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Ludum Dare 31

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My favorite game so far:

Posted by (twitter: @cullenddwyer)
Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 8:23 pm

A Place in Space by lokijki.

It might be partly because one of my favorite games of all time is Shoot First by Teknopants, and that this game is incredibly reminiscent of it, or any number of biases, but this game is INCREDIBLE.  The theme is well executed in that everything does take place on one screen, even the title, through use of shadows to cover up the portion of the screen that is unavailable at any time.  Then you blast your way through an alien-infested room with perfect controls and a door opens up.  You walk into the next room, no big deal, blast away some more enemies, sweet, but no big deal, and then… And then the door that had just locked behind you  opens up, and you think, “Damn, I don’t want to go back into that room again, but whatever.”  And you walk into the room and as the shadows recede, you realize, “Holy crap!  This is an entirely new room!”

Pure genius.

On top of that,  the graphics are simple, but marvelous.  The amount of screen shake at points of impact is amazing, and the RGB-positions (or something) of all the sprites shift when the screen shakes.  It’s super gory, super addicting, and super worth checking out.



Ludum Bark Beams Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @cullenddwyer)
Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 3:38 pm

We, my roommate Dan and I, had been keeping an eye on this weekend’s Ludum Dare, but at first weren’t even sure if we were going to enter. We had just moved to a new town (Eugene, OR) after a two month long road trip, were both unemployed, and still flirting with a feather-in-the-wind, “take it as it comes” attitude, residual of our recent journey.

A couple weeks before the jam, we joined the Eugene Game Developers facebook page and attended our first art/code night with a couple of the minds from the scene around here. I was overenthused about the whole thing, because in my hometown (Derry, NH), there is no such thing as a gamedev scene. The facebook group posts anything from useful tools, finished projects, and meet-up events, to general humor, screenshots, and collaboration requests. Very soon after the art/code night, one member posted a Ludum Dare meet-up event.

I really, really wanted to go, but my sleep schedule was a little screwed up from too many nights up until 5 A.M., so I slept through it.

The next day, my new job called me out and I bought a dozen donuts for Dan and me to feast on. Day off…and it’s day 2 of the Ludum Dare.

“So are we making a game, man?” Dan spouts out over a cigarette. Ideas fill my head and inspiration hits me for the first time in a long time.

“Yeah, man, we are.”

T-minus approximately 34 hours until the Jam ends, it is 3:00 A.M. and I am pretty much just staring at the computer screen. We’ve made good progress; we have a working player, an enemy, all the other enemy sprites drawn, a basic version of the Round system.

“I’m going to bed,” I declare.

“Nah, man, we’re staying up all night on this!”

“I am not productive right now, when I wake up I will be.”

We bicker.

T-minus 30 minutes until the Jam ends, the black dogs on Round 3 glitch around everywhere and definitely do not collide with anything in the HTML version. Fuckfuckfuckfuck. I am already stressing about uploading this in time (this was before I knew there was an extra hour to package everything up) and NOW we get a game breaking bug? I think back to a couple nights ago when Dan and I argued about whether or not we should sleep. If I had just gotten a little more work in, this would have been addressed an hour ago!

I was irritable the entire last day, “twitchy”, if you will. The menu and the end-game boss were both crammed in during the last two hours, and my fingers were lightning on the keyboard. It wasn’t that the game stressed me out, it was that I have never really completed anything. I wanted this actually fun game about barking at things to just be completed, and I knew that if I missed the deadline, it would never get done. Meanwhile, Dan is asking if he can touch up some art, or draw this or that. “NO!” I exclaim, pretty rudely, because we have been sharing a computer and only one person can work at a time. (What I wanted to say was, “Yes, I want this to be as amazing as possible, and it can’t be without your help,” but we didn’t have time for semantics.)

But those were the final hours.

During our early phase of brainstorming and development, we had a blast. We came up with a good twelve ideas, and vetoed and discarded them until we settled on A Game Where the Screen Expands Each Level and You Have Two Objects With a Rope Between Them That You Move in Order to Trap the Enemies. It wasn’t until I doodled a little dog sprite to replace the programmer art squareman and abandoned the rope idea that our game was born. Here we had a playable demo of a dog (now re-pixeled by Dan) that can walk around and debug buttons that change how zoomed in the camera is.

“How should he attack?” I riddle Dan.

“He could bite, or something…”

“I guess…”

“Oooooor,” Dan smirks, “he could bark!”

At this point, a digital projector that we ordered off of Groupon seven thousand weeks ago had just made its way into our apartment, and I had also snagged and played through a copy of the original Legend of Zelda from the local retro-game store. The visual of the Wizrobes magic casting came to mind.

“Hey man, draw me something that looks like the magic beam from Zelda!”

Looking through the graphics files the next day, I noticed Dan’s nomenclature for his sprites. LudumDog.gif, LudumSquid.gif, LudumBarkBeams.gif. I stopped in full stride at the last one.

“I hope you know that our game is called ‘Ludum Bark Beams’ now,” I joke, and our game became awesome.

Audio design was probably our favorite. After getting the basic game system in place, I wanted to make playtesting more fun by adding in sound effects early. The next hour involved us barking into my iPhone microphone, emailing it to ourselves, and crushing the quality on the computer. I also actually composed a soundtrack for the game, which consisted of three variations of the same song, and would fade from one to the other in game based on what round you were on. It never made it into the game because of the time restriction, BUT, you can find and download them here:


Thank you everyone for your positive feedback on this project, it means the world to have not only finished a game because of this Jam, but to have finished a game that people seem to enjoy.


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