feeling about this

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Connecting: post-mortem

Posted by (twitter: @AlexDJones)
Saturday, August 30th, 2014 4:50 pm

This was originally posted over at my tumblr where I sometimes write about games. You can play Connecting here!

1 – The theme

The part of “Connecting Worlds” that interested me the most was not necessarily “Worlds”, but “Connecting”. It suggests liminality, something that exists between worlds but is not a part of either.* So my game, then, would be about being between, about being in a constant state of connecting – connecting being a present tense verb, so the title in a way suggests that sustained liminality. From there it wasn’t a difficult leap to “airport”; travel is one of the most obvious and popular forms of the liminal that we can all recognise.

“Connected” also suggests a relationship, not just the actual connection itself but what that connection represents to each part. Naturally I went for a very literal definition of “relationship” and decided to make the game about communication between partners. Texting was the best way of displaying information about the relationship to the player in an interactive way, and continuing with the idea of liminalities, the phone can be seen as something facilitating the relationship between the player and Sam without being in the relationship. I mean, obviously. That would be weird otherwise.

2 – Sam and Robin

One of the most interesting comments on the Ludum Dare page for Connecting came from vctr_seleucos* who wrote:

“One last thing, it took me a long to realize the player is a boy, at first i think i was the gf xD Well, Sam is a weird name. Other avatars (more realistic) or names should fix it.”

The thing is, the player isn’t necessarily a boy, and Sam isn’t necessarily a girl. The same goes with Robin – both** the named characters in the game are so called because Sam and Robin are gender-neutral names. As a result, the player is supposedly able to fill in these gaps if they choose to. It plays into the concept of not tying the player to any particular canon – something I brought up in my last journal entry.

I’m not saying vctr_seleucos is wrong for thinking Sam is a girl and the player is a boy. That’s their decision to make and forms one aspect of their personal relationship with the game, with the scenario that they helped form as much as they participated in it.

LD30screenshot1

3 – Player as co-author

I think this is a good place from which to extrapolate the wider ways in which I wanted to play with the relationship between the player and the game. In a journal entry on LD I wrote:

“What this is an experiment (?) in is presenting the player with a situation without giving them prior information on it. The game is essentially asking the player to roll with the punches, to take in new information, use it to adjust their view of the scenario and make a response accordingly. You are essentially blagging your way through this dialogue tree.”

In doing this, I wanted to expand the possible paths that the story could take. By not providing a fixed context for the story, it let the player pick up any threads they wished without forcing them into a tell the truth/lie about everything binary. One unintended side effect of this is that people were happy to replay the game, to pick different options and create different stories as opposed to having the same story told again differently.

4 – Problems and improvements

There are a couple of things that I would have liked to have changed that I feel were within the scope of the jam.

The first is something that a couple of commenters have picked up on, which is that some of the endings feel incomplete. They’re meant to be ambiguous as part of the process by which the player fills in contextual information, but nevertheless there are a few paths where the conversation seems to just end. This is particularly true of the endings where Sam breaks up with you; the conversation ramps up the tension towards your reveal of your indiscretion, but after that there are only two or three bits of dialogue before the game just ends. On the one hand, it felt realistic as I was writing it – why prolong a conversation doomed to end badly? On the other hand, it serves the player no good because the for the player that conversation is the entirety of their experience within the relationship.

The second is more technical. When the player selects a response there’s a short pause of a couple of seconds before another message from Sam is received. Initially, I wanted the dialogue option that wasn’t picked to disappear so that there was a visual telegraph indicating which option had been picked. Alas, no matter what I tried, Game Maker offered no solution for me to destroy an object from within the event programming of another. There is, supposedly, a GML-based solution floating around various old support forums, but it never worked for me no matter how hard I tried.

LD30screenshot2

5 – Future scope

A post-Ludum Dare version of Connecting would work out those problems I mentioned above, as well as extending the whole scope of the game. Originally, the player was going to have parallel conversations with three people: Sam, Robin and another friend. The scenario would have been roughly the same, except because the player could talk to Robin there’s an opportunity for the player to establish what happened the previous night which would then act as extra context for the conversation with Sam – essentially determining whether you lie or not. Depending on where the conversation with each character went, the other conversations would make subtle shifts in tone or subject. Something else that Mallot1 suggested was having parts of the game take place on the plane, essentially adding another conversation. This would have the added benefit of allowing for better pacing in terms of the revelation (if you choose to have one) and the aftermath (should it follow).

nothke suggested adding in a countdown to correspond with the time until your flight leaves. This was also briefly part of the original scope, and would help provide a sense of time progression as well as story progression to the game. You also had the option to ignore message for half an hour or so, which would have consequences on the way the story went, and I’d like to have all of that in a polished, expanded release.

6 – Closing thoughts

This is going to seem very arrogant, but I really like my little game. It turned out better than I imagined, thanks in huge part to Sandy Gardners amazing artwork – thank you again! I’m overwhelmed by the response that the game has gotten – hell, the idea that people played it multiple times to see how many different paths they could take is arguably the biggest compliment I could have received. I’m immensely glad that I decided to do Ludum Dare*** and the positive, energetic atmosphere around the whole community has both inspired me to do more game development in the future****, as well as acting as a welcome buffer against the awful month that the wider games community has had.

 

* vctr_seleucos made the platformer “Becky’s Adventure in Mirrorland” for LD30 which is, for my money, one of the more immediately enjoyable games I’ve played so far!

** Okay I guess Grey is a named character as well, but that serves the purpose of one optional joke. For what it’s worth, I think Grey is a really cool, interesting name and Sam’s totally being an asshole.

*** I only found out there was another jam with about 2 hours to go before it started!

**** Yeah, this was my first game ever.

 

Day 2 of the jam – art and writing!

Posted by (twitter: @AlexDJones)
Sunday, August 24th, 2014 12:19 pm

Okay, so our game is about texting your partner whilst waiting for your connecting flight in London Heathrow.

Our interpretation of the theme of ‘Connected Worlds’ focuses on interpersonal relationships, taking ‘worlds’ to mean somebody’s private world, and connection being the means by which that private world intersects and interferes with other people’s private worlds through their relationships. So we have three types of connection at play here – we have the airport location which acts as a point of connection between two different places, the personal connection to your partner, and the connection between you and a mysterious third person who becomes the subject of conversation.

My friend Sandy is doing the art for the project: here’s a look at the phone from which the player interacts with their partner:

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Isn’t that good? And having it done makes the whole project feel more complete, more doable! Speaking of complete, here’s a view of the Twine node map of the 90% done script!

connectiontwinenodemap90percent

What this is an experiment (?) in is presenting the player with a situation without giving them prior information on it. The game is essentially asking the player to roll with the punches, to take in new information, use it to adjust their view of the scenario and make a response accordingly. You are essentially blagging your way through this dialogue tree – we don’t expect it to necessarily be fuper se, but hopefully it’s interesting.

I’m in??? I mean I’m in.

Posted by (twitter: @AlexDJones)
Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 7:50 am

I’m entering the Jam contest solo – I’ve never entered LD before, nor have I ever made a game, so this is going to go really well really quickly.

I have a concept and am working on writing it up now. Maybe later I’ll do a blog post about how I’m interpreting the theme.

I’m using Game Maker, Twine (for planning, visualising dialogue branches), bfxr and Photoshop CS2.

I literally cannot see how this can go wrong.

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