About Keith Evans (twitter: @akilladakeith)

Game Developer, Pixel art junkie, Dad

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Ludum Dare 28
 
Ludum Dare 27

Keith Evans's Trophies

Impacter!
Awarded by tigerj
on September 17, 2013

Keith Evans's Archive

Spectrum PostMortem

Posted by (twitter: @akilladakeith)
Friday, December 20th, 2013 5:03 pm

Game Overview

A colorful puzzle platformer.

You are a small white orb trapped inside a mysterious test chamber. A floating colored portal can be seen in the distance but when you touch it, nothing appears to happen. Your goal is to find a way out of 5 increasingly difficult test chambers.

  • Absorb the color of lights in the environment.
  • Mix colors together to match the color of portals, switches, and force fields.
  • You ONLY GET ONE COLOR at a time.

Team Makeup

Art, Code, and Design by Keith Evans and Matt Krystek
Music by Michael Krystek

We were lucky that either of us could tackle any of the design, code or art related tasks on the project.  After our initial brainstorm on Friday we split the game mechanics up into separate tasks and signed up for what we wanted to work on.  This allowed us to co-develop the game at the same time as neither of us were sitting around idle waiting for content from the other person.  When we started to build levels we both worked from a shared package of prefabs that contained all of the different level components.  Not only did this save time, it also helped us maintain a consistent visual style.  We also didn’t waste a lot of time when it came to cutting features, if one of us wanted to simplify a mechanic or cut something we made the decision immediately.

Working Remotely

Before the Jam we made an attempt to setup proper source control.  Attempt is the keyword here as we ended up failing good and hard.  We both thought that the lack of source control would be our achilles heel.  Luckily it turned out to just be a minor annoyance.  We were able to work entirely through dropbox, googledoc, and an open steam chat.

Let’s hear it for the cloud!!!

On Friday our goal was to meetup in person but it just didn’t pan out.  Instead of getting discouraged  we took our brainstorm session into a Google doc that we live edited together.  It functioned like a pseudo chat-room/evolving design document.  We would quickly drop in reference images, create bullet lists and cooperatively participated in creative exercises ( i.e word associations).  Looking back at it now it reads like scramblings of a mad man, but in the moment it worked incredibly well.

Mad Libs Brainstorming-A quickly assembled list of words/ideas that we assembled from the theme.

We had chewed through a ton of ideas and felt like we were back at square one.  At around the three hour mark of brainstorming this simple concept mockup locked our theme.

The color based puzzle platformer idea felt like the best choice for a number of reasons.  Chief among them, was we could instantly picture the gameplay and start thinking up a long list of puzzle possibilities.  This following puzzle was mocked up during the brainstorming session and ended up making it almost verbatim into the final build.

On Saturday and Sunday we would text back and forth (usually one of us was away with family obligations) informing each other of the latest changes and would upload incremental drops of the game.  We would then perform our merges at night when both of us were online and sort out any issues immediately, using Steam to instant message.

Not the most elegant solution, but it was working and that is all that really mattered.

At the 11th hour we were settling on having terrible music made by us or no music at all.  Miraculously we were able to add a last minute team member, Matt’s brother Michael was available to come on and whip us up a nice track that really fit with the look of our game.  It was a great addition and really helped bring the project together.

The One Phone Call

Everything was going smooth…until  Monday morning.  When we finally got to the point of building levels Keith had setup a template for both organizing the level and setting up the progression.  I was incredibly tired Monday and as I set out to spend the next several hours building content I wanted to be 100% certain that I was doing it correctly.  So Keith called me… and the first thing he said was “You broke the streak!”   I had him walk me through the setup process and then we ended the call.  For the rest of that we went back to IM and were able to merge all of our content together without any major issues.  I dont know if this process would work for every team, but it worked well for us.  Google docs ability to allow editing in real time was invaluable and allowed us to iterate incredibly fast.  Steam IM kept a history of our chat which allowed us to have conversations even when one of us wasn’t around.

Future

When we completed Spectrum on Monday both of us felt a huge sense of creative accomplishment.  To start this process on Friday without really knowing what we would be able to complete to being able to walk away will a solid polished prototype is amazing.  Unity worked really well for our development and I see us continuing to use the platform.  We are going to (and already have) made some small tweaks to the prototype based on feedback, but we both feel that the controls would need to be overhauled if we were to move forward with this.  The only thing for certain in the immediate future is that both us are probably going to be doing another Game Jam.

We would love to get as much feedback as possible before this process is over.  If your interested in checking out our game and leaving a rating you can check us out here.

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-28/?action=preview&uid=25189

Thanks, now back to playing and rating as many games as possible!

We’re In!

Posted by (twitter: @akilladakeith)
Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 12:03 pm

Hi All,

We’re a team of 2 from Southern California. We have some past experience in the compo but this is our first  team attempt.  We will hopefully be entering something not terrible in the jam, that is our goal.  Very excited to get going, good luck Everybody!

Editor:  Unity2D

Coding: Monodevelop C#

Art: HexelPro, InkScape

Sound: SFXR

Fight the Urge Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @akilladakeith)
Sunday, September 8th, 2013 9:31 pm

2013-08-28 21_49_25-TitleScreen

 

My Entry: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-27/?action=preview&uid=25189

What went Right:

Theme/Humor:  I felt pretty good about how I used the theme.  I was happy I was able to make a game that fit the theme without any violence at all.  Its the first game I had ever made that didn’t hinge on hurting other people and it was a personal goal to do just that for this compo.  Also so far I think the humor and tone have been connecting with people.  This is especially satisfying since there isn’t any audio of any kind and I was pretty sure the humor would fall really flat without that extra polish.

Practice: I completed a few practice games in the weeks leading up to LD.  All the games were fairly basic and throwaway quality but they were very effective at getting familiar with the basics of Impact.  The impact framework is pretty easy to use but if I had gone in blind I’m sure I would have ended with half my current game.

Brainstorming: I was driving home when the 10 second theme was announced.  I wasn’t going to be able to get to my computer for at least the next 3 hours.  At first this felt like valuable time wasted but in retrospect it allowed me the time to thoroughly brainstorm.  Instead of hoping on my first idea I was able to throw away a number of weaker designs before I ended up settling on the find the bathroom concept.

Abandoning Perfection:  Doing the 1 man compo I knew that I would have to work fast and sloppier than I am usually comfortable with.  That alone is part of what makes these events so great, being forced to push through all your inevitable problems.  I had done a few jams before but this was my first LD and my first solo competition.  I made a conscience effort to not get too hung up on making everything perfect.  There is a really obvious bug in the game where the waiters will get twitchy while pathing.  I could have fixed this by implementing A* pathfinding but it would have taken a good chunk of time since I hadn’t done any pathfinding logic from scratch in years.  I decided to live with the bug and focus on other parts of the game.  It kind of sucked to leave something broken but it was the right decision in the end.

GameOverScreen

 

What went Wrong:

Time Management: Usually I jam when my family goes out of town.  My wife will take my son to visit his grandparents and I’ll take advantage of 48 hours of single living to learn a new programming language and bust something out.  This was the first time I had tried to Jam while maintaining a semblance of normal family life.  What this meant is that I tried to do all my normal daytime family activities and jam late into the night.  Overall it worked but on Sunday I had to escape to the bedroom and work for a solid 6 hours while my son was awake.  Not a huge problem and it was very understood but it is something I’ll remember next time when scheduling my time.

Asset Creation:  I am not an artist…but I tried to do a bunch of art.  I spent many hours one night pixeling out the restaurant and all the different characters.  Overall I’m pretty happy with how it looks but I know that a more experienced artist could have done something far better with a fraction of the time.  One of my main goals before the December LD is to re-pixel this game and try to take my art skills to the next level.

I also had a plan to make my own music and sfx.  I even recorded a bunch of ambient conversation that I had begun splicing together for background noise.  Unfortunately none of that was able to make it into the final game.

Only 2 levels:  The initial plan was for 20 levels that would randomly be presented to the player.  Since all of these levels were to use the same art assets that seemed totally doable.  It turns out just building a level in Weltmeister (impacts level editor) and adding all the necessary level markup took about 30 minutes per level.  I added the second level about an hour before the submission deadline.

What I Learned

Oh man, so much.  It was a really great experience.  I have made a lot of games but I’ve never made a game entirely on my own in such a short amount of time.  I found the dev process incredibly freeing since the idea of creating something perfect was impossible.  I was able to just try out ideas and not worry too much about the consequences.

So far the feedback on the game has been positive, with people pointing out a lot of the faults I see in the game.  That has been very reassuring and gives me the encouragement to take this game a little further and polish it up for a more full featured free release

Dev Blog

Posted by (twitter: @akilladakeith)
Saturday, August 24th, 2013 4:20 pm

Hi Everybody,

I’m keeping a dev blog going on my tumblr.  Feel free to check it out.  Should hopefully have a playable prototype posted later tonight for feedback.  Hope everyone is having a great Ludum Dare.

-Keith

http://akilladakeith.tumblr.com/

I’m In!

Posted by (twitter: @akilladakeith)
Monday, August 12th, 2013 1:06 am

I’ve been watching from the sidelines for too long. It’s time to jump in and try not to drown.

Primary Goal:
Finish Anything, its my first go and I just want to have something to show at the end of 48 hours.

Secondary Goal:
Finish something that is actually good…

Tools:
ImpactJS HTML5 Game Engine: I’ve made a few small practice games and am really loving it.
Sublime Text Editor
Paint.Net
XMind: Organization
SFXR: Sound FX
PulseBoy: Music if I end up making any…

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