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In for my 3rd LD!

Posted by
Friday, December 11th, 2015 10:01 am

I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make this, but I’m finding the time! This will be my third Ludum Dare and I’m sure it’s going to be a blast! I haven’t had much of a chance to do any game dev since the last LD, so I’m itching to get back into it. Let’s do this!

Post Mortem

Posted by
Tuesday, August 25th, 2015 1:00 pm

Now that I’ve had a bit of time to recover, I thought it was best to write this post mortem while things are still relatively fresh in my head.

Play and rate my Ludum Dare compo entry (Climb Monster Climb!) here.

This was my second Ludum Dare compo. The first time around I jumped in head first and dedicated every waking minute to the game I was making. In fact, I ended up only getting 6 hours of sleep the whole weekend. That was rough. I was determined to not let that happen again, so I needed an idea with much less scale. I also wanted an idea that was a little off beat and wasn’t going to be the same as everyone else. I didn’t want to go in the direction of the monster causing chaos and destruction, so I thought, what if the monster wasn’t a bad guy? Let’s make the monster a friendly guy and make the villagers the villains. Thus was born the idea for my game. A game where the monster has to run away from the angry mob of villagers by jumping up through a tower, with things getting more difficult the higher you get.

One thing I’ve noticed about a lot of LD platformers is that the controls are usually pretty bad. So I spent a good amount of time tuning and adjusting the controls. I first started out trying to use Unity’s 2D physics engine, but that was turning out very poorly. I then decided to scrap that and do my own basic physics, just using Unity’s collision detection. That worked much better.

Once I had the controls working pretty well, I started working on randomly generating levels for him to jump on, but realized pretty quickly it was going to take a lot of work to write something that would scale the difficulty with the current height as well as never producing levels that are impossible to traverse. Instead, I decided to make templates of 4 levels each, assign them a difficulty and have the world generator choose one at random from the pool of choices for the current difficulty. That worked really well. Once I had levels he could jump through, I needed to add bonuses for him to collect and hazards for him to avoid. I wanted to give the game a humorous aspect, so I made the bonuses flowers, bunnies and teddy bears, all things that a typical monster would want nothing to do with. It gives him a child-like innocence. I also made him say silly things when he collected them. The hazards are typical spikes and fire. Nothing very original there.

By Saturday evening, I had a complete working game. Sunday was spent on polish. I decided I didn’t like the pixel art so I grabbed the Wacom pen and started drawing. The results aren’t perfect, but are better than they were and then I moved onto sound and music. One of the major criticisms I had on my last game was that the music didn’t match the mood of the game, which I completely agreed with. This time I decided to learn a bit more about music creation and dedicated a couple hours to it. The music in this game is much better, but not as good as I would like.

With a few hours left before deadline, I wanted to give the angry mob more character. Up until this point they were pretty much non-existent. The monster died if he hit the bottom of the screen, but that’s it. In my head, I felt the angry mob would work better if they were always off screen, but I thought it would be funny if they had speech bubbles that appeared periodically as you play, shouting absurdities as they pursued the monster. I think it turned out to be a nice touch. If you play, be sure to read what they have to say after they catch the monster.

Another last minute decision that I feel was a good one was assigning colors to the various difficulties. It was hard to tell what difficulty you were at, but by changing the colors of the platforms, it became easily possible to know where you were, but also to measure you progress visually compared to previous runs.

This post mortem has gone on way longer than I anticipated, so I’ll cut it off here. Overall, I’m very pleased with my game. It’s fun and challenging and relatively well polished. If you try it, please let me know what you think. I’m also pleased that I was able to get full nights sleep both Friday and Saturday night, which made the weekend much more pleasant. I had a blast in my second Ludum Dare and I can’t wait until the next one!

2nd Ludum Dare in the bag!

Posted by
Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 8:49 pm

Here’s my entry:

Climb Monster Climb!

Well, my second ludum dare is complete! I started Friday at 9 and wrapped things up with about 4 minutes to spare. I had far less time this go around than the last time (only slept 6 hours last time, total!), but I think the game I made is fun, and challenging!

The name of my game is Climb Monster Climb. You are a monster that is being chased up your tower by the angry mob. How high can you get before you succumb to the angry mob? If you play, please comment and tell me what your high score is! Mine is posted in the description of my entry. I will update it if necessary.

Here’s a screenshot:

Climb Monster Climb!

Thanks for playing, and all constructive criticism is welcome.

I’m in!

Posted by
Friday, August 21st, 2015 5:05 pm

I haven’t been able to participate since last August’s Ludum Dare, but I’m in for this one. I’m hoping there will be more sleep involved this time around.

Tools:

Unity 5
Photoshop
FL Studio / Bfxr

Good luck to all who are participating, and have fun!

IRMCO Space Miners Android Version

Posted by
Thursday, August 28th, 2014 12:01 pm
IRMCO Space Miners

IRMCO Space Miners

 

Play and rate IRMCO Space Miners here!

 

I’ve had a few people mention that this would be a good game to port to Android, so I spent some time today porting it over. Please keep in mind this was a quick hack job of a port. The touch interface for zooming in and out of the solar system works, but it’s not as smooth as I’d like. The game also needs optimized. I managed to play a full game on my Galaxy Note 3, but it started getting laggy and choppy near the end of the game. If you have an older android device, it probably won’t work well. I would also suggest sticking to tablets. It was hard to push some of the buttons on my Note 3. Any smaller than that and I don’t think the game would be very playable. If you try the android version, please let me know how it works for you.

I really enjoy this game and want to develop it into a full game, so I’ve been working on that. The new version should be mobile friendly and I’ll be sure to post here when it’s finished. Thanks to everyone who has played my game and gave me your feedback!

IRMCO Space Miners Post Mortem

Posted by
Monday, August 25th, 2014 1:05 pm

Play IRMCO Space Miners

This was my first Ludum Dare and the first game I’ve completed since 1997. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was excited to give it a try. After a nice birthday dinner with my wife and kids (my birthday was Friday), I settled into my office to get started. I’ve been playing around in Unity lately, so I upgraded to the beta 4.6, opened it up and waited for the theme to be announced.

I’ve been out of the game development loop for quite some time, so I wasn’t familiar with Ludum Dare until earlier this year. I didn’t participate in April’s event, but I watched some live streams and found a fun simulation game written by Quill18 called, suitably enough, Drill18: The Mars Project. I love games like this and thought it was a lot of fun. As I was playing it back in April, I though, “How cool would it be to have a game where you could travel to different planets to mine for various resources?” I thought about it for a short time and mentally filed it as an idea to flesh out later.

When the theme “Connected Worlds” was announced, this idea came right back to mind, and I felt it was perfectly suited for this competition. I thought of a couple other ideas, but I almost immediately made up my mind to go with the space mining idea. It was the game I wanted to make and this was the time to build a prototype to see if it will work as a game.

 
Interacting with a Planet

 
My goal for Friday night was to get a solar system in place. I started by getting the planets to orbit around the sun and the planets spinning on their own axis. Then I worked on interacting with the solar system, getting the camera moving via the mouse with zooming and panning. Once I had a system in place where I could randomly generate planets of various sizes and orbits and I could move it around and interact with it, I called it a night around 2 am. Unfortunately, 2 hours later I was still wide awake, so I decided to stop wasting time and got back to work.

The rest of the weekend was a blur. I worked until around noon Saturday before I was finally able to get some sleep. I woke up around 6:30 pm and worked all the way up until submission time. My idea was probably pretty ambitious for a 48 hour competition, but I managed to get it complete and add some polish. Overall, I’m extremely pleased with how it turned out. While I was developing it, I kept thinking “I wonder if this is going to be any fun?” When I was finally at the point where all the pieces were together and got a chance to actually play a game, I was impressed. It was actually a lot of fun. I didn’t have quite enough time to balance everything (I still haven’t tried playing through at “Brutal” difficulty yet), but a normal game plays through pretty well and a normal game with 9 planets should be beatable in under 10 minutes.

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So What Went Right?

Upgrading to Unity 4.6 was a great idea. The upgraded UI controls are amazing. They are so simple to use compared to the old system. It made putting together the interface a breeze, and considering how many different windows IRMCO has, this was key. Although when I did the first web build and saw the text “This was built by a beta version, it will only work on your computer.” I about had a heart attack. Fortunately though, it turned out not to be an issue.

Having an idea of the completed game before starting. Since I had already been sorta designing this game in my head for the past few months, I knew pretty much how I wanted it to work. I had a pretty good idea how the game would play, from beginning to end. It kept me motivated and I knew exactly what needed done every step of the way.

Iterations. I had a playable game Saturday night. By then, I had spent maybe 15 minutes on graphics and no time on sound. I think getting a playable version of the game as soon as possible is key. Once I had a working game, I began to polish it. I made nicer graphics. I added sounds. I added features that made the game more enjoyable. Every time I’d play through the game, I’d think of something else that would improve gameplay and I added it. The end result feels like a finished game.

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So What Went Wrong?

Sleep. I think if I participate again, I will definitely not work right up until the moment I want to go to sleep. I simply cannot work that way. My brain needs some unwinding time and not getting that kept me awake. While only sleeping 6 of the 48 hours gave me the time necessary to polish the game, it’s been hard on my body. I will do whatever it takes to make sure I get good nights sleep next time.

Not fully testing my tools before starting. I didn’t even try the new UI tools in Unity 4.6 until it was time to add the interface to the game. Fortunately, they turned out to be extremely simple for the most part, but it could have been a disaster. The issue with the web build warning message made my heart sink. My first thought was that I’d have to revert to an older version and port all the interface to the old method, but that wouldn’t have been practical. I’m fortunate that it turned out to not be a problem, but it could have been a big one.

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If you haven’t already, please check out my game: IRMCO Space Miners. Feel free to rate the game and leave me some constructive criticism.

In conclusion, I’m glad that I participated and I’m proud of the game I created. I commend everyone who participated, as this is certainly not an easy thing to do. For those of you who completed games, no matter how polished they are, congratulations. Get some rest. You deserve it.

First Ludum Dare in the Bag!

Posted by
Sunday, August 24th, 2014 6:24 pm

Whew!  What a weekend.  I started at 9 pm EST Friday evening and didn’t sleep until around 12:30 PM Saturday afternoon.  I tried to sleep Friday night, but my brain was in work mode, so I gave in and worked through the night.  So after 6 hours of sleep Saturday afternoon, I worked pretty much non stop until now, just before 9 pm Sunday evening.  Yeah, I just made a game in 48 hours, only sleeping 6 of those 48 hours.  I’m going to sleep like a rock tonight!

This was my first Ludum Dare comp, so I wasn’t sure what to expect or how it would go.  Besides being extremely tired, I had a great weekend.  It might be my lack of sleep delirium, but I feel my game is pretty fun.  I’d post a screenshot, but unfortunately it looks like I’m not able to (maybe because this is my first post).  I’m too tired to worry about it now.

Anyway, the inspiration of this game was Quill18’s entry from the last LD, Drill18.  I enjoyed his entry and thought “how cool would it be to be able to mine all kinds of different planets?”  It just so happens that the theme “Connected Worlds” fit that perfectly.  I took the idea and ran with it and the result is, to me at least, a ton of fun!  I hope you will try it out and please let me know what you think.  I’m open to constructive criticism!  I don’t do much game development, so I’ve still got a lot to learn.

Thanks for reading and thanks for playing my game!

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