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I made it! Go check out Makeshift now!

Posted by (twitter: @lastnamegames)
Sunday, April 17th, 2016 6:25 pm

I’ve just uploaded Makeshift, my Ludum Dare entry about high fashion.
I found out that a shift is a kind of dress, so I rolled with that and made a very silly game about decorating shift dresses on the fly to send out on the runway.
Check it out here, if it sounds interesting:
http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-35/?action=preview&uid=29805
ms3

Got “Makeshift” working delightfully quickly

Posted by (twitter: @lastnamegames)
Saturday, April 16th, 2016 12:20 pm

makeshift

I’ve decided to make a game about decorating shift dresses using scraps of fabric shapes that you had lying around. The mechanics are pretty simple – a conveyor belt of shapes runs along the left of the screen, and you drag shapes onto the shift trying to meet the tastes of fashion VIPs which are listed on the right. I’m thinking I’m going to aim for a score-attack style game in which you’ll try to score as highly as possible with somewhere around 5 or 6 dresses.

Good Morning LD Jammers!

Posted by (twitter: @lastnamegames)
Saturday, December 12th, 2015 8:51 am

I had a bit of a slow start last night, but I’ve officially settled on my interpretation of the theme. You’ll be controlling a giant snowball in a made-up winter sport where two teams of runners try to complete laps around a track, while you try to consume them in your ever growing ball. There’s another little twist I have planned, but I don’t want to spoil it just yet.

On another note, if you still need some music to listen to while programming, drop on by https://www.dubtrack.fm/join/ludum-dare! It’s like an ongoing music radio station where everybody on the site gets to take turns playing their music. It’s a great way to interact with the community, hear some new songs, and share some of your old favorites.

Hey all! I know that lots of folks like to listen to music while they program, so I’ve set up a dubtrack.fm page so we can all do just that! It works like an ongoing music radio station where we all take turns queuing up songs to play. Any and all genres of music are more than welcome! Ludum Dare is about trying new things, so why not come on down, listen to some new music, and share some of your own favorite songs with the group?

You can check it out right here if you want! https://www.dubtrack.fm/join/ludum-dare

Go Check Out Monstering Monsters!

Posted by (twitter: @lastnamegames)
Monday, August 24th, 2015 8:40 pm

Hey hey! Looking for a cool game to play so that you can get your cool new Jam entry onto the frontpage?
Why not have a go at Monstering Monsters?

just about done!

Posted by (twitter: @lastnamegames)
Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 4:13 pm

and with four hours to spare, no less!
I’m pretty happy with how my final product came out, but I’m going to spend these last few hours continuing to test and tweak it so that it’s perfect for submission hour. Here’s a little screenshot to whet your appetite in the meantime:

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Just over 24 hours elapsed…

Posted by (twitter: @lastnamegames)
Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 9:09 pm

…and I’ve got my game just about finished!

It’s missing a fair deal of polish here and there, but the mechanics are all sorted out and the difficulty progression is in place!

I’ve decided to make a projectile avoidance game mixed with a typing game, where you play as a parent who has to monster (british slang term meaning “to scold”) their children who keep throwing household objects around the living room.

I’m very happy with how it’s all coming together.

got something playable

Posted by (twitter: @lastnamegames)
Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 11:38 am

early_screencap
I think I have a roughly playable form of monstering a group of children to get them to stop misbehaving. You have to dodge all the things they throw at you while typing out monsters that you send at them until they calm down for a bit.

And, as always, come check out the Ludum Dare Plug.dj community where everyone gets a chance to play a bit of their own music for the other LD participants in the room to jam out with!

Monstering Monsters

Posted by (twitter: @lastnamegames)
Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 8:21 am

So, according to google, the word “monster” actually has quite a few definitions that we don’t usually think of.
One that I found interesting is the British/Australian slang term “monster,” which is used as a verb meaning “to criticize or reprimand severely.”
So I’ll be trying to make something out of that – right now I’m thinking about playing as a speech bubble that acts as a spoken monster, if that makes sense.

As a side note, I’m just going to continue shamelessly advertising the Ludum Dare plug.dj community, where you can come by, play some of your music for other participants to listen to, and hear some of their music as well! We’re open to all genres of music and would love to see you there!

Come and listen to some cool music!

Posted by (twitter: @lastnamegames)
Friday, August 21st, 2015 7:32 pm

Just another little advertisement for a Ludum Dare plug.dj community I’m running right now.
Come by, play some of your music, listen to a bit of music from other LD participants, and share in the good times!
You can find the community right here if you’re interested!

Ludum Dare Plug.Dj Community

Posted by (twitter: @lastnamegames)
Friday, August 21st, 2015 6:31 pm

Hey all!
If you’re participating in Ludum Dare this weekend, you’ll want some music to keep you going! Why not come on over to the plug.dj community I’ll be hosting and play some of your music there!

Think of it as a group radio station where everyone on the site gets a chance to play some music that they like. The community is open to all genres of music, so whether you listen to country, rock, EDM, alternative, jazz, or any other kind of music, you should come on by and share that with other participants!

Hope to see you there!

If you haven’t played Star Power yet, you might be interested in checking it out here. It’s not spectacular, but most folks agree that it’s pretty novel, so you might still find it interesting. Anyway, here’s a quick summary of what went well, what went wrong, and, most importantly, what lessons I can share.
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What Went Wrong
Unfamiliar Development Environment – Star Power is my first LD submission not made in Game Maker, my tool of choice for gamedev. The reason for this was that I chose to participate in Ludum Dare with the wonderful folks of the Tech Valley Game Space, which meant working from my laptop. Which does not run Windows. I learned the hard way that Mac OSX is not meant for game development. The tools which are of critical importance to many LD participants either aren’t available for or don’t run well on Macs. This is most apparent in Star Power’s hideous graphics, which were made in the embarrassingly sparsely featured free version of Pyxel Edit

Imbalanced Gameplay – If the player is given the opportunity to rate their opponents, they will of course want to give the opponent nothing but one-star ratings. This was something I knew of from the very beginning of Star Power’s development, and I tried to counteract it by granting future buffs to enemies who receive one-star ratings. What I failed to account for was the fact that those simple numerical buffs would quickly counteract one another if applied to multiple stats until they became fairly meaningless. As a result, giving monsters one-star ratings still carries very little penalty, and the game is ultimately broken because of that.

Theme Attachment – I had my idea for Star Power waiting in my head the day before LD32 started. It was kind of half-baked and not fully realized, but it was there and I was proud of it. When the theme was officially announced, I spent about an hour brainstorming ideas with the folks at TVGS since that was their tradition. I came up with a handful of other ideas which probably would have worked awfully well, but I cast them aside to pursue my clumsy idea of a ratings-fueled combat system simply because it was the first thing that had come to my head.

What Went Right
Simple, Understandable Mechanics – Relative to my last couple of Ludum Dare entries, I think Star Power is particularly accessible, which is crucially important for an audience of judges who are trying to blitz through as many games as possible. I’ve made games based on elaborate memory puzzles and increasingly complex boolean algebra in the past, so it was a nice change of pace to release a game whose primary mechanic revolves around basic arithmetic and number comparison.

Big Picture Concept – The implementation of Star Power is sloppy, to say the least. The graphics are scrappy, the audio and particle effects are barebones, and the mechanics are very easily solved. That said, I still think that there’s a great idea buried beneath the layers of clumsy design, and most judges seem to agree. I don’t often revisit my old games, but I feel like Star Power is something special, and it deserves a second chance to be developed into a genuinely engaging experience.

Shenanigans – After realizing that I had spent the better part of my first 24 hours building a game on fundamentally broken mechanics, I decided to just accept the problem and shift my focus away from game design for a bit. This turned out to be the highlight of my weekend. I jammed out on a plug.dj community for a bit, I ran into a bit of a fan in the chat (Here’s to you, TaoPheonix), I spoke with other developers in the venue and tried their games, and then turned in for dinner. The rest of my time was dedicated to hanging out with a great friend of mine who agreed to host me so I’d have somewhere to sleep while up in Troy, and the weekend was better for it.

Lessons Learned
Know your limits – Ludum Dare is a marvelous time to be innovative and push boundaries, but only to a certain extent. If you end up biting off more than you can chew, you’re going to have a very rough time swallowing it in a mere 48-72 hours. Don’t be a afraid to be creative, but you should also be willing to dial back your ideas a little bit if you notice them growing a bit too lofty.

Don’t plan ahead – Like many participants, I try to start making plans for different themes before a single official theme is announced. Historically speaking, I’ve had much more success with games I thought up on the spot after theme announcement, and not before. I think it’s really easy to get married to the idea of a game which you didn’t put a ton of thought into, which keeps you from sitting down and forming an idea which gets all the thought and care that it deserves.

Have fun with it – Yes, I know this sounds cliche, but it’s true. Ludum Dare is not about winning – it’s about having fun. We participate in this event because we want to enjoy ourselves, not because we’re trying to prove something or win some tremendous prize. What’s more, the LD community is overwhelmingly upbeat and positive when they provide feedback. It’s tempting to dedicate all of your time to creating the most polished game you can, but that isn’t necessary. The LD will still love you and your work even if it turns out a little poorly, so don’t be afraid to just have some fun! If fun ends up being shooting rubber bands across a CVS pharmacy counter with a friend instead of programming, then do that instead! That’s what I chose to do, and I’m glad as hell I did.

Star Power has been submitted!

Posted by (twitter: @lastnamegames)
Sunday, April 19th, 2015 9:23 am

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 9.56.33 AM

Star Power is a goofy turn-based dungeon crawler whose combat system is based heavily on the Ludum Dare rating system. I’ll admit that it’s a bit rough around the edges, but if the idea of rating monsters poorly to discourage them from using certain fighting techniques sounds cool to you, then maybe you should give it a try here (opens in new tab)!

Love 2D users – any advice for a newcomer?

Posted by (twitter: @lastnamegames)
Sunday, March 8th, 2015 8:56 am

I’ve been participating in Ludum Dare compos for awhile now, but I’m going to be on the road for the first time ever for April’s LD, meaning I can’t use Game Maker, because I’ll be on a mac laptop. I spent a week learning Python before realizing that it puts up a real fight when it comes to compiling and distributing code, so I’ve since decided to explore the Love2D framework for Lua instead. I know I’ve seen a lot of entries made using Love2D, and I was wondering if anybody who has experience with the language could offer help to a total newcomer like me.
I’m especially curious to know if there’s a specific IDE that people like to use, but I’m hungry for any and all tips, tricks, or advice that veterans of the language can offer.

-Thanks,
Nick

LD scan Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @lastnamegames)
Sunday, December 21st, 2014 8:38 pm

First things first, if you haven’t had a chance to check out LD scan, yet, you can do so here. I’d recommend you do so before reading this postmortem, as it’ll give you a better frame of reference when reading this postmortem.

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How it all happened:
I’ll admit, “Entire Game on One Screen” was a bit of a surprise for me when the theme was announced. I hadn’t done any brainstorming for that theme, so I had to spend my early hours deciding on a concept. My very first idea was some sort of vague fighting game that took place on top of a computer monitor, or “on one screen.” I quickly decided that was a poor interpretation of the theme and wouldn’t make for a particularly unique game, so I explored other avenues. After a bit of looking into synonyms for the word “screen,” I settled on the game that I now have, which focuses on medical screenings.
The actual plans for game mechanics went through a couple of iterations. I initially planned on doing a WarioWare-esque minigame collection, with each minigame being based on a common procedure for medical screening. I never actually thought about how any of them would work, though, and just kind of compiled a list of screening methods on a scrap of paper. The first solid “mechanic” I actually came up with was the simple act of sliding a patient back and forth on a CT-scan by dragging them with the mouse. I immediately loved the idea of that and thought it would feel pretty satisfying, so I started fleshing out a whole game around that.

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What Went Right:
Tutorializations: My cousin often jokes that my typical design strategy is to throw players directly into the lion’s den without much instruction and hope that they survive. This certainly holds true for a lot of my older work, but I think that LD-scan does a little bit better than most of my other games with regards to informing the player. Their goal is stated for them outright on the first page of their clipboard, and one of the first things they see before they look for malignant traits is a handy True/False chart that explains the game’s logical operators. Finally, the last page of the clipboard tells the player how to finish a screening and call their patient back for the final decision. The player is generally always informed on what they should do next, which is extremely important.
Difficulty: I’m pretty proud of the difficulty progression in LD scan. The player is always being introduced to new mechanics which both make the gameplay more challenging and more interesting than it was before. The player doesn’t simply need to look for more traits – they need to do so under a time limit, and eventually start negating their results based on patient’s age, height, gender, etc. I’m also happy with how forgiving I made the game. The game had to trigger a failstate after a single failed screening (otherwise the game wouldn’t depend “one one screen”), but it wasn’t until late in development that I decided failure shouldn’t actually send the player any further back than the day they were just on, to avoid frustration.
“Story”:I think LD Scan is actually my first attempt at actually creating a game with an even remotely relevant story. Even though the story is told fairly poorly and treats subjects like medical screening and misdiagnosis with far too little respect (serious business, folks), I’m fairly happy with it. There’s a concise story arc with a beginning, middle and an end, a couple of decent jokes, and some wildly over-the-top failure scenarios which I stand by as the game’s greatest feature.

screenshot30000
What Went Wrong:
Time Management: I invested my time in all the wrong places for this Ludum Dare. I stayed up far too late and woke up far too early for my own good, which is not usual for me. My past few Ludum Dares have left my sleep schedule fairly intact, but something about this one compelled me to neglect rest, and I think my work may have suffered for it. Additionally, I lost around four hours of time at the end of the compo because my company Christmas party managed to overlap with Ludum Dare weekend for the second year in a row, and I wanted to attend. I scrambled to put everything together at the very last second, ran out to the party, and found that only two people had showed up and my “date” was running late, as well. Ludum Dare should have been my priority. Parties can wait. (The party did turn out to be really fun, though).
Bugs: I didn’t bother to time myself, but I’m confident that I lost at least three hours of my time just hunting for game crashing bugs in LD scan. A lot of the game’s is generated in loops that create content that adheres to a specific set of rules. There were a lot of these loops, and a lot of them dealt with fairly complex rules. As a result, a lot of them turned into infinite loops that were extremely challenging to fix. I even ended up making a clumsy infinite for loop somewhere along the way that incremented in the wrong direction and never terminated. That one was found by my brother, whose knowledge of programming is limited to a single computer science course from three years ago. He found it within thirty seconds of glancing over my shoulder. I had been looking for twenty minutes. Did I mention that I was lacking sleep?
Workstation: When everything was coming down to the wire, one of the last things I wanted to do was quickly add sound effects to the game. This turned out to be more of a hassle than I was anticipating, as my microphone had vanished and SFXR was no longer on my computer. It took me thirty minutes to find the mic, and just as long to re-download SFXR on my spotty wifi. It really is important to prepare everything you might need for LD well before the jam begins, or you’ll find yourself stressed out and scrambling for tools at the last minute like me. It’s not fun – just take the time to set up your computer in advance and you’ll have a better Ludum Dare experience.

a little over 36 hours in…

Posted by (twitter: @lastnamegames)
Sunday, December 7th, 2014 7:35 am

and I’m just now reaching the point of being fully playable with win/loss conditions. (Wasted a few hours hunting for infinite loops, grumble grumble…)

anyways, here are some progress shots of the game so far:

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You have to “screen” people for diseases. Get it? Get it?

I’ll just see myself out…

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