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I really like games, programming, and programming games. And Adventure Time.

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LD31 Stack Hacker BreakDown

Posted by
Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 7:39 am

Break it! Break it down! Here we go.

Friday!

Oh boy was I excited. Ludum Dare! This is my second Ludum Dare compo, and basically my third game jam ever. For the longest time I’ve hidden in the crevices, slaving away at code and games of which I’ve made (and finished!) a few. My first Ludum Dare I really had no intention of joining in, but ended up doing so anyways when I saw the theme “Connected Worlds” and immediately had an idea that I wanted to do. So, understandably, I was really excited (and I was prepared for) that to happen this Ludum Dare.

I had nightmares of snowmen and thought for sure that was going to be the one, but I was simultaneously relieved and disappointed when I saw the theme announced: “Entire Game on One Screen”.What? My initial impression was asteroid clones galore (but thankfully it appears my fears were not well founded, as the games this Ludum Dare have been delightfully original). Talking with others who were at our physical jam meetup location, I quickly got the impression that I wasn’t the only one to have difficulty coming up with a solid idea for this jam.

So it was befitting that my first attempt at creating a game for LD31 only lasted for a bit. I spent a while playing Risk of Rain instead of developing. Eventually I decided on trying to come up with something in the vain of “The Yawhg”, using ChatMapper, Unity, and NLua. It took me a greater portion of the night to plan the dialogue trees, write dialogue, and eventually code my own spec to import ChatMapper’s exports into the engine and use LUA to parse the conditionals. Then I became unsatisfied with the idea and looked for new inspiration.

My second idea was that of a 2D hack and slash game, where the player controlled a robot with a television screen for a head, wielding a pink umbrella to dispatch enemies. I spent the rest of that night playing with Inkscape and creating art before I became tired of that concept, too.

Saturday!
Disenchanted with the idea of creating a game, I was sure I wasn’t going to be creating an entry for Ludum Dare. Still, I hung around the meetup location for LD this year and putzed around in Unity. Eventually I decided to play around with Unity’s new UI system, and I started to create a hacking game because it’s always something I wanted to do. I quickly picked up the system and actually really enjoyed creating UIs in it. I thought about what might constitute a different approach for ‘hacking’ or cracking into something and began working on the concept for Stack Hacker.

Originally, the idea was intended to be a full on OS simulator with hacking minigame, but as time went on, I realized that I was already halfway through Ludum Dare with nothing, so I decided to focus entirely on the minigame itself. I’m really glad I did.

Sunday!

Sunday I spent the majority of the time refining code and trying to get something playable as quickly as possible. To say I slept pretty terrible this weekend would be an understatement, and I quickly racked up hours to try and make sure I’d be able to finish. I don’t really see right now the best way I could have avoided the crunch. My muse is fickle, and I suppose I could have stuck with any of my other ideas, but I also saw them as just not capable of being completed in my deadlines.

I took a lot of inspiration from google, where I just punched in a bunch of random image searches until an idea formed in my head about the mechanics of the minigame. I really wanted it to be based in concept at least of something at least pseudo-realistic, and I chose causing memory exceptions in a program to get access to the stack, or decryption information like passwords and such. I’m not really sure where I came up with the idea of using a legend on one side to figure out what to corrupt, but I really liked that component of it because it added a memory challenge to it.

With handing the game out to people, fine tuning, and polishing the experience around the minigame, I actually came out with just a bit of extra time before the submission hour, which I used to take a nap.

Synopsis
Ultimately, I was really able to accomplish something that I really wanted to do after the last jam, which was to really focus on game mechanics and controls. Though this submission lacked sound effects and music, I was really pleased with how it came out.

I really hope that everyone had as much fun as I did this Ludum Dare, and I look forward to playing your games!

And just as much, I hope you enjoy playing Stack Hacker!

LD31 Stack Hacker

Posted by
Monday, December 8th, 2014 6:51 pm

I can’t believe I finished it! I didn’t think I would come through with a game this Ludum Dare, but I did. After two false starts, I managed to pour a little under 48 hours into Stack Hacker.

Stack Hacker In Game

Play as a hollywood style hacker, crashing firewalls by causing memory exceptions in this little minigame.

You can view the submission here.

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