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Running the Numbers

Posted by
Tuesday, January 5th, 2016 3:22 pm

I was not entirely satisfied with my entry for this Ludum Dare, however it would appear that the numbers disagreed with me.

While not my most highly rated game (that goes to I am Sigma, my second LD entry) It wasn’t quite as close to my worst rated entries than I’d originally thought.

Granted, none of the Rankings broke the top 200 this time, but at the same time none of them really fell below the top 500 (okay, I got a 506 for theme even though I covered both the themes). If anything this is my most consistently ranked game.

But the rankings only show how well the game did against the other games in this jam. The raw Star-ratings (out of 5) show the real improvements.

Despite Theme being my lowest ranked metric in this game (at #506), and it’s the second lowest ranked for theme of any of my games, it’s actually the second highest starred rating, coming in at 3.7/5 (compared to 4.3 for I am Sigma, ranked #50 in LD 31 and Kaiju at 3.53, ranked #371). So what the hell does that mean? Well, for one it means that more people in this Ludum Dare followed and better executed the theme than ever before. Which is either amazing considering the challenge posed, or a direct reflection on how easier it was to implement one or both of the themes.

Interestingly enough, despite my generally cack-handed programmer-art style I actually broke the 3/5 barrier for my graphics! Hurrah! They’re now officially above average! (Also broke top 500 for the first time too)

Audio also almost matched the rating and ranking of I am Sigma, getting a 3.11 and sitting at Rank #263, but consider I Am Sigma had an entire day devoted to nothing but the soundtrack, and having the layers of the BGM get layered the deeper you go in the game, I’m actually kind of surprised that Eva Ness got such a good reception. I ended up using the Eva Boss music as the music for the intro screen, as I ran out of time/energy to finish the actual intro music.

Both Humour and Mood got a high ranking this time, though Sigma beat it on humour by 0.03. The music, again, likely contributing a lot to the mood, and the fact I had you shooting at demonic veiny penis monsters likely contributed to the humour.

For Innovation and Fun, well, this was my second most innovative game (next to Sigma, naturally), and my most fun.

Most Fun. Good god you people are masochists. 3.38/5 compared to Sigma’s 3.31. It even ranked higher, by 44 places (311 vs 355)

In conclusion, I feel I did refreshingly better than I expected. From a completely idiotic premise: A 2-button action platformer, to a not-entirely-shat-upon Ludum Dare entry that I’m fairly happy with.

Here’s to the next Ludum Dare, perhaps a slightly saner Theme implementation, and to the next Mini Ludum Dare!

 

I’ve included the spreadsheet screenshot below

LudumDare Numbers

Music in 48 Hours

Posted by
Monday, December 21st, 2015 5:45 pm

So one thing I always try and do is come up with some original music for my Ludum Dare entries and I dare say some of them work better than others.

Original Music always brings out the best in even the worst games. Personally, I use Caustic for Android partly because I’m used to it now, and partly because if I do need to step away from development I can go somewhere completely different and still work on something to do with the game.

One of the earliest pieces of code I wrote in Ludum Dare was a Background Music script for Unity that played a track from the start then looped it from a fixed timecode when it reached the end. ie, a track might have a 4 second intro before getting into the main song, so at the end it’d loop back to the 4 second mark and continue.

It’s not perfect, and there is probably a much better way of doing things, but it does what I need it do to (and one of the cool features is it lets you control its volume through PlayerPrefs so you can even tie it into an options screen)

The music I’ve made, over the last 4 Ludum Dares, well I’ve compiled them all (for better or worse) on soundcloud.

The first LD game I made music for was as much an experiment in music as it was in making a game. I am Sigma (Theme: Entire game on one Screen) played more or less of the music the deeper into the game you went, eventually playing every layer on the very last screen.

For my MiniLD game Behind the Screens (whose theme was ‘Pong’) I made two tracks with similar rhythms but different instruments to produce two different tones. One quite laid back and subtle, the other 8-bit style chiptune.

The less said about the development of Caber Toss (An Unconventional Weapon) the better, but it involved suffering, sleep deprived, through a birthday party with no less than 14 under 8’s. The music for this one was made in an hour, shortly before submitting the game.

Kaiju A-go-go (You are the Monster), while not having an original name (I had no idea it had a namesake when I named my entry) had 4 short pieces of original music. The intro, the level loop, the boss theme and the outro music. Each of which is quite short, but I think work quite well.

My current entry, Eva Ness goes to Hell, while again mechanically frustrating (I did decide to make a 2-button platformer) contains 2 pieces of original music designed to be slightly unnerving, invoking a hellish landscape and with the boss theme, add in a little mix of church organs.

 

Eva Ness goes to Hell is a terrible game

Posted by
Thursday, December 17th, 2015 1:53 pm

Seriously. I just made a terrible game.

Saturday morning. 2 am. Walking home from my friends house warming. The themes come up.

‘Hah.’ I thought, ‘Growing… what if I did a game where you grow wings?’

‘Two button controls? I can totally make a platform game with two buttons.’

Can I f***.

Mouse aiming. Left button leap forward. Right button fire your uzi. What a piece of sh… Genius.

Maybe I should just stop making platform games.

You can play and rate this travesty here:

http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-34/?action=preview&uid=40246 

 

Best of Ludum Dare 33

Posted by
Monday, August 24th, 2015 1:46 pm

Three of the best games I played today:

Lovers on a Park Bench by peterthehe
Hue and Cry by Jezz0r
Lady Bug by dickpoelen
Eye of the Basilisk by dkdwrek

And, of course, my own game :)

A poorly drawn scotsman tossing a caber

Posted by
Friday, April 17th, 2015 11:54 pm

Behind the scenes of Behind the Screens

Posted by
Saturday, March 28th, 2015 2:50 am

So making a game in a week is a lot more chill than making a game in 48 hours. Most importantly it gave me more time to plan things and think about what I was doing.

Pretty much right away though I decided that I’d do a platforming game. Mostly because my current long project is a platforming game, and I had the basic platforming controller from my previous Ludum Dare game, I am Sigma, which took the idea of a game on one screen, and added a depth factor to it.

I had to make a few modifications to the platforming script I wrote for I am Sigma, mostly because it didn’t do moving platforms and the main gimmick of Behind the Screens was that Pong paddles could be used to navigate the level. Having you not attached to them made the game significantly harder.

Before I continue though, I urge you to play it. I’ll be talking about how I made it and my thought processes on the level design. I’d quite like feedback on it.

You done? Or did you give up? Read on and let me know how much I suck at makin’ vidyagamez in the comments! (seriously though, constructive criticism is always welcome). Anyway.

I went out of my way to make the game challenging but not punishing. I am Sigma was a death fest. Even today I struggle to complete it with under 40 deaths. Behind the Screens, on the other hand, can be completed with zero deaths fairly easily. I dare say if you have your wits about you you could maybe complete it first time with zero deaths.

The original intention was to give your character a basic inventory, and have them solve basic puzzles by dropping items in front of it (like the old Dizzy games), but even with a week to play with I didn’t feel I had enough time to make that work right. So it came down to moving paddles and pressing switches, and exploring the levels.

For the design of the levels I took a leaf out of Valves book, and tried to present each of the obstacles in a fairly harmless way, before throwing you out into more perilous situations. Particularly with the tutorial. It shows you wall jumping, jumping through small floors, wall climbing, moving paddles and particle fields in a way that shouldn’t kill you, or prevent you from continuing, then before you actually come across them in a real puzzle, reminding you of them again in something dangerous, but not difficult.

For example, the Space Invaders room has static space invaders shooting down at you, whereas the first Asteroids room has the ship tracking you and firing.

I also took a more free-form option to the tutorial. In that if you play the game a second time you can entirely skip the tutorial just by going right instead of left.

To encourage the player to explore the entire facility, before heading into the ‘puzzle rush’, I made the small ‘vent’ you have to go into more ominous by putting it in darkness. It tries to signify a ‘point of no return’ (even though it’s not, but forging ahead without exploring will mean backtracking). I do it again half way through as a small reminder.

Whether all that comes across or not is something I’d be interested in hearing from players.

 

What goes on behind the scenes?

Posted by
Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 4:58 pm

So what actually happens behind the scenes of a game of pong?

Where do the balls go when they go off screen?

BehindTheScenes1

Maybe they go into a giant crusher, waiting to be recycled?

 

 

BehindTheScenes2

Maybe there’s a game of Arkanoid in there too?

 

BehindTheScenes3

Or Super Mario Brothers?

http://canazza.co.uk/Files/LudumDare/MiniLD58/ is still incomplete, but it’s getting there. I’d say I’ve got 80% of the screens done.

It’s completable, but I just need to add a few more screens of obstacles in your way >:)

 

I’ve also put the music I made for it on soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/canazza/sets/robots-playing-pong

Something Completable

Posted by
Monday, March 23rd, 2015 2:54 am

pongscreenshot

So my Pong-themed platformer is now completable, but lacks challenge. I shall be focusing mainly on level design this week and actually getting some pong-themed puzzles in.

I don’t intend for it to be quite as hard as my LD31 entry, I am Sigma (even as the developer I can’t complete that with less than 40 deaths D:), and should be a lot less linear than that is, with more focus on exploring the world you’re in and using your ability to move pong paddles in interesting ways.

Something playable

Posted by
Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 5:43 am

2 days in, and I thought I’d post a quick update on my Pong clone. It certainly looks the part. Though there seems to be a problem when the ball spawns. I really need to check that out. 😉

Thanks to Sound Effects, fonts and sprites from Kenney.nl I’ve been able to focus on writing scripts rather than drawing things. Though I did quickly throw together the arcade cabinet graphics below:

pongscreenshot

Updates will be published here

I’m being boring. I’m making a puzzle platformer

Posted by
Saturday, March 21st, 2015 11:34 am

HowtoPlay

It starts off like Pong

New Ball Required

But then you need a new ball!

Ball Return

So go and get it yourself!

Standing on a paddle copy

Pong Paddles are platforms too, and you can still control them!

Death Lasers

Just watch out for the Death Lasers.

I am SIGMA! Completed!

Posted by
Sunday, December 7th, 2014 12:58 pm

12 hours and I have a game… ish.

Posted by
Saturday, December 6th, 2014 6:53 am

12 Hours in and I have something playable. To completion.

Well, kind of. It’s a glorified fetch quest at the moment, but it works, and you get an ending!

http://canazza.co.uk/Files/WIP/AllInOne/12%20hour%20build/12%20hour%20build.html

7 hours in. Not doing too bad

Posted by
Saturday, December 6th, 2014 2:03 am

Perhaps this is cheating just a little bit, but it is rendering every room at the same time:

Preparation!

Posted by
Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 3:17 pm

So, for a little bit of preparation I made a quick platforming script in Unity: http://pastebin.com/Gdp2tebW

It supports 1-way platforms and jumping down off them, as well as skidding. I made it in about an hour and a half.

I think next I’ll try and make a simple 3D Platforming script and see how that goes.

I’m Dave… I mean, IM IN!

Posted by
Thursday, November 6th, 2014 4:56 am

This will be my second LD. I had a great time at the last one, but this time I’m going to prepare a bit more.

The first time was a bit spontaneous – a spur of the moment idea – and I paid the price the week after. So this time I’ve booked both the Friday and Monday off work to both prepare for the late-night start, and to recover and return to normal sleep patterns when it’s done :)

I’ll likely use Unity again, and good ol’ Photoshop Elements 10 and Spritr for graphics and animation. BFXR for sound effects and, with any luck I’ll have time to do proper music with Caustic.

Silent Skies – Making the cut

Posted by
Sunday, August 24th, 2014 11:01 am

Well, it’s been a hectic 2 days and I’ve nearly got something I could call a “Game”. At least, at the moment it has no failure states (or win states) – so I guess TotalBiscuit wouldn’t agree that it’s a game in that respect.

One hurdle I’ve come across is thanks to the engine I decided to make the game in. Unity. The 4.6 Beta. Which – and this would be obvious if I thought about it – requires the beta web player in order to play any web builds.

So when it’s done I’ll be putting up both a Web Build (for those with 4.6) and Windows/OSX/Linux executables for those without.

Another hurdle I found was cutting things for time. 48 hours isn’t that much and I had a lot of ideas for this game. The first thing to go was having a crew. Originally I’d had the idea that you’d only get the mutiny ending if your crew hates you. You’d have a Chief Engineer, a Chief Security, Chief Medical and your First Officer. Each event would affect them differently and each one would have a random personality assigned at the start.

It’s one of the ideas I’d like to implement later on once the Jam is over.

Another idea was having Events occur when you reach a destination. It would make the other planets on your way actually useful. As it stands you have all those planets out there, and the Trojan stations, but they don’t do anything. If time permits later in the Jam I might quickly put some dirty ones in.

Another idea was difficulty levels. Having different missions and such. As it stands you get a random destination, with missions you’d choose beforehand. You’d have faster/slower ships, with more or less population aboard. Different starting rates for unrest/illness/hunger etc, and even different starting positions. You might have to evacuate a dying colony, or ferry prisoners (the original intention was for Neptune’s prison colony to be this)

Anyway. Back to work. I need to put in the Game Over screen.

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