About Alistair Aitcheson (twitter: @agAitcheson)

Full-time independent developer based in Wiltshire, UK. Developer of Greedy Bankers for iPhone and Greedy Bankers vs The World for iPad.

Having developed games as a hobby for abut ten years, I now run my own one-man games studio. I currently focus on iOS, but have a background in C#/XNA and AS3/FlashPunk. I do all the programming, design and artwork for my games.

More on my work and studio at http://www.alistairaitcheson.com

Entries

 
Ludum Dare 22
 
Ludum Dare 18

Alistair Aitcheson's Trophies

Alistair Aitcheson's Archive

The Making of “Omega Men”

Posted by (twitter: @agAitcheson)
Wednesday, December 21st, 2011 10:57 am

I made a video about developing my Ludum Dare #22 entry, Omega Men. During the competition I filmed some video diaries, and some footage of the game as it evolved, so hopefully it’ll be an interesting story!

Making of Omega Men (Youtube)

Btw, does anyone know how to embed youtube videos into these pages properly?

Complete!

Posted by (twitter: @agAitcheson)
Sunday, December 18th, 2011 8:15 pm

Really enjoyed this weekend’s Ludum Dare. Everything managed to come together towards the end. I noticed the mutants became so much more interesting when they could move by two squares instead of just one.

Click here to play!

Omega Men Screenshot

I’m looking forward to hearing comments on the game. I’ve been working almost entirely on Greedy Bankers over the past year and it’s refreshing to try out some new ideas. I’m not expecting to get great scores for this, but I’m glad I tried the ideas out and I think there’s definitely something worth expanding on here.

The most important thing is that I had fun! I want to do more prototyping, and this was a great way to pump-prime myself for more experimenting!

I’ve been recording footage of the game as it progressed and my thoughts as I developed the game. I’ll be editing it and posting it up on youtube tomorrow :)

Good luck to all the other entrants and a Merry Xmas!

It starts to come together!

Posted by (twitter: @agAitcheson)
Sunday, December 18th, 2011 11:50 am

The game’s started to come together now – hopefully it’ll be fun once it all works!

There’s enemies, with sprites, and you can now win and lose, which is nice. I made an effort to design the sprites that are really easy to animate, so that I didn’t need to spend time making characters run. I like how it’s turned out!

The Mona Lisa

My next jobs are to get some background tiles done, implement the points/score system, and then tweak the gameplay to make it a bit more… exciting!

Good Morning! (Day 2)

Posted by (twitter: @agAitcheson)
Sunday, December 18th, 2011 2:33 am

Hey everyone!

I realise there’s less than 24 hours to go and I haven’t written up a post, so I thought I’d show you what I’m up to.

After a lot of brainstorming, I eventually took inspiration from The Omega Man (which I’ve never seen, but I’ve seen the Simpsons spoof!), and have started on what I guess is a survival horror/match-em-up cross.

Work in Progress for "Omega Man"

It’s still early days, and I’m still using a lot of placeholder art, but there’s some pathfinding in place, line-of-sight and turn-based things, and game overs. Still need to program in the mission objectives, enemy spwaning and things, and see if it all comes together!

Mind Control Monster Madness – The Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @agAitcheson)
Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 5:04 am

Okay, first off, I’m going to say this shouldn’t really be a postmortem as such. Why? Because I’m going to develop my game from here into something much better! So it’s not really dead yet :)

Mind Control Monster Madness

Anyway, the final game, in my opinion, was pretty ropey. Mostly the controls were horrible, with the camera zooming off from here to there whenever you click on something. But also the game lacked a lot of clarity. The gameplay isn’t explained very well at all, and it’s very hard to tell when you’re clicking on a monster and when you’re clicking on land. This is all stuff I fixed up for the Jam version, as best as I could. I still think it’s hooribly awkward to play though.

Mind control to Major Tom...

I thought it was a disaster when I submitted it on Monday morning (or Sunday night depending on where you are!), but playing it again now I can see a lot of value in it. The rock-paper-scissors mechanic on the monsters works a treat, and because they differ in other attributes (most notably speed), it makes it weighted in a way that’s quite interesting to play.

For example, dragons are the fastest monsters, so you normally want to get them first. You can use them to beat up the Godzillas. But you need a certain number of Godzillas on your side to beat up the turtles, otherwise you’ll get screwed by turtles. You can’t mind-control every enemy fast enough, so you need to start fights to defent your control tower. This means that you need to think on your feet at all times, and judge what’s the most pressing issue on the fly.

the monsters in action

That, to me, is nice gameplay, and it’s a shame the concept doesn’t really shine through because of all the other issues with the game. That’s why I’m going to work on it more and make a decent game out of it.

So what went wrong?

Time. Time is the enemy of us all! I think I suffered a dent to my productivity due to travel. I spent 8 hours travelling on the Saturday, to Cambridge and back, to spend time with the Cambridge Friendship Club, who were jamming for the weekend. And, of course, while I was there, I spent a lot of time chinwagging. But I do not regret that at all! It was great to meet everyone, I had good fun getting to know other developers, and it was motivating to be in the same place as a bunch of other people working on their own projects. Without other people around to chat to I would have gone stale very quickly!

The train journey wasn’t too bad. Instead of starting programming right away, I planned out my ideas on the train, thinking through each aspect until I was happy with my ideas. But other than that it is hard to program while on a train or metro. I managed a bit, but didn’t really get stuck into it.

Was I too ambitious? To be honest, I don’t think this was a massively ambitious project. It was fairly simple, and there weren’t many gameplay elements to consider. The problem is the indirect control style. You don’t move your guy by pressing a button and he moves. You have to choose a monster monster, and click on something to tell him to do some command, and he’ll work out the rest himself. All the elements, the user interface, the AI, the camera controls, and so forth, were very much intertwined. If I’d made a platformer and the enemies’ pathfinding didn’t work it would be fine, but if the pathfinding were bust in this game then the whole thing would be unplayable.

The pathfinding, simple as it was, was buggered for so much of development, mostly because of silly typos of single forgotten lines.

So I think in that respect, I wasn’t overambitious on the amount of content required, but having so many elements that needed to intertwine and work together meant that it was only very late on when I had some thing that was playable at all. I spent a lot of time wrestling with some nasty bugs, some of them caused by tiny little things (like forgetting to put a “break” in a “switch” condition), and by the time it all came together I was too tired to really make it all user-friendly, making the whole game look awful.

But I don’t regret doing it like that, because at the end of the day, had it all come together then it would have been great fun. Maybe I just needed a couple more hours earlier in the day, or maybe a shorter train journey. But ultimately I took a gamble. I knew I was making a game that would either work great or not work at all. The gameplay was self-generating and didn’t need a lot of content (graphics, dialogue trees etc.) to make it work. And this time it didn’t work. The game was fine, but the interface makes the whole thing a struggle to play.

I’m glad I gambled, because now I have a game that could be developed into something really cool. Looking back I’m much happier than I was about it when I submitted it. I thought it was complete tosh and was actually quite depressed about it! I’m glad I don’t feel that way about it now 😉

The game was a failure, sure, but a failure I’m very happy with, because it was so close to being a resounding success.

In the end…

Posted by (twitter: @agAitcheson)
Sunday, August 22nd, 2010 6:45 pm

Well, just submitted my entry but not really too happy with it.

I think I fell into the trap of not having anything playable until very late on. I spent so long developing the gameplay mechanics (that is, trying to get them to *work*) that I didn’t really have time to make the most of the concept. What there is is the shell of an idea that was almost good.

Still, I think there’s plenty to expand on and improve on, and lots I could develop further if I want to. But I think I’ll have a day off from game development tomorrow!

The funny thing is, it didn’t seem like a complicated idea to start with. I had a pretty good idea of how I was going to implement everything, but actually sitting down and doing it became a real slog.

I’m disappointed, but then it wouldn’t be an exciting competition if you knew you would make a decent game every time. Experimenting and trying something new is all part of the fun, and you can’t experiment without the possibility of failing. So at the very least I can say I learned something, although I’m probably too tired to explain what it is!

I had a lovely time at CB2 Indies. Good luck to everyone else who was there, it was great meeting you all! I’ll be sure to return 😉

And good luck to everyone else who’s taken part!

Good morning!

Posted by (twitter: @agAitcheson)
Sunday, August 22nd, 2010 12:55 am

Up I get and enjoy a healthy bowl of Frosties! Today I’ll be coding at home in Wiltshire instead of at Cambridge, where I was yesterday. This means, instead of gorging away on biscuits and Kick, I’ll be getting proper home-cooked food. Thanks, Mum! 😉

infinite frosted flakes

These infinite bowls of cereal will take a while to finish…

Waitrose is a symbol of my hometown

Off to bed…

Posted by (twitter: @agAitcheson)
Saturday, August 21st, 2010 6:18 pm

It’s 2:15am and I am sleepy, so off to bed I go!

The game’s starting to take shape, but it’s still not “fun” so to speak!

screenshot of Ludumzilla at 2am

The game as it is now…

coding on the train

… and me coding on the train back from Cambridge!

Staying at home in Wiltshire tomorrow. Had an awesome time with the CB2 Indies, and looking forward to seeing them again!

Ludumzilla update

Posted by (twitter: @agAitcheson)
Saturday, August 21st, 2010 11:28 am

The game is fully mouse controlled now! To celebrate, some CB2 Bistro chips. Seriously, these are amazing chips 😉

CB2 Bistro chips - yum yum!!

Planning to add buildings in to get smashed, and get those monsters fighting. Will probably do this on the train back from Cambridge.

It moves!

Posted by (twitter: @agAitcheson)
Saturday, August 21st, 2010 9:42 am

The longer you struggle trying to find a bug the simpler the actual solution turns out to be. I’ve just spent ages trying to fix a bug in the pathfinding and it turned out I’d just missed two ridiculously obvious lines! C’est la vie d’un programmateur! ^^;

Still not playable in any way, shape or form, but I’m still happy. I have things moving around! These balls are supposed to be the monsters, and they’re following each other around at the moment to demonstrate some simple grid-based pathfinding. Have a look here if you’re interested :)

http://www.alistairaitcheson.com/games/inprogress/ld18.html

Ludumzilla at CB2 indies

Posted by (twitter: @agAitcheson)
Saturday, August 21st, 2010 6:38 am

Please don’t let me call this game Ludumzilla!

I’m at CB2indies in Cambridge UK, making my 48 hour game with cool people. Here’s some photos below, taken on my awesome webcam 😉

Ali at CB2indies

In my game, you are the mayor of a big city which is being trampled by Godzilla-esque monsters. You need to hypnotise the monsters to make them attack the others, and different monsters are good against different other monsters so you have to think strategically.

Got the train in from Wiltshire to Cambridge early this morning and started coding on the train. Good times :)

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