About Wighead (twitter: @BradleySmith93)

Freelance Games Artist. Just another freak in the freakshow.

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Ludum Dare 37
 
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on September 21, 2013

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Channel – Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @BradleySmith93)
Sunday, December 22nd, 2013 4:53 pm

Channel – Postmortem

The Game:

Channel is a game where players smash a guy’s face onto a table and is best described as a ‘Stress Relief Game’. You can play it here. It looks like this…

Channel

This was a good Ludum Dare for me as I guess you could say I created something which is pretty much a reflection of myself – it’s almost a ‘Self Portrait Game’, well, that’s what I thought when making it. Where it of course flawed in many ways in terms of design I am at the least happy I made it as it does have some potential to go in a further more established direction, perhaps. Already it has taught me a lot of new design principles which have proved valuable to put into practice.

My lecturers would have something to say if I said I made this game for ‘myself’ so I guess I made it for people ‘like me’ who perhaps have a ‘dark, misanthropic or sick sense of humor’. I have a hunch they aren’t overly keen on the game due to its many flaws but either way I hope that it has some purpose which may be to inspire younger students on my course to think not so literally on a given theme and to consider weird gameplay ideas when designing – I hope this was achieved on even a minor level.

The game is loosely a commentary of certain free to play/freemium games that reward players for times spent and number of interactions made – Channel attempts to satirise characteristics commonly used in this formula within these kinds of games.

What Went Right:

Feel: Although the game is flawed in terms of control I am actually relatively happy with the way that the way it feels. I really wanted to create a sense of grabbing the character and being able to physically throw him downwards with full force. The emotional response I was trying to go for was ‘guilt’, a technique free-to-play games tend to rely on as a technique of getting players to come back to their game is the feeling of guilt. They make players feel guilty for not checking back in at a certain time in order to undertake rudimentary tasks. With Channel I wanted people to feel guilty for undertaking a rudimentary task over and over again – of course this idea could still be iterated further to really enforce this emotional response but what has been nice is that people have said to me that they feel bad for the character while playing which was intentionally designed.

Simplistic Mechanic The mechanic pretty much came out how I envisioned it. One thing that I am highly limited by is my technical ability to program so this reflected the nature and scope of the game that I made drastically, which is expected at a jam. I am happy with how the mechanic ‘feels’, it’s fairly satisfying. I think one thing I wish I could’ve added was a custom cursor of a hand to grab the character so that players obtain some visual feedback knowing with clarity when they are interacting.

Iterative Design: What worked was I had a playable build and all my mechanics in by the end of day one, which meant day two, was spent simply polishing and tweaking the game. Initially I thought I had underscoped as I submitted and stopped working on it about 6 hours early – I also slept over the weekend (a lot). Over time I’ve realised that I could’ve spent the time adding things to enhance this gameplay which at the time I was unable to come up with – at which point I was creatively drained. However the simplicity and nature of the game meant that this was the first jam I was really relaxed in participating in and I think this reflected in the game positively.

Satire & Feedback: I wanted to experiment with satire in this jam and I hope that this is achieved on some level. A lot of my projects are emotionally driven, so it was refreshing to work on something ‘quirky’ and less emotion driven. Feedback so far has been awesome probably the nicest I’ve ever had, which is surprising due to the nature of the game – either way it’s very motivating to develop this further into something great. Some of the coolest things people have said is that if feels very ‘Ren & Stimpy’, don’t know if this is true, but admittedly Ren & Stimpy is a big influence on my animation style, I hope that same sort of sense of humour comes across too. People have said it has an almost ‘Tim Burton’ mood/feel to it, which I can only take as a compliment. One of the best things about Ludum Dare is the feedback because people always say such nice things about the games; it’s both really inspiring and motivating.

Theme: The only feedback that really gets to me is when people say ‘I don’t understand how this links to the theme’. Personally, I think people take the theme too seriously – a theme can inspire design to go in ANY direction no matter how loosely interpreted. For me, it’s interesting to see games where no clear link to the theme is defined – it makes me wonder how the designer got to where they did and I think that’s much more interesting. In Channel you have to finish the game to find out what you only get one of.

22

What Went Wrong:

Some Design Flaws: The game isn’t motivating beyond a point and most players put it down after a short time at the idea that it feels like the game doesn’t go in any direction. Items appear for a long time but these items feel meaningless, unimaginative and unintuitive. I think if I were to develop this idea I would perhaps make it so that players are able to see all possibly unlockable items from the moment they begin the game. Doing this will not only motivate players to want to unlock these items but also entice players into something they do not yet have. I would also like to iterate on what purpose the items have – perhaps either some interactivity with the items that play a meaningful role that may add dynamic alteration to the core gameplay. Or perhaps items that in some way of unfold elements of narrative that players interpret and play out in their heads over time. Either way, the items that will feature in a re-iterated build will need to be interesting and hold some sort of mystery for players.

Players Don’t Know When the Game Stars: One chunk of feedback that I got was that “I didn’t know the game had started”. The reason I didn’t add a main menu was an attempt to break try and break typical gaming conventions. The game starts in the way that it does because I like the idea of people looking at the given situation of just a simple animated character and a table to attempt to give a sense of experimentation and discovery, I like the idea of players figuring out what to do and laughing with it when finally figure out the system of the a game. I guess looking back it would have been beneficial to add a menu so that this flaw was then avoided by your typical gamer.

Controls: Since watching people playtest, it’s apparent to me that the mechanic is somewhat flawed, some players play the game differently to how I initially intended to be played. Upon playtesting it was clear that people seem to feel interacting with the character a little clunky. One suggestion was made to change the controls to simply a ‘click’ instead of ‘clicking & dragging’, but I’m still a little unsure – I’d love to get some other people’s opinions on what they think? Admittedly I probably could have made this a little more sophisticated when initially implementing controls.

Conclusion:

The game was coded in Actionscript 3.0 and build using Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Flash CS6 for art and animation and Audacity for sound design.

Special thanks to Joe Kinglake for helping me with some coding bugs I was unable to solve, might not have finished this jam so smoothly without his help. Make sure you check out and rate his game too, he made a beautiful point & click game – play it here. As always, thanks to Pianos Become The Teeth for Artistic inspiration. Thanks to Ludum Dare and everyone who took the time to play and rate my game.

icon

Channel

Posted by (twitter: @BradleySmith93)
Sunday, December 15th, 2013 6:39 pm

Made a satire game called ‘Channel’. You can play it here.

It looks like this…

21

The Saddest Landscape – Post-mortem

Posted by (twitter: @BradleySmith93)
Saturday, August 31st, 2013 1:20 pm

Firstly, I’d just like to share the notes I took for the entire weekend of the jam…
and you can play my game here: The Saddest Landscape.

12

What went well

Established an interesting link to the theme fairly quickly: 10 Seconds” made me think of old school films in which have a countdown such as: link. This then led me to think about old film projectors more specifically a film reel or film negative strip. I thought it would be interesting to create a world that lies within a filmstrip, and that players themselves are in turn telling themselves a story as they play it, this was how I interpreted the theme. I was surprised to find a number of people who thought I hadn’t considered the theme and were unable to see the connection.  There is no gameplay mechanic that directly links to the theme; my interpretation was purely visual and aesthetically which I felt could have been the reason for this misunderstanding.

Making artwork and animating: Creating art and animating are my stronger side so naturally this went relatively smoothly. I feel I do well in establishing a certain feeling or mood in the game and are happy with the results. I didn’t want to do a purely black and white game as my old LD26 game was all black and white; I wanted to have at least some hint of colour. So I went for an old sepia brownish tone which was intended to give an old fashioned kind of feel, that I hope it does.

Managed to submit something: Having almost scrapped the idea midday Saturday to do something that was easier for me to program (I was thinking of a point and click adventure perhaps) I was happy that I stuck at it and managed to submit something that ran relatively smoothly.

A lot of people have been asking me my influences; this is pretty much my main influence. – Link:

untit

What went wrong

Learning AS3/Coding: I’m not much of a programmer but I love coming up with interesting design ideas for games which is why I participate (and to learn). But I got very frustrated throughout programming the game which is why this entry isn’t as substantial as it could have been.

The game mechanic I wanted to implement would have been that the characters could let go of each other’s hands and that when separated one can make it over further to reach gaps and aid the other character across, so basically hints of puzzle elements to the game.

Bugs (oops): I submitted the game with one silly bug I knew about but completely forgot to fix If players hold the ‘up arrow’ key the characters just fly up endlessly. There are also some minor collision issues which are beyond my knowledge of programming to fix so I just had to work around these issues throughout development.

Not Much of a Game/No Gameplay: I think I ever so slightly bit off more than I could chew as I know very little AS3. This meant that I was able to get a concept out but unable to implement a game mechanic and to design some intrigue levels with a nice curve around this mechanic. However I learnt a ton of new things because of this. What I submitted isn’t much of a game (yet) more of an interactive storytelling conceptual piece and proof of concept.

What is next

I’m fairly happy with the concept and I feel it has a lot of room for potential. I plan to continue working on this due to the nice feedback I have received from fellow devs. I have found myself a programmer and we’re currently working evenings and weekends to maybe make this little prototype into something hopefully substantial. All the artwork/characterisation will be further iterated and touched up for a more unique/established art style based on some very valuable feedback I have received. A solid game mechanic will be put in place which in turn will give some puzzle elements to the game, as well as adding some variety to the twitch skill mechanics currently in place for platforming.

Thank you to everyone who played and for your kind words.Untitled

The Saddest Landscape.

Posted by (twitter: @BradleySmith93)
Monday, August 26th, 2013 7:17 pm

This is my second Ludum Dare, really enjoyed myself this time around… learnt so much. ^-^

Will most likely continue working on my little prototype into something substantial in the near future.

Play my entry here: The Saddest Landscape.

The Saddest Landscape

Progress

Posted by (twitter: @BradleySmith93)
Saturday, April 27th, 2013 5:30 pm

People are rectangles.

Scrnshot1

Ludum Dare 26 (Minimalism)

Posted by (twitter: @BradleySmith93)
Friday, April 26th, 2013 7:32 pm

This is my first proper Ludum Dare and I’ll be streaming progress from here… http://www.twitch.tv/radbrad9

Liking the theme, already had some cool ideas too.. (will post screenshots soon)

Best of luck everyone!

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