About eerongal (twitter: @Eerongal)

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Ludum Dare 37
 
Ludum Dare 34
 
Ludum Dare 31
 
Ludum Dare 29
 
Ludum Dare 28
 
Ludum Dare 25
 
Ludum Dare 22
 
Ludum Dare 19

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Project coming along!

Posted by (twitter: @Eerongal)
Saturday, December 10th, 2016 4:52 pm

Mechanics are starting to come together pretty well, and adding content is starting to get quicker and easier as everything else comes together!

 

Also, gots myself some turts!

 

Whelp, time to get back to work!

In for LD37

Posted by (twitter: @Eerongal)
Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 2:18 pm

Participating again for my 5th year in a row. Ready for another fun (and probably frustrating!) LD! Will be using unity.

The Star War post-mortem

Posted by (twitter: @Eerongal)
Wednesday, December 16th, 2015 7:57 pm

Play it here

 

The deadly star

Introduction

 

Hello all! I figured it was about time for me to do a post mortem for my game! After the hectic ludum dare weekend, It’s always nice to circle back around and put my thoughts to paper about how the weekend went after a bit of reflection.

 

A little bit about me:

This is my 5th Ludum dare I’ve participated in, and I usually participate once a year or so as a holiday tradition. My day job is a software engineer working on financial software (boring stuff), so I have a background in programming in the first place.

 

I am not, however, anywhere near competent in the graphics or audio department. This was a pretty big deciding factor in the aesthetics of my game. I figured I may as well go purposefully bad for comedic sake rather than try to do something and come out as unintentional poor quality.

 

So from the outset, I was planning on doing something space/star wars related due to the upcoming release of the new movie. Just figured it would be a fun tie-in. I was planning this well before the theme was announced.

 

I had some tentative plans to work with maybe a couple different people, however that ended up not amounting to anything, so about 3-4 days before beginning I was for sure going to be on my own. Without someone more competent to put together my audio and visual needs, I went with an idea I had sort of brewing in the back of mind, using construction paper/crayons to come up with my graphics!

 

In addition, I decided I would record all of my sound effects myself, with the thoughts of using a kazoo for music. Like i said above, going full on intentionally bad was my goal here.

 

The First Day, part I

By Friday evening, I had a pretty good idea of what I was planning on doing. I watched the theme voting with interest, but was hoping the theme would end up aligning with my plans. Earlier in the day, I ran out to the store to grab some craft supplies/kazoos (i still have a pretty large bag of ’em, apparently I can’t just buy ONE kazoo…) and of course a supply of caffeine.

 

Lucky for me, the theme ended up aligning perfectly with my idea, or at least half of  it did. Grow fit perfectly into my plan, but two button controls didn’t really fit all that well. Fortunately, we were able to do one or the other if we wanted, not necessarily both.

 

So with theme determined, supplies in hand, and ideas fresh in my mind, I set off from the announcement of the theme working on my game. Theme announcement for me, locally, happens around 8 PM, so I had a good few hours in the evening to work. I set about getting the basics of player movement down, as well as adding some interaction mechanics between the player and enemies. At some point in there, I was able to get to adding in my background.

 

So i ended up wrapping up the first portion of the day around 1-2 AM my time, and decide to wrap it up for the evening and try to get some sleep. I was pretty pleased with my progress so far, because the first portion of this event for me is usually coming up with a plan and ideas. This time, I actually had some tangible progress on an idea, which was going to make things easier for me down the line.

 

The First Day, part II: Electric Boogaloo

 

So I begin the next day (but still LD day 1) around 8 AM, and before jumping straight into working, I decide to fix myself a nice breakfast to prepare myself for the coming work.

 

Once all that was squared away, I set about immediately working on the bulk of my game. Overall, it was clear, steady progress down the line as I worked on mechanics and took breaks from coding to get down to the serious business of construction paper and crayons, or to record some more sounds, and the occasional snack/sanity break. I took some time out of my day to acquaint myself with some new features of unity 5 while i was at it.

 

At some point during the day, I decided I needed some cut scenes to really tie the whole package together. Luckily, these were pretty easy to implement. In case you couldn’t tell, the dialogue was mostly ad-libbed (hard to tell, right?). I recorded a handful of variations that all hit right about the same points on each and took the ones I felt were the best. It was about this time I was beginning to realize I had a masterpiece coming together in my hands.

 

The day chunked by steadily, and I ran into no major road blocks. By the end of the night, I was feeling pretty good and had a mostly completed game on my hands. At roughly midnight, i decided it was about time to turn in for the night

 

The Second Day: The day-ening

 

So on the final day (Sunday) i decided I earned a bit of rest, so I slept in a bit. Got up around 10 AM or so. I was pretty confident I would be done on time, and I spent most of the day tightening up some mechanics, and eventually I decided that the boss needed some retooling.

 

In previous versions, I toyed around with the bosses movement mostly, and I couldn’t find a really workable solution. Either he moved too fast and was basically impossible, or he moved too slow, and was a joke. Eventually, I decided that I needed a new mechanic to make a boss fight work, because it was either a simple slog through a massive HP pool, or an insta-gib for the player. That’s when i decided to add in the bullet hell/shooter mechanics to the game (player firing shots, boss with giant beams), and these features came together pretty quickly and worked out pretty well. I finally had a final boss I was happy with.

 

After getting the game into its completed state, I decided to try getting a working build put together. This proved to be (oddly) the biggest roadblock I had come to so far. I was determined to use Unity’s new WebGL build, but to my surprise, the build kept clocking in at insanely huge (for the scope of my game) sizes. I’m talking the first build hitting about 250 MB. And actually playing it would take ages to load, in excess of 20-30 minutes.

 

This was, of course, a BIG problem. However, this being ludum dare, it didn’t surprise me in the slightest that SOMETHING went wrong. Up until now, it had been way too smooth, and I was quite suspicious.

 

So, with nothing left to do, I buckled up my big boy pants, and began researching my issue, trying to figure out what could be the problem. The total raw game assets came to about 100 MB (high DPI PNG scans and high quality OGG vorbis sounds), still pretty big, but nothing like the final build. So the obvious thing to start with was to start scaling down my assets to something more manageable in size.

 

Cue a few hours of tinkering with all of the images and sounds until I reduce my asset size down to around 30 MB.

 

After i get everything to a quality i’m happy with and a more manageable size, my builds were still clocking in around 150 MB, so I only ended up shaving off about 100 MB. At this point, I’m completely puzzled at what could possibly be causing my build size to be so large. So i take to google searching for all the information i can concerning unity 5 and large WebGL builds.

 

Many hours of googling later, I eventually come upon a post in the unity forums recommending someone to turn down the material quality to lower their build size for a 2D pixel art game. Little did I know, I had struck on gold here that pointed me in the right direction.

 

Turned out, all of my image assets were being imported into unity with a default texture max size of 2048, which was significantly more than needed for the assets i was using. A bit more tinkering later, I figured out I could very easily turn this setting down to 512 with almost no discernible quality loss. And most importantly, the builds were clocking in around 20 MB afterwards, which was far more reasonable. Along with the smaller size, the load times were reduced greatly (to a minute or so).

 

With all this completed, and a final, working build, I still had about 45 minutes until the end of the competition. So with my head held I high, and my kazoo rendition of the star wars theme still stuck in my head, i proceeded to play my game one last time to snag a few screenshots, and ultimately submit my game about 30 minutes early.

 

It was a long weekend, but well worth it. I felt good about the product I had made, and hoped it would go over well, and currently that does seem to be the case, which makes me all the more proud of it!

 

The Good

Over the weekend, I was able to play around with some new features of Unity I hadn’t ever really used in the past, and was able to bring my game to fruition pretty exactly as I have originally envisioned. It’s not often in a Ludum Dare that one gets to say this, so I was particularly proud.

 

The Bad

At the end of the day, had I previously familiarized myself with some of the newer aspects of unity (and WebGL builds specifically) I could have saved myself a lot of headache and stress right up at the end there. Fortunately, things worked out for the best.

 

The Ugly

The game itself brings nothing new to the table, and relies solely on its parody value. However, I’ve learned in the past that setting out to break new ground during a Ludum Dare is a very risky proposition, so I feel justified in my decision to play it safe in terms of mechanics and game play.

 

Thanks for reading, everyone! Hope you enjoy mine and many other of these fine games that are part of Ludum Dare 34!

Another ludum dare down!

Posted by (twitter: @Eerongal)
Sunday, December 13th, 2015 5:42 pm

http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-34/?action=preview&uid=2978

Submitted my entry! Submitting so early isn’t usual for me! Glad I got everything I wanted to done! I present to the world “The Star War”

 

cover

 

screen2

In for LD 34!

Posted by (twitter: @Eerongal)
Monday, December 7th, 2015 10:14 am

This will be my 6th annual ludum dare, and I am most definitely in! Will be using unity for a game engine, and probably photoshop and audacity for the sights and sounds. Probably gonna be on the solo end this year!

I’m in

Posted by (twitter: @Eerongal)
Monday, December 1st, 2014 11:05 am

I will be joining in the jam with 1-2 friends (not sure of the count quite yet). We plan on using unity, gimp, audacity, and maybe a couple other miscellaneous tools that slip my mind at the moment!

 

This will be my 6th or so LD, most of which have been the jam with the same group of people.

Virophage post mortem (LD 29)

Posted by (twitter: @Eerongal)
Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 8:49 am

Play it here: virophage

 

Summary

All in all, I’m outrageously happy with how this project turned out. The concept and mechanics actually came out really well, and the two other people I worked with knew exactly where to go with their end of the project, as well as working with enough autonomy so as not to hold us up. When the theme was first announced, I was hesitant with it, trying to make sure we steered away from anything to do with water and/or caves or mining. I had a feeling those were going to be the bulk of the things that  came to mind when you hear the theme.

 

Daily recollections

Friday

Initially on Friday we had some good, long discussions on what we could do. Ultimately, we came down to two different ideas, the idea we used (virus attacking the immune system), and one that sounded fun, but probably more work than we had the gumption and time for, a sort of rogue-like Fishing RPG. The details of the second one aren’t terribly important, but suffice it to say that your fishing gear was like items you could find and equip in an RPG, and to catch fish, you had to battle them with your lure. We joked about this concept for probably far longer than I care to think about, given our small time frame.

 

One of our team members was remote compared to the rest of us (all two), so we used a teamspeak server run by a mutual friend. Suffice to say, I’m actually really happy with how the remote communication worked out in this instance. The person who was remote, MechaToddZilla, is actually the person who I participated in my first ludum dare with, this being my 5th one to date. As an aside, I think I’m getting pretty good at gauging what is and isn’t a possibility to fit into these. As I go along, there’s less and less features that need to be cut, and in this instance, adding of new things that weren’t even planned in the first place. Where as the first LD I participated in, there was probably a good 15-20 features we had to cut out. There was still a few things I had to axe that I had wanted to do because I didn’t think it would be feasible to implement well in the timeframe we have.

 

After some preparations (and a snacks/drinks run)  and initial prototyping, of which, the prototype looks nothing like what we eventually ended up with, both in mechanics and design, and that’s ok, we proceeded to call it a day without any real work other than getting prepared.

 

Saturday

This is where the bulk of the work happened. I spent most of the day head-down in the code working to bring our creation to life. We ran into several snafu’s with BoxSync working between the three of us, and i don’t know if it was a weird interaction with the newer version of unity, or something up with the latest BoxSync software, but for the entire weekend we couldn’t get it to sync terribly properly. This is both odd and annoying, since I’ve used BoxSync on my last 2 or 3 LD’s I’ve worked on without any issue at all.

 

Other than the issues we ran into with the other two not being able to really playtest anything most of the day, everything else went quite smoothly. MechaTodd kept adding more and more graphics into the project, and for a while there I thought I wasn’t going to have enough need for most of them in the game at the rate it was progressing vs how quickly I was getting the game implemented. TinariKao added a number of sound effects to the project that he actually made on his own with a microphone and some ingenuity, which, sadly, I wasn’t able to get around to using too terribly many of them. Both from a lack of any real need and due to getting a large portion of the mechanics down.

 

About halfway through the day, MechaTodd turned his attention to the musical aspect of the game, which I have to say, I think turned out pretty well. I think the small tune on it’s own is fairly evocative of a heartbeat, and complements the game very well. I’ll admit, at this point, I didn’t have the mechanics anywhere near done, and MechaTodd and TinariKao had created a ton of content that I was afraid I wasn’t going to have a chance to use much of. That said, shortly afterwards, things really started coming together within the game. I eventually called it a day with the base mechanics fully intact, but not much actual content to the game other than the white blood cells being a thing.

 

Sunday

This is where things really started to pull together.

I started this day unsure of the particular direction I needed to go with the game. The mechanics were all intact, but there wasn’t much to DO in the game. So i started designing a handful of bosses. At this point, the game was relatively unbalanced, and became super easy REALLY fast, so i decided to implement some scaling. To this effect, I made every boss and power up grant you 10 “level” and every normal enemy kill 1 “level”, and I started scaling boss health and damage, as well as normal enemy health and spawn rate. I also decided to up the spawn rate of power ups to make level gaining increase exponentially as you go along, thus making the game start off slowly, and ramp up in how hectic it is. It actually worked out fairly well.

 

With all this in place, I decided to try to give players a bit more direct influence on their attacks. To this ends, i set about trying to give the player the ability to shoot projectiles, that was earned from defeating bosses. At first, I had planned to simply have you fire at the mouse cursor. I had done this in the past in unity, but I remember it being somewhat wonky and difficult to actually implement. After googling it for a bit, and trying out some stuff with getting relative positions to the camera, i realized it wasn’t going too well, and I was spending way to much time on it. That was when I had what I think was a fairly brilliant idea.

 

I decided to make the firing pattern fire in a predictable 8-directional pattern. This, i felt, actually works out MUCH better than the original plan of simply firing at the cursor, and was significantly easier to implement. It also gave me some extra tweaks to give to the boss rewards.

 

At this point, I was once again entirely unsure of where to go with the game, but i felt it needed more challenge to it. It was then i decided to add in the super boss, which was a giant combination of every enemy currently in the game. It was actually quite easy to implement, as the mechanics for the game had really fallen into place at this time. I also talked MechaTodd into coming up with boss music for these fights. From here, things really started winding down, and we moved in to balance mode, trying to make the game get tough later on, but not too tough early.

I went through several balancing iterations, some way too easy, some way too hard. I ended the day unsure if it was going to be balanced well enough for the release on monday.

 

Monday

Going back to my usual day job left me with little time to do much on this project. However, what scant few hours i did have after I got home went straight into playtesting and balance tweaking. I think the results we ended with worked out very well, the game starts simple and ramps up to harder difficulty really starting around level 1000. With that in place, we pulled the trigger, locked in the code, and submitted our entry.

 

What went right

Overall, the gameplay mechanics really started to fall into place at an early point in the games development, which i was very happy with. Unity, as usual, strikes a good balance between ease of use, portability, and design freedom to allow us to get a good game up and running in a very short window. Teamspeak was also invaluable to our communication, and held up admirably. After our initial design sessions, everyone knew their part, and we set about our tasks, idly chatting between head-down working sessions. This can only be accredited to working with people you really trust to get their part done, and is absolutely essential in such a short timeframe.

 

What went wrong

Box. Box single-handedly encompassed every single issue we had with this project. We spent at least a total of 3 or 4 hours among each of us just working around issues with box, waiting for syncing, resolving conflicts, wiping out and redownloading the project, etc. We were able to limp along in this aspect and get everything done, but had the process worked seemlessly, we might have had considerably more time to pump into adding things to the game.

Had the rest of the project not been going so well, this very much so could have ended up being a show-stopper when it came to getting our project finished on time. Luckily, everything else ran so spectacularly well.

 

Conclusion

At the end of the day, I’m very happy with how the project turned out. Despite its simplicity, the game is actually pretty fun, and based on the reviews I’m currently seeing in the comments, people seem to agree. The mechanics, graphics, and sound all mesh so well to create a pretty solid overall experience. As usual, there was more I wished I could have gotten finished, but there’s only so many hours in a Ludum Dare weekend. At least this time i was very good at recognizing my limits, and what would really put us on a time crunch, and was able to effectively mitigate any problems that would have caused. There was still obviously a few concessions made in the sake of time, but not nearly so many as I have done in the past.

In for the Jam!

Posted by (twitter: @Eerongal)
Friday, April 25th, 2014 6:22 pm

Two friends and myself will be doing the game jam! We’re going to be using unity, gimp, audacity, and fruity loops.

Another year down, another LD over

Posted by (twitter: @Eerongal)
Monday, December 16th, 2013 4:34 pm

After finishing my 4th LD ever, competing annually, I can honestly say I learned a lot this go around. Previous years, i spent the time building up to it practicing whatever language/framework I planned on using. This year, i decided to try using Unity. I had some vague exposure to unity a handful of times, but nothing this extensive.

I can honestly say, as far as frameworks go, it’s really rather slick. I could definitely see using it in a real project.

At the end of the day, though, I’m honestly not too enthused with the results. I really just couldn’t come up with any good ideas for the theme this year. All previous years, i had so many ideas buzzing around I couldn’t get to all of them, and ended up having to cut things. This year, i got essentially everything in I planned from the get go, with plenty of time left of my hands to mull over extra ideas. All in all, i honestly don’t think the game turned out that fun, either. I honestly felt really restricted by the theme. Oh well, here’s hoping to a better LD next year!

 

 

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-28/?action=preview&uid=2978

In for the 4th year in a row

Posted by (twitter: @Eerongal)
Friday, December 13th, 2013 11:54 am

This will be my 4th year participating (annually) in ludum dare. I will be doing a Jam with 1-2 other people, depending on who all is in, which will make it the largest group ive worked with for LD thus far.

 

Not sure what we will be using, but on the table is C# with XNA, Java with jmonkey, and unity for the overall architecture. Likely using audacity and fruity loops for musical bits, and photoshop/gimp/blender for graphics.

Class Master Post Mortem (Jam game)

Posted by (twitter: @Eerongal)
Monday, December 17th, 2012 8:40 pm

Play it free here!

 

CMROTS1

Things that went right:

  • The game is actually kinda fun in my opinion! (may be biased)
  • It’s done!
  • It’s mostly balanced!

Things that went wrong:

  • Didn’t get everything I wanted in (branching class paths, cross class abilities).
  • Some of the graphics could use some work
  • Few bugs here and there, none really show stopping
  • Trouble shooting of several bugs took more time than it should have
  • Class balance is a bit off, but not too bad.
  • Wished I could have gotten more abilities in

So all in all, I’m pretty happy with the results of my game. I mostly handled the code, and a buddy of mine handled the assets. It has a few bugs in it, for example sometimes (very rarely) you can get cut off from the stairs, which is a problem. Had to work a bit on getting class abilities balanced, they still aren’t perfectly balanced. Being a bandit and spamming increased strength is pretty potent.

I wish I able to get in branching class paths (For example, Warlock X level + bandit X levels = arcane trickster, etc.) and I wanted to add in learning new abilities as you leveled, but the time just didn’t permit it to get in.

If I had to do it all over again, in hindsight i probably should have worried about tweaking combat less and getting more elements in. At the end of the day, though, it turned out really well and is easily my best entry into LD yet! I certainly learned a lot! This was also my first time using Java to make a game and moving out of my comfort zone of using XNA + C#.

Participating in the jam

Posted by (twitter: @Eerongal)
Monday, December 10th, 2012 12:59 pm

This will be my 3rd year in a row participating in LD. First year was a jam, second was the compo, and third year I’m doing another Jam. Doing a jam because a buddy of mine wants to participate with me, so I will be handling all the programming and he is going to work on graphical/audio assets.

 

Course of action planned:

Language – Java

Libraries – Slick2d, LWJGL (because of slick2d), Nifty-Gui, and personal code libraries (basically a template for a java game) for 2D games

Software: Eclipse, Fruity Loops, Audacity, Gimp

 

Another time lapse video

Posted by (twitter: @Eerongal)
Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 7:07 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrLjvmn8lEw

This is a time lapse of me and my friend participating in the jam. We got 4 perspectives, a video of each person as well as their screens. Enjoy!

Another set in for the jam

Posted by (twitter: @Eerongal)
Monday, December 13th, 2010 9:21 am

Me and a buddy of mine will be participating in the Jam for the upcoming LD for the first time ever. We’re sure as heck looking forward to it.

We think we’re gonna use XNA or java, not sure which, and my buddy is planning on composing all music and graphics himself. Should be fun. Likely gonna be a 2D style game.

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