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Bubble Becky – Post Mortem

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 3:40 am

We already participated 8 times in the Ludum Dare jam, but this was the first time we had a dedicated pixel artist, Daniel! Also this was the first time we made a platformer.

Enjoying a late breakfast in our garden, we discussed many ideas. In the end, we stuck (pun intended :P) with our idea of using bubble gum as our ‘unconventional weapon’. During the process of making the game the following back story crystallized:

Due to an unfortunate typo, Gum has been outlawed in an alternate 90s-past. Young Superhero Becky rises to challenge the robotic law enforcement.

You can play our game here

  screen_0005

What went smooth

  • The graphics are much better than in our last games, thanks to Daniel, who worked on them the whole weekend. 😉 This meant that Anneroos now had a lot of time to help Jelle with the coding.
  • Distribution of tasks was very easy: Daniel – graphics, Anneroos – coding & sound effects, Jelle – coding and music.
  • First time using Git (instead of Dropbox), so we all could test our own changes, without the risk of breaking stuff for the others.
  • It is playable! And it has an end, and a story (for us at least, probably not so clear for the players 😉 )
  • The first time we made a platformer, and using Tiled went quite smooth.
  • Crispy pixels 😀 (Daniel is very happy)
  • We were relaxed! Except for perhaps the last 4 hours. 😉 We took time to dine with friends and juggle in the garden.

screen_00000

What went not so smooth

  • Making the background music loop nicely.
  • Level design/playtesting: it turned out that the 4 levels were quite hard for people that didn’t playtest the whole weekend. Next time we should put more effort into developing (shorter?) levels with clearer instructions.
  • The bubbles were finished quite late, so the velocities and effects were not finetuned as they should have.
  • The end boss. There was very little time to program the end boss, and it turned out to be quite difficult as well.
  • Many sound effects were recorded last minute; we forgot to make a sound effect for jumping.

screen_00001

Conclusion

We had fun, and the game is more polished than any of our other games. Of course, there is still a lot of polishing and level design that can be done for a postcompo version, and some bugs to be removed (in particular the infamous infinite-bubble-spawn-bug). We were very happy to hear that some people actually played until the end and beat the boss! :)

Enjoy playing our game, and good luck with the hard levels :)

 

Theme Criteria

Sunday, December 8th, 2013 4:52 am

Slaughtering my way through the theme suggestions, I got to wonder how some of those ended up in the list. In my opinion, a good theme has the following characteristics:

1. Immediately inspire
Good example: “Castle”. Building a castle, attacking/defending a castle, exploring a castle are all possibilities in terms of gameplay. It encourages medieval artwork, but leaves room for deviation.

2. Leave room for creativity, don’t be too specific.
Good example: “Futuristic”. Spacefaring, Post-Apocalyptic, Utopian are all possibilities.

3. Narrow down the endless possibilities. This is why having a theme for the contest is good, and it makes each contest unique.
Good example: “Power in numbers”. Although this leaves the setting completely free, it more-or-less forces us to create a game with lots of agents/particles/entities that somehow influence the game. A game that follows the theme will probably be recognized as belonging to this contest.

Do you agree/disagree with this? How do you rate themes?

Below are 50 particularly annoying peculiar suggestions in random order. If you suggested one of these, please let us know what went through your head when you made the suggestion. Did you honestly believe the theme had a chance of winning? (Some of the themes are bad in a funny way, I almost good-voted “Funny Hats” and “Maximum Yak Attack”)

  1. Quack!
  2. Suddenly Weather
  3. Christmas Trees
  4. Zenith
  5. Anorexia
  6. News
  7. Looking For Missing Head
  8. Pompeya
  9. Indigestion
  10. Game Development
  11. Remember The Fallen
  12. New Way
  13. Hydrocarbon
  14. Meow
  15. Voxel (for most participants, 3D is not feasible)
  16. Nanomaterials
  17. Martha Lost
  18. Counter-clockwise
  19. Internet behind The Scene
  20. Big Dick Problems
  21. Home Automation
  22. No Mouse Or Arrow Keys
  23. Candy
  24. Hungry Angry
  25. Unconventional Resolutions
  26. Funny Hats
  27. Miscommunication
  28. Contents On A Found USB Drive
  29. Make The Player Miserable
  30. Balanced Diet
  31. Underrepresented Crimes
  32. Achievement
  33. Soap
  34. Fast Lane
  35. Bread
  36. Maximum Yak Attack
  37. Frogs
  38. Smelly
  39. Third Party
  40. Music And Me
  41. Grunt Work
  42. Different Time Period
  43. Ultra Low Resolution
  44. Privacy
  45. Rhyming
  46. Cookies
  47. Flaws
  48. Quotes
  49. Short Wired
  50. Potatoes

Ninox the Nightbringer – Post Mortem

Friday, December 28th, 2012 4:56 pm

Pointed at LudumDare by Frozen Fractal in the week before the Jam, my girlfriend and I decided to give it a shot.

Concept

I was absolutely convinced the theme would be “End of the World”, but it turned out differently. It took us about 4 hours to come up with an idea that would be simple enough to implement. A trainride forced us to think about it a bit longer than we would otherwise have. The player walks around on a grid, of which certain parts are occluded based on the player walking over “switch”-tiles. Stepping on a “spike”-tile restarts the level, so these have to be avoided, which can be hard in the dark. The goal is to black out the entire level (cover the land in darkness, following the theme). You can check out and download our game here!

Screenshot of Ninox the Nightbringer

Screenshot of Ninox the Nightbringer

Process

I really liked Python after some recent experience with it, and although Java and C are in general my stronger suits, I expected Python with Pygame to work better for this game (I had created a simple brickles game two days earlier to practice). My girlfriend did all the rest, i.e. graphics (in Inkscape), sounds, music (in LMMS and Audacity) and most of the level design (in Notepad). We took it easy: baking cookies, eating all of them, taking a walk, sleeping enough and finishing on Sunday. Despite this, we finished the game surprisingly fast, having a working game on Saturday evening. Sunday was mainly leveldesign and the imho boring polishing (graphics, “repetitive walking”, fullscreen-mode, intro and outro and of course testing). Half my Sunday was eaten by a futile attempt to create an executable from the Python code on Ubuntu.

The Good

We had fun, and thought the concept was original. Dropping the initial ‘pedophile searching his dungeon for a little girl’ made the game acceptable for my girlfriend’s mother, too. :-) We divided the work well and finished the game on time, with an intro and ending. The number of levels was okay (though some of them should have been left out). Both of us learned some (more) Python.  Drawing the graphics was great fun, and since they ended up so small, here’s a bigger version of our owl “Grog”:

Grog

The Bad

The biggest problem was deployment. I had no experience with putting stuff online, and the game required Python and Pygame to be installed, which most people don’ t have. Some programs exist to create a Windows executable, but it took us two weeks (combined >20 hours, ridiculous) to make PyInstaller work. The main problems were reluctancy to work from Windows, font, missing .dll files (for audio) which we manually included in the end. Maybe next time I’ll try Javascript. Anyway, we have an EXECUTABLE! 😀

Next time we could be a bit more ambitious. We were planning on adding more game elements (doors, walking goats), but with a working game, our motivation (aka pressure) wasn’t as strong as when we started. Also, see the previous paragraph.

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