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Recognition of Melty Awesomeness
Awarded by ExciteMike
on September 2, 2009

Problem Machine's Archive

Run out of caring

Sunday, December 15th, 2013 6:12 pm

This entire competition, I’ve been fighting against my own exhaustion and apathy, and I think I just lost.

I guess It’s not so bad. I got a ton done, and I proved to myself that I can get a ton done even when I don’t feel motivated at all, but still. I really wanted to finish something I could be proud of.

It turns out it’s really hard to finish something you can be proud of within 48 hours. Particularly if you’re of a perfectionist attitude and seldom feel proud of anything you do. Particularly particularly if you’re also struggling with depression and anxiety due to holiday stresses and seasonal shit.

Well, whatever. I don’t intend to make excuses, but I also don’t intend to beat myself up over it. So many events in our lives end up not providing quite what we wanted from them, and if you focus too hard on that you end up not appreciating all the good things those events DO bring you. So it’s not so bad.

Maybe I’ll finish the game over the next week, if I decide it’s something worth doing. Probably not. I’ll write up everything I did on it tomorrow, where I was intending on taking it, why I thought it was good, etcetera. That will probably go up sometime in the afternoon.

Next Ludum Dare, I’ll try something as tiny and unambitious as possible. I’m tired of aiming for stars. I do that enough in my personal life.

The First Hours

Friday, December 13th, 2013 10:14 pm

To be quite honest, not really a fan of this theme. I tend to dislike the ones that imply a really strong gameplay focus since that feels restrictive. I suppose restrictive is exactly how the themes are supposed to feel, but certain kinds of restriction seem more beneficial than others. I don’t know, I’m not feeling awake enough to express the difference cogently at the moment.

Anyway, moving along, despite not loving the theme I have figured out an approach to it that I think speaks to me. As I’m envisioning it now, it should be an EXTREMELY simple project from a programming standpoint, which is good. It will take a fair amount of custom writing, and also a fair amount of custom drawing, which are what I’m going to be doing for most of tomorrow.

This is going to be one of those “not a real game” games.

Anyway, I’ll get into more detail later. I’m really tired right now for now good reason, and am strongly tempted to go to bed nowish and get an early start tomorrow rather than try to force my way through this. I’ll have a bite to eat and then decide on that one.

Oh right, since I haven’t mentioned this before, I’m developing in Haxe/OpenFL

LD24: Aaaaand… finished.

Sunday, August 26th, 2012 6:24 pm

Oh wow I can’t believe it’s over.

I’m pretty hyper despite being exhausted. I actually got in a lot of what I wanted to get here: the animals breed with each other, successive generations mutate slightly, and successful creatures survive and breed while the less efficient ones die out. Now, they’re all stupid and vegetarian, but I’d say that’s pretty good for a weekend’s work.

I don’t know if I’m ever going to work on this project again, but it was a hell of a learning experience and it should make for a truly excellent portfolio piece. I hope following my progress on this has been interesting for you guys. I’ve kind of lost all perspective and utterly destroyed my brain with caffeine and adrenaline at this point.

LD24: Critters

Sunday, August 26th, 2012 7:59 am

7:30am. About 10 hours left.

I am incredibly tired.

The absurd scope of this project becomes more apparent with each step I make. This is a concept better suited to a thesis assignment than to a 48 hour competition. It’s absolutely apparent at this point that it’s super unlikely I will manage to meet even my more modest goals.

And yet, I am proud of what I have achieved here.

The creatures wander around. They perceive each other, follow their allies, avoid their enemies, They eat, they breed, they die. The terrain is procedurally generated using layered perlin noise, and though it’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination it is nevertheless pretty good for thirty or forty minutes work. Water and grass are added based on the heightmap thus created. Creatures consume the grass, and without it they will eventually die. They drink the water as well, but not enough to lower the level or anything. If they go into the water too deep for too long they will drown. They move more slowly uphill, which is lucky for them because before that a lot of them were starving in the mountains.

If I had the time, I could turn this into something really special.

That may or may not happen (right now I’d just as soon never look at it again). However, I’m proud of what I achieved here on a technical basis alone. Lots of people like to play up Flash’s slowness and clumsiness, but on my system I have 800 creatures with basic AI wandering around and perceiving each other and it runs fairly consistently at 30 frames per second. Many of the techniques I’ve developed here I will, I’m certain, be using in future projects. Altogether, even if I dropped the whole thing right now and gave up on developing this any further, I still think this would have been time incredibly well spent.

You can check out a working version of this thingy here. Give it a little while at the start to generate the terrain, since that’s a slow process, and try looking at the full screen version for a better idea of what’s going on. The animals are in 8 species with 100 animals per species to start with: note how they will quickly begin to gravitate towards others of the same species and away from potential enemies. Food is stripped away slowly but where they travel will become browner. These critters are too dumb to swim to shore, so you can watch entire populations die out by swimming into lakes.

There’s no mutation yet unfortunately, which undermines the entire concept of natural selection. This is the main concept I’d really like to get into the simulation that isn’t in there now, but I’m just now starting to realize what a truly tremendous amount of work it would be to realize it the way I want to. So, that very likely won’t happen. So it goes.

LD24: Evolution: Arrrrrrrrgh: ME BRAINS

Saturday, August 25th, 2012 9:14 pm

My brain feels kind of mushy. I’ve been slowly improving on what I had last night, trying to fix the multitude of little problems that came up. Well, it’s better anyway.

After much tweaking and noodling around, the damn dots finally recognize each other and group up. I could probably spend the entire remaining 20 hours or so polishing up and improving this behavior, but I think it’s better to turn my attention elsewhere and try to see if I can get any gameplay up in this.

So yes, it’s that time again: Time for the traditional Ludum Dare lowering of the expectations! Current plan is to get it set up with some terrain, food, water, etcetera. Animals will eat, shit, die, all that good stuff. The role of the player will be to strike down select animals to help maintain the health of the overall ecology. Much as with the original hunter concept, but easier to program in 20 hours.

So yeah. Wish me luck.

LD24: Evolution: The Evolutionating

Saturday, August 25th, 2012 6:30 am

Okay wow. It’s about 6am. I’ve basically been programming for 10 hours straight and I have… well, not a lot to show for it. Yet.

First off: Man I didn’t make this easy on myself. In order to model things the way I imagined them, I needed to make a huge architecture of stats for each creature. Actionscript 3 doesn’t support enum for some dumb reason, so I needed to name indices for each of these stats manually. Then, I made vectors of multipliers to determine how each stat will affect each other stat- NONE of which is actually being used yet.

So what do I have to show for it so far? DOTS! BEHOLD!!!

They actually do chase each other around a bit now, which meets my minimum requirements for the day of having some creatures which interact with each other. Not exactly what I’d hoped for, but I spent a lot of time laying additional groundwork.

What sort of groundwork you may ask?

So far I have:

1) A Creature class with 34 unique statistics, most of which I have a pretty good idea of how to implement. The mechanisms for these statistics interacting with each other is IN PLACE, but uninitialized.

2) The creatures can perceive each other and react accordingly, running towards creatures they believe to be their own species (based on color) and running away from others. The fear and skittishness levels of each species will determine the severity of their reaction, but right now all of these dots are statistically identical

3) An efficient method for breaking the play area into grids so that the creatures don’t need to iterate through the entire entity list to perceive each other. I haven’t done this method before, since it was easy enough to just brute force it in the past, but since this game will have thousands of entities (ideally) it seemed vital. It was surprisingly easy! I will be reusing this technique in the future, I’m certain.

Tomorrow’s tasks: Implement terrain, food. Make creature behaviors more robust. Create player interactions with world (probably will be going with hunter model). Possible additions: scrollable map, basic graphics, sound effects, menus.

It has begun!

105 minutes ago the theme was announced: Evolution.

Fuckin’. Lame. Or so I thought. There’s already tons of games based on evolution, I thought. One could argue that basically every RPG is themed around evolution to some degree, and obviously the Pokemon games and their many imitators and proteges are inspired by that idea. This was what went through my mind in the first minute or two.

But. Is that really the case?

There’s a few ways the word evolution has been used and misused. I’m not going to get too deep into that right now because it would take a lot of energy and anger to do the topic justice and I need to save some of that energy for, you know, actually making my game project. The upshot is this, though: How many games are about the actual process of evolution, of natural selection to fill a niche?

Honestly? Not many.

So yeah. My first idea was some sort of platformer where the more you used certain skills the better they get and the less you used other skills the weaker they’d get, forcing you into a sort of metagame where you’d try to develop a well rounded character to get past obstacles. This is certainly closer to the ideals of natural selection than, say, Pokemon, but is hardly true to the process.

Also, I’m pretty sure other people will be doing basically that same idea, so that makes it less appealing.

That idea only lasted in my head for a few minutes before I decided that I’d prefer to try to hew as closely to the idea of evolution via natural selection as possible. So. Here’s my current idea:

We have a world with randomly generated creatures. They have stats in different areas, such as their tendency to follow or avoid each other, approach or avoid other species, graze or hunt, etcetera. Each associated stat has a trade off of one sort or another, such as size making a creature hardier but making it require more food. These groups of species would breed, with random number generators affecting these stats to one degree or another. Over time, natural selection should let these animals fill niches, which alone should be fun to watch.

I’m still deciding exactly how this will play out, but I think the watchword will be equilibrium. I imagine the player as The Hunter, a creature that feeds on other creatures for sustenance and to become strong. The stronger the creatures The Hunter eats, the stronger she becomes, so it is in her best interest to make sure there’s a strong population of animals. However, the more strong they are, the greater a threat they can pose to The Hunter, so she must maintain balance between the different populations to keep them from wiping themselves or each other out while still giving them as much reign to grow as possible.

This is the basic idea.

For tonight, my goal is simply to get a population of creatures up and running and hopefully interacting with each other to some degree. I would like to see some varied terrain for animals to be differently adapted to– which actually suggests a different more toy-like game where the player can redefine the terrain to see how that changes the behavior and evolution of the species occupying the land. Also pretty interesting.

Which would you guys prefer to see?

The Island, The Lily, The Rose

Sunday, April 25th, 2010 5:14 pm

This is the game that didn’t happen. I started out imagining it as a top-down adventure kind of thing, but ended up trying to make it a text adventure; unfortunately the tool was too obstinate to be learned in the kind of time I had with the kind of attitude I had.

Here is the story, interspersed with passages excerpted from the IF I was working on for it:
The main character is a woman called Lily. She has rented a small house and has been using it as a writer’s retreat while she works on her novel. In her time there she has rarely left the room upstairs.

This is the room you’ve spent the last week in (or was it longer?) The walls are just starting to yellow from the tobacco smoke, and a vague grey haze hangs in the room. The study is a dingy and uninviting spectacle; nevertheless, you find yourself drawn to this room. Stairs lead down to the living room, and directly across from the stairs are the desk and chair which have been your constant companions for the last weeks (or has it been months?) Off to your right side is the couch where you’ve been sleeping; the bedroom, somewhere downstairs, remains unused. There is a skylight which lets natural light into the room.

On the Desk are a Brass Lamp, a Typewriter, and a Manuscript.

However, when the player eventually decides to leave the house:

The stale air of the house is abruptly exchanged for the most unusual sensation of sea breeze; particularly unusual given that until recently this house was hundres of miles from the ocean. Now, though, the waves lap gently at the steps of the house. Somehow, while you’ve been writing, everything has washed away. The house stands alone above a featureless sea. Last time you were out here, just down the hill was a small town where you could buy cigarettes and tea and sometimes food; no sign of it remains.

This was about as far as I got before the i7 environment started to become a serious impediment to progress. The gameplay would consist of waiting for the tide to start going out, then wandering out into the ever-shifting ruins left by the receding water and seeing what could be found. After several hours (in game time) of wandering, the tide would come back in and the player would have to run back to the house or drown. The first time the tide came in, it would wash into the living room and lower floor of the house, about waist-height, and would prevent certain actions. The second time it would completely flood the lower floor, leaving only the Study the player starts in accessible. The third time it would wash the house away and the game would end.

The later the game went, the stranger the items that would start washing up. Maybe the first day would be fairly normal things, like a candy bar or shoe, but by the third day there might be a strange alien device or a burning sword or a shrink ray… something like that. The goal would be to escape the island or to otherwise survive/prevent being washed away.

The environment would tend to reflect Lily’s attitudes about herself and the world. Lily is a woman who’s driven herself to isolation believing that that’s the path of true art; she has few friends, never speaks with her family, and is despised by most of her students (of course she teaches, she’s an English major). She thinks of her parents as dead even though they aren’t because that’s more dramatic. She thinks she’s horribly unattractive, but she’s actually okay (though somewhat slovenly). In a nutshell, bitter and misguided and unhappy, but intelligent and generally reasonable. She does much of her writing under the pen name “Rose,” which has always been a flower which appealed to her much more than the lily, believing it derives beauty from being solitary and unapproachable.

That’s the basic set up, but one final note is that the world operates on a kind of twisted literary dream logic. Lily starts with a Pack of Camels (cigarettes) in her pocket, but can take one out and ride it to get more exploring done before the tide comes in. The undo function is initially disabled, but by retrieving the White-Out from the top drawer of her desk Lily can undo past actions. Integrating the alien device with the typewriter yields the literary device, which provides an instant escape from the island… and so forth.

Unfortunately, odds are I’ll never get around to making this game. I like the concept but there are a lot of other projects that I’d like to be working on. Oh well, thanks for reading if you’ve gotten this far, and I’ll see you at LD18!

Unfortunately, my excellent new fan-novel, ‘The Bourne Apoplexy,’ was like 70% done before I realized I’d gotten this mixed up on my calendar with the Ludlum Dare compo. This was a considerable setback!

Okay no that was a hilarious lie invented for the purposes of humor. Here’s what actually happened. After the theme was announced, I spent a couple of hours coming up with an idea for a game (which I’ll describe a little later.) Then I came back, sat down fully intending to work on it, and realized I had no interest in actually programming a game like the one I’d thought up. I still thought the concept was interesting, but the idea of making it was unbearably tedious. So, I procrastinated. Then I went to sleep. Then I woke up and procrastinated some more, and I started to think maybe LD17 wasn’t going to happen for me.

After a short conversation with my brother, I decided that the project was still worth doing if only so that I could participate in Ludum Dare. So I spent a little time coding before going out to dinner, and on the way I realized that the gameplay I’d thought up for this idea was completely wrong and that was a big reason of why I was having so much trouble. So I decided to restart the project in Inform 7 (there wasn’t much progress to scrap anyway.)

At first, things went smoothly. Then I found out how goddamn hard it is to do ANYTHING in i7. I’m sure it’s great once you get used to it, but there was a thousand page manual and even though the things I wanted to do were simple in terms of programming basically no traditional programming constructs worked in i7. Not only that, I was finding it incredibly difficult to even look up how to do what I needed to do. After spending 20 minutes having to look up how to do a basic if-else construct, another 15 looking up the SPECIFIC syntax necessary to check whether the character is holding an object, and another 25 minutes looking up an extension capable of controlling the part of the program I wanted to control, I had to stop before I started breaking things.

In summary: It sucks balls to try to learn a new tool under time pressure.

Anyway, I’m going to write a followup post with the failed project summary. Stay tuned.

Candle – minor fix

Monday, August 31st, 2009 12:02 am

I am told that animations do not display in local play of download version. Is very bad, but easy fix. I am changing file system settings to local for this build, and now it is working. If you have downloaded candle.rar, please to download new version.

Candle is finished

Sunday, August 30th, 2009 2:58 pm


Okay, game is done. Is not bad game, but you know, 48 hours, is not much time. Is fine. I am okay.

So, for those who did not look at updates (is okay, I am not mad, you are busy people), here is game; is game about boy who find fallen piece of sun in the snow. It get inside him and make him burn, and he melt right through the snow and fall into cave. In cave, he must find sunstones to keep himself lit. He is more powerful, the ice around him melts faster, which is useful but also dangerous.

Game is simple right now. Level is randomly generated, jump around until find sunstone or die, repeat. Arrows or A/D for movement, up or W or space to jump. If you don’t like level or level is impossible, press r or Enter to make new level. If you don’t like sound or music (I SPIT ON YOU) then press m for mute.

I hope you will enjoy this game I have made. I spend many hours on it. Oh, yes, if you play the web version, I am telling you that it is 2 megs and takes time to load. Some people like preloaders. Some people like to have sex with animals, and that is all I will say about that, yes?

Web Version (Is big, I told you this)
Download w/ assets and source

Candle: proto-tri-tip

Sunday, August 30th, 2009 4:10 am

Okay! I is fixed alpha problem. Is good. I is created series of tiny pictures to represent this boy. Big discovery! When I am playing these pictures in rapid succession, is creating impression of movement, or what I like to call ‘moving picture’. I anticipate great wealth in my future for having discovered this, but for now you can enjoy the fruits of my benefits for my ‘moving picture boy’.

Now you see why I named the game this way, eh?

Now you see why I named the game this way, eh?

If boy still look like box, it no longer my fault.
Now, I do not have so much time as I would like to make fancy games for you people. I love the looks of succulent awe I would be receiving, but is not possible. So I am stripping down my design. Is not so bad, I may make it more excellent after this Darrell Loom competition. So this boy, he must find the sunstones before he run out of heat. Is very cold here, so even boy with FIERY temper must find heat. So now, each level will be like obstacle course, with goal is the sunstone. I will draw some ice for him to walk on, and then I will make some levels. It is not super fancy game like will make you poop your pants, but is good anyway.

Candle, post-pre-prototype

Saturday, August 29th, 2009 8:48 am

This game I am make
Is very difficult.
I have found a somewhat satisfactory method of doing the melting
Which is an important thing to do
but the alpha blending, she does not blend.
Very annoying.
However, one of the major technical hurdles has been crossed, albeit in a manner that some might consider crappy.

This version is shiny and melty. These traits are preferable.

This version is shiny and melty. These traits are preferable.

The shiny boy, he melts the ice. He is very hot but not in sexual way.

Now I have a thing I can show you, I tell you a little about what I want this project to be. Red box is boy; I know he does not look like boy, but you understand. Red box is walking in snow when big rock fall out of sky. He fall asleep, as most young boys do when hit with big rock. When he is awakening, he is on rock (is different rock) in bottom of big ice cave. This is unusual, but not as unusual as that he seems to be more immolated than is common in a boy of his age. So okay, this rock it set him on fire. For all that he feels pretty good. But he is stuck in bottom of ice cave, and in order to get out he has to climb on ice. Ice and fire are not super big buddies, so he has troubles you see. This is the plot at the beginning. Some things happen later, but this is not important now. Is difficult enough to make ice melt, you see.

Candle sub-prototype

Saturday, August 29th, 2009 4:32 am

I am making a game.

So far I am calling it Candle.

It is tangentially related to the theme of Caverns.

Here is a first draft. It is ugly. It plays like shit. But it runs. This thing is going to happen.

Looks shitty!

Looks shitty!

It looks bad and it plays bad too.

Manually Operated

Sunday, April 19th, 2009 5:38 am

Manually Operated

I can’t get the media uploader working so I’m going to just link this for now. This is a game where you play an aspiring super-villain trying to make his big break and complete his thesis by crushing a hero in a death trap. Unfortunately, he cannot afford a very good death trap, or a lock to keep the hero from escaping. Push the wall to crush the hero before the cops take you down or rescue the hero!

Thanks to all who supported and encouraged me in the production of this game. First thing I’ve made without THE MAN telling me what to do! Woo!

Game is here

Source code is here

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