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Hench for Life – Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @henrypenface)
Sunday, December 30th, 2012 11:22 am

I had recently been watching a tv show called Venture Bros[1] which features villains, some of which have henchmen, combine this with some inspiration from a film called Bunraku[2] with the numbered killers, and I had an idea set in my mind.


What went right
Firstly the gameplay came out exactly how I thought about it, I wanted quite an abstract game with very little user control, which I have written more about later in this post. The naming on the henchmen amused me and I even felt some sort of attachment to some of the top henchmen I have had, this was sort of inspired by the names in the game cannon fodder[3]. The “combat” between henchmen and the other characters was inspired by the combat parts of half minute hero[4]. I was also quite happy how the graphics came together in the end, I don’t normally consider myself a graphics person but the consistent look of the game I felt was acceptable.

What went wrong
The thing most obvious I felt went wrong was the total lack of instructions. Given that I had been playing it most of the weekend of Ludum Dare I knew what to do, but didn’t really get to writing up some instructions or even putting some of the less obvious parts somewhere to give the player a clue as to what s/he was doing. I also neglected to add a losing condition that means the only way to restart after losing all your henchmen and money is to reload the page containing the game. Another thing that I wasn’t happy with was the unfinished title screen and game over screens that were just left as scans from my notes instead of graphics to match those in the game, although this has been fixed in the version on kongregate now[5] There was (and still is) a lack of decent sounds (a couple of bleeps and bloops from bfxr[6]) and music. Ideally I was going to make some music on my Gameboy with LSDJ[7], but I didn’t find the time to put anything decent together so this was left out entirely.

Thoughts on the lack of control
One of the major criticisms of the game I have seen is that there is little control over the henchmen and that it all appears too random. This was one of the points I wanted to make with the game to express my feelings of lack of control over various parts of my life and that despite the best instructions and intentions, not everything is totally under your control. Ideally I would have been able to make this much more obvious with the henchmen by implementing moods or something that would have made them less or more co-operative with the instructions given but time didn’t really permit me to do this totally and it may have to be done in a post-compo version


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Venture_Bros.
[2] http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1181795/
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannon_Fodder_(video_game)
[4] http://www.halfminutehero.com/
[5] http://www.kongregate.com/games/henrypenface/hench-for-life-from-rags-to-riches
[6] http://www.bfxr.net/
[7] http://www.littlesounddj.com/lsd/

1 day in…ish

Posted by (twitter: @henrypenface)
Sunday, April 22nd, 2012 12:58 am

Got the title screen looking nice enough, and testing gameplay on the real hardware (just a rogue like, but first attempt at a “complete” game for the gameboy :)

In, blah blah..

Posted by (twitter: @henrypenface)
Friday, April 20th, 2012 12:50 pm

Yes, Yes, I am in and depending on the theme going to be most likely making a game for the original gameboy and wondering how many other people are writing for non-traditional systems, seen a GBA post and a Master System one last time.

A few hours in…

Posted by (twitter: @henrypenface)
Saturday, December 17th, 2011 8:56 am

Just a screenshot of a few hours in…

I’m in again!

Posted by (twitter: @henrypenface)
Monday, December 5th, 2011 3:57 am

I’m in! Same deal as last time:

  • Language: python
  • Library: pygame
  • graphics: Gimp
  • sfx: bfxr
  • music: Gameboy with LSDJ!
Still haven’t gotten around to updating my last entry EscapeLines due to all of uni work and wont happen until after the next LD.

Escape Lines – A New Hope (or Postmortem)

Posted by (twitter: @henrypenface)
Sunday, September 11th, 2011 3:05 am

Well, voting is almost over and I am going to one of those post mortem things that all the cool kids seem to be doing!

Before the final theme was announced I wrote a quick one line idea for each of the final themes of what I was going to do for that theme and then I could flesh it out after to something longer and more … game like. For escape I had initially decided that I would do a game similar to cannabalt and then maybe add something to it. Given that this was my first Ludum Dare I didn’t really want to do something that would be over complicated and just end up not finished and deter me from entering again. However as the time came I was discussing with my two chums DuSTman and Shot and I was convinced to try something a little different rather then just clone another game. I was looking through my list of ideas when I saw that my idea for wormholes was: “A game where in you launch a ship through a series of planets with gravity and try to get into the wormhole”. 10% space golf, 90% That seen from whitehole the Red Dwarf Episode where Lister plays planet pool. This could easily be changed slightly to fit the theme of Escape! The idea was set!

Now that I had an idea, it was time to start making the game. Given that the start for me was 0300 (Uk represent!) I decided that I would get an idea and maybe a bit of code done then get some sleep. By 0500 the basic ship and (then) planet code was in place. An hour later and I had added a line to the trail of the ship (Hence the name “Escape Lines”) and tweaked the random placement of the planets, and giving them different sizes and gravity. I then slept and had Red Dwarf on in the background for more inspiration.

Waking at 0900 after an awesome 3 hours sleep, more code was afoot, and by 10am I had multiple ships able to launch to create some pretty patterns. More tweaks and a lot of slacking later by 1400 I was adding “graphics” to the game. Next was the level system, which could have been improved but I did get to at least mention Burnley (The worst place in the UK 😉 ) By 1600 I had started working on the music which was terrible but I hadn’t made a game with sounds, let alone music before. This lead to the ability to mute the music as it was pretty annoying after a few seconds. The rest of Saturday was spent dicking around with the music and tweaking or adding to the graphics. (And playing the game, I probably enjoyed making patterns too much.)
I slept from 0200 to 1100, repaying some of that sleep debt from the previous night! Most of Sunday was just tweaking and polishing little bits. At the last moment I added bombs which could destroy an enemy ship and then submitted 6 hours early!

What went well…

Considering this was my first games programming competition I was quite happy with it. I went for the mantra of keeping it simple and it payed off I finished a game rather then being too ambitious and burning myself out before the end and rage quitting.

What didn’t go so well…

I kept it too simple and finished it with time to spare that could have been used to add more features/improvements but Decided to enter it as is. Oops. I also spent too much time messing with the music which in the end was pretty shoddy.


Happy :) As soon as voting is over I will work some more on a version with tweaks from the feed back received <3

Ps, my entry is here

I’m in!

Posted by (twitter: @henrypenface)
Friday, August 12th, 2011 1:38 pm

My first LD :)
My face is a pen
I will be using python/pygame

Good luck everyone!

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