Ludum Dare 33
The Theme is:
You are the Monster

PlayRate80Star

Judging Ends in
3 weeks of Playing and Rating games!

About DDRKirby(ISQ) (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)

I'm DDRKirby(ISQ). I do lots of cool stuff! Check out my main website here:
http://sites.google.com/site/ddrkirby

Entries

 
Ludum Dare 33
 
Ludum Dare 32
 
Ludum Dare 31
 
Ludum Dare 29
 
Ludum Dare 28
 
Ludum Dare 27
 
Ludum Dare 26
 
Ludum Dare 26 Warmup
 
Ludum Dare 25
 
Ludum Dare 25 Warmup
 
Ludum Dare 23
 
Ludum Dare 23 Warmup
 
Ludum Dare 22

DDRKirby(ISQ)'s Trophies

Audio - 2nd Place - LD29
Awarded by r2d2upgrade
on May 20, 2014
Theme - 2nd Place - LD29
Awarded by r2d2upgrade
on May 20, 2014
Fun - 3rd Place - LD29
Awarded by r2d2upgrade
on May 20, 2014
Overall - 2nd Place - LD29
Awarded by r2d2upgrade
on May 20, 2014
SonnyBone's Official 'RAD GAME' Award
Awarded by SonnyBone
on December 19, 2013

DDRKirby(ISQ)'s Archive

Melody Muncher soundtrack download

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Thursday, August 27th, 2015 11:42 pm

The soundtrack for my chiptune rhythm game, Melody Muncher, is now out!

Melody Muncher Original Soundtrack

Get it here:

https://ddrkirbyisq.bandcamp.com/album/melody-muncher-original-soundtrack

Melody Muncher – Finished!

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Monday, August 24th, 2015 12:36 pm

2

 

http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-33/?action=preview&uid=7285

Go try it out if you’d like!  Be sure to use the lag calibration feature; some people have been complaining about timing issues, so that’s important (now comes with a visual guide!).

If you liked Ripple Runner, you’ll like this one too!  As always, features a full 9-bit chiptune soundtrack produced by me!

There are still many features that I want to add in…background color shifting (a la Ripple Runner), expert mode, more stages, off-beat enemies…I’m also regretting the fact that I didn’t give the red knights shovels instead of swords =(  Missed opportunity of the year…

I hope to start work on the post-compo version soon!  But for now, I’m going to just take it easy for a bit. :)  Congrats to everyone else who made it out of the Compo with a successful game, and to those of you still Jamming away, you can do it! (final stretch!)

Full Post-mortem will come a bit later as well :)

Calling it a night

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 2:31 am

Made good progress!  I have the three main enemy/mechanic types implemented, 3 songs, better animation for Ms. Melody, working gameplay, graphics for 2 of the enemy types, and a functional menu/difficulty/song select scene.  Phew!

Still to do:

  • Song #4 introducing the teleport enemy
  • Tutorials
  • Even more songs
  • Better visualization for beats?
  • Rudimentary lag calibration option?
  • Jukebox scene
  • Graphic for teleport enemy
  • Main Scene needs to actually end at end of song
  • Need alternate stepcharts for the higher difficulties
  • Scoring and star system

As always, 48 hours is a crazy short amount of time…wish me luck!  Hang in there everybody, you’re halfway there!

Munch munch munch

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 7:07 pm

Screenshot 2015-08-22 17.04.03

 

Good progress!  The idea came pretty quickly, and is a great “LD-sized” game I think.  I’ve got the music engine working, some pixel art, backdrops, and the first song done!  Still need a whole lotta work on the animations for Ms. Melody the piranha plant, and that green rectangle on the right is supposed to be an actual guy, but hey, one step at a time!

Getting pretty tired though, I just had a snack and think I’m off to a nap!

I’m in again!

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 3:58 pm

DDRKirby(ISQ) here!  That’s right, I’m joining LD again!

Here are my personal goals for LD this time around:

Skip my Friday social dance event to focus on LD – Usually every LD I do I always start behind on time because I go to a weekly dance event on friday night.  Well, not this time!  Just gonna focus on LD this time, and actually get a fresh start alongside everyone else. :)  Hopefully this will lead to me having a little more time too, since 48 hours is super tight already, as we all know.

If possible, do something using a 4-color palette – The past couple of LDs I’ve kept on wanting to do something with “a simple and clean art style, probably using basic shapes and subtle effects”, but I think I’m over that and I actually really want to try using the style that I did for Ripple Runner again, using 4 shades as in the good ol Game Boy days.  I’d actually love to create something that is reminiscent of A Kitty Dream…I know that isn’t strictly 4 colors, but I think that aesthetic is something that I’m really into right now, using pixel art and simple colors to create beautiful spaces.

Do something small so I can focus on aesthetics – I’ve never tried focusing on aesthetics before in an LD game but I want to attempt to do it, ratings be damned!  Of course, I may end up getting sidetracked and just do another rhythm-based game where you really get into the music, but I think I’d like to make it a goal to just make something that just looks and sounds great, rather than concentrating so much on the actual gameplay.  Easier said than done, of course–you still have to have an interesting game at the end of the day ;P

Tools I’ll be using:

  • Haxe and HaxePunk, with FlashDevelop as my IDE
  • FL Studio and LabChirp for music and sound.
  • GIMP for art
  • Tiled (potentially) for map editing

TODOs left before the start of compo:

  • Check out updates to HaxePunk and associated libs, make sure everything is up to date and compatible.
  • Download Tiled and its associated HaxePunk loader, make a sample project where I’m loading things from a Tiled map, because there’s a good chance (?) I’ll need a proper map editor.  Make sure there are no kinks in the process.  Reminder to self that when I was doing Rhythm Gunner I think pixelmasks were having some issues so I need to check on that again.
  • Get some rest :)

Rhythm Gunner

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Sunday, April 19th, 2015 11:49 pm

screenshot1

Play it here: http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-32/?action=preview&uid=7285

I managed to add a LOT in the past 8-10 hours.  Looking at my git log, before the start of the day when I woke up, I had just finished getting rhythm-tracking working and having it display via the on-screen bars that travel down with the beat.  Since then I’ve added:

– 3 new unique weapons
– Player animations
– 2 new enemies
– A main menu screen
– Lag calibration
– Item spawning
– Tutorials
– Enemy bullets
– Explosions
– Fancier reactive music
– Enemy spawning
– Error effect when you mistime your hits

screenshot3screenshot4

This was probably the closest I’ve ever cut it to the submission deadline.  Whew!  There is still a lot to be done…I didn’t have enough time to slap on layers and layers of polish like normal.  Maybe that’s only possible with Jam games?  Just thinking back to Match Girl and Hyper Furball…yeah, having the extra day REALLY makes the polish possible.  Even for Ripple Runner, I felt really rushed at the end and didn’t have nearly as much content as I would have liked (until post-compo version).  48 hours is just crazy.  Jeez.

I’m super happy with what I accomplished, though!  And…the game actually plays pretty well, too!  Go check it out :)  There’s even a co-op mode!

In the coming future I’ll need to take care of a bunch of things, like music downloads, fixing up  links, building other targets (right now the windows and neko targets don’t track audio properly, not sure if that is an easy fix or just impossible), etc.  And of course just working on it more and making a fleshed out post-compo version, with more weapons, better balance, more enemies, different levels, more music, a proper intro, etc.  But…that will all be later.  For now it’s time to rest.  Congratulations to all of you who finished, and for those of you still Jamming, hang in there!

Great progress, but…the clock is ticking down…

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Sunday, April 19th, 2015 5:09 am

Huzzah, a screenshot!

Screenshot 2015-04-19 03.04.23

 

We’ve come a long way!  Around lunchtime I was just starting to set up the very basic logic and classes–now we’ve got a player sprite, an enemy animation, a functional weapon (with particles!), and I’ve even got beat-tracking working and visually displayed on screen, and some UI too!  The level collisions work, I have a cool shotgun cloud puff that I am amazed actually worked out, and things are overall going pretty nicely.  I’ve got music, too!  And, co-op support!

I always forget just how little time 48 hours is, though.  Sheesh!  As always, I’m ending Saturday night wondering how the heck I’m going to finish everything in time.  This time actually seems doable though, I have a lot here already and just need to keep adding more.  but…need mental energy……zzzzz

Idea get!

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Saturday, April 18th, 2015 2:12 pm

Slept early last night on friday, that’s an LD first!  Woke up early and stocked up on food at the grocery store while brainstorming some more.  After scribbling down a lot of different nouns on my brainstorming sheets, and then trying to flesh out some of the better-sounding ideas I had, I’ve finally settled on a direction for the game.  Picked something that I think works to my strengths.  Not sure if it’ll be a crowd-pleaser, but you know what…it doesn’t matter!  As long as you make something awesome :)

Tentative project name: Rhythm Gunner 😀

Next step, let’s get the bitbucket repo setup and start digging in!

I’m In!

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Thursday, April 16th, 2015 2:22 pm

Hey there, DDRKirby(ISQ) here!  You might remember me from my entry from LD29, Ripple Runner.  This will be my *9th* time doing LD!

Last time I ended up with Labyrinth, a short 2D puzzle platformer with pixel graphics.  It ended up taking 7th place overall!  (Despite it being one of my weaker entries)

For Labyrinth, my goals were:

Make something with a simple and clean art style – I failed on this front and ended up just using pixel art again.  I still have yet to make a game using basic shapes and a clean/minimalistic aesthetic.  For Labyrinth, pixel art was the right choice though, so it wasn’t really a mistake.  Just, hopefully I get to do this at some point.

Don’t stress out about results – Yeah, I did this.  I didn’t even expect that much because I ran out of time and felt really rushed at the end due to having a false start.

Feedback and critical thought earlier in the design process – Yes, I did this too.  In fact I had an initial idea of a dungeon that would change in shape and have this narrative where you start out with a friend and then you lose them and then the story gets wrapped up somehow blahblahblah….but then I ended up trashing that idea completely after I figured out that it wasn’t really working.

For this time, let’s try to:

Make something simple, dammit – Should always be a goal…even if I don’t end up with something simple in the end, it’s always best to start off small and add fancy stuff later.  Just, more fun that way!

Don’t stress TOO much about the initial idea – Last time I think I actually ended up tried to overthink things and that’s what led to something forced and unnatural; I think I still need to spend a good chunk of time thinking about a fun idea that will work but once I have that I can just try to run with it and see what happens.

Code with extensibility for multiple resolutions and input types – I’ll be working with haxepunk this time, so there’s the possibility of cross-platform builds!  If I want to support mobile devices and such, I need to code in a way such that I don’t lock myself 100% to a particular resolution/input type, so I’ll at least make *some* effort to do that.  I know a lot of people were requesting Ripple Runner be a mobile release, for example.

Tools/frameworks I’m using this time around:

– Haxe with Haxepunk, deving in FlashDevelop.  This’ll be my first LD using haxe!
– FL Studio for music/audio
– Labchirp for additional sfx
– GIMP for graphics/art
– No map editor, even if I do end up with some sort of game that wants a map editor, trying to integrate one with haxe is just tooooo risky.  I’d rather roll my own ascii text solution or something.
– Paint tool SAI if I decide to be experimentalllll and actually draw things (but I probably won’t).

Protip for any people who are attempting to use haxepunk: I’ve found that the following combination of library versions will make things happy:

HaxePunk: [2.5.3]
hxcpp: [3.2.37]
lime-tools: [1.5.7]
lime: [2.1.3]
openfl: [2.2.8]

AFAIK the latest version of HaxePunk is not yet compatible with the latest releases of lime/openfl.  This took me a while to figure out but I’m glad I have it all squared away before the compo starts.  As an aside, I also tried to find a good IDE for haxe+haxepunk in OSX but everything I tried didn’t really pass the test…which is fine since windows is my primary platform anyways.  Flashdevelop will have you covered.

“Labyrinth” submitted!

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Sunday, December 7th, 2014 10:33 pm

Well, that’s that.  My entry, “Labyrinth” is submitted!

http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-31/?action=preview&uid=7285

I ended up not having NEARLY enough time to flesh the game out, as is expected given that I had a very slow start and even scrapped my initial design idea after some advice from a good friend.  I ended up having roughly 24 hrs to execute my actual idea, so by that standard I should be pretty darn happy with what I came out with.  It’s really not up to par with my other LD entries, not at all, but on the plus side, it’s at least kind of cool, and still has the awesome music that you guys all know me for.  For some time I considered extending and getting things in for the Jam instead, but….nah, I think I’ll just call it quits for now.

After some rounding up of URLs and such, I decided to treat myself to the manliest dinner ever in celebration:

2014-12-07 21.11.10

 

I was really hungry.

Good luck to everyone still doing the Jam!  Almost there, folks!

15 hours left…

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Sunday, December 7th, 2014 3:40 am

I spent a LOT of time today on design, both preliminary and iterative.  I started coding up some stuff and then realized that my design was just…not really making the most sense, so I scrapped my idea and went down another path.  Like I said, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this!

On the plus side, I’ve finally sat down and cranked out some actual mechanics and code.  Here’s what I have right now; level design is nowhere near existent but it shows off the main “hook” of the game.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/8332206/Permanent%20Links/Labyrinth/Labyrinth.html

This is always the time when I wonder how in the world I am ever going to get done.  I guess there is always the Jam if I end up needing to submit late, but hopefully I never have to do that.  I’ll just have to get this trimmed down, crank out some levels and music and then polish it up.  Stressful!  But I guess this is what happens when you only actually have 24 hours to execute your idea because you spent the first day being busy, sleeping, and thinking about designs ;P

Right now, though, it is definitely time for me to call it a night and take a breather.  I’ll approach this with a fresh brain in the morning, and hope for the best.

22 hours in and…

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Saturday, December 6th, 2014 5:39 pm

I’ve just started xD

Woke up at around 11AM and spent a good 4 hours or so brainstorming and thinking of ideas before settling on a direction.  I’ve just now booted up my IDE, ported over my stub code, made my bitbucket repo, and started coding.  However, it’s also time to grab dinner ;P

All the while, the time ticks by…ah well, what can you do.

Mission start…

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Saturday, December 6th, 2014 12:44 pm

As usual, I went out on Friday night (only mildly pondering the theme in my head) and came back to catch up on emails and then go to sleep, so I’m only now starting on things when we are already like 18 hours in.  On the plus side, I don’t have RL commitments this weekend like I did last time (and even then, I still managed to crank out Ripple Runner), so I should be fine.

For now though, it’s time to whip out some paper and pen and start brainstorming!  Good luck to everyone else, I know some of you are waist-deep into things by now already!

DDRKirby(ISQ) is In!

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Friday, December 5th, 2014 12:38 pm

Hey all!  This is my last-minute “I’m in” post for LD31!  I skipped LD30 because it was at an inconvenient time for me (and I was busy working on my atmospheric emotional art game, Rain), but I’m back again and ready (well…mostly ready) to kick things off with LD31!  This will be my 8th time doing Ludum Dare!

Last time for LD29 I made Ripple Runner and ended up placing 2nd place overall!  Ripple Runner was certainly a blast to make, but I’m hoping to do something a bit different this time around.

Let’s see what kind of goals and aims I have for LD31:

Make something with a simple and clean art style

Not 100% sure whether I’ll be able to do this depending on the theme, but I think it would probably be really nice if instead of “halfway decent” pixel art I switched up my art style and instead used very basic and simple shapes, but with effects overlaid on top of them to add polish.  Something along the lines of Puzzlejuice, or maybe even Threes.  Or bit.stream.  I can just use polygons, simple shapes, rounded squares, pixels, and combine that with some simple texturing or bevels and edges and borders, or neon/soft glow effects, and I think that would actually look really nice.  I’m actually curious to see whether I can achieve a sort of “glassy” feel both with the graphics and the audio of the game, but once again this is wildly contingent on what kind of ideas I come up with once the theme is announced.

Of course another option is to just go all-out on pixel art and focus on art/animation this time, at the expense of having less time to code.  That could be fun too!  Or maybe even do something completely different and try digital animation using my tablet (…probably too hard).

Don’t stress out about results

Ludum Dare voting is amazingly subjective, voters don’t really have great standards, people critique on the weirdest things, and in general…it’s really stupid to get caught up on the results because they are just so inconsistent and misrepresentative of what your game really is.  I don’t mean to sound bitter or anything — I’ve placed highly myself after all — but last time for Ripple Runner I was a little distraught with getting 2nd place in audio compared to what I thought was a more “gimmicky” game.  Really a mistake on my part for even getting worked up about it though.  I think the only reason I started caring about results is that from my experience, my LD placings directly correlate with traffic surges to my bandcamp site (and thus, the revenue I get from album sales).  But really, I shouldn’t care about that so much. ^^;  Especially if I want to explore some different creative avenues that might not pander to the mainstream crowd.

Feedback and critical thought earlier in the design process

So far I’ve had pretty good success with game ideas, but I think one of my potential goals is to make a game that’s a bit more universally enjoyable.  What I mean by that is that although Ripple Runner was really awesome and all, there were definitely a lot of people who just…aren’t as good at rhythm and/or computer games and coordination in general, and I’d like to loop those people in as well.  I don’t mean I want to necessarily make a game that’s dumbed down and super easy — but if possible, I’d like to take my games from being more niche (made for a certain breed of gamer to enjoy) to being a little more universal (think Monument Valley).  Really depends on the game idea, of course, but even though initially I made games mostly for my own enjoyment, I’d like to think about my audience a little more now.

Part of this is also getting feedback from other people earlier in the design and prototype process, as opposed to getting feedback at the 11th hour when I’m just rushing to patch up balance issues and bugs.

 

For tools and assets, I’ll be sticking with my guns:

– Flash, coding in AS3 using FlashPunk, deving in FlashDevelop
– FL Studio for music/audio
– Labchirp for additional sfx generation
– GIMP for all graphics and art needs
– I forget what map editor I settled upon as being the best, but I think it might have been Tiled?  Hopefully I don’t need one though, I always find them a bit of a pain to integrate into the project and get everything working correctly.  Making maps via editing ASCII-art-like text files is much quicker and easier (did that for Match Girl).
– Paint Tool SAI on the off-chance that I decide to whip out my tablet and try drawing something terrible

I did some brief searching on alternatives to FlashPunk like HaxePunk, Starling, Stage3DPunk, HTML5, etc. but so far it seems like all of the alternatives to FlashPunk are not quite mature yet in some manner or another for me to be willing to take a dive into them.

Ooh yes, that’s right — making more emotive and soundtrack-like music (think To the Moon) has also been a recent interest of mine, but we’ll see whether that makes its way in or not ;P

Good luck to everyone doing LD this time around!  Make sure to take care of yourself :)

Ripple Runner Deluxe (Post-Compo edition)

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Monday, May 19th, 2014 2:13 pm

Ripple Runner now has an official post-compo version!  Ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy Ripple Runner Deluxe!  Featuring 3 new stages, more difficulty, more parallax scrolling backgrounds, extra level mechanics, and of course, more awesome chiptune music!

For a complete changelog (we’re at v1.22 now), look at the submission page here: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-29/?action=preview&uid=7285

Here’s a look at the new backgrounds and stages:

deluxe1

deluxe2

deluxe3

deluxe4

 

Ripple Runner has already received a lot of positive feedback and support from you guys, and I really appreciate it!  Hopefully the new post-compo update will satisfy those of you who were left wanting more from the original. ^_^

And last, but certainly not least, I’ve included the 3 new songs in a new album release, so grab the new music here!

http://ddrkirbyisq.bandcamp.com/album/ripple-runner-deluxe-original-soundtrack

Ripple Runner Deluxe Original Soundtrack

 

It’s not too late!  4 hours remain in voting, you can still play and rate Ripple Runner now!

Ripple Runner Post-Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Sunday, May 4th, 2014 10:43 pm

Hey there!  DDRKirby(ISQ) here with my post-mortem writeup for my chiptune rhythm game, Ripple Runner!  Please check it out if you haven’t already done so!

The title screen for Ripple Runner – Click to play!

 

This is already my 7th time entering Ludum Dare…I’m really getting to be an old veteran now!  Last time around I teamed up with my artist friend xellaya and made a puzzle platformer called Match Girl for LD28.  You can read the post-mortem for Match Girl here, if you want to see how that turned out.

This time I ended up working by myself and entered the 48hr division.  I came up with an 8-bit styled (more like 9-bit, really) musical runner game, with a lot of similarities to Bit.Trip Runner.  (Imagine what Canabalt would be like if it were a rhythm game)  I’m really happy with the result, and it seems like other people are too!  Here’s what the game looks like in action:

A shot from stage 3, showcasing the spike mechanic

Without further ado, let’s dive right into what went well and what didn’t go so well.

 

What went well:

 

Workflow and Experience

I feel like I’ve been saying this ever since Hyper Furball, but the process of taking a game from start to finish has gotten really streamlined now, and now that I’ve got all of the basics down pat, I get to spend most of my work time on implementing the cool awesome things that are specific to the individual game, as opposed to writing lots of boilerplate code and worrying about menus, collision detection, how to recycle entities, particle emitters, screen flashes, etc.  Ever since Hyper Furball, I’ve sort of had the same basic formula for the intro, title screen/menu, and jukebox as well, and I think that’s been working fantastically.  Not only is it really easy to reuse the code from before and just adjust the menu slightly (as well as put in the appropriate background elements), but it also ties my works together aesthetically.  Having the intro there (complete with shrot musical ditty) really gives it a sense of polish, and I’m really beginning to enjoy how I have it for each game I make.

The one downside for this is that since I’ve been copying code from my previous LD projects, all of it has a bunch of random hacks and terrible coding that I did in the 11th hour when all you care about is tweaking one thing or fixing one issue.  So far this has been harmless, but if I continue to do it without cleaning any of it up, I’m bound to run into issues sooner or later.  One example: I have a variable for a “blackImage” that I used for fading the screen in/out to black from Match Girl and Hyper Furball, but I decided that I wanted screenfades to white for Ripple Runner, so now my “blackImage” variable points to…a white image.  Which, of course, is totally fine, because that image is only used in the title screen and it was much easier to just keep the variable name but switch the content rather than having to actually rename the variable and catch all of the places where it was used, etc etc.  Anyways, sometime in the future it would be ideal if I could avoid copying over all the hacks from existing projects…

 

Concept and Brainstorming

This is my favorite idea that I’ve ever had for an LD game, and I was actually REALLY excited when it all started coming together and I could see that it was going to work out.  Because of various factors (which I’ll talk more about later), I actually spent quite a lot of time brainstorming different ideas for the theme this time (“Beneath the Surface”) and coming up with a bunch of different ideas, including a FEZ-like game that focused on water reflections, an extreme fishing game, a rhythm-based digging game, and a sort of 2D platformer version of Minesweeper (think Mr. Driller meets Minesweeper).  In the end I think I was inspired to create a rhythm game by stumbling upon Rhythm Doctor in the few days leading up to LD, as I was brainstorming what kinds of games I would want to make this time around.  Seeing that someone else had successfully made a music game using flashpunk was actually really encouraging–I now knew that it was possible!  If I hadn’t seen that, I probably would have shied away from the concept, as music games are notoriously hard to really get right (I know–I’ve worked on one in the past as well).

Because I had so much time to brainstorm, I actually had almost the entire gameplay visualized in my head (and on my scratch paper) before I even started working.  I had it all thought out, including questions such as “do I want to make the tempo stay constant or speed up throughout a song?”, “how exactly do I want to handle syncing the gameplay to the audio?” (easy–I simply mapped the player’s x position to the current sound position and placed everything else accordingly), “what art style do i want?”, and “how exactly do I want the musical cues to be integrated?”  I knew that the idea was fairly interesting, and relatively simple to implement assuming my few basic assumptions about the flashpunk audio engine would work out (they did).  Here’s what an early development screenshot looked like:

An early development screenshot, complete with derpy placeholder sprite

An early development screenshot, complete with derpy placeholder sprite

As you can see, it’s actually not too far off from the final product!  I even already knew I was going to do the watery displacement effect for the reflected half of the screen, so that was already in there at this point.  I hadn’t yet thought of the spike concept, but even with just jumping and swapping it was already becoming apparent to me that the game was gonna be a success.  It’s also good to note that this was probably my simplest LD idea yet in terms of execution complexity, which definitely helped out. (I finally hit my goal of not trying to bite off more than I should chew!)

I think the in-game tutorial was one of the best gameplay design decisions as well, and definitely beats all of my other games in terms of easing new players into the game mechanics.

 

Art Style

At some point during my concepting, I decided that I was going to try out using a 4-color palette for the game.  I knew I wanted something that would look good, yet also be relatively easy for me to do, since I’m pretty far from proficient in my art and pixeling skills.  This turned out to be a great decision, as all of the graphics in the game were really simple for me to draw, yet the end result looked really great!  Kudos to Plant Cat: First Blossom by flashygoodness and friends for getting me inspired to try this art style out.  I also decided to go with a greenish hue, as a throwback to the good old days of the original Game Boy.  This also made it easy for me do the hue-shifting effect that happens at certain checkpoints.

To illustrate just how simple this made my life, here’s what the three different layers of the background look like individually:
backdrop_1

backdrop_3backdrop_2Dirt simple!  All I had to do was draw a solid shape with some variations at the top edge and make sure that it wrapped around nicely, repeat it for another shade, and then draw some super simple pixel clouds.  The parallax scrolling effect is very simple to do in Flashpunk as well, by just making each image into an automatically-wrapping Backdrop that scrolls at a different rate.

Then I just had to add a layer for the water, which only shows in the bottom half:

water

If you’re paying close attention during the game or at the title screen, you’ll notice that the white lines and dots on the surface of the water actually move, sort of imitating the bubbles and lighting that the surface of water makes in real life.  I actually used two separate layers of white lines for this and made them scroll at different rates, so that it looks dynamic, as opposed to seeming like just a single image that’s scrolling.

I implemented the wavy water reflection effect by modifying the “Glitch” filter in punk.fx to be based on a sin function instead of shifting lines at random.  It’s a simple displacement effect that just shifts each horizontal line of pixels by a different amount, but it works really well!

Finally, I used a hue shift effect for the different sections of music, also provided by punk.fx.  Here’s another example of the final result:

I’m really pleased with how the running animation turned out for my little guy too, despite being not confident at all that I could get that right.  I had no idea what I wanted to make my character look like at first, and I actually still don’t know quite what it is (some kind of squid-like aquatic being??), but it ended up working out perfectly.

I should note that even though I said I’m using a 4-color pallete, the final visual result of the game isn’t really constrained to that, because of the reflection effects and transparency and all that.  Hence, the visual style of the game is very much “9-bit”, just like my music is–in other words, it’s derived from old 8-bit games, but doesn’t emulate them perfectly, and instead allows for some extra capabilities.

 

Music and Audio 

Well, I don’t really know what I can say about this at this point, as making soundtracks like this is standard fare for me nowadays.  This game in particular was REALLY fun for me to compose for, since I got to have fun involving the player in the song as well.  I really enjoyed it, and it was helpful to write it as I was coding the game, keeping in mind the spaces where I wanted to have tutorials and checkpoints and whatnot.  People are really digging the music already, it seems :)

Be sure to check out the soundtrack at my bandcamp site, too!  http://ddrkirbyisq.bandcamp.com/album/ripple-runner-original-soundtrack

The Ripple Runner OST – click to download!

 

What didn’t go so well:

 

RL Stuff Eating into LD Time

This certainly isn’t the first time that I’ve had real life issues distract me or come into conflict with Ludum Dare, so it’s not like this was any surprise to me, but sheesh…just once I’d like to just do a Ludum Dare without getting sick or being mentally exhausted or having my timeslot screwed over in some way.  This time around I left my Friday dance event early so that I could have a bit more time to focus on LD (I was too distracted to really think about anything else anyways), but as luck would have it I needed to go perform for something on Saturday at around noon, so that ate up the first half of my Saturday.  I brought myself a pen and paper so that I could spend my downtime brainstorming ideas and concepts for the game, which actually ended up working out pretty nicely, but in the end I didn’t get to sit down at my computer and start working until 4:30PM on Saturday, which is over 20 hours into the 48 hour timeframe.  Soooo yeah, I kind of got screwed over in terms of time.  On the plus side, having all my ideas planned out as well as being all anxious from having lost out on a half-day of work made me blaze through the initial dev work and I had the basic game up and running very quickly (after a few hours of work), so it wasn’t the end of the world…but I’m pretty sure I would have been able to program more content and make more songs if it wasn’t for me having lost out on all of those potential work hours.

Here is a good time to note that I actually didn’t implement the spike mechanic until preeettty late into development (At t-minus 5 hours or something like that).  After making the first two stages, I was thinking to myself that it would really be nice if I had a third mechanic, as only having jumping and swapping was fun but also not quite that interesting from a gameplay perspective.  Three is kind of the magic number for having different things to concentrate on, as I know from playing Puzzlejuice, so I was looking for something different to do.  In the end I came up with two different ideas–one was the spike/flip upside-down mechanic that I ended up implementing, and the other was that I was going to have the Jump button do an attack or kick of some sort if you pressed it in midair, so that you’d have to press jump twice in quick succession to get past certain obstacles (breakable walls or something).  I wanted to implement both, but in the end didn’t have time, so I just went with only the spikes.  I knew that that was the better of the two mechanics anyways, because holding a button down is a different feeling than the button presses for jump and ripple, both mentally and from a tactile sense too.  The jump-kick idea would let me introduce more eighth-note rhythms into my songs, but I already kind of had that idea going with the jump-ripple combo, so it didn’t -really- introduce anything new.

 

Not Enough Content

Like I mentioned above, a direct corollary of having less time was only being able to make 3 songs for the game, even though I had definitely wanted to make more.  Programming in the actual stages was actually quite time-consuming, as I had to make sure all of the platforms and obstacles were mapped to the appropriate times in the music, as well as placing special events such as checkpoints, hue shifts, changes in scrolling speed, and tutorials.

 

A Weird FlashDevelop Issue

Thankfully this wasn’t actually -too- bad, but every once in a while (typically when I went to import a source file from Match Girl or something and was trying to rip out all of the Match Girl-specific parts), FD would have problems with the compile process–it would either fail to detect changes, or just tell you that the compile succeeded and then try to run the resulting binary, when in actuality the compile was supposed to fail (because of a missing import or something).  Again, this happened only once or twice, and I had some workarounds, but it was a bit of an annoyance when it did happen.  Other than that, my development was actually really smooth this time around, with no real surprises anywhere.  I remember having issues trying to get the ripple particle effects working properly, but I ended up figuring that out without too much pain.

 

Overall, Ripple Runner was a huge success, personally, and I’m really looking forward to what you all think of it as well.  Again, please play and rate if you haven’t done so already!

I’m also definitely looking into working on a post-compo version of Ripple Runner, cleaning up a few things like adding the ability to pause the game, etc.  Mostly, though, I just want to add more songs, because 3 just isn’t enough!  I also want to give songs that have a wider difficulty range…the 3rd song isn’t nearly hard enough to give players a *real* challenge. :)  Stay tuned for news on the post-compo version–I’m hoping to work on it over the next couple weeks!

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