About hexagore (twitter: @charlottegore)

I'm a full time solo indie dev! I work with web technologies because WHY NOT.

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Ludum Dare 34
 
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MiniLD #58
 
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I’m in… Virtual Reality! Woo!

Posted by (twitter: @charlottegore)
Monday, April 11th, 2016 7:43 am

Hello, this will be my… er… ¬†seventh Ludum Dare. This time I will be using Unity (with Probuilder), Blender, Reason, Audacity etc and I’ll be making a game for the HTC Vive.

Which means practically no-one entering the competition will be able to play and rate the game.

It’s almost liberating, in a way. ūüėÄ

Voting Progress!

Posted by (twitter: @charlottegore)
Friday, January 1st, 2016 10:48 am

All through this Ludum Dare I’ve been taking snapshots of the current voting status to get some idea why the competition runs for 3 weeks (and not 4, or 2, or 1). Mostly things have been going pretty much as predicted – The first week is super hectic, and then the final two weeks are mostly just a steady trickle.

With 3 and a half days of voting remaining, we’ve FINALLY¬†reached 70% of games with enough ratings¬†to get a final score.

We actually had 60% after the first week. It’s taken another 11 days to get another 10%. Which is interesting. I felt like I still didn’t really understand what was actually going on though, so I came up with a new metric: How many individuals actually played and rated games per day (I did this by comparing their ‘votes given’ today to their ‘votes given’ the day before). It produced Interesting Facts

Interesting Facts!

  • On the first full day of voting 1714 people rated, on average, 14.7 games each. That’s a lot of games.
  • In the 2nd and 3rd weeks, people seem to play and rate about 4-5 games each a day, and that’s been surprisingly consistent. The only¬†difference from day to day is how many people are actively rating games. Seems like it’s mostly different people each day, too, but I haven’t analysed that data properly yet.
  • December the 23rd was our least productive day.¬†428 people rated on average 4.7 games each and the result was that just one game managed to cross the 17 vote threshold (LD33’s threshold – LD34’s might be different)
  • Yesterday just 241 people played and rated 1182 games. 27 games managed to sneak over the 17 ratings threshold, and 17 people reached their 25 games milestone
  • Right now 406 people still haven’t rated a single game. It’s a surprisingly big minority of people who make a game but then have no interest in getting a score or playing anyone else’s games.

From what I can tell, while it’s not very many people, there are a surprising number of people quite happy to spread their voting out over the full three weeks. There you go!

Voting Progress

Posted by (twitter: @charlottegore)
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015 11:28 am

I’ve been tracking the daily progress of voting for this Ludum Dare¬†to help answer some questions about why the judging lasts for three weeks.

In today’s snapshot, ¬†64.5% of games has reached LD33’s milestone of 17 ratings¬†(it may be higher or lower this time, more is better obviously!) Headline: There’s been over 75 thousand votes/ratings¬†cast so far!

As expected, the rating happening right now is only a tiny fraction of the peak right at the beginning. Here’s two graphs! GRAPHS!

One shows the number of games being rated each day, and the other shows how many games had reached 17 ratings on each day.

GRAPHS = SCIENCE

GRAPHS = SCIENCE

I’m finding this pretty fascinating and curious about which way the trends go. Far too early to draw any conclusions about what % of games will eventually get a rating, but here’s one thing that the data shows to be an absolute fact:

Every dev¬†that’s rated 25 games has enough ratings¬†on their own game!¬†The system works!

Post-thingum

Posted by (twitter: @charlottegore)
Monday, December 21st, 2015 6:19 am

So mostly I write these post-mortem things as little letters to my future self in the hopes that next time I can do better.

What I Made:

Possibly the dumbest game I could possibly have made. A two button beat em up. Things coming at you from the left? Press left. Things coming at you from the right? Press right. Behold 48h Compo entry,¬†Super Lefty Garden Fighty. And lo, it was stupid. The Earth has been ruined: the world’s trees have been consumed by a race of Cauliflower monsters. Luckily, if you kill enough of them, a¬†tree come back. That’s the backstory.

Super Lefty Garden Fighty

Super Lefty Garden Fighty

What Was I Thinking

I was thinking that if I made a really really really simple game that required no level design, no tricky mechanics I could get all the programming done really quickly and then polish it… TO DEATH.

I wanted it to be beautiful. And lo, it was beautiful… and empty.

Like a Tim Burton film.

Turns out though this mechanic was slightly more complex than I initially thought. I needed to control the behaviour of the baddies to make sure that they didn’t clump up together, but I couldn’t quite fix the thing where it’s actually pretty hard to avoid getting kicked to death by a single baddy. Oh, who am I kidding? This is totally noddy.

What Went Badly

Well, once again, I panicked when trying to come up with a game idea and did the wrong thing. I never give myself enough time. The game is, once you get into it, pretty fun for a short while, but it doesn’t have enough depth or variety to have any long term playability. The difficulty maxes out after a few minutes but most people should find that fairly easy to handle.

What Went Well

I’m pretty chuffed with the art, the animations (especially the tree growing animation) and the graphics in general. The game engine and editor also performed really well this time – I didn’t need to add any features or fix any bugs, nothing went particularly wrong. The whole build was actually surprisingly smooth.

Because I had so much time¬†I was able to do a proper UI for this. Indicators for score, for progress on tree making and also feedback information about hit streaks (and also hopefully explain how to play the game). Little touches like that go a long way to making the game feel¬†like it’s paying attention to what you’re doing, and give the player secondary objectives in addition to chasing a high score.

Next time, Gadget. Next time.

So next time I want to do something intelligent. This was too dumb.

Way too dumb. Like P.E. Teacher* dumb.

I look at some of the fantastic and surprisingly deep games that have been made this time and I realise I need to challenge myself to make different types of games now.

Time lapsed.

I did a timelapse!

*”P.E. Teachers”, also known as “Phys Ed Teachers”, or “Gym Teachers” or “Coach” but universally recognised that when you have 100 of them together, you have a collective IQ of exactly 100.

Voting Progress!

Posted by (twitter: @charlottegore)
Saturday, December 19th, 2015 8:30 am

Last Ludum Dare there were a few grumbles about the three week voting period. We didn’t have any stats to argue with though, so every day during LD34’s voting I’m taking a snapshop and then at the end we’ll have a lovely set of graphs. Probably.

WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR!

When I took today’s sample there had been 65712 votes cast! Assuming, like last time, games need 17 votes to get a rating, then so far 1622 games have enough votes, which is 56% of all games. Finally, we’re encouraged to play and rate 25 games this time. So far just over 1000 games have reached this milestone, or 35% of devs/games.

AN UNEQUAL WORLD

  • The top 287 (10%) games by votes received have 31.1% of all votes
  • The top 1436 (50%) of games have 80% of all votes
  • The bottom 570 (20%) of games have just¬†2.3% of the votes
  • 10% of all votes have gone to just 45 (1.6%) games.

#OccupyLudumDare? ūüėõ

WHAT I RECKON!

Looking at the way that the number of votes each day is going down we’ll probably have about 60% of games with enough votes to get a rating by the end of the first week. I’m actually assuming that things pick up a little bit over the weekend.

But, truth is, there’s a long way to go and so it looks pretty obvious to me why the voting runs for three weeks rather than just one.

INTERESTING FACT!

If all the votes given so far were evenly distributed, every game would have 22 votes already and we’d be done :)

Any games inspired by Super Hexagon?

Posted by (twitter: @charlottegore)
Wednesday, December 16th, 2015 6:02 am

Screenshot 2015-12-16 11.00.15
So I’ve played about¬†60 games so far… but I’ve yet to find even one game inspired by or like or even just a straight up unashamed clone of Super Hexagon (one of my all-time favourite games – it’s where the ‘hexa’ in my name ‘hexagore’ comes from. The ‘gore’ comes from the fact that my family name is ‘Gore’ :P)

Have you made such a game? Have you found such a game?!  Seriously, this theme? Two Button Controls? There should be HUNDREDS of games like this! Agh!

Done: Super Lefty Garden Fighty!

Posted by (twitter: @charlottegore)
Monday, December 14th, 2015 3:18 pm

Hey, so my 6th Ludum Dare compo entry is a two button beat ’em up / tree synthesis¬†simulator. And despite it being the dumbest thing I’ve ever made it’s also possibly the most fun.

Dammit.

screenshot1

I also made a timelapse! Development was surprisingly smooth and easy. I think I just picked a very simple game idea and then spent a day polishing it which makes for happy, stress free Ludum Dareing.

In other exciting news I haven’t had to do any post-compo critical bug fixes this time either. There’s a web version and now there’s a windows downloadable version on Itch.io if you want to use that awesome new itch app¬†¬†thing to play it.

In!

Posted by (twitter: @charlottegore)
Monday, November 30th, 2015 9:20 pm

Hello I am in the LD34 Compo, which will be my (does quick count) sixth go.

I will be using my own custom WebGL game engine called Hexr.¬†I’m an idiot for using this instead of learning Gamemaker but I’m used to the workflow now. The engine and editor have had a ton of work put in (many many bugs fixed, feature additions and performance improvements since the last Dare!) so it would be a shame not to use it.

  • JavaScript and GLSL will be typed into Sublime Text.
  • I’ll use Swanky Paint for any pixel art and Photoshop for everything else. (Update: I’m currently experimenting with PyxelEdit so might use that!)
  • For music and sound synthesis/recording I will be using Propellerhead Reason.
  • For audio effects,¬†editing and transcoding I’ll be using Adobe Audition, Audacity and Melodyne.
  • I’ll be using Git as my version control, npm as a package manager and browserify as a build tool.
  • For motivation during the dark hours I will be listening to Danger Zone by K-Log on Spotify. On loop.

That’s it. My only goal for this Ludum Dare is to make something that’s actually fun.

I hope everyone has a great Ludum Dare!

Actually… you know what?

Posted by (twitter: @charlottegore)
Tuesday, September 15th, 2015 8:27 am

With every game being placed in order it’s just mathematically inevitable that lots of people are going to be disappointed by their scores. I’ve just done a blog post where I was really happy about my scores this time and I’ve suddenly remembered¬†that good news from the results is relatively new. I used to be absolutely terrible. Getting in the top 100 in any category is a major achievement but it’s taken me a long time and many attempts to get there.

Here’s my results from the first three Ludum Dares I did.¬†¬†I started okay then plummeted to the depths of awfulness, before trying desperately to claw my way back out again.

Jane Austen Vs Slug Lord will hopefully be the worst game I ever make

Jane Austen Vs Slug Lord will hopefully be the worst game I ever make 

 

The moral of the story is that anyone – even people who make games as pure terrible as “Jane Austen Vs Slug Lord” can redeem themselves if they just keep trying. ¬†The important bit is that you learn something from every failure, every disaster, every mistake and then never give up trying to get better.

So if you feel your result is bad don’t let it get you down. This isn’t the end. Keep on trying! YOU CAN DO IT!

 

Hexagore’s Exciting And Informative Results Post

Posted by (twitter: @charlottegore)
Tuesday, September 15th, 2015 6:54 am

Screenshot 2015-09-15 12.14.37

Well thank you everyone who played and rated Corruption 5, which you’ve generously decided was pretty good. As I expected I have done worse in graphics, audio, fun, humour and innovation and yet somehow done better overall.

Doing worse at graphics now

Doing worse at graphics now

For me this Ludum Dare was all about testing out a way of telling a story in a platform game — using Point and Click adventure style speech bubbles and lots of special events — and, I think, this is what saved it. There’s no ‘story’ category but I think the points for that were all put into Mood, Theme and Overall.

Corruption-5 featured nearly 200 individual sprite animation frames. It featured 11 entity types with a total of 91 different inputs and outputs (basically the behaviours and interactions with the entities) all of which needed coding. To do all this in 48 hours meant sacrifices.. and what was sacrificed was sleep, music quality, background art (only a small handful of functional tiles, nothing decorative like in Mass-X) and level design. I couldn’t use all those entities and mechanics more than once or twice because¬†I just didn’t have time. I had to just implement the specific story beats for each level and leave it at that.

It was a victim of being way too ambitious. It’s pretty obvious how to improve next time: FASTER LIFTS.

Now it’s back to work on the full commercial game I’m making called “Aye, Robot.” It’s a hybrid of my last Ludum Dare game “Mass-X” and this “Corruption 5” and is all about robots in the strange English county of Yorkshire. Follow me on twitter to keep up to date on that!

Thanks again and see you all next time!

Corruption-5 Post-mortem

Posted by (twitter: @charlottegore)
Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015 9:06 am

What was I trying to do?

I wanted to make¬†a fancy, pretty and awesome little platform adventure game with a story. It was going to be full of mechanics and puzzles, there was going to be loads of art and content. Last Ludum Dare I made < 2 minutes of content and so I wanted to do… more.

In terms of gameplay, each time the character goes through a teleporter, they become slightly more messed up and lose abilities. Shooting, jumping… they become slower and eventually begin being obviously very ill indeed. This was going to make solving each level harder.


Screenshot 2015-08-29 23.36.10

And did you succeed?

Sort of. I implemented all the mechanics: I had an NPC, a whole bunch of interactions for the player and NPC, a monster, buttons, lifts/elevators, doors, teleporters and I’d managed to do over 100 individual frames of animation for all the different versions of the player and the entity. That consumed a day and a half. Technically there is loads of stuff here.

But.

The audio was a rush. I struggled to compose decent music for this, so what I ended up with was one short little ambient thing instead of the specific music for each level I originally planned. I think it works… just.

I also had no time at all for background tiles. I ended up doing crude, basic tiles that I hoped would at least look consistent in terms of style but I’m unbelievably disappointed by how simplistic the levels look. Even the fancy post-processing shaders and lighting weren’t enough to compensate.

Finally… I didn’t have enough time to do the levels that I wanted. There was always going to be 5 levels, one for each part of the story, but with time running out I was forced to make levels 2 to 5 really just about the important story beat for that particular stage of the character’s journey without any of the additional puzzles I’d hoped to put in.

There must be some good, yeah?

Totally. Corruption-5 was made with my own “Hexr” game engine especially for WebGL and my own level editor. Making this game made me realise how inadequate my tools really were for creating content quickly and so since then I’ve done major work on them which is priceless as far as I’m concerned.

I’m also really pleased with the animation and sprite work which was a massive improvement on my last game.

rudolph

I also think that while the game is short (it takes about 5 minutes to play) it feels complete. I was able to tell a story just using the simple mechanics I had in place and all in all I think the result is a pretty enjoyable and fun little experience perfectly suited to Ludum Dare.

What about a post-compo version?

Screenshot 2015-09-02 14.53.36

Yeah I sort of started working on it but I think actually there’s not much point now. This is more like what I hoped the compo version would be but perhaps it’s better just to chalk it up to experience and leave it at that.

Next time then?

I don’t know what the verdict is going to be for this game but I suspect it’ll be difficult to do better than my last game… but that’s okay. I’m moving on.

Next time though the important lesson is this:¬†Fewer mechanics, more content. Making a bunch of mechanics which you then don’t have time to use in levels¬†is a stupid waste. Also: Fewer sprites, more background art.

I wish now to play this “game” so that I may judge it.

Gulp.

 

Corruption 5

Posted by (twitter: @charlottegore)
Tuesday, August 25th, 2015 1:58 pm

“Corruption 5” is a twisted little¬†platform adventure game submitted for the competition inspired by The Fly movies. I’ve had to fix a few game breaking bugs since uploading it:

  • Monsters were zerging the players if they died, making it impossible to get past the first level
  • If you were throwing up while trying to pull an NPC’s arm off, you would be stuck pulling their arm off forever
  • Random freezing up (ugh!)

Since submitting I’ve also adding downloadable versions for Windows, Linux and OSX and, to help people with very old computers, I made it so pressing P toggles the post-processing shaders on and off.

The entry page is here if you want to have a play! It only takes about 5 minutes because, as usual, I ran out of time for level design. I did manage to get all the story in though, so that’s something! :)

Corruption-5 Is Done!

Posted by (twitter: @charlottegore)
Monday, August 24th, 2015 9:45 am

My fifth compo entry for Ludum Dare is done. Phew.

Screenshot 2015-08-24 15.38.11

It’s a sort of platform adventure game, with lifts and buttons and NPCs and a story and all sorts. It’s by far the most complicated, ambitious Ludum Dare game I’ve done yet with way way way more sprites and mechanics. I hope it was worth it..¬†¬†this one half killed me. ¬†Post-mortem to come later!

Made with my own Javascript/WebGL game engine that lives on top of Three.JS :)

Compo page!

So In I Could Actually Be Sick

Posted by (twitter: @charlottegore)
Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 5:52 am

Hello.

I am in. 5th time round the old block for me.

I will be using my own JavaScript WebGL 2d game engine thing (worked well enough last time!)

mass-x

For art I’ll be using the awesome Deluxe Paint II clone Swanky Paint¬†which features BLLLOOOOMMM which helps figure out in advance what the art is going to look like in engine once there’s BLLLOOOOOMMMM so they don’t get all blown-out.

For the music I will be using the beyond useful Propellerhead Reason. I know it, I have a licence for it, has great synth and recording capabilities.

For writing of the code I’ll probably use either Atom or Sublime Text. I haven’t decided yet.

I’ll also make use of Photoshop and probably Audition for editing sound and stuff.

I shall leave you now with some words of wisdom from a robot friend. Good luck everyone!!! ūüėÄ

Results! Thoughts! Woo!

Posted by (twitter: @charlottegore)
Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 5:13 am

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 10.52.33

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 10.50.55

Hi all,

Thank you to everyone who played and rated Mass-X. You’ve humbled me. I had one mission this time which was to make a game that was fun. My previous highest score for fun was 468th, which is basically ‘not very fun at all’ so 76th is definitely a step in the right direction.

But.. oh my word these are¬†by far the best results I’ve ever had. Audio, Mood, Fun and Overall all in the top 100. I’m blown away.

The biggest surprise though, the one that I can’t quite get my head around, is coming 12th for graphics. I need¬†to get a lot better at my pixel art, especially animation and was pretty gutted about only getting to spend a few hours doing the art. I HAD SUCH PLANS! Still, you didn’t punish me too harshly, so thank you.

Next time I want to beat that #76th for Fun score. That’s my goal. I think I’ve got the graphics and audio thing sorted, so time to focus on the one skill that¬†really matters: Raw Game Design. Much easier to try to improve a smidge on one aspect of my game dev career than try to become ULTRA AWESOME GAME DEV overnight. Maybe I’ll succeed next time. Maybe it’ll take another four or five attempts. Maybe I’ll never achieve it but I’m never going to give up.

And that’s because of this community. You are the best.

Thank you again for all your votes and kind words and I’ll see you all again next time! ūüėÄ

 

Mass-X Post-Mortum!

Posted by (twitter: @charlottegore)
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015 6:11 am

For LD32 I knew I wanted to tackle the ultimate Classic Ludum Dare game: The 2d pixel art platformer with a cute and hopefully distinctive mechanic inspired by the theme. My aim, this time, was to try to improve on my ‘fun’ score and if that’s what the final verdict is I will be so happy.

There was no need to kill this robot.

The result was Mass-X, where the mechanic is being able to switch positions with robots. I didn’t include any puzzle elements – I wanted it to be all about trying to find creative ways to kill as many robots, as possible or get through levels as fast as possible, or basically just bounce around for fun.

What went badly:

Day one was murder. I wanted to have the basic mechanics of the game coded by lunch. It actually took me the entire day.¬†My custom engine itself didn’t have all the features I needed, was full of bugs (probably still is!) and the collision detection stuff was a total shambles, so it was all incredibly slow and difficult.

I also found working with programmer art incredibly depressing. The game looked beyond awful and I was rapidly losing faith in my ability to make this something worth playing. By the end of the first day it looked like this…

… and I wanted to give the whole thing up and die. 3 months of preparation for this rubbish?

It was actually about 6pm (6 hours before the deadline, my time) by the time I’d recorded the music and sound effects and done all the tile art for the sprites (and got the animations into the game) and was finally ready to begin designing levels… at which point I started discovering even more bugs with the collision detection and found out that my level editing tool was completely broken. I had to constantly save, export then restart the software every time I need to create a new level or make a change to a level. Nightmare.

The result is that the game is far shorter than I intended. Far, far, far shorter. I really wanted to prove that my tools were good enough to make a lot of content quickly and I have learnt that, in fact, no. They’re not. Not even close.

Final “What went badly” was the fact that I completely forgot that this was a browser game and I¬†completely screwed up the mouse controls. If the cursor goes outside of the browser window, your cursor freezes. There’s a bug in the cursor-to-world translation, too. Basically the controls are a mess which is fine until the last two levels, at which point many people find it impossible. Quick workaround is to reduce the¬†width¬†of your browser window, creating some buffer space at the bottom. I apparently developed the game like this which is why I didn’t find the problem until it was too late.

What went well

Going Pixel Art was terrifying.¬†Something about sharing stuff you’ve drawn… it’s so much more personal than 3d models. I feel like Mass-X is far more of me than any other game I’ve made. ¬†I stuck with¬†10×10 pixel tiles which worked out nicely. They’re a lot less work to draw than 16×16 (156 fewer pixels to colour in per tile!) but more expressive and detailed than 8×8. I know I have a long way to go with pixel art (MOAR DEPTH!!!) but I accidentally achieved a consistent style which I think works pretty well.

Swanky Paint – it’s a quirky clone of Deluxe Paint 2 with one absolutely killer feature for me: It supports bloom. It meant that I could draw the art ‘bloomed’ then save them without. It meant that when rendered in game the art looked like it did in Swanky rather than all blown-out and too bright. Swanky Paint saved my bacon.

Guitar Midi Synth – I have this thing on my guitar which makes it output midi, which meant I was able to compose music on an instrument I actually understand and can improvise with. I’m quite pleased with the music even if it’s pretty rough and filthy. The sound effects were also a huge amount of fun to make – lots of layered sounds from my own voice and synths, all put through fancy effects. I’m especially thrilled with the bumper sound and the swapping noise.. a dirty buzz and a whoosh and a bang. :)

I also think the basic idea of the game works as well. I hope it’s fun for other people too. It has a lot of potential as a puzzle platformer but I kept it more¬†action/adventure approach than I could have – I’ve seen some fantastic LD games with the same basic mechanic but done as a puzzle platformer instead. It turns out this particular mechanic has a lot more potential than I realised.

The engine is a little trooper as well. It turns tilemaps into single meshes which are incredibly quick for GPUs to draw. The post-processing effects are a bit of a trial for really bad GPUs, but you can get 60fps on an Intel HD 3000 as long as you don’t try to run it in 1080p.

Finally… deploying. This time I was able to deploy for HTML5 and for Windows, OSX and Linux (32 bit) with a single command. I’d done a lot of work preparing this side of things and it really paid off.

Lessons For Next Time

Assuming I want to make another 2d pixel art platformer I’m going to want to fix my level editor’s bugs, add more features to make drawing levels quicker – cut and paste would help. I also need some sort of game boilerplate that means i can start by writing object logic rather than having to set up switching between titles and levels and all that.

My personal challenge for next time? I want to see what the verdict on Mass-X is first. Then I’ll know what I need to focus on next. Fun is, I think, the most important category. It’s the truest test of a would-be game designer’s skill, I think.

Thank you for reading and for playing Mass-X. It’s a short, broken little game but I think I actually love this one.

Play Mass-X here

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