Ludum Dare 34
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MiniLD – I am in!

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Saturday, September 19th, 2015 6:44 am

Yay MiniLD time! I honestly prefer week-long game jams. Once you take work and other responsibilites into account you end up with about the same number of hours as a 48h jam, but you don’t have to completely drop off the grid for a weekend 😉

For this jam I want to try out Unity for the first time. I think making a Descent-like game would take advantage of the engine’s strengths.


Post Mortem – King Pong, and the Future

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Wednesday, September 16th, 2015 3:55 am

My LD33 Compo Entry, King Pong, was hacked together in six hours and as such, was not really meant to be a totally serious entry. I therefore didn’t rate so many of everyone else’s games to keep my coolness low, but I would like to thank the 15 or so people who nevertheless played my game and left feedback :)

Animation from the game King Pong

What went right:

New toys: It was fun to play with my new, cheap art pad. I brought it for a specific project, and this event gave me motivation to learn to use it.

Awesome name: Seriously, I Googled hard to see if it had been used for an LD entry before. I can’t believe I was the first one to come up with this idea.

What went wrong:

Time management: I had a great weekend with family, so I have no regrets about not being able to do a full entry. That said, the game did fall far short of my intended design. I ran out of time just as the game was complete enough to start adding features. If I had one more hour, there would have been impact marks where the car hits the scenery. Another hour and the drop shadows and ball bouncing would be in. Another and the car’s spin would have affected its trajectory.

What will I do in the future?

New tools :) I LOVE Python. I LOVE PyGame. But it is time to see if the greener the grass is on the other side of the fence. I have started doing Unity tutorials, and so far it looks pretty good. I intend using it for…

Entering Mini-LD 62: I have an idea of what I’d like to do for my Final Boss. I have started learning new techniques and technologies. Hopefully I will hit the ground running :)

Dare I to dream?

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 1:45 pm

Six hours left, and I had a simple idea that I might actually be able to achieve in this timeframe. Dare I to dream?


I am out

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 5:22 pm

Spent the day doing family stuff, no regrets. I had some ideas but nothing electrifying. Maybe I will work on some engine stuff tomorrow, but there will be no submission.

I will check out some streams and play some games, though. Good luck everyone!

How many LDs must I submit before I can call it a “spree”?

Posted by (twitter: @frnknstn)
Friday, August 21st, 2015 5:12 am

I am in! Though I may fail due to illness and family commitments, I intend to complete my second LD in a row. I was vaguely considering try a new set of tools, but if I actually want to finish, I should probably stick to the pytools I pyknow.

I do have a new toy I intend to use, a super-cheap graphics tablet. Even though I am really, REALLY bad at art, maybe I will even throw up an MS-Paint quality Twine or Ren’Py game!

  • 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.

(REALLY bad at art).

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?


Progress acceleration

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



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.


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.


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:



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:


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.

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