Ludum Dare 31
Theme:
Entire Game on One Screen

Judging ends in:
It’s time to Play and Rate Games!

PlayRate80Star

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 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

“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!

I’m in…phew

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Friday, April 25th, 2014 2:22 pm

DDRKirby(ISQ) here, announcing that I’ll be in for the individual contest this time.  Had a tough week and at times it looked like LD wasn’t really going to happen, but I think I’m okay :)

As always, I’ve got a dance event on Friday night, so I’ll be a bit delayed in starting.  In addition, I’m part of a performance group and try as I might I couldn’t get out of having to do a performance on Saturday, so that’s some more time out the window.  Oh well.  Hopefully I’ll get enough rest to power through hard…

Last time’s entry, Match Girl, was made with my friend xellaya helping me out on art, and placed 2nd in the Jam!

This time I’ll have to be rolling my own art, and rather than doing mediocre (yet “acceptable”?) pixel art, I’m actually thinking of trying to use more minimalistic graphics (I know, I know, Minimalism as a theme is already over), so that I can come out with something that looks more clean.  Something like using geometric shapes along with particle effects and/or lighting effects and glowing to make things look interesting.  We’ll see though–that plan might go completely out the window depending on what I decide to make.

Other goals for this time include trying to reduce the scope of my project (as always)…I tell this to myself every time and yet I still manage to try and put 110% into LD regardless.  Argh.  Maybe part of the reason is because I want to make an entire soundtrack, and to do so I either add a lot of levels or content or whatever.  Maybe the solution here is to just make a bunch of music but not have that mapping from music to levels…instead just play a random music piece?  Not sure…

I also have yet to make an actual “arcade”-style game.  You know, the “addictive” ones where it gets more and more difficult as you keep playing even though it’s basically the same gameplay.  I’ve yet to make an artsy game too, so those are both options.

Will be using flashpunk, with FL Studio for audio, GIMP for art, and LabChirp for additional sfx.

Could also try and make a game with audio-correlated gameplay, or at least audio that’s triggered/synced to gameplay events.  Apparently it’s possible: search “Rhythm Doctor” if you need proof (made in Flashpunk!), but I’m sure it’s probably a pain in the butt to get the audio all working properly.  Theoretically it’s not THAT bad–you can just time everything using the position of the sfx clip that you’re using.  But…I’m sure there are many pitfalls waiting for me if I try to go down that road.

Match Girl Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Wednesday, January 1st, 2014 5:25 am

If you haven’t already, please play and rate our game, Match Girl!

Our title screen.

This is my 6th Ludum Dare entry, and the 2nd time working as a two-person team with my artist xellaya. Our previous game was a psychadelic side-scrolling rpg about a crazy cat, Hyper Furball.

This time we went in a totally different direction, and created something dark and creepy. Here’s what the game looks like in action:

One of the later levels, on Normal mode.

Like last time, let’s go over what went well and what didn’t.

What went well:

The Game Concept
The concept actually came really easily this time, unlike last time where we had to go through a number of different ideas before finally settling on something. The theme this time (“You Only Get One”) was a good one–pretty open, but also restrictive enough to focus you on something specific. Doing a “you only get one life” game definitely felt like it would be a cop-out here, so we definitely wanted to stay away from using that idea. Like always, we were busy on Friday night, so we didn’t really start to work until Saturday, but I actually had the initial concept of an “only one light source” platformer while trying to get to sleep on Friday.

Team Experience
We’re veterans at this by now, so we don’t really have many kinks in our process. Especially on my side with the coding–I don’t really have to figure many new things out by now because I can just look at my previous projects and I can just copy-paste code as needed. Instantiating new objects, making timers and counters, doing screen flashes, doing the jukebox screen, that’s all easy stuff for me now. And of course, cranking out music is second nature to me now, after doing so many of these.  That’s always more of a “break” for me than actual work, to be honest.  Working together with xellaya is pretty nice now as well. We definitely don’t think along the same wavelengths, and generally don’t share the same vision for things, so it’s fortunate that we manage to find a way to make things work out. I think we’ve managed to strike a good balance, such that I allow her a good deal of freedom in making artistic decisions, while still pushing back when something could be reworked to better fit the game. I think it’s important to make sure that there’s enough communication about the needs of the game, while not just being super-controlling and nitpicky about everything. In the case of Match Girl, we ended up redesigning the enemy graphics, which initially looked like this:

Our derpy ghost.

Which was cute, but not quite what we needed.  The redesigned enemy looks like this:

Our revised enemy graphic.

 

Which is definitely more creepy and obviously harmful.  To make it pop out more, I increased the saturation, so in the end we have this:

Saturated enemy

 

Dynamic Lighting
Initially I had the match as the only light source, and in order to get that working I just took a big fat black texture, painted a transparent circle on it with a gradient, and pasted that onto the screen. Then I got the idea for the candles scattered around the levels and realized that I needed a better solution. I spent a little bit of time going into the rabbit hole trying to work it out with blending modes and getting into FlashPunk’s drawing engine, but then found some dynamic lighting code that someone else had already written up (https://github.com/SHiLLySiT/Lit). I tried it out and it worked! I remember making one or two tweaks to how it worked (probably changing the blend mode), but it ended up working great and I’m really thankful that I found a quick and easy solution. This was really key to making our game work well!

Our dynamic lighting system in action. I especially liked how the candles only partially illuminated adjacent enemies.

Level Design
Now, this was actually something I really worried about, because level design is really tricky to get right for a puzzle platformer, especially one that you haven’t carefully tweaked and refined and playtested.  I also wasn’t confident whether or not our mechanic would work well enough to make for good design.  I knew in my head that the match concept was a good idea, but whether it would actually translate to fun levels was something that I really couldn’t know until I actually sat down and tried it.
During the initial planning/prototyping phase I also thought that it would be nice if we had at least one other mechanic other than the matches and the enemies/obstacles that kill you, so I thought of the moving blocks and implemented those (was still using placeholder graphics for everything at this point).  It was later on when I was making the spotlight for the exit door that I thought of the concept of candles/torches that would be pre-placed in the level, and that actually worked really well for level design, since they function in so many ways.  Not only do they illuminate tricky areas, but they also serve to give a sense of atmosphere, and they also serve as good reference points while memorizing level layouts.  They also work nicely with the moving blocks in some levels.  The fake white blocks were the last thing I thought of–the idea for that probably came while I was color-shifting the block textures for the different worlds.
Initially I had  single set of 25 levels — 5 for each world.  After I had all of the different mechanics nailed down, I knew I wanted each world to introduce something new, except for the last world which would pull everything together.  I also knew how I wanted world 1 to flow: Introduce movement and the goal, introduce matches, introduce jumping, and introduce restarting.
So I had my 25 levels, but I realized that some of them were probably too difficult for inexperienced players.  So I dumbed down some of the levels, made them easier to memorize and execute, and added more torches.  Then I set out making 25 new levels for hard mode, where I tried to really be aggressive with the difficulty.  This was the very last thing I did, and I was rushing frantically to design all of hard mode in about an hour or so.  I’m really glad that it turned out so well the way that it did.  I’d say that I’m a bit lucky that I managed to get such decent level design even though it was squeezed in pretty last-minute.

 

What went not as well:

Not being in the right mindset
This didn’t end up really hurting us that badly, but I was actually feeling really lackluster and discouraged on Friday night due to just being in a bad mood in general, as evidenced by a post I made that night.  Luckily I still managed to come up with the concept while trying to sleep, and ended up shrugging it off and diving in with a good start the next day.  I don’t really think there’s much I could have done about this, but it was one of the worrisome things that happened this time around.

Underestimating the amount of work
I should have learned by now, but I guess there really is no such thing as a Ludum Dare that I finish early and don’t spend 100% of my effort on.  I keep on trying and telling myself to be less ambitious each time, but somehow I always end up pushing all the way to the deadline, almost without fail.  I think that’s a good thing–it’s part of the reason my games have become so polished–but at the same time, I need to prepare for it and expect my entire Monday to be taken up. (and ask for that day off from work in advance)

Story and plot
We kind of slacked on this this time around, but that was sort of a conscious choice, as again we were trying to be less ambitious.  I think it was also that we didn’t actually really have any good ideas for plot and storyline that would explain things well.  xellaya wanted the ending to be open-ended, and I thought that was fine by me as well.  I certainly didn’t have enough time on my hands to do anything more about it anyways. ^^;  I don’t think this really hurts our game much, as I feel like it doesn’t -need- a story this time, but it is true that this is something that we missed out on.

Music style
This one is a little debatable, actually.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the music in our game, actually.  I think it’s really effective, for the most part, and I’m proud of it as far as soundtracks go.  I mean, who doesn’t like a kickin 8-bit fakebit NES-style chiptune soundtrack?  We’ve already gotten a bunch of positive feedback on it, and I’d recommend you check it out too.
However, it might not have made the most sense for me to limit myself to 2A03 instrumentation and try to be really pure in terms of using only 2 pulse channels at a time, etc.  I think I just happened to be on a 2A03 kick at the time and wanted to do this fakebit style, which is fine, but perhaps it would have been more appropriate to go with a more “9-bit” approach, with darker soundscapes and non-chip sounds in the mix.  Who knows–maybe the melodies wouldn’t have turned out nearly as memorable if I had gone that route, but it -is- true that some of the later tunes are a bit “energetic” as opposed to “spooky”, which is probably the one qualm I have about the OST.  Really a minor point though, as I’m still really proud of it. :P

All in all, a really great success for us this time.  It doesn’t have the “raw”, unadulterated fun that Hyper Furball did, but it’s a “cleaner”, more solid game, I think.  I’m really happy with how it turned out.  I’ve only gotten to watch one person play through it, but it was super awesome to see how they handled the different mechanics and got through each level.  I hope you guys all enjoy it too :)

Feeling really meh

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Saturday, December 14th, 2013 1:17 am

Haven’t actually spent any serious time thinking about the theme or anything because, as always, I had plans on Friday Night, so I’ve been occupied.  It’s past midnight here now, so as always, we’re gonna call it a night and just sort of mull the theme over in our heads.  We’ll try and think of something tomorrow.  I think our goal is to be a lot less ambitious than last time…not because what we did last time didn’t work, but just because we don’t feel like making this one stressful and tiring.

However, I’m somehow just not feeling in the right mood at all for this.  I think it’s related to some personal issues too.  I’m beginning to feel really discouraged.  We’ll see what happens, I guess.  For now I’ll just give it a good night’s rest and see what my mind is feeling like tomorrow.

We’re in again~

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Thursday, December 12th, 2013 12:12 pm

DDRKirby(ISQ) and xellaya here; we’ll be joining Ludum Dare again this weekend!  This will be my 6th time doing LD (wow!) and the 2nd time that I’m pairing up with xellaya.

Last time we came out with Hyper Furball, which was pretty awesome (4th place overall, 1st in audio!), so I’m excited to see what happens this time around!

Goals for this time:

– Make awesome chiptune music (of course!).
– Do something different than the other 5 entries I’ve worked on.
– Work to both of our strengths again.
– Smaller scale, less stress, work less hard.  I know I say this every single time, but I keep on trying to overachieve anyways, ugh.  At least Hyper Furball involved very little level design and such, so that was a step in the right direction.  Still, I’d like to finish this comfortably in time.  Aim small, aim small, aim small!

Posted by (twitter: @ddrkirbyisq)
Monday, September 16th, 2013 5:59 pm

10 SECONDS LEFT to vote xD

[cache: storing page]