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We’re live!

Posted by (twitter: @armanky)
Friday, December 11th, 2015 8:09 pm

Stream starts now! Dev starts in an hour!

Come hang out!

I am in and I will be streaming! Come hang out tonight!

Posted by (twitter: @armanky)
Friday, December 11th, 2015 6:34 pm

I want you guys to be a part of it this time!  Let’s make this weekend super fun and maybe get a funny game out of the whole ordeal!

Come see me on Twitch!
Stream goes up around 8:00 PM EST

Good luck to all participants! Let’s make LD34 amazing!

The Soundtrack of Tyrone Rex

Posted by (twitter: @armanky)
Monday, September 7th, 2015 9:38 pm

OST_AlbumArt

Hey! Did you like The Trial of Tyrone Rex? Did you dig those sweet melodies humming modestly in the background?  Well now you can listen them loudly right up in yours ears!  That’s right, the soundtrack for Tyrone Rex is now available on Soundcloud!  Download it! Show it off to your friends!  Bang your head violently to the smooth piano verses riddled about this game’s score!

Go check it out, yo.

Streaming live!!!

Posted by (twitter: @armanky)
Wednesday, August 26th, 2015 8:41 pm

Playing and rating games!  Come in and check it out!  Submit your game here!

Let’s get some viewers up in here!

Woo!

Wooooo!

Somehow I did it!

Posted by (twitter: @armanky)
Monday, August 24th, 2015 9:57 pm

The Trial of Tyrone Rex

I’m pretty bummed that I had to take an extra day for my entry, but I think the final product is worth it!  Following in the footsteps of Billy McMath, this baby is nearly twenty minutes long and is fully voiced.  I hope you guys enjoy it because working with all of this audio has been a crazy nightmare and it’s extremely miraculous that I pulled off something as decent-looking as this is.

Click here to play The Trial of Tyrone Rex!

We are all up in there

Posted by (twitter: @armanky)
Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 11:32 am

Unless things go horribly wrong within the next several days, I fully plan to participate in LD33! Probably I will use Unity again, although my heart still belongs to HTML5.

On top of that, I’m gonna try to stream my development and play a bunch of your games live during the rating weeks. I can be a very harsh critic, mind you, but I will do my best to give the most honest advice I can.  So please look forward to that, the excitement should probably be enough to keep you awake every night until the jam.

In the meantime, you can play all two of my old Ludum Dare games!  One of them won a gold circle! But could my LD33 game perhaps win even more gold circles?  Only time will tell.

Your LAST CHANCE to rate Billy McMath!

Posted by (twitter: @armanky)
Monday, May 11th, 2015 6:13 pm

Quotes

Look at all these exciting things people are saying about Billy McMath Solves Problems! Boy, it’s too bad you were too busy playing other games and eating bon bons to play and rate this legendary title! Darn! Shoot!

But wait, it isn’t too late!  You still have nearly two hours to tell me how much you love my game!  Your dreams can still come true!  Don’t pass up this opportunity to leave a comment on your favorite game of all time!

Play and rate Billy McMath Solves Problems immediately!

Billy McMath Solves Problems: Post-Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @armanky)
Sunday, May 3rd, 2015 8:05 pm

PostMortem

 

First of all, I wanted to thank each and every person who’s taken the time out of their schedule to play through my ridiculous math adventure.  The response has been overwhelmingly positive and I can’t explain to you how happy it makes me to hear how much you guys have enjoyed the game!

Before reading, if you haven’t had a chance to do so, I would definitely appreciate you giving my entry a play-through!  You can find it and rate it here!

Anyhow, now that I’ve had some distance from the weekend and I have a free evening, let’s tear this sucker down, shall we?

THE CONCEPT

Coming up with a simple and solid concept is, in my opinion, the most absolutely crucial part of any jam entry.  I’ve been told that you should never run with the first idea you have, and indeed, the idea for Billy McMath falls in at idea number five or six.  Some of my earlier ideas involved using the microphone in some way to interact with the game (dropped for being extremely impractical to implement) and an idea involving the use of entire mountains as weapons to defeat your enemies.

Photo May 03, 7 50 19 PM

Another day, Mountain Man.

The problem with this idea and a lot of the ideas I was coming up with was the inability to develop the game play beyond “kill x number of enemies”.  Even with something as big and ridiculous as mountains, you’re still just sort of hitting things a lot. Coming up dry, I decided to try and focus less on action-heavy concepts, even though the theme seems to heavily favor such ideas.

I’m not sure the exact moment that the idea for Billy McMath popped into my head, but I think I’d reached a point where I was simply going for the stupidest weapon I could think of.  And that lead to the concept of a nerdy little kid using his superior academic abilities to overcome his problems.  I think drawing the initial sketches and realizing the potential of the concept was what won me over on the idea.

Thankfully I eventually decided to make Billy look less like a disgusting goblin.

Thankfully I eventually decided to make Billy look less like a disgusting goblin.

The idea of telling a story about a dweeby kid through shoddy drawings and stupid voice over was perfect to me.  As soon as I had this idea, I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like and I knew it was the one I was using.

THE GOOD

Only the best games stop drawing a backpack halfway through a strap.

Only the best games stop drawing a backpack halfway through a strap.

I can say with great confidence that the final result wound up exceeding even my own expectations.  As soon as I started drawing panels and thinking about the dialogue, the ideas just flooded in and wouldn’t stop.  Borrowing heavily from the style of Homestar Runner’s legendary web series, Teen Girl Squad, I hit a style that let me get away with whatever ridiculous nonsense I could possibly conceive.  Billy McMath is, in essence, a very direct look into that inner workings of my own brain and my own absurd style of humor.

Coding the game proved to be extremely easy.  I can mostly chalk this up to finally caving in and using Unity to make the game, as opposed to my own HTML5 framework I usually employ.  Most of the game’s logic involves listening for audio clips and timers to finish and firing off events when they do.  The panel progression, including music changes and math problems, were all built with a giant array of objects specifying that information.

78 of these suckers is all it takes to make a game!

78 of these suckers is all it takes to make a game!

This made the process of adding new panels as simple as dragging, dropping, and checking some boxes.  Easy!

The long of the short of it is that the game wound up being entirely functional by the end of day one, giving me the entirity of the second day just to draw and do crazy voices and basically just have a gay old time telling this story.

Doing math at a moment's noticed proved to be surprisingly engaging.

Doing math at a moment’s noticed proved to be surprisingly engaging.

I feel the interface of the game also successfully explained everything you needed to know about what your job is.  I feel like we, as designers, should do everything in our power to avoid prefacing our game with walls of text explaining what to do (though sometimes it ends up being inevitable with the time constraints).  The moment the timer starts going off and a math problem appears in your face, it’s immediately obvious that you should type in the answer.  Every streamer I’ve seen play the game has been able to figure out what to do without any complicated explanation of the controls.  I’m extremely proud that I managed to pull this off!

8_06

I think, however, the most important thing about this game is that it wound up being a very personal tale despite all of its wacky hijinx.  Perhaps because it reminded me of TGS so much, Billy McMath took me back to my experiences in Middle School and how weird and out of place I felt.  Crindy’s speech at the end of the game is, essentially, what I would tell my Middle School self if I could sit down and talk to him now.  I’m not sure why I decided to make the ending as sincere as I did, but when I started thinking about how to conclude this thing, nothing else made nearly as much sense to me.  I think I was successful in conveying that even though Billy is awkward, lacks confidence, and struggles through his life, none of the characters in the game actively dislike him (except for maybe the bully in the first scene? Nah, he likes Billy too).  Most of Billy’s struggles aren’t from people hating him, they’re just a result of him being in an awkward part of his life, and that’s something I think a lot of portrayals of awkward teenagers fail to grasp.

The stupid jokes also seemed to land well so that’s cool too!

THE BAD

As I said before, I consider Billy McMath to be a huge success.  So the problems I have with how it turned out are surprisingly few, and I’m the worst there is at being overly self-critical.

I guess the biggest problem with the game is in its core concept, namely that Billy McMath is really little more than a glorified webcomic.  There’s nothing to really distinguish it from a well-done Flash animation other than some superficial interactive bits involving quicktime events, and in that sense it almost feels like I’m cheating the system by calling it a game in the first place.  If somebody spent the whole time making stellar gameplay that lasts five minutes, is it really fair to pit that against a game driven almost entirely by my abilities as a storyteller?

Also, the Football problem is way too difficult. I'm sorry.

Also, the Football problem is way too difficult. I’m sorry for that.

Besides the simplicity of the gameplay, the interface also had a couple of nitpicks.  The heart system wound up being mostly arbitrary due to there being relatively few opportunities to lose them, and throwing out the word “OK” confused some players who thought they were supposed to do something to confirm their solution.  A simple check mark would have served the same purpose without any of the confusion.  Whoops.

I also should have spent more time balancing the math problems and bringing in other people to test them.  I’m pretty good at math myself and the difficulty of the game seems to be slightly biased towards “soul-crushingly hard”.  My sincerest apologies go out to those of you who came to realize their own arithmetical shortcomings as a result of playing my game.

IN CONCLUSION

Ultimately, Billy McMath Solves Problems wound up being an extremely silly yet personal story about my own experiences through Middle School, and I couldn’t really ask for it to be anything more than that.  I’ve watched people play the game and I feel it successfully conveys all of the humor and emotion that I’d intended, so I’m happy.  Honestly, I don’t feel any pressing need to release a proper Post-Compo of this one!

So what’s gonna happen with this world and these characters? Who knows!  If there’s enough widespread interest, I’d love to revisit this universe, though that will definitely be a very different game entirely than what this one was.  Maybe I can even give Crindy a proper female voice instead of my own terrible impression of Lumpy Space Princess.

That’s all there really is to say about the game!  Again, I’m extremely humbled by the overwhelmingly-positive feedback I’ve received so far and I want to thank you for enjoying my game.

I gotta give a shout out to the Eastern Kentucky University Gaming Institute for hosting Ludum Dare this year.  You should also check out the games my fellow Kentucky devs have made!

You can follow me on a bunch of social media if you want to keep up with my current and future gamedev adventures!  I’ve got a lot of cool stuff coming!

My Website
Tumblr
Twitter

-Alex Mankin

Billy McMath Solves Problems

Posted by (twitter: @armanky)
Sunday, April 19th, 2015 10:51 pm

Billy McMath

My compo game is up!  If you haven’t played it, what’s wrong with you?

This is an idea I was immediately excited about as soon as I came up with it.  Probably it’s the most fun I’ve had making a game in a long time and I hope the fun I had making it carries over into the gameplay experience!

The game’s style is heavily inspired by Teen Girl Squad, from the days of yore when Homestar Runner was a thing.

Also, I hope you enjoy math.  Because you’re gonna have to do a lot of it.

Please check it out!

The beautiful early stages of game development

Posted by (twitter: @armanky)
Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 10:02 am

WhatTheHell

 

Screenshots of early development are always wonderful because they rarely make any sense at all. What’s even happening here? It’s a mystery.

 

 

48 Hour Compo! Please feel free to examine my HTML 5 game engine!

Posted by (twitter: @armanky)
Friday, August 22nd, 2014 6:45 pm

HTML5

I probably should have shared this earlier, but this year I will be participating using my own engine I’ve put together in HTML 5 over the past year or so.  As is only fair, I’d like to share with you the “blank” version of my engine I’m starting off my game with!  You may download the JS files here!

This is more or less an enhanced version of the engine I used during LD29 to make Strawberry in the Underworld.  It features MUCH better handling of sprite animations, a basic structure for Axis-Aligned Bounding Boxes, and has a bunch of added functions that just make it easier for me to use.  I apologize that I have no form of documentation outside of code comments, but if you can manage to work out the inner workings in time to use for this jam, feel free!  And let me know! I would feel so honored!

Good luck to everybody who’s participating!  The theme definitely promises some interesting entries and I look forward to playing them!

-Alex Mankin

 

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