About bendmorris


Ludum Dare 37
Ludum Dare 30
Ludum Dare 29

bendmorris's Trophies

bendmorris's Archive

Ludum Dare 37 Postmortem

Posted by
Friday, December 16th, 2016 11:20 am

Overall I’m happy with how LD37 went! I made a virtual pet sim, What Have I Done? Here are some thoughts on the process.

Screen Shot 2016-12-10 at 12.24.09 PM

What went well: Art

The graphics pipeline I used for LD37 was simple, outlined vector art in Inkscape, created in layers which are rasterized individually by a Python script and sent to Spine where they’re animated. I used a similar pipeline for my LD29 entry Hide-n-Stab, but this time there were a couple improvements: I made more (but judicious) use of gradients instead of all flat colors, and I utilized mesh deformation in Spine, which was added since LD29 and which I recently added support for in HaxePunk. This gave the animation a pseudo-3D quality that has received a lot of positive feedback. I think the main character being a small round blob really accented this effect.


Mixed bag: Scope

Throughout the whole thing I had in mind something that I could reasonably implement in two days (or in fact one day if I’d pushed myself more.) This was a benefit because I wasn’t rushing in new (probably buggy) features at the last minute as I was with LD29, and had no known bugs in the final version. I didn’t have to rush home from work Friday night (used that time to brainstorm), got plenty of sleep, ate good meals, and even fit in a trip to Ikea. I also wanted to keep the playtime to about 5 minutes or less and succeeded in that.

However, I probably erred on the side of being a bit too simple. One idea I had post-compo was a “play” button which launches a ball into the room for your pet to play with, fillings its happiness hearts. As it stands there is a bit of a sense of waiting between feedings.

Screen Shot 2016-12-10 at 10.07.35 PM

Mixed bag: Planning

I started out with a specific plan in mind: art and graphics Friday night, gameplay Saturday, polish Sunday. In fact this was a terrible plan for a couple reasons. With 10 individual monster forms in the game, the graphics (and animation!) took up the bulk of my time, so knocking it out the first night would’ve been a fool’s errand. In fact, I came up with the idea for the spider-like animation on the last day and threw it in right before submitting. Beyond that, I found that my productivity was best when I allowed myself to flit between different topics: start to get a little burned out on graphics, put them down and start doing music instead. Get sick of that, put it away and start writing code. This seems like my optimal way to work, rather than trying to over-plan. So while the initial plan wasn’t good, the flexibility in scrapping it and doing what worked was.

download (7)

What could’ve gone better: Clarity

I find that the gameplay is very clear if you’ve ever played with a Tamagotchi. Tamagotchi and its many knockoffs were a formative part of my own childhood, so this is where my own state of mind was. But if you’ve never seen a Tamagotchi, the connection between a yellow duck and flushing the toilet isn’t really obvious. Some tooltips for the buttons, and most of all (spoiler alert) a message when using the sword at the wrong time, would’ve helped more players see the point and make it through to the ending.

download (3)


Compared to my LD27 entry there were mostly improvements:

  • Graphics were improved, and more efficient to create
  • Scope was better contained, resulting in many fewer bugs
  • Gameplay may have been less clear for some, and there were fewer instructions

download (2)


“What have I done? A virtual pet simulator” finished

Posted by
Sunday, December 11th, 2016 2:25 am

I aggressively control the scope of my LD entries, maybe too aggressively. The game is basically finished and ready to go after just over 24 hours with plenty of breaks and a good night’s sleep in the middle. I’m going to sleep on it one more time in case I come up with any final additions.

The premise: it’s a pet simulator a la Tamagotchi, takes place in one room, and may not end as you expect.

Currently there are three intermediate evolutions, each with a unique final form. I’ll think about adding more variations tomorrow!

Screen Shot 2016-12-10 at 3.14.50 PM

Screen Shot 2016-12-10 at 10.07.35 PM

Screen Shot 2016-12-10 at 9.59.12 PM

Screen Shot 2016-12-10 at 12.24.09 PM

LD37 Day 1: What Have I Done?

Posted by
Saturday, December 10th, 2016 3:05 am

Calling it a night because I know I work better rested, but here are some shots from my work in progress, “What Have I Done?”, a virtual pet game.

Screen Shot 2016-12-09 at 11.57.01 PM

Screen Shot 2016-12-09 at 11.57.12 PM

More to come tomorrow!

Obligatory “I’m in” post!

Posted by
Friday, December 9th, 2016 2:38 pm

This will be my third time at the solo competition. My arsenal is as follows:

  • HaxePunk
  • Inkscape
  • Gimp
  • Spine
  • MilkyTracker
  • bfxr
  • Tiled

Good luck everyone!

Hide-n-Stab: post mortem

Posted by
Sunday, May 18th, 2014 1:09 pm

Judging will be over in just over 24 hours. I had a blast with this competition, and I thought I’d sum up what I learned, what went well, and what didn’t.

Hide-n-Stab is a multiplayer stealth game – player characters and NPCs are identical cloaked figures, and your goal is to stab other players in the back. Attacking will reveal you to everyone around as a human, so you have to be careful and wait for the right chance to strike.

Screenshot - 04272014 - 03:32:13 PM

This was my first Ludum Dare and only my second game jam ever – I previously entered the Game Boy Jam, which gave 10 days. 48 hours was a very different experience. I wasn’t even planning on entering this time, and was out at dinner when the theme was announced. I checked Twitter, saw the theme, and immediately came up with the idea for Hide-n-Stab, and I knew that I had to give it a shot.

Anyway, here’s what happened:

What went well

  • I used a fantastic technology stack. The game was written in Haxe, with a Flash game client and a Neko server. I used OpenFL with the HaxePunk game engine, which I’m a contributor to. I’ve been using this stack for a long time so I was able to get right to work and build something quickly, and the server and client were able to share a large amount of code.
  • I had my asset production pipeline down solid as well. Graphics were drawn in Inkscape with individual body parts as separate layers; I used the Inkscape command line tool to split each layer into a separate image and used Spine to do skeletal animation. I had the fully animated character finished, in its more-or-less final form, the on first night, only a few hours after hearing the theme.
  • I serendipitously came up an idea that fit the theme well from the start. This let me tailor gameplay to fit the theme as closely as possible throughout the entire process.
  • I had just moved to a new apartment and was starting a new job on Monday after the competition ended, so I had focus and free time to devote to the competition. Also, my very patient wife kept our 3-year-old occupied so I could keep working.

What didn’t

  • Developing an online game in 48 hours is insane. I spent probably half of my time debugging esoteric networking bugs. Some of the more elusive had to be solved after the competition was over.
  • I posted Hide-n-Stab to Hacker News and did not anticipate the outcome – it was on the front page for an entire Saturday. The server was instantly filled with players and remained so for several days. I was completely unprepared – the server had never been load tested, it wasn’t running on the most robust VM, and it didn’t even have a limit on the number of concurrent players! I spent the weekend running around with my hair on fire, migrating to a better server and trying to tweak things to accomodate the huge influx of players, eventually opening a second overflow server. To be clear – I’m very glad to all the people who played from Hacker News, and it was a great chance to test the game, fix bugs, and get feedback. The reason this is a negative is that I wasn’t completely ready for it.
  • I didn’t have enough time allotted to fix bugs. As a result, the final version was playable, but had some intermittent breaking bugs.

Next time

  • I’ll definitely try to use HaxePunk again. Great experience, can’t recommend enough.
  • I will almost certainly not attempt another MMO-style game in such a short time period.
  • I’ll plan to enter the competition from the beginning and brainstorm theme ideas instead of waiting around and deciding to enter after it’s already underway.
  • Allocate enough time to thoroughly test the game before release, and aim to put out a fully functional version.


Thanks to everyone who played and/or voted! I played some fantastic games this round so the competition is fierce. Good luck to everyone!

Also, if you enjoyed the game, tune in to www.hide-n-stab.com – I’m working on a post-competition version of the game, with browser, desktop, and mobile versions. It’ll have new features and unlockable cosmetic upgrades. You can also follow me on Twitter (@monsterfacegame) to hear about progress.

Screenshot - 04272014 - 03:32:13 PM


For my first Ludum Dare ever, I made an onilne multiplayer stealth action game, Hide-n-Stab, in 48 hours. Really tough to get it in within the timeline, but I finished it! I would’ve loved to have a week to work out various intermittent networking bugs, but this is what I get for biting off way more than I could chew.

In Hide-n-Stab, some cloaked figures are AI controlled, and others might be other players (they look the same, but they’re different beneath the surface!) Your goal is to stab other players in the back while avoiding detection yourself. Whenever you attack, your eyes will glow and your knife will show for a short time, leaving you vulnerable to other players that might be watching. The best strategy is to hide and only strike when the moment is right.

Hide-n-Stab was made with Haxe, using OpenFL and the HaxePunk game engine. I’ll go into more technical details in the coming weeks. It’s a fantastic technology stack, which left me lots of time to wrestle with networking issues, which there were plenty of. Oh boy. I won’t be trying that again any time soon.

Give Hide-n-Stab a try! The link is available here: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-29/?action=preview&uid=36156 and the game requires only your browser and a Flash plugin to play, no signups, ads, etc. If you play, please rate it to let me know what you thought. And, it’s obviously a lot more fun with friends, so get them to try it out with you. Thanks!

[cache: storing page]