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Too many ideas…

Posted by
Sunday, August 26th, 2012 2:28 pm

I had a nice plan for today, add the remaining 3-4 features and then submit the game. However, after letting people beta-test the game and testing it extensively myself I noticed there is still a lot of stuff that could be improved. My ToDo list is now growing instead of shrinking and 3 1/2 hours to go. I will take it easy nevertheless and just continue to add the important stuff. We will see how far I get.

on the screen: deadly worms and creatures avoiding them. UI is also most likely finished.

That’s it for today

Posted by
Saturday, August 25th, 2012 6:56 pm

I spent the last 3 hours working on the main menu. After working practically 15 hours non-stop on the game, I better get some sleep. Not sure if I will run into time problems tomorrow. There aren’t many features left on the todo list but I always come up with the best ideas in the last few hours. Oh, and I still need a good soundtrack.

it is even animated

After 10 hours

Posted by
Saturday, August 25th, 2012 2:56 pm

Now I am starting to get interactivity into the simulation. It slowly turns into a game.
I added ‘carnivores’, they don’t evolve like the normal creatures do, but they act as an additional force for the evolution process.

I am also working on the UI to control various environmental effects.

Extreme case of overfeeding:

My eyes…


I see some evolution in my graphics

Posted by
Saturday, August 25th, 2012 10:34 am

After a late start I am still working on the basic graphics and core logic. My original plan was to do pure 2d graphics. But once I was done I realized that it looks very boring and also a bit strange. Because of that I added a 3d view and kept the old 2d view as a kind of minimap.

Here are some screenshots:

Rotating a 2d image in 3d space helps making it look better

Added 3d-effect
The colored blocks are ‘alive’ and move

What I currently have is some kind of sandbox evolution simulator. The white blocks are spawned randomly and represent food. The colored cubes are the ‘creatures’ that move around and can eat the white blocks. If they ate enough they will duplicate. Every time a new creature is spawned it inherits and slightly changes its behavior randomly (mutation). Each creature is actually a very very small program running in a simple VM. To accomplish random mutation I just insert, change or remove random code.
Very interesting to watch, but doesn’t really feel like a game yet.

I am in!

Posted by
Friday, August 24th, 2012 2:41 pm

This is my fourth Ludum Dare and I am really looking forward to it. This time I want to try something risky and focus on innovation and maybe complexity instead of going the safe way by making something that I am already familiar with. In other words: I will use this LD to prototype an unique idea I have yet to come up with (depends on the theme, of course).

As usual my tools are:

Language: C (using VS2008)
Libs: A custom framework/engine (get it here)
Graphics: Paint.net
Audio: FL Studio
Misc: Chronolapse

The bad thing is that the theme will be announced at 3am local time, so I will probably go to sleep right at the start of the compo. On the contrary, coding through the whole night is not an good idea.

I wish everyone good luck and a bug-less weekend 😉

Weird worm of death

Posted by
Saturday, April 21st, 2012 8:13 pm

My game is very very strange.

Basically, I made a long tunnel like dungeon and you have to flee from a huge earthworm. Sadly, it still feels very boring because it is very linear. I need to think up a few more challenges for the dungeon.

I’m in and some tips

Posted by
Thursday, April 19th, 2012 11:15 am

I am in. This is my third Ludum Dare and I am already looking forward to a weekend full of fun. This time, I also could convince two friends (Zyn, RedDwarf) to participate in the 48h compo.

As last time my tools are:

  • Visual Studio for relentless C coding
  • My custom framework/engine (download it here)
  • Paint.net for graphics
  • FL Studio for sound effects and background music
  • Chronolapse to record the whole process

Maybe this is useful for any first time LDers:

I learned that it is very important to try to finish your game on the first day. On the second day you will most likely end up having new gameplay ideas and maybe encounter bugs that eat up a lot of your precious time. I suggest that you reserve at least some hours for fine-tuning. There are always little details to improve that will make your game great.

Coming up with an idea is easy, coming up with a good one is hard work. Don’t be afraid to spent 2-3 or even more hours just to think about the basic gameplay/genre. Some ideas will not only be better, but they will also be a lot less work. In the end, you might actually even save some time. Besides, most of the Ludum Dare entries will be 2D platformers or top-down shooters, many will appreciate it if your entry is different.

Make it easy to play your game. If runtime packages or special clients are needed for your game to run, add the download link in the description. Remember that there will be a lot of games and if it takes 30 minutes just to get your game running, a majority of people will just skip your entry. This post might also be helpful.

Sound, it’s as important as gameplay and nice graphics. Sadly this is often underestimated. From my previous experience at least half of the submitted entries don’t have any sound. There are a lot of little tools that can help you create sound effects for your game, just read through some of the “I am in” posts and see what others use. Regarding the background music, if you are like me and “suck at making music” then it’s time you confront your enemy and find your personal style. I found out that while I fail terribly at composing music, I can still place a few notes here and there to make a very minimalistic but acceptable soundtrack. Everything is better than pure silence in a game.

Similar applies to art, if you can’t draw then go abstract. If you have a weakness either find a way to improve it or avoid it.

Don’t give up. I remember that I indeed had fun playing games that were far from complete (i.e. no graphics and only colored squares instead) and I did give them a decent rating. On the other side, don’t beg for better ratings just because you couldn’t finish in time.

I often read that people drowned in bugs and problems because they tried to learn a new technology during LD. If you aim for a good game, then familiar tools are the safe way to go. However, if you really want to use the opportunity for learning, then just do it.

I think a lot of people ignore this one out of habit or lazyness: It is important that you get enough sleep and don’t eat too much chunk food. Believe it or not, this simple rule can gain you a few hours measured in overall effectiveness.

Last but not least, don’t worry too much if your game will be any good. Enjoy the weekend, that’s what Ludum Dare is for!

‘First’ post-mortem and timelapse

Posted by
Sunday, December 25th, 2011 8:43 am

Maybe a bit late but I don’t want to miss a post-mortem for my game.

You can try my game here. It’s recommended to try out the game first so this text makes a bit more sense 😉

This was the second time I participated in the Ludum Dare competition, and it was also the second time I actually finished a game in my life. At first I was very doubtful if I will even have the time and power to make a game since I had some busy days before and after the weekend – Starting tired and stressed into Ludum Dare is a bad idea. Some hours before the compo began I created an just-in-case ‘I am in’ post. Then I stayed up until 3 AM local time to wait for the theme being announced. Shortly after I went to bed. It was until 10 hours later that I finally started working on my entry.

What went right:

  • Idea and gameplay. While not very innovative (parts of my game are similar to Flow and the first phase of Spore) I like the final result. LD is flooded with 2D platformers and top-down shooters so I wanted to make something different. I spent 3-4 hours just to come up with an idea.
  • The graphics. This was very important for me since this was the main critique point of my previous game. I am not very talented regarding drawing stuff, so I had to find another way to compensate for this. I decided for a very minimalistic style which ended up great in my opinion.
  • The sound. This time I also used FL Studio which allowed me to make a decent background soundtrack. I am missing a lot of soundeffects for various gameplay events (e.g. collecting stuff) but it turned out that this adds a lot to the atmosphere.
  • Controls. Actually I was not sure if the controls are good or bad. But I decided to see things positive. When moving there is nearly no friction which makes it hard to chase parasites or hit collectibles. But on the other side it fits the style and again adds to the atmosphere.
  • Mood & Atmosphere. Probably my strongest point. This is the result of the right combination of elements mentioned above.

What went wrong:

  • Illogical or missing gameplay details. The game is finished, yes. But there are still some minor things where I didn’t find the time to complete them. For example, the player is immune to parasites while all of his clones are not. In the game this is not explained so the player has to find that out by himself.  It’s not very tragic but it makes the game a bit less intuitive.
  • The name. I hate the name of my game, no joke. I simply failed to come up with something better than ‘First’ in time. It is not a good idea to use a general English word as a name for something on the internet. You will find everything but my game if you search for ‘First’.
  • I missed the theme slightly. The game progresses too fast so the ‘alone’ feeling disappears quite fast. In my original idea it was planned that the player is alone for a much longer time.
  • I am very ashamed of this one.. but I failed to include a kitten in my game. :(

All in all it went a lot better than I expected and feedback for the game has been very positive so far. I learned that it is important to give it at least a try even if you think that you will miserably fail for whatever reason.

On a side note, I also uploaded a timelapse for anyone interested.

Progress & Try-yourself

Posted by
Sunday, December 18th, 2011 12:14 pm

Less than 7 hours left and I still don’t have any objective in the game. But there is at least some sort of gameplay now.

Most of the time I spent (or maybe wasted) with fine-tuning different effects in game – I am happy with the graphics now. I also created a small soundtrack. It’s good if you consider the fact that I suck at making music.
If you want to try it yourself, here is what I got so far: Download

After 8 hours of work…

Posted by
Saturday, December 17th, 2011 5:21 pm

Time to post some screenshots!

The first screenshot shows a part of the 30 seconds intro which took me about 3 hours. The second screenshot is part of the actual gameplay. You are a small worm-like something swimming around in an endless ocean of nothing. There is no objective right now, swimming around is all you can do. I am trying to stay away from ‘collect xxx to progress’ or ‘avoid yyy to not die’ but until now I was not able to come up with something different that is fun.

I’m in.. maybe.

Posted by
Friday, December 16th, 2011 4:50 pm

I had such a blast during LD #21 that I feel obligated to also participate in LD #22.
Sadly, I am not sure if I will have the time to finish a game this weekend as RL will keep me busy. Nevertheless it’s worth at least a try.

Tools that I will use:

Language: C
IDE: Visual Studio 2008
Lib/Engine: A custom library (uses OpenGL for graphics) You can download it here
Gfx: Paint.net
Audio: sfxr and FL Studio
Misc: Recording the whole process with Chronolapse.

Good luck everyone!

Progress and screens

Posted by
Sunday, August 21st, 2011 7:41 am

So far, I have got nearly everything working that I had planned for the game yesterday. Now I just have to mix it all together and turn it into something that feels like a game and design a few levels. And maybe also improve the art..

First screen is from yesterday before I went to bed. Second one is from just a few minutes ago after I found a better way to get the theme into the game.

I’m in!

Posted by
Thursday, August 18th, 2011 6:13 pm

This is my first Ludum Dare. I already considered participating LD 19 and 20 but I didn’t really have the time back then.

I will code the game in C, using a custom library you can get here. It’s rather big and messy but of course no game logic included.
For the graphics I will use Paint.net and for the sounds sfxr. I also will record the weekend with chronolapse.

Good luck everyone and I hope you are not as nervous as I am.

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