About Claw (twitter: @ClawhammerMark)

Entries

 
Ludum Dare 37
 
Ludum Dare 34
 
Ludum Dare 28
 
Ludum Dare 26
 
Ludum Dare 22

Claw's Trophies

Fun - 2nd Place - LD 37 (Jam)
Awarded by LDA
on January 3, 2017
Youtubed!
Awarded by BackslashYoutube
on January 2, 2016
ENDESGA Design Award
Awarded by ENDESGA
on December 23, 2013
SonnyBone's Official 'RAD GAME' Award
Awarded by SonnyBone
on December 20, 2013

Claw's Archive

Posted by (twitter: @ClawhammerMark)
Friday, December 18th, 2015 11:35 am

FRUITWOLF Postmortem

Idea

Make something along the lines of Pikmin (as a loose starting point) , creatures that grow on trees that you can somehow control and use to get through levels.
The original plan was to have a bunch of different types of creature (which I refer to as ‘Dudes’ in the code) with different powers, and you could merge them together to create hybrids with merged powers. That was way too ambitious so stripping it back we got three types and just focused on those. When we were coming up with types for the first idea we thought of loads of mad weird ones, and stuck with something at least a tiny bit different from say, elements. The 3 types we have are:

Eaters – melee
Farters – AoE
Screamers – long range

Here’s all of Angus’ awesome animations that went into the game:
fruitwolf_animations

What went right?

We finished it! Right down to the wire but we managed to get almost everything we wanted in from our slightly toned down initial ideas and make something that feels mostly complete. The animations and art made the creatures really engaging and fun, and the audio and music added a wonder layer of atmosphere to it all. It turned out to be a neat thing to explore.

What went wrong?

Even the stripped back idea was quite ambitious for 3 days. We worked looooong hours getting it all together and polishing it. There were some bugs and issues with having so many little dudes running around, coding the AI for that was not like anything I’ve really done before and encounters interesting problems I hadn’t considered, like what happens when a dude’s target dies before they finish their attack? Small details like that took up a lot of time.

I was very focused on getting all the mechanics working and functional with few bugs (as you’d expect), and held off the actual gameplay balancing and development until later in the jam, doing most of it in the latter half of the final day. This was the point of most tension, and where the game is weakest – as it goes on it becomes a lot more chaotic, with a lot of stuff on screen attacking and doing stuff – it was still fun but not as tight as I’d have liked.

The gameplay came secondary to the polish and world, which is fine but I’d like to try and keep these elements more balanced in future jams. That said, I think it’s still pretty cool and interesting to play!

Conclusion

Bit of an ambitious game for a 3 day jam but mostly we managed. It helps to work with super talented people (Angus and David) who made all the visual art + animations, and the sound + music for it, creating that super cool style and atmosphere.

It was super inspiring to see all this stuff come together as we progressed and a lot of fun to work with! Our slack chat had some hilarious lines when talking about the weird powers like farts and screams.

I don’t feel like we quite unearthed any real gameplay gems, the core gameplay loop of picking stuff up and throwing it to the right place is something I can’t really see being expanded on in a meaningful way – that said I do still enjoy the idea of creating loads of weird little creatures and having them flock around you!

Overall I’m happy with how it turned out, made a thing, had fun doing it, learned a lot about design + more about elements of Unity I didn’t know much/anything about.

Game link: http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-34/?action=preview&uid=7984

Tearing apart Titans

Posted by (twitter: @ClawhammerMark)
Friday, December 20th, 2013 4:37 pm

You only get one, so do the Titans

Going with the theme, the player gets 1 health, 1 arrow and each boss/Titan gets only 1 health also. This made the designs a lot more interesting to come up with, since giving something an obvious weakness usually meant “hit this bit a lot until it dies”. This can work great, like using windows of oportunity in Zelda or Shadow of the Colossus to get in damage. However if it becomes a rinse and repeat type system it can become tedious and pointless unless survival is a difficult task to sustain like in Dark Souls.

 
So designing weaknesses around this restriction was pretty enjoyable. The core element that runs through the Titans in the game is timing. The Eye and Colossus bosses had very short windows in which to hit their weakspot, so the fight was about surviving, studying the boss’s patterns and pre-emting an attack location and time.

 

ts_1

 

 

Screenshake

Before the jam I got my code ready to go (AS3 + Flashpunk) with a few basic classes, got some basic 2D collision stuff in place, map loading and most importantly, wrote a couple of neat screenshake functions.
(Note, screen is rendered at 320×240 and scaled up)

 
Just bog standard shake stuff, but made it easy on myself to just throw in dynamic camera movement when it came to making the game. I feel in games, especially action games, screenshake is the most important thing to make things ‘feel’ right. The basic functions were ShakeX and ShakeY (pretty self explanitory) which take inputs of how much to shake in pixels, number of frames to shake for, and how much it should be shaking by the end frame. It just linearly interpolates to the target shaking amount. This lets you do stuff like large shakes in the Y axis that rapidly drop off to a smaller amount to simulate something heavy landing (like a giant block of ice with a brain in it crashing into the floor). Then using these you get the basic Shake() which does the same to both X and Y and also ShakeVec() merging X+Y functions.
Anyway, using them in game, first up was the roll. The animation for the roll was great straight away and gave a good sense of weight, then when the sound effect came in it was perfect. I added a very small amount of shake here (X+Y) to give it a tiny bit of grit and response when you hit the floor.

 
Next was the arrow firing. I was fully inspired by the bits in Shadow of the Colossus where you plunge your sword into the weakspots for this; the camera zooms in slightly and it feels as if everything slows down a touch. I just added a percentage to the flashpunk screen scale (FP.screen.scale), that percentage was also the ‘power’ of the arrow charge (longer held = more power, with diminishing returns up to a cap of 1.0 I think). The shake was actually a byproduct of moving the camera in the direction you’re aiming. When the arrow is fired the vector used as it’s trajectory is also the one used for determining camera offset, so when it gets fired the offset goes larger for 1 frame as the camera chases the arrow, then pings back into place. I actually tried removing this, inverting it, and adding regular shake, but none of it was as good so stuck with the original!

 
Now with the bosses there were 2 real shakes, both pretty simple. Jumps would cancel all shaking, and the landing would cause a large shake in the Y (~30px) and small in the X (~4px) then both come down to stay at 4px, all over around 10-15 frames. This gave a big impact shake and made the Titans feel heavy. The other main shake was a vector shake. When a Titan hit a wall (Eyedude or Brainfreeze [totally official names]) it would take their direction vector or veclocity and use that as the percentages to shake each axis. Scale all of these to perceived Titan weight and boom, shakey!

 

Too Hard

Nah.

 

Wasn’t that hard

Yeah probably. The brainfeeze fight was challenging (although also a tiny bit buggy, adding to the frustration), but the Eye is pretty straightforward and the colossus as well. Both had tight timings but were quite easy to dodge until you learned your window of attack and could get the hit in.

ts2

Too Frustrating

Now, this is the bit of the whole process I’m currently finding super interesting. The main complaint aside from general difficulty is that people do not like having to run back to the boss after each death. A mechanic borrowed from one of my favourite games of all time, Dark Souls (the bonfire run).

 
Each run is < 30 seconds back, so not too painful – but its not supposed to be enjoyable. You died, you made a mistake, and as punishment you’re gonna have to walk back to re-try the fight. Now I totally understand why this frustrates people and why they don’t like it, your not supposed to like it. I’ve ran bonfire runs in DS hundreds of times angrily, then landing the boss kill was always so much sweeter. This is something people might not agree with or may not actively realise. This is why I’d imagine complaints about it in TS are vocal, because you wouldn’t notice the positive side nearly as much as you’d notice the negatives and frustrations of it, which is again, totally understandable and fine! I think it’s an interesting thing to think about and consider whether it is actually better for the player to be forced back to the start, or to just let them dive back in over and over. I’ve certainly spent many hours thinking since the jam ended about which aproach is ‘better’, and came to the conclusion that it’s a polarised personal preference.

 
I personally still feel strongly that it benefits the type of player the game is aimed at, people who like to overcome challenges (and perhaps are like me, slightly masochistic when it comes to games!). However I think a core component to improving the way it is in the game’s currently would be allowing some kind of ‘flow’ in the run back. The maze section before the colossus boss (East) could be formed much more neatly in a way that allows optimal player rolling down corridors, so they have to think about how they roll but can nicely get into a groove that doesn’t get interupted by sharp 180 degree corners or something like that, and they can maximise the time spent rolling.

 

Conclusion

What next with the game? I really would like to make this into a full experience in the future, just focusing on creating interesting boss fights would be really enjoyable as well as tying some more narrative and exploration out into the world.

 
I’ve got a pretty solid version of the game running with adobe AIR, but maybe I should port it over to C++ for a more stable game and things like actual controller support if I continue it further.
There’s loads more I could say about this short jam, it was a hell of a lot of fun and I always learn a great deal doing a solid 72 hour LD, but I will cut it here, already getting a bit long!

 

Link to the game:

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-28/?action=preview&uid=7984

 

This post on my site/blog thing:

http://iamclaw.com/?p=387

TITAN SOULS

Posted by (twitter: @ClawhammerMark)
Monday, December 16th, 2013 6:40 pm

too much caffeine

too much code ohhhhh my head

ss_2

We survived another LD though and had a LOT of fun! Team consisted of:

Myself Coding

Andrew Gleeson (@_andrio) art

David Fenn (@autotwitch) audio

It was a blast. We wanted to do something just fun to make and also wanted to avoid doing a sidescrolling 2D platformer because we always make those, so tried out a top-down zelda style view. You have a bow and a single arrow, and the power to telekineticlly pull the arrow back to you after its been launched (running after arrows all day can be quite a chore).

Inspirations for the gameplay were primarily, Shadow of the Colossus and Dark Souls. The game consists of 4 boss fights with varying ‘Titans’ and they’re all pretty damn hard (Dark Souls inspiration!) because we love hard games. Not sure how people will take to it (did I mention it’s pretty hard), but we’re really pleased with how it all came together and have had a lot of fun both making it and playing it, dying over and over whilst testing.

Here’s the LD page: TITAN SOULS

Overthrowing the Squirrel King

Posted by (twitter: @ClawhammerMark)
Thursday, May 23rd, 2013 3:12 am

wooyay

Took a couple of days and a dropbox account suspension to sink in, but I thought I’d write a little about our Jam game.

Results

Mood(Jam) 4.57
Audio(Jam) 4.55
Overall(Jam) 4.50
Coolness 72%
Fun(Jam) 4.27
#30 Graphics(Jam) 4.35
#79 Humor(Jam) 3.14
#138 Innovation(Jam) 3.38
#191 Theme(Jam) 3.51

This was my favourite jam so far, even though I wasn’t a massive fan of the theme.  We spent about 3 hours on the saturday morning trying to think of something to make, then decided to just stop worrying about themes and make a game (which is the main point anyway I guess!). We had a lot of fun making it and went all out for the time we had, probably squeezed a week’s work into 3 days – wish I could apply that kind of effort in other areas!

Tools:

AS3 (Flash) + Flashpunk using Flashdevelop IDE.

Photoshop for da pixelz

Tiled Map Editor (http://www.mapeditor.org/) Which is *amazing* and I fully recommend everyone try this out, life saver for jamming and really easy to import into stuff in flash

 

Since my dropbox died, my buddy @OddballDave kindly offered to host, so you can play it here: http://iamclaw.com/?page_id=250 or a few other random gaming sites re-hosted it online if you google about.

 

Making it:

We had the basic idea of a leaf to float around with like in wind waker, and the thought of a nice open-air feel. We whipped this up in an hour or two; I drew up a tileset, got the basics going in flash and had an animated little dude running around collecting a leaf and gliding, and it seemed pretty fun! Then we added the first piece of music and Dave suggested having it fade out the volume the higher up you went. This was the point where the game really became clear in our heads, just that fading out based on Y position made it feel like it had so much more soul. From then we focused on adding little bits to the world to make it more interactive and nice, birds that chip and fly away when you get close, random butterflies that follow you around, worms in the tree etc.

lma_variation

We tried to add a few varying elements that all revolved around wind and the leaf, with more time we’d like to have put in some actual puzzles, but since it was a little rushed we threw together a few sections that were like little roller coaster rides.

lma_input

Since we had set controls that couldn’t be configured (arrows, Z + X) we could hard code the stuff into the environment. We just had non-intrusive instructions at the most basic level possible, little boxes with pictures/letters in to represent keys.

lma_hardmode

Now here’s something fun, the triple flower bit. A lot of people got stuck here, and when we made it we thought “this is a bit tricky”, which is why we left it in. It’s funny when people say “this is too hard” because I don’t think it’s anywhere near hard enough. Games (in my opinion) are meant to provide some challenge and resistance, it’s not a straight run to the finish it’s about having fun playing about and figuring out how to get there. Another noteworthy thing I’ve found reading various comments about it is that a lot of people aren’t used to non-linearity or freedom in games, which is crazy. I guess a lot of games nowadays are signposted all along the way telling you where to go next, I don’t like this. I’d prefer to work stuff out on my own, and I know it’s not for everyone, nothing is ever ‘for everyone’ that’s why people have opinions, I just found it an interesting thing to point out!

lma_familiarplace

Focusing on the feel of the game we had a small map of a few different areas we wanted to make with different tracks. Due to time, we had to switch up our plans and make use out of  a smaller arsenal. I suppose this is the core of any jam anyway right? To take a very small set of restrictions and tools, put things together in a way that you wouldn’t normally to get around these constraints and learn a bit in the process. We wanted to have a night time area where the feel of it changed slightly. For this, when you get to a certain part of the game it flicked a switch and boom, night time. When you return to the outside area (the start bit) it’s night time. The track that plays is the main theme that played before, but with some different instruments and a few tweaks, and it gave it a completely different vibe, but also felt familiar which was cool.

lma_fez

The final thing we did was to jam a couple of secrets here and there, an owl (because I wanted to draw an owl) and a tiny sign that people have thought was a collectable but was actually a tiny “no Fez” sign, because I’m hilarious of course.

To wrap it up, it was so much fun to make, and I’d really love to expand it a bit, maybe spend a couple of weeks creating some puzzles and a bigger more interesting world with more secrets, although I don’t have the time really since I’m working on getting my main game Chroma finished before I run out of money and starve. But if any flash game sponsors are reading for some reason, give me a shout! 😉 Lastly we’d like to thanks everyone for all their really great feedback and comments and just general awesomeness through this Ludum Dare, we were blown away to get gold in the Jam and couldn’t be happier with the whole thing, so thanks everyone!

@ClawhammerMark – Code and art

@autotwitch -Music and audio

 

 

Stress re-leaf

Posted by (twitter: @ClawhammerMark)
Sunday, April 28th, 2013 12:07 pm

ss_img1 ss_img2

Current progress on our game, working with David Fenn (@autotwitch) doing the audio (which is probably the best bit of the game) and it’s coming along well.

Gonna be working on it this evening & tomorrow as well and making use of the full 3 days, even though I’m super ill (ludum dare flu yay). It’s been just pure fun to work on so far, hopefully it ends up being a nice finished game!

 

Post mortem: Paper Dream

Posted by (twitter: @ClawhammerMark)
Tuesday, December 20th, 2011 8:52 am

PaperDream

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-22/?action=preview&uid=7984

My first time trying LD and it was a great learning experience as well as being fun and creative! It was kinda cool to just sporadically start programming random things with no base code (although the source code is a minefield of awfulness) and getting to draw whatever I really felt like – setting it as a dream gave me some artistic license with things, for example you don’t usually get whales in space (or oceans in space for that matter).

What went well

  • The theme. It made me think about games slightly differently, I usually like platformer-type action or puzzle games, but I had the opertunity to think of something a little different.
  • I got the art done as I went along, started off with the character and some stars, then as I got ideas I just scribbled out some more (with a basic idea of where I was headed)
  • The code was not very nice but got the job done, was very fast to come up with on the spot. The paper concept for the player was a half-way snake type thing, instead of cells in a ‘rope’ rotating they stayed axis aligned, giving the paper vibe (along with the art).
  • I like the way it feels, weird and dreamlike. I always think of dreams as a lonely place – people will be often be in dreams, but they aren’t really there.
  • It looks a little sad from the outside, which matches the ‘alone’ theme, but my view of the end is more cheerful – but I’ll leave the whole thing open to interpretation.
  • I didn’t give any instruction as to what the player is supposed to do, because they can do whatever they want. There is a purpose and end to the game, but I think games are about an individuals’ experience, and I thought it was cool to just let people float around in my little dream world and just check it out, move things around, do whatever they want.
  • Working over a 48 hour period wasn’t as bad as I thought, next time however, I will be more prepared and bring something a little more solid to the party.
What went less well
  • SOUNDS! Total lack of them. My main regret. I didn’t really know how to load and use sounds, didn’t know of any libraries or how to use OpenAL and didn’t really have the time to learn so much as I went along. Probably gonna look at SDL for the future.
  • Images, as I had zero base code to start with I forgot (after not programming for PC in a while) I didn’t have any image loading libraries, so I found a nice lightweight lib called SOIL, which was really simple and worked perfectly.
  • It wasn’t exactly polished to a high standard. The code was inefficient (and sloppy), there was no reset and no title (although a title probably wasn’t necessary).
  • The code should compile on Linux and Mac, but I don’t have a Linux install and didn’t have the time to get it running on my Mac.
Overall, a positive experience, definitely going to come back next time and give it another whirl. :)

First we move the heavens, then we move the Earth.

Posted by (twitter: @ClawhammerMark)
Sunday, December 18th, 2011 6:39 am

It is complete! I was hoping to put sounds and music into it but I’m a bit ill at the moment and want to chill out spending the rest of my Sunday playing through the other entries.

I’ll upload the game after this post, I’m HOPING it runs fine on other computers, the timing loop was just the glut standard, and I haven’t used glut in about 2 years so I’m probably using it wrong.

This was a really fun activity, I didn’t think I had it in me to actually create something decent in 48 hours. It’s certainly quite rough around the edges, but I think it came out alright and I’m happy with it :)

Moving the Stars.

Posted by (twitter: @ClawhammerMark)
Saturday, December 17th, 2011 5:02 pm

I moved the stars for you, LD.

 

Having a bit of fun just messing around with the core mechanic. It’s all there now, all that remains to do is give purpose to these mechanics, which will be pretty straightforward and I know exactly how I want it to work, tomorrow should be fun!

All that’s left beyond that is sound, not a clue how to import sounds, might have to try and find an OpenAL library and pick it up quickly.

 

 

ArtsyFartsy Black n White.

Posted by (twitter: @ClawhammerMark)
Saturday, December 17th, 2011 1:38 pm

First attempt at ludum dare, had pretty much no base code – lack of preparation, didnt even have anything to load PNGs with at the start! still pleanty left to do…

Theme is pretty interesting. Look forward to seeing other peoples creations :)

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