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Elidia – Post Mortem

Posted by
Monday, May 16th, 2011 10:49 am

With only a week left of voting time, I figured it’s high time I get around to writing a post mortem for my game, Elidia.  Elidia is a game of survival, where your goal is to avoid the enemies for as long as possible.  The theme came into play by certain weapons which help you to destroy the enemies.

Click to rate Elidia

What went right:

  • Choosing an extremely simple concept.  In the past, I have bitten off a bit more than I can chew in just 48 hours–I have always made something playable, but it hasn’t been for very long.  Elidia is as complete as my original concept.  Obviously it can use some refinement and expansion, but I am very happy with what I got done.  All-in-all, the whole thing really took me about 16 hours of work.
  • Having a game that doesn’t need a story.  I’m a big fan of story-driven games, but they’re almost certainly too much work for a Ludum Dare.  I opted to have a game which didn’t need a story to be played.  That being said, I’d like to think that there is a bit of a story told through the narrative.  Speaking of…
  • Using audio.  In the past, I have only really ever used SFXR or BFXR to make sound effects.  I opted for a text-to-speech program this time around, since I thought it would work out better than generic “pew pew” sounds.  I also figured I could work a bit of humor into the speech, since it doesn’t really fit anywhere else.

What went wrong:

  • Not adding enough variation.  There is only one type of enemy, but ideally there will be many more–each with something different about them.  I will also add a lot more variation to the audio so it will be less repetitive.
  • Figuring out the best graphical style.  I wanted the game to be a lot like Geometry Wars, but didn’t want it to be a copy.  While the game play is actually very different, the style is like a very simple version of Geometry Wars.  I plan on coming up with a style which is unique to Elidia, while still keeping its influences.
  • Not changing the size of the bounding boxes.  This is easily the most hated part of Elidia.  Each enemy is a triangle, but the bounding box is a square which encompasses the entire triangle–so you can still die even if you’re pretty far away.  I knew this was an issue, but never got around to resolving it before the competition was over.

In the end, this is my most successful Ludum Dare yet.  I managed to complete the game I set out to in the alotted time, and it seems to be getting good feedback.  Obviously I don’t know how it’s doing vote-wise, but it’s still a big success to me.  If you haven’t played it or rated it yet, what’re you waiting for?!  Good luck to everyone in the competition!  :)

Elidia

Posted by
Sunday, May 1st, 2011 9:12 pm

I managed to finish my game, Elidia, in time for the compo!  The game is rough, but finished.  This is the first time I have managed to actually complete a full game–in Ludum Dare or out!

So what are you waiting for?  Go play and rate!

Elidia

Everybody loves particles!

In Soviet Russia, Ludum Dare is in me!

Posted by
Friday, April 29th, 2011 6:23 pm

So under an hour left and there are no pictures of cats.  So, here are pictures of my two cats:

They may look sweet, but trust me, they're bastards.

So now that that’s out of the way, here’s what I plan on using during the compo:

  • Language: AS3
  • IDE: FlashDevelop
  • Libraries: flixel
  • Audio: sfxr
  • Graphics: Photoshop
  • Music: probably nonexistant

I might make a timelapse, but no promises.  Good luck, everyone!

Ah, to no longer have a time constraint

Posted by
Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 3:34 pm

Now that I don’t have to rush to get everything done, I’m going through and redrawing everything in Fromulus.  Everyone seems to think it’s got good art (and I do, too), but it could certainly be better.  I was definitely rushed to get it all done in time, so now that I no longer have the pressing time constraint, I can do things the proper way.

The obvious first place to start is with the character graphics.  Fromulus in the old version was in a profile view, which was certainly easier to draw in a short time, but not as good to look at as a 3/4 view.  The enemies are already drawn in 3/4, so it makes even less sense for him to be in profile.

Here is a comparison shot of Fromulus’ old casting animation versus his new one:

Fromulus Cast Comparison

The most important difference is that I increased his saturation quite a lot.  On top of this, I got rid of his single-color border and used darker versions of the color being outlined.

So, what do you think?

Post-mortem

Posted by
Monday, August 23rd, 2010 5:12 pm

So now that everything has settled, I’d like to take some time to explain the process that went behind making Fromulus.

Firstly, I spent most of the time disconnected from the internet.  This wasn’t exactly on purpose, but I think it helped me focus a bit more.

The competition started at 9pm my time, and I devoted the first night to ideas and sleep.  I came up with a few decent ideas, which I blogged about earlier.  I settled on Fromulus as it seemed like the best option.  I woke up a bit later than I had really intended, but got to work fairly straight-away on art.  I did all of the art in one sitting, which was probably close to 8 hours.  Most of that was playing around with different styles for things.

Originally, the grass was a standard green, and the ground a purplish-brown.  I opened up the hue editor in Photoshop and played around with it until it became red.  For some reason, it just seemed a lot better.  You compare:

Red vs. Green: Fight!

Red vs. Green: Fight!

After choosing this odd palette, I decided that I needed some equally weird plant life.  I decided to go with spirals, as they were very visually pleasing (to me, anyhow!).  They were a bit of a pain to do, but I think it was worth it.

A very large bulk of the time then came doing animations.  I drew the Slimer first, but ended up redrawing him later as his animation didn’t look great.  Next came the Chomper.  Each has two animations, and fits into a 16×16 block.  The ice cube and fire graphics are just drawn on top with code.  When I get more time, I will likely draw each type of creature on fire, to make the animations look better.  Here’s what the Chomper’s spritesheet looks like.  The first row are of him walking, and the second are of him getting thrown back.

Chomp chomp chomp

Chomp chomp chomp

The largest animation is, of course, Fromulus himself.  He has five different animations, which all needed to be smooth, as you obviously see him the most.  His death animation is the longest, at 10 frames.  Here’s what his spritesheet looks like.  In order of rows, the animations are: walk, cast, jump, fall, die, and then the rest of die.

I am a wizard!

I am a wizard!

I had very clearly two images in my mind:

  1. When he falls, his robes needed to fly up.  Although there isn’t really enough room to show some boxers with hearts on them, I did manage to show a little skin.  (How’s that for ‘humor?’)
  2. When he dies, he should disappear and his hat should float down.  This is definitely my favorite animation.

On to the coding portion, things went relatively smoothly.  I used the wonderful flixel library, with which I am very comfortable, as I have been using it for quite some time.  I made a poor choice in map editor decisions and went with one that is a little flaky (Wasabi M) over Ogmo Editor, just as it was easier to use the maps straight away with out delay.  Ordinarily, Wasabi M is a great editor… however, this time around it had all sorts of problems, namely not letting me see the entire map and then, towards the end of the competition, eating the map that I had drawn out.  So, in the last minutes, I scrambled to make the map you see now–which is why it’s not very good at all.

I actually made some sound effects, but you don’t hear them in game.  Why is this, you might ask?  Well, sfxr only makes wavs, and I didn’t have any software to convert them to MP3.  I tried an online converter, but Flash wouldn’t take the files.   So, I will fix that in a later version (or just embed the sfxr player into flixel).  This really made me mad, but I didn’t really have any time to keep fussing with them.

Before the competition started, I played around with musagi to see how to make chiptunes.  The plan was that if I had any left over time, I’d write a track.  However, before the competition even started, I came to a grand realization: I really, really suck at making music.  So, I gave up on even thinking about trying it.

Anyways, that’s pretty much the tale of making Fromulus.  I enjoyed the experience thoroughly, and will definitely be competing in more Ludum Dares as I can.

Edit: removed responses to things on the voting page, as I see you can make comments there.

Now the part you’ve all been waiting for: here’s a shot of what I’ve done since the competition ended:

Look ma, I have the fire spell selected!

Look ma, I have the fire spell selected!

Fromulus!

Posted by
Sunday, August 22nd, 2010 8:28 pm

So the competition is over now!  Hopefully everyone got done what they needed to.  I ran a little short on time, but managed to come out with a fairly playable game.  You are Fromulus, an elemental wizard.  Your goal is to use the elements on the enemies to get them to kill each other.

Pew pew

Pew pew

Press Z to shoot and X to cycle between Water, Fire, Earth, and Air.  Each has its own abilities (except for Earth, which I didn’t complete, so it just shakes the screen).

Water can freeze enemies, which make good obstacles and heavy paperweights.

Fire makes the enemies scream and run about, setting their brethren on fire, too.

Earth does bupkis.  But it looks pretty cool, in a generic shake-the-screen sort of way.

Air turns your opponent into a screaming projectile.

Anyways, that’s my game!  Hope you enjoy playing it!  I’d love to hear any and all feedback.

The current state of things

Posted by
Sunday, August 22nd, 2010 2:39 pm

Spent most of my time on art, which I believe has payed out.  However, I still have quite a few things to implement in code before the deadline.  Here’s hoping I can get them in!

Here’s a little screenshot of what I have so far:

Chomp chomp chomp

Chomp chomp chomp

Nixed game ideas

Posted by
Saturday, August 21st, 2010 2:03 pm

I devoted all of yesterday to coming up with an idea, then sleeping on what I thought was the best idea.  This post is not about what that “best idea” is, as I’ll be able to show it off in later posts.  Instead, this post is to describe some of the ideas I had; some are very similar to others I’ve seen on here, others are not.

I started off thinking of ways to make a non-computer game into a computer game.  I thought, “how would you use chess pieces as weapons,” or “how would you use playing cards as weapons?”  Although I don’t really have good answers to the above questions, they did get me thinking that the closest thing to a non-computer game is likely a board game.  Something where you only do one thing throughout the entirety of the game.  This is a common theme throughout many casual games: take Tetris, for instance, where nothing changes but the difficulty (speed).

So, what kind of casual game can be made with enemies as weapons?  I first thought of the most successful casual genre, the “match 3,” and how I might do a play off that in an interesting way.  I thought to have enemies of different types (in this case, elemental, i.e. fire, earth, air, water), and when one enemy is selected, other enemies of that type nearby are sucked in.  So, basically you turn an enemy into a vortex against his own kind.

I liked this concept a lot, but decided that there are too many issues with it.  Namely, if the enemies are walking from the top of the screen to the player at the bottom, they would either have to a) walk at differing speeds or b) take a meandering path, so as not to overwhelm the player before enough same-typed enemies got nearby.  One possibility to solve this is to have the player move, but that increases the learning curve and makes it significantly harder to play.

So, that idea got nixed.

Another idea was similar to the game Chu Chu Rocket, where your goal is, instead of getting players from point A to B, to destroy all enemies.  Basically you set up different blocks which make enemies go certain routes, then press play to see them enact out the scene.

I dropped this idea for several reasons: a) robots (which just seemed most likely to be in that situation) seem to be a widely adopted choice by other LDers this time around, b) I sincerely doubt I could create fun puzzles, and c) I would rather have something real-time.

A different play on this was to have it in real-time, but have robots which follow precomputed steps (e.g. continue until you hit a wall, turn left).  The idea was that you can pick up the robots and drop them down where ever you want, and they would then continue happily on their path.  However, it seemed like timing the robots would be hell, and puzzles would be even more difficult to create.

Other ideas I’ve toyed with but haven’t really given much thought:

  • Making enemies somehow eat other enemies
  • Standard beat-em-up with enemy tossing
  • A God game where clicking on an enemy makes him go berserk

So, now off to work on my real game!  Good luck, everyone else!

What didn’t make it in + answers

Posted by
Tuesday, April 27th, 2010 7:15 pm

So, it’s been a couple days since the end of the competition, and I don’t have any posts here, so it certainly seems a good a time as any to change that.  I’ll take this time to describe the grand dreams we had working on Eden Island, as well as answer a few things people have written in their comments.  I’d also like to thank everyone for taking the time to review the game and give some good feedback.

First off, what didn’t make it in.  You got to see the pirates, but what you didn’t get to see was the extremely awesome sea monster which destroys the ship.  The art was done, the ship getting destroyed looked perfect–I just didn’t have time to add the sea monster.  Eventually the sea monster will eat your pirates (and probably monkeys, if the pirates haven’t killed them) if there are too many of them.

The concept of the game was not to be plot based at all–it’s not an evolution from sand to trees to monkeys to pirates to sea monkeys–it’s a combination of everything to create a balanced island.  If you have too many monkeys, you are going to attract pirates (clearly for their luxurious fur); if you have too many pirates, you’re going to attract a sea monster; if you have a sea monster, you’re going to have a destroyed island–back to square 1.  While it is a “god game,” you do not have direct control over anything, really; all you can do is influence what is happening.

There is also going to be a lot more interaction between elements in the coming versions.  For instance, you might notice now that if you have multiple waves of pirates, your monkeys will probably stop throwing coconuts at them.  That means they have run out of them, and they can’t get more.  So the monkey will either have to leave the tree, or a pirate will likely chop it down, since the monkey is no longer trying to kill him.

Rain currently grows your trees, and it will continue to do so.  However, the effect you see now is more for storms; in the later releases, you will start off with light rain, and it will work its way into a storm.  Storms will damage your trees, pirates, and other stuff.

Okay, now for some answers to the comments you have all graciously left us.

First and foremost, several people have stated that the competition must be done solo.  Well, if that were the case, why do the rules make no mention of it?  I started off under the full assumption that it was a solo competition, but when Germille offered his fantastic artistic skills, I closely checked the rules to see if I had to do everything myself.  And guess what?  There is no mention of it being a solo competition in the rules. So, I gladly accepted his services–and clearly the game was better off for that.

Another big point is that it’s not really a game.  Well, it’s not a game yet. Unfortunately I am quite the perfectionist, so I spent far too long getting cool effects in the game than I did developing actual gameplay.  At least I have a lot more planned to go in than what you see now.  Fortunately, I did in 36 hours what I haven’t done on some games in several years.  It was truly an experience.  It was my first Ludum Dare, but it will definitely not be my last.

Okay, now for some specific replies:

smn said it was like a zen garden.  I really like this comparison–it is truly meant to be a world you sculpt and of which you must take careful care.

It inspires jplur to learn flixel: quite a big honor, I believe.  I’m glad my game can inspire anyone to do anything–and learning to make a game in flixel is a noble cause and really quite easy.

increpare: at the moment, you can only have 4 or so plants on screen at a time.  This should mean that you always have monkeys on the ground, otherwise when the pirates come it’d be too easy to just kill them all.  Certainly this will change when there is more interaction between pirates and trees, pirates and monkeys, and monkeys and trees.

zez: about the trees’ bounding boxes: yes, they are quite terrible, and I have redone them significantly in my local copy.  I have also fixed the “drop a monkey on a tree and he starts climbing” bug, as well as the “climb up an invisible trunk” bug.  There are probably also a myriad of others I have fixed, and many more I haven’t noticed.  I definitely welcome all bug reports!

refrag: glad you like it!  I’m honored that it’s your favorite so far.  I think you’ll be really knocked out when the sea monster comes after your pirates, too!  Sorry to hear that you dinged me for not doing it solo, but I was very careful to follow the rules.

xeon06: you’re probably dropping them from too high, so they’re dying on impact.  There’ll be a ‘splat’ sound and graphic for that later… :)

So, I’m glad if you’ve enjoyed playing, and if you didn’t, I’ll be glad to remedy that!  Let me know what I can do to make it better.

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