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Ludum Dare 31 — Coming December 5th-8th 2014!

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    About KilledByAPixel


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    Do it live!

    Posted by
    Friday, April 25th, 2014 11:21 am

    Hey, I’m back for my 6th Ludum Dare. My primary goal this time is to keep things as simple as possible and focus on polish. Good luck to all who compete!

    Previous Entries

    • (R, G, B) (LD26) – A minimalist adventure game with cool lighting effects.
    • Dark World (LD25) – A platforming game from the enemy’s point of view.
    • Spacescape (LD21) – Escape the space station before it destructs, with hand drawn art and vocal sounds.
    • Light The Way (LD20) – Guide the creatures to safety with your light, featuring a cool lighting effect and simple art.
    • Protractor (LD18) – A katamari shoot-em-up, featuring a dynamic ship construction system and abstract visuals.

    My Tools

    And here’s a little video of the current project I’ve been working on…

    I’m in!

    Posted by
    Sunday, August 11th, 2013 12:24 pm

    I’m back for my 6th Ludum Dare. My open source game engine has recently been beefed up with some nice new features like copy/paste, undo/redo, and group selection in the editor. I also implemented a nice text decal system which is featured in the GIF below. These new features should make level design much easier so I’m excited to give them a test run. Good luck everyone!

    Previous Entries

    • (R,G,B) (LD26) – Minimalist platforming adventure with physics based controls. Featuring a cool post processing lighting effect.
    • Dark World (LD25) – A platforming game from the enemy’s point of view. Features dynamic lighting.
    • Spacescape (LD21) – Escape the space station before it destructs, featuring hand drawn art and vocal sounds.
    • Light The Way (LD20) – Guide the creatures to safety with your light, featuring a cool lighting effect and simple art.
    • Protractor (LD18) – A katamari shoot-em-up, featuring a dynamic ship construction system and abstract visuals.

    My Tools

    Ludum Dare on Reddit

    Posted by
    Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 7:42 am

    Ludum Dare results should be front page on reddit, let’s make it happen!


    My top 5 games out of 100 I judged

    Posted by
    Thursday, May 16th, 2013 2:52 pm

    I finished playing through through 100 games, some were pretty good. I think this theme sparked a lot of creativity because I saw so many interesting ideas it would be hard to go over them all. Here are my top 5 in no particular order..

    Reach the Moon – Nanolotl


    XYZ – ataxkt


    Minimalismism – tayl1r


    Dehumanizer – UltimateWalrus


    (Follow the) Line – Chman


    (R,G,B) – Postmortem

    Posted by
    Thursday, May 2nd, 2013 2:16 pm

    This was my 5th Ludum Dare, I was well prepared with a beefed up Frank Engine, my open sourced game engine that I’ve used for previous Dares. During the warm-up weekend I added some nice tile sheet support so I was planning to make a pixel art game to test out that tech. I ended up throwing that idea out the window to go with a cleaner un-textured look. I was able to use a debug display for the lighting system to create the unique visual aesthetic. Looking back I would have done a few things differently but overall I’m satisfied with the final result. Here’s a link to my entry for anyone interested in checking it out.


    Friday – Core game concept and visuals

    After hearing the theme was “Minimalism” I sat down and brainstormed for about an hour, making a list of as many game ideas as possible. I decided that simplifying the controls was of key importance to capture the theme. I settled on a platforming game with a twist of physics. The complexity comes in with the spin and bounce mechanics which are more physical then normal platforming gameplay. A few years ago I made a rough prototype called Pill Bug and I thought this was a good chance to start fresh and revisit that concept in a new way.

    I searched online for visual inspiration from minimalist artists and I saw that use of pure color values and geometric shapes were a common theme and I wanted to explore that style. I’ve always been a fan of Mondrian in particular. I got to thinking about his use of primary colors and how in computers the color space works a bit different from what painters work with in the way colors combine. For example in computer images red and green mixed together make yellow! Cyan and magenta are secondary colors instead of orange and purple. With a game concept and an idea for the graphics I scribbled this rough sketch down on paper before I set to work…


    Typically I don’t do any programming on Friday night but this time I actually made a good portion of my game. I focused on the getting core gameplay controls and visual look right. By late Friday night I had a game that looked and felt kind of similar to the final version just with much less stuff, no level design, and rougher controls. Here’s a screenshot I took very late Friday night…


    Saturday – Game objects and effects

    On Saturday morning I came up with the idea to start the game by zooming out from a lcd display of RGB pixels. I have used zoom sequences before with my game engine and had an idea about how to quickly program the lcd effect. Basically I’m just rendering a quad in front of the camera with a lcd texture wrapped many times while zooming out from close up, then fading off that texture at a certain point.

    During Saturday I focused on building up a pallet of objects and effects while continuing to polish the gameplay. I’ve always loved the magnetic tracks in Metroid games that you stick to as a ball but I’ve never implemented anything like that before so I thought that would be a fun gameplay element to play with. I wasted some time adding stuff that ended up being cut, like water that you could float in for example.

    Midway through the day I began working on the level design and made about 25 percent of the level. By the evening I was confident enough on my progress to invest some time adding visual touches to really show off the lighting system. The way light passes through the semi-transparent doors was a cool effect that I tried to accentuate by making them physically open up rather then just fading off so you can see the shadow move. It was raining really hard here that evening which inspired me to code up a rain system. It simulates each rain particle by piggybacking on my weapons system, each rain droplet is a bullet fired from above the player. This is probably way overkill but it looks awesome and it was easy to do.


    Sunday – Level design, sound and music

    For the first time in a Dare I decided to music more of a priority. I have been playing around with some iPad apps recording into Audacity to make simple songs quickly. I ended up using Figure by Propellerhead which is kind of like a stripped down version of Reason. I set it to the longest possible loop and played around for half an hour until I had decent drums, bass and lead tracks going with a few different variations. After I was satisfied that I had the proper elements I recorded the song live by play around with levels and effects and changing up the beat. This seemed to work much faster for me then actually composing the whole song with an editor. I wish that I had better control afterwards for editing the song, I made a few cuts but there’s not much you can do to a live recording. In a way though it was good because it forced me to move on to other stuff rather then continue tweaking the music.

    I used BXFR for sound effects. My strategy is to use the random sound for pretty much everything to get more unique effects. I just hit random about 100 times, pick out anything I can use and play around with the settings a bit. I already had the gameplay implemented so I knew what sounds were needed. For the rolling loop I generated a sine wave in Audacity and added vibrato at a resonant frequency. I tied the volume and frequency of the roll sound to the player’s angular speed. Some players complained that the sound was annoying so I have since re-tweaked the levels but it’s easy to miss that when rapid prototyping.

    Most of Sunday was spent building a level using all the stuff I had made on Saturday. I found that I had a bit too much stuff and ended up not using or only barely using some of the features I implemented. The level design also went slower then I had expected and took most of the day even though I already had nearly all the design elements. Also I realized that for future projects I must add something to my engine that makes it easier to copy and paste large areas of the map. Without being able to move stuff around easily I get locked into my choices about how the level is laid out. My brother helped by play testing an early version of my game and I made a lot of changes based on his feedback.

    I noticed that the rain felt somewhat fake without sound effects or clouds and lighting so I took about an hour to hook that up. There wasn’t time to add new sounds so I re-used explosion sound effects played at higher pitches for rain drops and lower pitches for thunder. Towards the end I ran into some repository issues that cost me some time, and I also got pulled into fixing some really annoying bugs that I couldn’t afford to ignore. Minutes before the deadline I throw in a really quick ending to give the player some sense of accomplishment.


    What I learned

    I think this was my most successful Ludum Dare and my process worked well. Based on the feedback I’m getting players seem to enjoy it. Here are some of the key things I took away from the experience.

    • Don’t hold on to tightly to any ideas you had going in
    • Keep it simple, you only need a few elements to make a game
    • Get at least one other person to play test your game before you submit
    • Core gameplay and controls are the most important thing
    • Good level design always takes longer then you would expect
    • Put save points before anywhere the player can die
    • Recording a live set is a good way to make music quickly without it sounding repetitive, I recommend Figure for iPad
    • It’s easy to miss annoying sounds in your game when you’ve used to hearing them
    • It’s ok to put in hacks to fix engine bugs but keep notes so you remember to properly fix them later


    Building a Better GIF

    Posted by
    Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 2:51 pm

    I’ve recently become interested in creating animated GIF screenshots of my games. I was having a few issues with both file size and image artifacts. Here’s what I learned about how to make better animated gifs for when you want to put in a little more effort to make it look as good as possible.

    • Even if the camera normally moves it should be locked in a stationary position for the GIF, this will greatly reduce file size.
    • Record the video using FRAPS with frame rate set to 60 or 30 and set to Lock framerate while recording.
    • Open the video in VirtualDub.
    • Select Video / Frame Rate  and in the box for Convert to fps enter “30” if you had recorded it at 60.
    • Instead of exporting it for Virtual Dub as a GIF, export as an image sequence.
    • In Gimp use File / Open as Layers then select all the images.
    • Scale the image to the desired size.
    • Select Filters / Animation / Optimize (for GIF)
    • Export as a GIF and set the delay between frames to 33.

    Here is the same video exported from virtual dub as an animated gif versus the more complicated method. As you can see there is much less flickering and banding issues in the second image for about an extra 50% increase in file size.

    Exported as a GIF

    Using the improved method


    Posted by
    Monday, April 29th, 2013 11:16 am

    I made an animated gif of my entry…

    (R,G,B) gameplay video

    Posted by
    Sunday, April 28th, 2013 9:23 pm

    I just posted a video of my game on YouTube, this is a full walk through so please play before watching if you are a judge!

    Here’s a link to my entry.

    Also here are some beauty shots…





    R,G,B – Beta

    Posted by
    Sunday, April 28th, 2013 12:11 am

    I’m pretty far along making my game. The game mechanics and visuals are basically done, tomorrow is all about adding more level design. I spent way too much time adding all sorts of unnecessary features to make things more minimal. Also wasted time fixing engine bugs that I ran into. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.

    I put up a beta version showing my current progress here, any feedback is welcome!

    snapshot_0025 snapshot_0081


    Speed Cooking

    Posted by
    Saturday, April 27th, 2013 10:07 am

    I just made this breakfast in 18 minutes flat, I think it was worth the time investment. Now, back to work!

    photo (2)

    Open face egg sandwiches over easy with pico, bacon, avocado, and a side of black soy beans with cheese.


    Posted by
    Saturday, April 27th, 2013 1:39 am

    I have a rough prototype of my game, for now called RGB. In the game you are a ball that can roll around and jump. The idea is to make a very simple Metroidvania game, very linear, very simple clean graphics, focusing on the rolling ball mechanics and exploring the visual style. I decided to explore a visual technique where I’m only showing the final light texture. Here’s my screenshot showing my first night’s progress.



    I just cleaned my desk

    Posted by
    Friday, April 26th, 2013 3:25 pm

    I’ve been having some problems with my mouse, hopefully it will work ok for the comp!



    Posted by
    Tuesday, April 9th, 2013 11:24 am

    Hey, I’m back for my 5th Ludum Dare. The plan is to keep it simple and experimental. Also, this time around I’m going to make music more of a priority. Good luck all!

    Previous Entries

    • Dark World (LD25) – A platforming game from the enemy’s point of view. Features dynamic lighting.
    • Spacescape (LD21) – Escape the spacestation before it destructs, featuring hand drawn art and vocal sounds.
    • Light The Way (LD20) – Guide the creatures to safety with your light, featuring a cool lighting effect and simple art.
    • Protractor (LD18) – A katamari shoot-em-up, featuring a dynamic ship construction system and abstract visuals.

    My Tools

    I'm in!

    Dark World Postmortem

    Posted by
    Saturday, December 22nd, 2012 3:02 pm

    This was my 4th Ludum Dare, I planned to use my own open source game engine and was eager to experiment with the new dynamic lighting system I added. When the theme was announced on Friday night I was at a Louis CK show and went out to dinner after so I thought about the theme a bit but didn’t really get started until Saturday.

    At first I felt the theme was almost too generic because the concept of an anti-hero is already ubiquitous in contemporary pop culture. It seems like in the majority of modern video-games the player engages in at least some villainous activities. With my entry I tried to go as far past anti-hero as possible by both removing all virtuous attributes from the player and applying more humanistic and heroic traits to the enemies. The core idea I kept going back to is what if Mario was Hitler?


    I wasn’t sure of my idea at first so I did most of the art early on Saturday, hoping that my idea would solidify.  To give myself some immediate art direction I decided to make it more of a direct parody of Mario Bros. I loaded up an emulator and played the first few levels of Super Mario Bros to get a feel for the gameplay and aesthetic. I started by making a prioritized list of textures and objects I would need. For the main character I started with a reference layer of Mario from a sprite sheet and painted a layer on top of that to be my character. Every enemy in the game uses the same sprite which is desaturated so I could have several different colors of enemy for variety. I noticed a trick in Super Mario Bros where the goomba’s feet are animated to walk by flipping the sprite horizontally, so I borrowed that same idea.  Instead of a constant animation I use the speed of the enemy to control the animation speed.


    The second half of Saturday I focused on enemy behavior.  They needed to be as lifelike as possible to help inspire emotion.  The real difference between anti-hero and villain comes down to whose perspective you view it from.  Enemy dialogue is crucial to the concept so I wrote a simple method for playing dialogue lines to easily add or change them while working.  By the end of the day I had very basic prototype and posted the following screenshot, which looks almost identical to the final game, except there was just less stuff and virtually no level to explore.

    Going into Sunday I had a good start but still the bulk of work was yet to come.  I wanted to get the sound effects out of the way, so I made a list of 9 sound effects and made them all at once in SFXR.  I played with wolfram a bit to get some music, and was able to get a song that is sad and dissonant but it doesn’t have a proper ending.  Most of Sunday was devoted to creating the level, bug fixing, and polishing the gameplay.  Mario style block breaking was added to make the platforming more interesting and help portray the player as a destroyer.  In the final minutes I whipped up an icon because it helps make the game feel complete. Just before the end I played all the way through my entry exactly as a judge would and found a major bug where the king wasn’t appearing in some situations.  Lucky I was able to putty up a fix just in time.

    What went right

    • It conveys the theme well and works as a parody.
    • Mixing normal mapping with pixel art looks pretty cool.
    • Adding a bunch of sound effects all at once saved time.
    • Save point system helped players avoid frustration I think.

    What went wrong

    • Needed more polish on the player movement and core mechanics.  I got some complaints and was able to make it much better post-comp with some minor tweaks.
    • The music could be much better.  I need to practice making songs in about an hour so I am confident enough to do it.
    • I played through the full game too late, ended up catching a major bug and scrambled to fix it at the very last minute.
    • I slacked off too much and should have stayed focused and trusted myself.

    More Info


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