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Ludum Dare 32
 
Ludum Dare 31
 
Ludum Dare 30
 
Ludum Dare 28
 
Ludum Dare 27
 
Ludum Dare 26

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Volume Check Please

Posted by
Sunday, April 19th, 2015 5:04 pm

My audio setup is screwy.  Can I get a quick volume levels check please; I don’t want to blow out any eardrums.

http://games.metacrow.com/LD32/index.html

 

48 hours, Preplanning, and Scope Creep

Posted by
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 10:49 am

48 hours isn’t a lot of time.  Seriously.

This will be my 5th Ludum Dare, and looking back, all my attempts have been overly ambitious.  While there’s value in having room to grow the game afterwards, I’m taking some steps to mitigate the damage this time.

Ask a Game Dev recently wrote a post talking about Core Gameplay Loops.  While the discussion focused on progression, the idea also feels like a good starting place when it comes to architecting a game jam design.

http://askagamedev.tumblr.com/post/101776602061/progression-or-skill-tree-systems-the-type-you

Frequently, I find my game ideas fall into higher level loops, and don’t have a strong base loop, or good feedback between the base loop and the higher level loops.  So, I’m starting there this time.  I can grow it upward post-compo, if it goes somewhere I like.

When we reach Round 5 for theme voting, I like to gather the voting data from the previous rounds and attempt to predict the outcome.  From there, I brainstorm potential ideas for the top 5-8 likely winners.  No code is written, no assets created.  I’m just getting past that hour of dead where I’m not prepared for the winning theme.

Meals and Sleep will be scheduled.  There will be an allowance for a couple breaks as needed, including dinner out Saturday Night, to clear my head.

That’s my plan.  Hopefully outlining it here is of use to someone.

LD30 Compo – Post Mortem

Posted by
Monday, August 25th, 2014 10:25 am

I appear to be afraid of making games.

My LD26 submission was an immersive world with graphics and audio, interactions and special effects, challenge and progress.  It was clunky, confusing, cheesy, and short, but it was a game.

 

When LD27 rolled around, I looked through my feedback  and made a plan.  Graphics and interface were the biggest complaints I received, so I focused on a clean interface and smooth graphics.  In that, I succeeded… but at the loss of a complex goal, and immersive interaction.  The comments indicated such, but I didn’t get the hint.

 

LD28 added back some of that interaction, and gave the player a means to manipulate the ways they interacted with the game.  It added back a challenge and goal, but lost the graphical and auditory polish, and it required content to really shine.  Most of my time was spent on the upgrade interface, which was lauded, but the game suffered for it.

 

I didn’t feel too bad about my LD30 submission.  I mean, it was missing 90% of my desired features, the graphics got skipped again, and I didn’t have enough time to playtest it well, so it’s statistically unlikely you’ll complete even a single objective…  but that’s Ludum Dare right?  600 lines of code later, the inventory system works, the random goal and automatic goal-checking works, the random resource generation and base-color modification works, and the entire backend ties together in a bug-free manner.  There are simple particle effects, some moody ambient audio, and a few hurried attempts at humor…  It’s still a moderately successful submission.

 

The comment that really kicked me in the gut was, “Nice GUI Demo”.  I know they didn’t mean it maliciously, but really?  The worst part is, I can’t argue with it.  I watched my timelapse, and I spent almost the entirety of the Compo mucking with the GUI.  You don’t interact with the planets (yes, those were supposed to be planets), you push buttons. Everything is a button.  You don’t live in this world at all.  It worked for Adventure Games, but I guess we grew out of those in the late 90’s.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqaDeRtaiUY

 

Immersion is hard.  And evidently important.

Amidst the complaints Elder Scrolls Online receives (yes, random neuron firing here), one is how they focused on a nearly GUI-free experience.  I’m beginning to understand their decision.

My goal for Ludum Dare 30 was to make a game that didn’t disappoint me.  Instead, I think I discovered one of the issues holding me back.  Just as good, I’d say.

Back for more

Posted by
Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 5:49 pm

These pre-event blog posts always feel a bit self-absorbed, but it helps clear the mind, so I may as well join the torrent.

I participated in the compo sections of LD26, 27, and 28.  The quality of my entries degraded each time (Miximal, Ambition, Prototype), which led me to skip LD29.  Now it’s time for LD30, and I’m looking to make something that doesn’t leave me disappointed in my efforts.

I finished re-installing all my tools this week, and I’m excited to see what the Unity3D 4.6 Beta has to offer in terms of new features.  My approach will be to give each rating field some explicit attention.  Part of this is vanity; a better rating will make me feel better about the event in general.  The other part is diversity.  I’m not a terribly holistic designer, and I have some very specific tendencies… sadly, fun isn’t one of them.  By using the rating categories as a design checklist, I’m hoping to force a more complete submission.

I’m considering using a screen capture tool on timelapse to build a short video.  I don’t want to capture the entire process, or stream it live (I don’t think), but having an objective record of the process could be interesting.  (using this maybe? https://code.google.com/p/chronolapse/)

Anyway, to the new participants, welcome to the party!  To the old-hats here to show off, enjoy the down time!  And to other casuals like me, let’s make something worth remembering!

Infinilist

Posted by
Sunday, December 15th, 2013 10:44 am

ld28-ss1

My inability to wake up to my alarm suggests I haven’t slept for the last month; it appears I’m doing a 24 hour game jam this time.  Add to this my complete inability to come up with a novel way to use this compos theme, and I’m running on fumes here.

Yesterday was productive though.  I’ve got the main character mouse control smooth and responsive, shooting works, a test arena built, an enemy built, the upgrade menu working, and hooks in place to handle those upgrades.

The list to the finish is daunting though…  enemy weapon, enemy ai, character death, a couple more enemy types, special ability implementation, flesh out the arena, object textures and shaders, sound effects, audio, and a victory condition.  Not in that order.  And I know I missed something.

8 hours huh?  Better stop blogging and get back to work.

Enter Game Here

Posted by
Saturday, December 14th, 2013 12:35 am

I gotta say, not terribly enthused with our current topic; it’s simultaneously very cliche and very broad.  I guess that’ll promote more diversity?

This is my 3rd Ludum Dare.  My last two times, I spent a bunch of extra effort trying to go for something novel.  The results were generally well received, and most people appreciated the sideways think.  This time I think I’m going to fall back on the classics, and try to slightly modernize something retro.  My biggest difficulty in the past has been making something fun.  My results would be games in context only; not particularly fun to play.  My other failing is always project scope, but that seems to be the Achilles of most participants.

Let’s get this party started.  Good luck to all!

LD27 – Playtest Build

Posted by
Sunday, August 25th, 2013 9:24 am

I’ve got a semi-playable game, and I wanted some playtest feedback while I’m finishing things up.  There are bugs, glitchy textures, missing features, etc…  but the base mechanics are there.

You start the game as a 16 year old.  You’ve got until you’re 65 to make the most of yourself.  Every 10 seconds, the selected skill will be trained… provided you enter the passcode correctly within those 10 seconds.    Once the passcode is complete, you can use the remaining time to collect points by exploring the map.   A tile can only be explored if you have the requisite skill, so don’t neglect your self-improvement.

Skill is selected from the P,A, S buttons on the right.  Passcode is entered using the 1,2,3,4 keys.  Exploration is done by mouse-click.

http://www.diffpair.com/misc/LD27/WebPlayer.html

Leave your feedback comments here.  Thanks!

 

metaCrow ready for Ludum Dare 27

Posted by
Wednesday, August 21st, 2013 2:44 pm

Ludum Dare 26 Compo was my first attempt at a Game Jam, and it was quite the experience.  My entry for Minimalism, called Miximal, was a little too generic in most areas, but I did manage to pull off a #84 in audio, of 1609 Comp entries.  This made me happy.

Since them, I’ve had a couple false starts on various game ideas.  The Indiecade / Oculus VRJam was next on my list; a 3 week slow jam to create VR content for the Oculus Rift.  The Aug 3rd to Aug 25th schedule eclipsed both 7dfps, and LD27.   Earlier this week, I aborted my lagging attempt, and found myself with an unexpected free weekend, and a burning need to finish a damn game. LD26 was an amazingly positive experience, so I’m back for LD27.

Tools: Unity3D, Autodesk ECS, Adobe CS6, NI Komplete 8.

Libraries: Intro screen.  Seriously, that’s all I’ve got.

Targets: WebPlayer, Windows, OSX, Linux

Let’s do this.

Ludum Dare 26: My 48hour Post-Mortem

Posted by
Monday, April 29th, 2013 2:06 pm

tldr:   Tools Matter, Sleep, Limit your Content Scope.  Great Success!

The Results!

Miximal0

I went into Ludum Dare with a certain nervous excitement.  I’ve been poking at indie development for over a year at this point, with very little to actually show for it.  I’ve got a bunch of concept documents, a couple prototypes, and a single 2D ‘action’ game to my name.  Ludum Dare is talked about in tones of respect among the indie community; participating successfully seemed to be a right of passage.  Being in way over my head didn’t stop me from signing up for MLG Raleigh as a Platinum Zerg, so it sure as heck wasn’t going to stop me from mingling with the much more accepting indie scene.

LDlogo

Of all the topics, the one I didn’t want to see was Minimalism.  Seriously, how buzzword can you get?  And if you look at the voting, nobody really liked anything…  I think Minimalism won with 330 positive votes, out of something like 4k voters.

After a quick search, I latched onto the idea of ‘trimming the excess’, and also the literary definition that attempts to leave critical parts of main characters featureless so the reader can mold it to their preference.  So, simplification and user choice.  Not a bad set of concepts.  Explicit branching paths is time consuming, so I went with interchangeable component sets.  Then I went crazy and decided to use audio as the core component.  Derp.

I’m not a musician.  Sure, I can sing a capella  choral, and jazz. I play a bit of piano, guitar, and clarinet.  A very little bit.  So that was my first major mistake.  Still, creating audio loops can be less time consuming than other forms of Content, and it did make the game feel unique, so not a terrible mistake… just an awkward one.

tools

Having good tools makes a world of difference.  I built my game using Unity3D, 3DSM, Photoshop, and Reaper with NI VSTs.  This allowed me to inherit a lot of polish with minimal effort.  The down side, of course, being that you have to put a lot of effort into making it look unique.  I spent that effort on the core mechanic (audio tracks), and let everything else retain most of its workflow heritage.  I’m not saying tools are everything, but they made my job easier.  The content generators provided are a godsend.

Learned a lot about 3D object animation; I haven’t used it very much in the past and there seems to be a big difference between objects and humanoids.  Worked out smooth scene transitions within Unity. In general, about 10-20% of my time was spent learning how to do what I wanted with the tools.  20-30% was spent on geometry, and another 20-30% on the audio content.  The remaining time was spent on code, logic, textures, and polish.  That means I should be able to do more next time, since I’ll know the tools better.

Even with frequent commits to SVN, I lost a couple models and audio tracks that later needed to be recreated and tweaked.

I got so wrapped up in the base content, I forgot some details that would have made it more immersive.  There’s no ambient audio, and no interactive sound effects like footsteps, button clicks, door open noises, birds chirping outside, etc.  I had a couple hours to spare at the end, but I was so fatigued I just called it a day.

Miximal1

Near the end, I realized I had overshot my scope, and had to trim off about 40% of the content.  It removed a little too much content for a final version of a real game, but it was the right choice for this specific event.

I slept enough.  That made a huge difference.  I was loath to see the hours go away, but this is a creative endeavor and I have zero creativity when I’m sleep deprived.

I considered stocking up on food and drinks beforehand, so I wouldn’t have to leave at all.  The drinks were a good call… enough coffee and beer to keep me sated.  I skipped on the food, and while having it on hand may have helped a little, the enforced trip outside for grub cleared my head.

Overall, I think this was a great success.

Miximal2

Halfway Point Status Update

Posted by
Saturday, April 27th, 2013 7:48 pm

Got most of my geometry and triggers worked out.   Next up is audio, an ending, and then making things pretty.  rofl.  right.LD26_HalfwayLD26_Halfway2

 

Giving it a go

Posted by
Monday, April 22nd, 2013 8:15 pm

Alright, I’m in.  I’m exceptionally rookie at all of this, so we’ll see what I can crank out this weekend.  Unity3D, no libraries or codebase to speak of except a couple  practice games and my reference books.  Standard tools.

Have a potato video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5-1U5P7mW8

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