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Simple is good. CubeShift afterthoughts

Posted by
Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 2:25 pm

This time, Ludum Dare was quite different.

First of all, the game I made is this one, called CubeShift:

A CubeShift level

You play the blue box and have the objective of reaching the hole through all the moving and stationary obstacles. That’s all there is to it, in a nutshell at least. Some levels require thinking, some moves need to be timed extremely well, but the basic idea is pretty simple.
Unfortunately, I could only work on my game for 12 hours on Saturday, so I submitted early.

I was the 18th person overall to submit, and I think the 3rd one for the compo, but I could be wrong here. Lots of people found the game and played it already back then. I received tons of comments – not a single negative one among them, and that’s still the case now. Well, there were some ideas for improvement, mainly about making the game longer and perhaps a bit more difficult, which I could luckily both do on Sunday, opposed to what I had expected.

Multiple people suggested putting this out as a mobile game, and that’s what I’m going to do soon, I promise! With lots of additional levels and also more “baddies”, as someone said.

 

The contradiction of effort vs. success

Fact of the matter is, I haven’t played a single game yet (didn’t have the time! I plan to play lots and lots of your games later, there are so many great ones!), but still my vote count after just 1.5 days is already a multiple of the count I reached last time, after the whole three weeks, with playing other games and making blog posts and tweeting included. So many of you commented, too, and I got the greatest feedback I ever received.

The conclusion to be drawn is that simple = good. Sure, everybody heard something like that before, but could you say you took it seriously? Probably not. I didn’t, either… Yet, here’s the proof.
Remember, I spent 12 hours on the game. On my previous 5 entries, I worked about 34 hours on average (probably).

 

Post mortem, this was …

a great Ludum Dare. Not just because of all the feedback, but also because of the new things I learned, like what I wrote above.

My time was very much limited, yet, the fun I had surely wasn’t. Developing a game for the web the first time ever felt really smooth, too.
Oh, and the music, I’m so happy with how that turned out!

 


You can of course play CubeShift as well, if you’d like :)

We are in! First time together!

Posted by
Friday, December 11th, 2015 1:30 pm

Hey fellow devs and artists and musicians and whatnot,

I am in! But not alone in the Compo, as the last four times, but together with a friend of mine in the Jam! She’s quite pro at doing those art stuffs, as opposed to me, so I’m glad to have her!
It’s her first time doing this thing, but I believe it’s gonna be great.

Since we don’t really know how we’re going to be approaching this, it depends on the theme as well, I can’t say anything about what we’re going to be using.

We wish you loads of fun! Happy Ludum Dareing!

Post Mortem

Posted by
Monday, August 31st, 2015 4:37 pm

So Ludum Dare #33 lies behind us now, and I take the chance to write a quick follow-up of how this all turned out for me.

There is also a timelapse video of Virus‘ development:

The Preparation

I didn’t prepare much this time. No basic games to get back into the whole process, not many commits to my engine.
What was important though was that I made a list of ideas for the 20 final themes, which helped me a lot in getting creative and was quite a bit of fun, too.

The First Night

I forgot to commit final but crucial changes to my engine, which I consider would be cheating since then I would be the only one with access to that code. I noticed my mistake very late, and after documenting and committing everything there were only about two hours of sleep left.

When I woke up and started Eclipse as well as my timelapse software, I noticed the latter didn’t really work. Everything looked JPEG-ish, even though I had set it to PNG. I spent the last seven minutes before the theme announcement quickly building my own timelapse script, just to realize the original software did work correctly… Anyway.

I was not happy with “You Are The Monster”. Not at all. I mean, I knew that the chance for it was high, but still. I ended up making my biggest mistake, not sticking to the idea I had prepared beforehand. I wanted to do something atmospheric, something calm, like flying a bird. There was my idea – you play an eagle, which looks friendly at first glance, but for something like a mouse an eagle is quite the monster.

I built awesome flying mechanics (really, they deserve to be called “awesome”), made the textures, and put it all together into a lovely little eagle. It would even sit down when you flew it to the ground!
Unfortunately, after spending around six hours on that, I had no idea what to do with it.

My eagle

After sleeping a little, 14 hours in, I gave up. Back to my original idea: playing as a virus that infects all of humanity.

Starting Over

Progress came fast, since I had mostly the whole thing in mind from the start. In just a few hours, the basics were already done, although it was still far from a game.
In the evening that day, I took a break from coding and started with:

The Music

I am bad at making music, there’s no doubt about it. Partly because of my missing experience, I guess – this was the second time I ever made something for real.
It isn’t what you’d expect when you think of the word “music”, it’s rather some disturbed synthesizer sounds with a heavy focus on drums. Those are the only two things I am not that bad at. It turned out OK.

Want to listen to it? Play my game!

Making It A Game

After tuning the music to my satisfaction, I added the progress minimap, tweaked the gameplay and added the main opponent: vaccine production.

I also changed the background to a non-static one, with a pseudo perspective on the houses. Very proud of that!

Final look at Virus

Voice Acting

I appear to be surprisingly good at voice acting. It was my first time to ever narrate anything, and I only did one single recording, but it turned out very well!
One hour of effects work to make it sound like some highly-disturbed walkie-talkie transmission, and suddenly my game got a lot better.

Testing & Fine Tuning

Obviously, when you have played such a simple game for a few hours, you get really good at it. That is a problem, because as the developer, you have had to play it over and over again, which means you don’t know how hard or easy it is for someone starting from the beginning. That is where I got other people involved, basically just playing the game and reporting back how it worked for them.
Then followed lots of fine tuning, since the game turned out a lot harder than I had thought.

After one of them managed to win, I called it a success and submitted my game.

My Overall Experience

This Ludum Dare was absolutely great. I had a bad start, but after that, everything went very smoothly and I am happy with the outcome.

The way I did it this time appears to be how I should always handle game jams in the future. Giving everything you have drains a lot of energy, and you lose more than you gain. If you do this in a more relaxed way, you are not exhausted and get to do more.

  • If you haven’t yet, you can view my entry here: Virus
  • The development is available on YouTube, sped up to just over 5 minutes: Timelapse
  • And please vote :-)

Thanks for reading,
JangoBrick

Done! Ready to infect some people?

Posted by
Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 3:33 pm

I AM DONE. Done with my game, Virus, done with this Ludum Dare.
It has been a great one, and I’m looking forward to the next one.

Anyway, there’s still one thing I fear, like every time – the fear of the game being unbalanced, the graphics looking even worse to others than to me, audio not playing, or something else in that direction.
That fear is hard to come by on my own, so I need your help.

Please help me test this thing!

I would be more than happy if you could visit my game (here is the Entry Page) and give me crucial feedback in these few remaining hours.
If you do, I’ll gladly give your game a vote as soon as that’s possible.

Have fun whatever you’re doing, be it finishing up your own game or looking through the ones made by others!

In Again!

Posted by
Saturday, August 15th, 2015 2:19 pm

I’m in another time, the fourth one actually. Took part in #29, #30 and #31 – had to skip #32 unfortunately. But no big deal, there are countless more I’m going to be part of, like this time!

It kind of became a ritual to use the same tools every time, learning from mistakes, making them better. That would mean:

  • Language: Java with Eclipse
  • Engine: JangoDare
  • Graphics: GIMP,
  • Sound: BFXR, Audacity
  • Music: FL Studio?

Although I am theoretically open for experimenting with new stuff, specifically something web-based. So if the theme choice goes very well for me, I might throw my complete setup over and do something totally different… We’ll see! It’s gonna be great!

Done! May the Takeover begin!

Posted by
Sunday, December 7th, 2014 8:17 am

Wheewww, I’m done with my game! … my second one, actually. The first idea I had was a lot better than this one, but I ran out of story ideas very quickly so I had to use my backup idea.

Takeover is a tower defense game, and yeah, that’s pretty lame, but I’m still happy I finished something at all – I wasted a full day with the other game. And even though the idea of a tower defense game is boring, I actually like the result quite a bit.

Enough talkin’, have a look at what I’m responsible for: Takeover

So yeah, I guess I’m in, possibly maybe

Posted by
Friday, December 5th, 2014 2:47 pm

I think I’ll be going for this Ludum Dare compo as well, but like I said in my previous post, I won’t have the full 48h… maybe I can manage to get 30, but no more. I hope that’s enough!

Anyway, I’ll be using my 2D Java game engine JangoDare and many other things. GIMP for graphics, possibly Bfxr & Audacity for sound (if any).

Let’s see how this goes! Happy coding =D

I got just one day…

Posted by
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 10:11 pm

On this weekend, I have only one day available…. 24 hours. I really hope the theme will be something I can manage to make a game in 24h to, otherwise I’ll have to skip.

LD #30 post mortem: I am dead

Posted by
Monday, August 25th, 2014 6:18 pm
I wanted to devote a few minutes to thinking about the last few days – the preparation for Ludum Dare, and eventually taking part in it.
(First of all: the pun in the title is not intended! I just noticed it. Fun times!)
This is the aftermath of this Ludum Dare - my desk is full of all kinds of stuff. And it's already cleaned up a little - looked even worse before!

This is the aftermath of this Ludum Dare – my desk is full of all kinds of stuff. And it’s already cleaned up a little – looked even worse before!

The Preparation

I did two things in preparation for this Ludum Dare.
I improved my game engine a lot in the recent days, so that I had something good to work with. That went nicely, I added a whole lot of things that I actually made use of in the compo.
I also did something I didn’t do for the last Ludum Dare, I thought about the themes a lot. I looked at the 20 “finalists”, sat back, and wrote one or two sentences about all of them. Well, almost all of them – I didn’t have any ideas for some… unfortunately, the winner, “Connected Worlds”, was one of those.
Still, this was a good exercise; I got to use my fantasy and be creative (which is fun!). Also, it wasn’t too bad that I didn’t write down an idea for Connected Worlds – a very basic part started to grow soon after the theme was announced.

The Compo Itself

I will split this into different parts, so that it’s easier to read and also easier to write 😉

The theme is announced: getting a fundamental idea

This was a critical part. As I said it earlier, I got the base idea pretty fast – that is, two worlds in a splitscreen window, where you have to do things in both screen parts (worlds) to win the level.
But there was a problem arising: I had no plan how to push that further. Well, somehow I got to some jumping things, then I decided to make them slimes, and then they started to move to the right by themselves.
There was the game idea: move them in an intelligent way, so that they don’t get stuck. When one goes out-of-screen, the player has lost.
Still, this was a very slow process. It could have been faster. A LOT faster. You can’t really develop a game when you have no idea what you want to do, can you?

The first playable build, advancing from there

It took a lot of time until I had something playable. That was mainly caused by the missing ideas, I guess.
But after I had that, things were a lot quicker. I added more tiles, made the worlds’ backgrounds, and implemented power-ups (which I removed from the game later on, they were unnecessary).
Also, since I was livestreaming the whole thing (will talk about that later), I was able to gather a few useful ideas from my viewers. The most remarkable one is the eponymous rubber band between the slimes. This also added to the “connection” part of the theme. I am happy this was mentioned!

Graphics

I absolutely loved making the graphics for this game! Especially the lowres ones, for example the slimes. This was also quite a quick process, with a nice outcome.

Sounds and music (first music I ever made!)

Making the sounds was also relatively simple with the help of Bfxr. The rubber band sound comes from an actual rubber band, though.
Creating a piece of music was fun! It also was the first time I ever made any music in my whole life. Considering that, I think I can be proud of the soundtrack.

Level design & testing

Level design is a completely different topic. That went horrible! I’m never going to make a game similar to this in any game jam – simply because of this one experience.
It really was a pain to do: paint some pixels on the level sheet, start the game, play the level, find out it’s impossible to do, change a few pixels, need 7 tries to get to the specific location, works, screw up on the next part, another 15 tries, make it easier, back to the game, …
I think you got the point by now. This, by the way, went on for probably more than 6 hours without a break.
Nope, not doing that again. NEVER.

Eating and sleeping

I slept way too little, nobody can prove me wrong. That resulted in my being completely dead when the compo ended. It likely lowered my enthusiasm, too. Although, if I had slept more, then I wouldn’t have made it in time I suppose.
Opposed to my expectations, I ate and drank enough. Heck, I drank even more than I normally do! But that really was necessary, otherwise I would’ve gotten a bad headache.

Some thoughts about livestreaming

Livestreaming is a great thing in Ludum Dare, it is both fun for the viewers and support for the streamers. So, it is a win-win thing, isn’t it?
Yes, it is – for the popular streamers at least. For people like me, who are not popular and also maybe new to the overall streaming thing, this doesn’t apply unfortunately. I got 5 viewers at one or two occasions, but that was it. I wish there had been a bit more people coming to the smaller channels as well. I mean, it’s about watching people make games, isn’t it unimportant who the streamer is?

After submitting

After submitting my game, I still had about three hours left. I used these to watch a few livestreams. The people there have come up with absolutely nice ideas, I have to say! Well, then the compo was over, and the only thing I could think was “SLEEP!”.
Here I am now, after having slept way longer than I usually do. I am editing my timelapse footage and writing this ‘post mortem’, which literally feels like after death.
I am waiting for things to normalize again… it is a bit of a strange feeling now.
But more importantly, the overall experience during the compo, all that excitement and fun (I had a lot of fun! This post is just more focused on stuff I could improve, that’s why it sounds rather negative.) lead to the wish of repeating this.

I can’t wait for the next Ludum Dare! #LD31!

Yuusss! I am done with “Rubber Slimes”!

Posted by
Sunday, August 24th, 2014 4:02 pm

I am done with my game! And I’m finally even proud of it. There was a time when I wasn’t – but that lies in the past xD

Well, my interpretation of “Connected Worlds” was this one: Screen split in half, each half is one world. They’re connected somehow.

And the result is some funny game with two colo[u]rful slimes, that are jumping in opposite directions, held together by a rubber band. So, connected worlds. Connected with a rubber band.
I guess I would normally make an animated .gif and throw it into here, but I’m way too exhausted to do that now. So, have a static screenshot (don’t be sad! at least there IS a screenshot.):scr3

Oh, and also one where the rubber band just broke (one of the more difficult levels is shown in the picture):scr4

 

Cake

Click here!

Click the cake to go to the submission page, and please don’t forget to vote & comment :-)

Progress after roughly one day. That theme though.

Posted by
Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 3:51 pm

So, the theme. Yeah. The theme. Always the most fun part in Ludum Dare.
There were so many great ones, and I had so many great ideas. Except for “Connected Worlds”, that was almost the only one I really didn’t know what to do with.

So, after a lot of thinking, I came up with one at least acceptable idea – the screen is split in half, with each half symbolising a different world. There are two characters, a green and a purple slime. The worlds are completely separated from each other – the player[s] can’t pass through them.
Still they have a connection: there is a rubber band between the two slimes, keeping them gently together. But take care of the rubber band, there are many things which can make it break!

scr2

Me is also participating!

Posted by
Thursday, August 21st, 2014 6:46 am

This post comes a bit late, but whatever. I had to get other stuff done in order to be able to fully focus on this Ludum Dare, which I’m really excited for! It will be my second one.

The tools are similar to the last time. I will again be using:

  • Language: Java
  • IDE: Eclipse
  • Engine/Framework: JangoDare
  • Graphics: GIMP, maybe Inkscape
  • Sound effects: Bfxr (the downloadable one, I like standalone stuff!); possibly something else if it fits better. Idk.
  • Sound editing: Audacity
  • Music: I don’t know yet, maybe FL Studio or some online generator. I wish I could play an instrument sometimes 😀
  • My brain

I have probably forgotten something, but these are the most important tools I’ll be making use of.

Also, I would like to mention that I am actually a bit sad about the Potato Salad theme being gone. I wonder what people would’ve come up with. lol

I think I’m done. Or rather, mem29 is.

Posted by
Sunday, April 27th, 2014 10:27 am

So I have finished my entry for this competition. I was already done a few hours ago, but I wasn’t sure if there really wasn’t anything to add.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my game is called “mem29”.
mem29’s base idea is similar to the Memory board game (therefore the name), although there are a few (pretty important) things which are different.
The pictures on the cards are all objects from famous video games by the way.
How to play can be looked up in the game, I think it should be pretty straightforward. In the beginning it is very easy, but it becomes harder.

Tools used:

You can view the entry here, the compiled JAR is located here, and the source here.

Animation was too big to upload - click on the image to view it

Animation was too big to upload – click on the image to view it

mem29 — Results of the first Day

Posted by
Saturday, April 26th, 2014 4:20 pm

Hehe, another one of these posts :DD

Anyway. I think I have gotten pretty far with my game “mem29” already, and in my opinion it is already a hell lot of fun – I spend more time playing than coding now to be honest.
Here you have a screenshot of it:

mem29_scr1

I had a hard time creating the screenshot, as mem29 is really all about being quick.

The basic idea is very similar to the board game Memory, although there are a few things which are different.
The pictures on all the cards are objects from famous video games by the way.

Let’s see what I can add tomorrow! :)

My first entry

Posted by
Thursday, April 17th, 2014 6:21 am

Hello!

This will be the first time I participate in the Ludum Dare compo (and in Ludum Dare in general). I will be creating a 2D game in Java, using my own engine “JangoDare” which can be found on GitHub.
It is still in development, although it is already possible to create simple games with it. The engine currently supports tiled levels, but will also support a few other level types soon (and of course you can also add own level types without modifying the library’s code, that’s no problem). It has full support for entities, and physics as well as particles (and maybe shaders/shadows) are also planned.
If you’re interested, make sure to follow the development because I will be implementing these (+ possibly more) features over time, hopefully I can finish it all until the weekend we’re all awaiting is reached.

Have fun and good luck,
JangoBrick

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