Ludum Dare 33
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Weapon Against Oblivion – Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 5:13 am

This is a post-mortem analysis of my first completed game jam entry Weapon Against Oblivion (a submission frequency of approx. 10*10^-10 Hz).

Animation from the game 'Weapon Against Oblivion'

What went right?

Know your tools: After noodling around with my sprite engine both in and out of game jams, and playing with tools and techniques, I am now able to implement basic features in the first day. The engine ain’t no Unity or GameMaker, but I am comfortable in it, and that means I can be productive.

Focused on my strengths: I am not an artist. I am not a musician, nor a writer. But I can code somewhat. Some my previous designs called for three or four animated sprites and a background tile set, which is just too much at my skill set. I was able to achieve this game with a total of five single sprites.

I actually “finished”: and it feels so good. It is a ‘full game’, with an intro screen, victory / defeat screen, and simple level progression. I didn’t get time to add a high scores screen which would have given the game more of a sense of purpose, but it has a complete game life-cycle regardless.

Community: I am not a naturally social animal, but during my down time I hung out on IRC, read LD blog posts, and watched some of the streamers. There were a lot of channels that seemed to only have one or two viewers but they were all working on awesome stuff.

Seeing the cool stuff kept me going, although before I had a concrete game idea it was disheartening to see everyone else with such great ideas.

What went wrong?

Maths: Here’s a tip for anyone out there: Don’t attempt to implement a complex and realistic-feeling model for planetary population growth unless you are super-comfortable with maths. At least, don’t do it if you also want your models to be entertaining. I spent almost half of my time making different functions and parameters, trying to get something elegant that was also fun to play. In the end, I ripped almost all of it out, and implemented some simple formulas, but even then…

Gameplay: It’s not.. very fun. I had wanted to make the game-play strategic, nurturing some planets and abandoning others. In the end, the best strategy is mostly to blow up every planet you come across.

If I chose to work on this project post-compo, there are several different directions I could take this game to make it into something real. For example:

  • Design and lay out the levels instead of having them totally random
  • Have some planets be intrinsically worth more, so you have to keep coming back to them
  • Have your ‘best’ planets do things to help your cause, like invade other planets

What will I do in the future?

Enter again (: The weekend after LD I legitimately sad that there was no game jam scheduled. I had such a fun time this LD.

Start of Day Two

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Sunday, April 19th, 2015 5:47 am

Day 2 now underway (timezones, and trying to keep healthy sleep). 14 hours to go. I am looking at my todo list for the day, and it is quite scary. I am at a crossroads: do I do the complex gameplay I originally intended, or do I cut back, and spend my time on polish and music instead?

screenanim_1

Progress acceleration

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Saturday, April 18th, 2015 2:40 pm

Improvements:

screenshot_2_cropped

Progress is faster now. Hopefully by the end of tonight I will have all the core systems in place. All I will need to do tomorrow is turn it into an actual game :)

As a side note, you can follow my progress on Bitbucket if you are interested.

 

Non-zero progress!

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Saturday, April 18th, 2015 1:26 pm

It’s not much, but here it is:

Single sun on a starfield backdrop

Humble beginnings and all that.

Streamfail

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Friday, April 17th, 2015 4:45 pm

It looks like 300kb/s upload just isn’t enought to stream development. I tried everything I could think of, but I can’t get a config that is watchable and also comfortable to actually develop in.

I am still quite excited to participate. The themes are mostly good, but strangely I haven’t had any early ideas for them yet.

I am in…

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Thursday, April 16th, 2015 3:56 am

Seventh attempt with no completed entries, wooo! I am not yet 100% commited to entering this time, but I feel pretty good about it.

So, what is the new thing I will try this time? I will try to actually complete an entry… -_-

  • Python
  • Pygame
  • PyCharm
  • PyTMX
  • Pyxel

My base code will be adapted from that which I used for the first commit of the previous project, available here.

I am in! 6th time’s the charm!

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 3:09 am

I am in for my 6th attempt with 0 submissions. There is even a non-zero chance that I can get a friend to help, but if he doesn’t I will be using the following:

  • Python
  • Pygame
  • Pycharm
  • PyTMX
  • Pyxel

My base code will be adapted from that which I used for the first commit of the previous project, available here.

20 Hours in

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Saturday, April 26th, 2014 2:36 pm

I am now 20 hours in. Progress is slow, and I can feel my effectiveness waning.

shot_terrain

12 hours in

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Saturday, April 26th, 2014 8:27 am

Twelve hours in (eight of which were sleep and sundry) I present to you:

BUBBLES!

bubbles

More theme ideas, plus some emo

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Friday, April 25th, 2014 2:22 pm
  • Generations: build and program bots to survive on a desert island. Unlock new components as you go, but the island’s resources don’t replenish
  • Two Worlds: business management sim in two parallel universes, one where your kickstarter succeeded and one where it didn’t.
  • We Must Go Deeper: Sopwith, except underwater
  • You Are Your Own Enemy: beat yourself up while having an out-of body experience to make the NEXT out-of-body experience intense enough to rob a bank.
    – OR –
    You Are Your Own Enemy: design security systems to please clients who you later go back and rob

Here’s my complaint and confession: I have entered about five LD or Mini LD events, and have yet to complete a single one. Frankly, it is easy to get disheartened about my meagre from-scratch solo projects. I look at the blog filled with Jam groups, with talented artist and interesting music. They are leveraging their middleware or frameworks or engines or personal “Base code”, being productive and interesting.

So, this time around I am going to surrender. LD compo is no longer about making a game from scratch in 48 hours. I will be using my own personal code base that I have developed over these last 5 jams, including but not limited to:

  • my slow and buggy tile engine
  • my fork of PyTMX for loading Tiled maps
  • if decide I make a hex-grid based game, my hex helper classes
  • my previously-written functions for things like framerate calculations and text rendering

No game logic will be reused (but if the them Contrast wins, I will use my unstarted idea from the Mini LD with the same theme). The aim being to imagine what the median level of functionality Ludum Dare participants get from their frameworks, and pull code to that effect from my history of unfinished works. I don’t know if this strictly counts as “personal base code” in the eyes of the rules, but it seems to be the only way to finish a game.

You can track my development here: https://bitbucket.org/frnknstn/ld29_beneath_the_surface

 

Theme Ideas I am in for

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Thursday, April 24th, 2014 3:43 am

I am in, will give it my best shot.

Some terrible theme ideas, free to an irresponsible home:

  • Death is UsefulTower defence game where instead of kills earning gold, they directly become the maze of towers
  • Deep SpaceStealth game with using “portable hole” extradimentional spaces as hiding places
  • Everything is Connected – xbill clone
  • IsolationLike Shelter, except you are a Glacier

Things I should probably do before the Saturday start time:

  • Download and install a recent version of PyGame
  • Acquaint myself with this new PyCharms editor everyone is talking about
  • Failing that, do a practice app in Sublime to re-acquaint myself with the whole games-making process
  • Failing all that, say “fuck it”, wait for Saturday and learn to make a Twine game

Clearly, I have a list addiction, but I am an enabler. If you like lists too, try Workflowy.

Three for the price of one!

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 6:30 am

Thanks to this month’s MiniLD, I may get to do awesome things for the price of one!

  1. Finish making a game for the first time in 13 years
  2. Complete my barely-started LD #25 entry for the theme ‘You Are the Bad Guy’
  3. Make my January entry for One Game A Month

The game is still untitled. In it, you compete against other evil entities to swallow the most galaxies, thus ending the universe. In practice, it is just a re-theme of Hey! That’s My Fish, but I think it is turning out pretty cool :) It will definitely have hotseat support and really bad AI, but I will try to add the following by the end of the MiniLD:

  • Remote multiplayer support
  • Better AI
  • Cool graphics effects
  • An installer
  • SFXR-level sound effects
  • Music-generator-level music

In case you hadn’t noticed, I like lists. If you do too, consider using WorkFlowy!

 

Theme ideas

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Thursday, December 13th, 2012 1:18 am

There are an interesting set of themes, prompting me to do an idea dump. It’s the closest I am going to get to doing any real preparation for this weekend.

  • Colonize – You are a strain of bacteria, trying to spread to nearby jars of mayonnaise. Call the game “Colonnaise”.
  • End of the World – I have been playing a lot of Pharaoh lately. Maybe a level of a city-builing sim, where instead of trying to construct vast monuments, you are collecting resources to make the artifact that brings about the apocalypse?
  • Fortress – Fighting game with badly-animated anthropomorphic castles beating the turrets off each other. Or maybe a clone of a game I vaguely remember from my youth, where you flew a helicopter to drop off troops onto a side-scrolling battlefield so that they can assault the enemy’s fortress.

I am in, but I wouldn’t bet on me

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Wednesday, December 12th, 2012 6:28 am

I am in! My leave start on Friday, so no work stress.

However, history is not on my side. Of all my game programming jams, Dare or otherwise, I have yet to complete a single entry. I didn’t do the warm up last weekend or ever. In fact, the last time I completed a game was when I was in high school, twelve years ago.

Still, I will try put something together in pygame.

Intention to Participate

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Friday, August 24th, 2012 6:43 am

I am in. At least, I want to be in. Or I want to want to be in.

I am actually feeling less enthused about this compo than for any of the previously participated in. If I do finish an entry (which would be my first completed game jam entry) it will not be all that interesting or all that exciting. Looking at what some people considered to be their throwaway entries, I would have a hard time coming up with something that interesting or inventive.

Still, we will see if the theme selection leads to inspiration.

Tools:

  • Python
  • Pygame
  • mtPaint, and GIMP
  • If I end up doing a tile-based game, probably will use PyTMX to load Tiled maps

MiniLD #36 – Super-fun entry!

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Monday, July 9th, 2012 1:54 am

In past game jam events, I have always felt the jealous stab of pride when it comes to talking about my game idea or theme. I know that when it comes to programming, ideas are cheap and success comes from perspiration, marketing and luck. The ten thousand people and five hundered fully-featured websites that came up with ‘Facebook before Facebook’ can attest to that. That doesn’t make it any easier for me to admit that nobody wants to steal my dumb idea.

So, my simple idea for MiniLD #36 is a top-down team-based military shooter. As you lose health, your display loses contrast and it become harder to tell friend from foe.

Thanks to the relaxed rules of this MiniLD, I will be ‘borrowing’ some of the graphics functions I made for my unreleased entry in MiniLD #34 ‘Aspect’.

Will this be the first game jam I actually finish? Probably not, based on my previous experience, but I hope to achieve my super-secret goal of learning how to properly package Python projects.

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