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A Trumpy Detour From “Serious” Gamedev

Posted by (twitter: @87meansSuhail)
Saturday, May 28th, 2016 7:38 am

Hi folk.

I wanted to do a postmortem on my LD 35 entry Abyssal Dream, and after writing the text, I didn’t have enough time to make the gifs and other media. But here is a playthrough:

The down low: I was really happy with it :)

After Abyssal Dream, I wanted to make something similar in style (“open” world action-focused Metroidvania) sans the shapeshifting, but which uses similar GB colors and design sensibilities. I worked for a couple of weeks on something called Luanne:

Luanne1 Luanne2 Luanne3 Luanne4

But eventually got sidetracked with “real” life and just ditched it. I do that a lot :(

But… last week I got sidetracked FROM “real” life into making a game about Trump. Now, I had wanted to make a Trump game for a while now, but I didn’t wanna make a bad game and stamp Trump over it, hoping the gimmick would carry it. So it took me a few months to like one of the ideas I thought about… or rather, was inspired by. If any of you have tried Locomalito’s Gaurodan, you will feel right at home in “Taco Trump Down”, the game I’ve worked on for the past week.


Here are some screenshots from it:

Screenshot_20160527-004640 Screenshot_20160527-004700 Screenshot_20160527-100120 Screenshot_20160527-100141 Screenshot_20160527-100208 Screenshot_20160527-100348 Screenshot_20160527-100353


The game is for Android, so if you think it’s something you might enjoy, or if you’d just like to support a fellow LD’er, you can try it for free here:


Oh and here’s a video:

It’s a bit smudgy, no clue why xD

Hope everyone is doing well and finding inspirations in unexpected places :)

Now I have to go get derailed by “real” life again 😐

Beardgrow – Play and Watch

Posted by (twitter: @87meansSuhail)
Tuesday, December 15th, 2015 4:41 am


In Beardgrow, you play a teenage kid who wants to do “manly” things to grow a beard and impress a girl from his class, so she goes with him to Junior High Prom.

The game is challenging and takes getting used to, but pretty rewarding once mastered, as you can pull off all sorts of sick dodges and clutch jumps.

I focused on 2-Button Controls for the gameplay (encapsulated the movement/jumping of platformers into two buttons only), and Growing (in more ways than one) for the story.

Here’s a screenshot:

Danny's Dad in a nutshell.

Danny’s Dad in a nutshell.

If you can’t get anything higher than a Fuzz, you might wanna watch this video, showing 4 out of 5 of the game’s endings:

And if you feel like trying the game, here is a link to the entry page:


Have fun, good luck in the compo/jam!

Avian Days, Avian Nights, Avian Dreams

Posted by (twitter: @87meansSuhail)
Monday, April 27th, 2015 6:49 pm

This is a postmortem of AVIAN DAYS, my entry for LD32 (compo).

War Story:

LD starts on 4 AM on Saturday for me, and ends on 4 AM on Monday. I couldn’t sleep on Friday and by 3:30 decided to stop trying. So I played DOTA2 until 4:20, checked the theme, then started brainstorming. Here is my initial list of “unconventional weapons”:

  1. Love, used to devastating effect. It would be a game about a person who was betrayed, coping with their shit.
  2. Parachute.
  3. Dreams.
  4. Food.
  5. Your enemies.
  6. Underwear.
  7. Ice cream.
  8. Birds.
  9. Rain?
  10. Mirror.

I mostly liked the mirror/rain/birds option, and, wanting to create a metroidvania for a while (I never have, before), I thought birds would fit the bill. So I started designing the game at around 5:30. I still lacked a title. About an hour later, I had a general idea of what I wanted the game to look and play like. I wanted it to be a very difficult platformer, a sort of “speedrunner’s dream”. I wanted to use a limited color palette of white, black and grays that emphasized silhouettes. I worked on player movement and started working on the birds, until I went to sleep at around 9 AM, but not before posting a call for title ideas on FB:


I woke up at around 12:30, and after a short lunch, got to work. Most of Saturday was spent implementing the behavior of the birds, and their different interactions with the player, as well as toying around with different targets (originally a flash game, due to bad performance ported to Windows), and doing some sprite work for the tileset, player, birds, and enemies. So by the end of Saturday, I had stuff like this:

^ Birds blocking shots.


^ Player walking over birds.


^ FLYINK!!!!


At 20:20 on Saturday, I showered, got dressed up, and went to a wedding party. I did not dance that night. I was pretty off and strange I think. Some people around the table stared at me awkwardly.

It was a fun wedding though.

I got home at around 00:30 on Sunday, and started working on the first “area”. I collapsed of exhaustion at 2:30 AM.

I woke back up at 8:30 on Sunday, and continued polishing bird behavior. I also built both areas, and spent a lot of time playtesting the game. Too much time, I think… I worked the entirety of that day, sans a family lunch. When evening rolled over I was starting to feel the pressure. No music yet. Levels not yet complete. No story yet. No boss yet. No tutorial area yet. Fuck.

Movie Drama:

I set very strict milestones at around 21:00 on Sunday night. I first finished the tutorial area. Clock was showing 22:00. Shower. 22:20. Implement upgrades and test that they work. 00:00. Draw, and code boss behavior and entire boss “Sequence”. 2:20. Add sound effects and music. 3:20.

On Sunday morning I did not expect to take that long… like… maybe 1:00 AM on Monday, MAX. But I was getting really stressed. At around 3:20 I took screenshots, uploaded the game. At around 3:45 I downloaded the game from my entry page and ran it, to see that everything was working well…

It wasn’t. There was a game-breaking bug. If the player fell out of the map, they would respawn somewhere far from the game (that I was using to temporary “store” things). This was behavior I had tested and addressed before.

I looked at the code but nothing popped up at me. I knew the general area where the problem would be but I was very stressed and time-aware at that point, and I just broke down and started crying. Damn you LD!

So 4 AM rolled around and I sort of came to terms with the fact that I would have a broken entry. Many others had had those before me, no biggie. I entered the LD site again… SUBMISSION HOUR. I didn’t know such a thing existed. I was euphoric. In 5 minutes I found the bug and fixed it, and about 20 minutes later was replaying the game.

At 4:45 I noticed that a small change I did to make the tutorial area harder (WHY would I do that was beyond me at that point), had effects elsewhere, and certain parts of the game where very, very difficult to pass. More than I intended. I didn’t think I had the time to fix that… until I tried.

I rebuilt, put the game in a rar, and began uploading to my drive at 4:55. the game finished uploading at 4:59:48. 12 seconds before the submission deadline. I quickly copied the link and updated my entry page.





… And then downloaded the game to test it again :).


What Went Well:

1) Game is a complete product.

2) Theme/Innovation: I always tend to emphasize the theme, to the point of opting out of certain Ludum Dares in the past because I couldn’t think of a good enough idea. I think I nailed it this time around.

3) HEY BIIIIRDS. Bird behavior feels good. The mechanic itself is pretty cool, and it fit seamlessly into the idea of an open-world puzzle platformer, because it readily lends itself to being a mode of transportation as well as a weapon of sorts.

4) Graphics are pretty cool, compared with what I normally do.

5) I made a playthrough video, and many players who found the game too difficult had a chance to experience the ending and the entirety of the content… in a way.

6) #HARDWORK #DEDICATION. Blood, toil, tears and sweat, and all that jazz. I’m a person with very low self-discipline and a certain disposition for procrastination. I overcame that ez.

7) Story. There was no real, concrete story in the game. Just a short text at the beginning establishing the tone and motivation… but the ending is very satisfying, and surprising as well. It makes perfect sense in the context of the game as well.


What Went Wrong:

1) Difficulty. The game is very challenging. It took a buddy of mine who is really good at video games about an hour to complete a 10-minute game.

2) Performance. I was forced to switch to Windows build because the flash build was experiencing frame rate drops. This can happen in Windows too if too many birds are spawned, even though I added a “population limit”.

3) Windows Build means less people are likely to play and rate the game. At the moment I have rated 130 entries, and have 68 ratings.

4) Sound. It sucks.

5) Boss. It’s boring and straightforward.

6) There were two “exploits”/oversights that allow the player to bypass certain challenges. Madball used one of those xD so did my buddy in (1). My buddy in (1) also used the second exploit to pass the boss without killing it.



Avian Days was very demanding to complete. There are things I obviously wish I had done differently during those 48 hours. Like dancing at that wedding. The things I take out of this entry are the fact that I managed to complete it, and even though I nearly broke down before the deadline, I never really considered giving up. If you feel like giving it a go…



Avian Days on itch.io

Posted by (twitter: @87meansSuhail)
Friday, April 24th, 2015 7:42 am


So I tweaked some things in Avian Days, mostly bugfixes and improved visuals for the time being. I am calling it a post-compo version, though I would ideally like to add content for a REAL post-compo version. That, however, is on hold for the nonce.

Here it is on itch.io: Avian Days On Itch.io

And here is a gif, just because I like you:

Avian Days

Posted by (twitter: @87meansSuhail)
Monday, April 20th, 2015 11:19 am


Avian Days is a puzzle-platforming Metroidvania where you control a dude who can summon birds to aid him. In the beginning he can only summon them in one way, but he gains abilities as he completes challenges. The game is challenging, which is why I added a video.

You can use the birds as platforms over spikes, to soak up enemy bullets, and to disable foes. After you gain all the required skills, you can fight the boss and finish the game. The game can be finished in 5 minutes if you’re fast and don’t die.


Links – Post LD Stress Disorder

Posted by (twitter: @87meansSuhail)
Friday, August 29th, 2014 10:38 am

NOTE: First three images are gifs. I’m bad and don’t know how to embed them :(.

So in Links the connection between the worlds was by the pick ups. By picking up one of the Links/?,  enemies do something on the other world, upon their death. Could be:

Suddenly, lava.

Suddenly, lava. (GIF)

Could be something like:

Dat SHMUP classic.

Dat SHMUP classic. (GIF)

And there are a few more like that; bullet burst on the other world, instead of dying, enemies spawn at the respective position on the other world, etc.

But not only. I also added two Links that work upon pickup and stay until you pick up another Link. The best Link in the game is Great Minds, which basically does this:

Pretty nifty, no? Now you don't have to multi-task.

Pretty nifty, no? Now you don’t have to multi-task. (GIF)

Development Process

This was my second LD and I wanted to give it time and really work on it. The last one I did, I felt went relatively well for a first time, but that it also could have gone better. I work on Sundays, so I took a day off work, but I still had a family event to attend on Saturday that killed 4 hours of development time. For the tools usage, I used things I am familiar with. I wanted to churn out a complete game that people could enjoy. So with flixel, paint.net, sfxr, and autotracker, I went ahead on my way.

I didn’t like the theme. But after about 30 minutes of brainstorming I came up with this thing. I can say I am happy about it, but not delighted about it. In hindsight I should have made a game about the Israeli Palestinian conflict, I feel.

Important Design Decisions

So if you give players a static game that doesn’t get more difficult, it becomes an exercise in tedium. Since the game is randomly-generated, I made it gain difficulty over time. The maximum difficulty is achieved after meeting 40 encounters in the game. But it is also impossibly hard. Like, maybe people with 250 APM could play it. I myself couldn’t (not for very long at least). So how do I reset the difficulty? I had thought to have a boss somewhere in there, but I didn’t have a clue how he’d fit into the design of the game since it is a highscore-based arcade shooter. This was the perfect place to use the boss: You can fight him by picking up a special drop, and when you do, it resets the difficulty. Check number one.

Another important design decision to consider was: how do I make the Links an integral part of the game? Powerups are cool but they are hardly the core of shmups. In order to do that, I made it so the Links ARE the score. The more you collect, the higher your score. In doing this, I took a cue from Vlambeer’s Super Crate Box. The immediate benefit in this was that I became able to include both positive and negative Links, as opposed to strictly positive or negative ones. Some links spawn harmful stuff on the other worlds, others are more useful to the player and make fighting foes easy. Check number two.

The last important decision was how the boss was gonna behave. This was the one I am least satisfied with, not in terms of behavior, but in terms of how I relay that behavior to the player. The boss has two attacks, and his eye changes to indicate what type of attack he is about to perform, allowing players ample time to prepare. Someone who is equipped with this knowledge can defeat the boss, someone who isn’t, can as well, but will have a much harder time. The eye animation is not that clear, so this was a failure on my part. Something else to note about the boss was that he could only be damaged by hitting his eye. Here the information was better relayed; the text next to his HP says “Go for the eye, Boo!”, and when you hit his body no sound is made. When you hit his eye, a hit sound is made. It still wasn’t clear enough.

Isn’t he pretty?


Things That Kicked Ass

1) The game feels complete. With 2-3 more days of polishing it and adding content, I could probably sell it.

2) The theme is an integral part of the game.

3) SHMUPS are nothing original, but a dual-screen one where what you do in one screen affects the other is.

4) Endgame messages to the player are rather insulting in a funny way.

5) 2 great design decisions in the scoring system and the difficulty curbing system.

Things That Got Their Ass Kicked

1) Graphics are pretty bad. They are consistent, which is good, but still pretty bad. On the upside, some people like bad graphics, so there’s that.

2) Soundtrack is great, sfx are on key.

3) Game is pretty difficult, and pretty hard to pick up. My instructions screen could have been clearer, and it’s not readily apparent that you can try the controls before you start the game.

Last Forever

I’m happy with this thing. For a second entry by an amateur who doesn’t get much time to work on games, I feel like it is a polished, complete package (sans the graphics). I don’t expect it to do very well in the compo, but it did well by me. In case you decide to try it, drop me a line!


Tower Infinity – Post LD

Posted by (twitter: @87meansSuhail)
Tuesday, August 27th, 2013 11:37 am

I’m not calling it post-mortem because baby’s still alive and pimping!

Anyways, this was my first Ludum Dare. I tried entering the Evolution LD (can’t be bothered to look up what number that was) but didn’t think of a good enough idea that I could accomplish relatively fast.

I was toying with the idea for this game for a while, but it was never clearly defined and I always thought of reasons why it wouldn’t work. The “10 seconds” theme gave me the “Aha!” moment that made it all click together. I can’t believe I was thinking about making a game where you are an  interviewer who gets 10 seconds with each interviewee… or a Social Network simulator where you need to decide, in 10 seconds, whether or not to accept each friend request (there be bots with Megan Fox profile pictures nowadays, so one can never be too safe).

So I made the game I wanted to make, and then made it really really redux to fit the schedule. Theme was announced at 4 AM on Saturday (for my timezone), and I worked on the game from 6:30 – 23:30 on Saturday, and then from 21:30 to 23:59 on Sunday before submitting it. Between those two sessions I was asleep for a short while, and working my job for the rest. I think I was doing both at a certain point, too.

Paraknight's Strategy, a.k.a the GG Push.

Paraknight’s Strategy, a.k.a the GG Push.


1) Graphics are apparently retro and sexy. I wouldn’t know anything about that. I just did the only thing I know how to do in that department; make everything low-res, pixelated, and ugly. If it was good enough for the late 80s/early 90s, it’s good enough for me (and should be for you as well)!

2) I never had the chance to play a game like the one I made, and for me that means originality on the concept.

3) The control scheme. This is something I have been hesitant to try for a long time, and kept delaying. What better opportunity to do that in LD? Many loved it and found it innovative and unique, but by no means all.



1) The AI. I wrote what was supposed to be a non-deterministic, advanced AI on Saturday, but it kept messing up. So I rewrote that whole mess in half an hour on Sunday. Now it’s deterministic, but after level 10, is also reactionary to what the player does (at every 5 level interval).

2) Learning curve. The only preparation anyone had for the game was through my description in the entry and through the in game block of text before the game start (didn’t have the time to make a tut, sowwy). Players were given as much time as they needed to try the controls before the game but that was not enough for some. One of the funnier comments I received went something like “I pressed some buttons and then lost… not fun.”

3) The control scheme. Yeah, while it clicked and was loved by some, others found it counter-intuitive.

4) Me when I was late to work on Monday.



So I made a game, and I think it’s pretty good. You should go play it. I was once at a Hackathon with my bud and we made a game that didn’t get top three because I kept yapping about it during my presentation instead of letting my gosu friend demonstrate it. Think I did the same in this postLD, but at least here there’s no time limit on talking so you can still play it:




I Go To School

Posted by (twitter: @87meansSuhail)
Sunday, August 25th, 2013 2:56 pm

Not really. I did have to work this past day though :(.

I’m still pretty satisfied with the result… I thought about 2 variations on the theme:

1) “Every 10 seconds, something happens.”

2) “You have 10 seconds to do something.”

In the end, it was 1 for me. The theme really helped focus an all-over-the-place idea I was toying with for a while and seemed to fit it snugly. So cheers to that LD27! You will always be my first! We will always have Tower Infinity! … and all that jazz 😛





Hope ya like it, cheers!

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