About bsowers (twitter: @bdsowers)

Professional video game developer. Previous organizer of the 72 Hour Game Dev Competition. Mostly harmless.

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Ludum Dare 28

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Blight Post Competition (Finished)

Posted by (twitter: @bdsowers)
Saturday, December 28th, 2013 11:40 am

I’ve taken this core idea as far as I really want to push it.

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 1.25.40 PM  Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 1.26.01 PM

Mostly it’s a visual overhaul – almost all the graphics have been replaced with free visual alternatives. The major VFX have been redone. A few numbers have been tweaked, a few gameplay issues touched up, but largely it’s the same game.

There are still some things that aren’t ideal, but I couldn’t find an alternative and don’t have the art talent to correct it myself. Would love to replace that timer at the bottom with something less garish.

I may still hammer on the tech, but it wouldn’t be for the same game – I’d likely shift away from the “You Only Get One” theme and move toward a different experience. But the future of that is still undetermined.

You can play it by clicking here. And the original is here. Obviously, if you rate it, rate the original (you can do that here).

Cheers!

Blight Post Competition

Posted by (twitter: @bdsowers)
Monday, December 23rd, 2013 6:24 pm

I’ve been continuing development of Blight (play it here!) a bit more, replacing all my horrid art with pretty internet graphics and rethinking the Pestilence VFX. Here’s what I have so far:

Screen Shot 2013-12-23 at 8.10.24 PM

 

Most images taken from First Seed.

I’m not thrilled with the timer at the bottom or the room indicator. There are also a few weapons I haven’t found good alternatives for, but I’m getting there.

I’ll also be tweaking the balance per some comments, replacing the awful font I was using, and perhaps adding a victory/game end. If I’m feeling extra productive this holiday season, I’ll be adding multiple characters (including female alternatives), some mild progression, and new SFX. And if I’m feeling extra *extra* productive, I’ll see what I can’t do about creating an iPhone version.

Should be able to post a new version in a week or so.

Blight Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @bdsowers)
Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 2:42 pm

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 6.26.52 PM

(Click Here to Play!)

The Story

On Friday night, when the theme was announced, my heart sank a little. “You Only Get One,” was the theme I was least excited for; I had no good ideas for it, and everything I was writing down looked worse and worse. Four hours later, the situation hadn’t changed much.

But I decided I had to move forward with something. So I rallied around the phrase, “You only get one minute,” and I slapped together a super quick test scene in Unity. I went for a Zelda-like feel, a combat-heavy game centering around the end of the world. You would play as Pestilence, the only one of the Four Horsemen taking the Apocalypse seriously, and throughout the adventure you would find items left by the other Horsemen. The whole time, your pestilence (or Blight) will fill a room, causing it to become unbearable after a minute, forcing you to move forward.

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The next day rolls in, and I push forward with development – mostly focusing on the movement, collision detection, and weapons. I was using Unity, and I didn’t know Unity that well, so I wasn’t sure how hard it was going to be for me to make the movement feel good. Luckily it didn’t take that long. I also started in on enemy behavior and put together the full combat flow.

Oh, and I edited the back story some – Pestilence’s own sickness hurting him didn’t make sense, so instead I just made you the last surviving human, and the Four Horsemen were trying to finish you off. Using this, I managed to incorporate the theme in some new & useful ways.

At some point – either Saturday night or Sunday morning – I realized I wasn’t going to have time to put together any real content. Level design takes time, and I’m not particularly experienced with it, and it just wasn’t going to ‘click’ and feel the way I wanted. So instead, I opted to go more Rogue-like. I put in a random dungeon generator, and tweaked/played with it to get the feel I wanted. I also started working on UI using NGUI.

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Monday was a mad-dash to put in content. I implemented four new enemies, proper progression, several screens, and the full game ‘flow.’ I got in everything I wanted short of a final boss and game victory, so right now the game just continues until you die. Which is usually pretty fast.

What Went Right

Unity – It took me a good long while to hop on the Unity bandwagon. I’ve always enjoyed writing core code and trying to make my personal codebases better, and switching to a prewritten 3D engine runs counter to that. Unity has a lot of good going for it, though, and developing in it was 80% a joy. That’s from someone who doesn’t know Unity all that well and learned a good chunk of it during this competition.

Time Management – This wasn’t my first jam, and I knew what I was getting into. I managed to squeeze in a lot of content, and I still got plenty of sleep and enjoyed some social outings. I would’ve liked to make a decent ending, but I think the game does alright without it.

Gameplay – I’ve developed a several time-constrained games, and only a few were ‘fun’ at the end. But I enjoy playing Blight. It’s a quick, action heavy Rogue-like that starts to resemble a bullet hell shooter the longer you play. It’s not particularly deep, but there’s some decent twitch play in there that had me playing when I should have been developing.

What Went Wrong

Unity 2D – The 2D features in Unity are still a bit raw. Sprite sheet management in particular is not ideal – it required a lot of cumbersome reworking and fighting. Also, using Mecanim for 2D sprites is overkill. My state transitions to switch between different walk cycles looked like a nightmarish web. 2D Toolkit may still be a better 2D offering.

Art – My title screen mentions an artist, but that was being polite; I got one image out of her and was on my own for the rest. I’m not an artist, don’t like working on art, and find placing every pixel to be a struggle. The game looks especially bad, and it undermines what I think was an otherwise quality entry. It makes for even worse screenshots, since there’s a ‘Blight’ VFX that looks horrible in still images.

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 6.26.33 PM

What Was Kind of Silly

SFX – Multiple people have complimented the SFX in this game. I made the ‘swing’ effect by rubbing two butter knives together and the ‘death’ effect by scratching my keyboard. There’s no way those SFX are good, friends. But thanks!

The Future

I wouldn’t mind fleshing this game out a bit. It started akin to Zelda and ended up closer to Rogue, but if I spend more time on it I think I’ll take it back closer to Zelda and put some designed, pre-authored scenarios in there. There’s not a bad base, the gameplay and controls feel solid, it could just use a little more shine.

If you’re an artist who’s interested in helping out with that, let me know… I wouldn’t mind the game looking better. :)

Enjoy playing!

“Blight” is… Done!

Posted by (twitter: @bdsowers)
Monday, December 16th, 2013 5:03 pm

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 6.26.52 PM

 

Two hours early! What will I do with this free time?

I’ll write a more comprehensive post-mortem later, I just wanted to make a victory post.

Go Play! 

Half a Day Left

Posted by (twitter: @bdsowers)
Monday, December 16th, 2013 7:13 am

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 9.11.41 AM

 

My time-pressured dungeon crawler is coming along. It still needs a bit of shine and a challenge; will see what I can do.

“Blight” Day 2 Report

Posted by (twitter: @bdsowers)
Sunday, December 15th, 2013 5:12 pm

day2

 

Some significant changes since the last update:

Initially I was going to pre-author a world and try for a coherent “quest” from beginning to end. I’ve ditched this, mostly because I don’t have faith I can craft a fun quest in time.

Instead, I’ve shifted over to a random dungeon generator and a more hack ‘n slash system. The player navigates down floors. You only get one minute per floor before the ‘Blight’ starts harming the player.

Most of the core features are in – the player can use all his weapons in combat, there is some simple chase AI, the player can kill and be killed, level traversal is in, and the player can kill/be killed.

It still looks like a hot mess. Hoping to spend the bulk of tonight creating new enemies and the bulk of tomorrow polishing/prettifying.

“Blight” Day 1 Report

Posted by (twitter: @bdsowers)
Saturday, December 14th, 2013 5:48 pm

Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 7.37.07 PM

The (still tentative) concept is that the Apocalypse is in full swing, the Four Horsemen have arrived, and you’re trying to outrun Pestilence’s blight. In each room, you have one minute to to get out before the sickness becomes overwhelming.

The character controls are in as well as weapons from all the horsemen (Death’s Scythe, Famine’s Scales, War’s Sword, and Pestilence’s Bow – all based on what the Horsemen are said to carry). There’s some super rudimentary chase AI, and players and enemies can hit each other with decent feedback. Blight VFX is there – the purple stuff in the screen grab. It looks better in motion.

The art is pretty terrible. :) Aside from the character, it’s all programmer art – the character is currently yanked from Silveira Neto’s character pack until I can draw something else.

Still only one room. Trying to hit feature complete before I hammer on content.

Made in Unity. Could push it out to the web player any time, but it’s not ready to show off yet.

And here’s a picture of my Unity setup… just for kicks:

Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 7.47.11 PM

 

Hi There Ludum Dare

Posted by (twitter: @bdsowers)
Thursday, December 12th, 2013 2:33 pm

I haven’t participated in this since the Pelly was a thing; hopefully I’m not too rusty.

Still haven’t decided if I’ll be doing the Competition or the Jam. If I do the Competition, I’ll be using XNA. If the Jam, Unity.

Leaning more toward the Jam.

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