About Mark Ffrench (twitter: @mark_ff)

Game Developer in London
Works at @fireflyworlds during the week, makers of Stronghold and Space Colony.

Entries

 
Ludum Dare 37
 
Ludum Dare 36
 
Ludum Dare 29
 
Ludum Dare 28
 
Ludum Dare 27
 
Ludum Dare 25
 
Ludum Dare 24
 
Ludum Dare 24 Warmup
 
Ludum Dare 23
 
Ludum Dare 21

Mark Ffrench's Trophies

Unique artstyle goblin
Awarded by Mironix
on August 30, 2013

Mark Ffrench's Archive

Nineveh – Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @mark_ff)
Tuesday, August 30th, 2016 6:15 am

Whenever I’ve taken part in Ludum Dare before, I’ve tended to get bogged down in messing around with art and sound.

My games often look ok, but are a bit shallow. This time I decided to take things as far as I could in another direction.

I’ve been wanting to make a simulation of the Neolithic revolution ever since reading Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens last year. So this LD was a great opportunity to finally make a start.

The game simulates our transition from hunter-gatherers to settled, agricultural societies and the rise of trade and social classes.

I decided early on to just focus on creating an interesting simulation, rather than trying to give the player agency, or making it fun. As a result it’s probably a lot more fun to work on than it is to play! (Sorry about that)

hunter-gatherers

I’m pretty happy with the results. Sit back and watch the simulation and you will see hunter-gatherers migrating around in search of food. Eventually some of them will master agriculture and, without the pressure to migrate to find food, they will settle down in one place.

Settlements will trade with one another, food-rich people giving it to those that are starving. Hunter-gatherers soon become attached and dependent on these settlements, or are outpaced by their growth.

farmers

The trading of goods sets up class divisions between the rich and the needy, and eventually ruling classes spontaneously arise in the centres of your cities, with preferred access to traded goods. They become surrounded by slaves.

The ruling elites then stop farming, and villagers forget their hunter-gatherers survival skills. Elites start producing culture and use that to maintain their influence.

5017-shot2-1472518594.png-eq-900-500

 

And all this happens (for better or worse) without any input from the player. The few rules I’ve put in interact to create emergent cities and social strata.

Play Nineveh

There is lots more that I still want to add… things like livestock, different crop types, proper construction using wood and stone production, droughts, plagues, horseback riding.

post-compo updates

Posted by (twitter: @mark_ff)
Friday, May 2nd, 2014 10:17 am

I’ve had some really helpful feedback on my entry, so I decided to make some updates and put up a post-compo version. It reworks the economy and tones down the difficulty quite a bit, so hopefully should be a bit more fun to play.

Play Tokelau

I still have a few ideas I’d like to implement, so I’ll be making a few more updates before I’m done on this one.

Another day’s progress

Posted by (twitter: @mark_ff)
Sunday, April 27th, 2014 12:53 pm

Another day down, still lots of stuff to get done for tomorrow!
huge anim
(Sorry for the huge gif!)

Play Work in progress

Day 1 finished!

Posted by (twitter: @mark_ff)
Saturday, April 26th, 2014 12:32 pm

minions stress test

not much to the game just yet though!

play

Tokyo Station soundtrack

Posted by (twitter: @mark_ff)
Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 12:17 am

Tokyo Station

Tokyo Station

Mini-post-mortem

I tried doing something a little different for this Ludum Dare – I spent the first few hours putting together the soundtrack, then tried to build a game around it. I thought I’d post up a soundcloud link to the original soundtrack:

http://snd.sc/14fnJBr

(Can’t seem to get the soundcloud widget to work :( )

The good

I’m pretty happy with how the music turned out.  After a few youtube tutorials, I’m starting to get my head around the FL Studio interface, and there’s a huge range of instruments and effects to play around with.

The visual side of the game just came about through experimenting in Unity. I set up some walls moving towards you that you needed to avoid, which was nice enough, but giving them all rotation speed just gave the whole thing this mesmerising, tumbling sensation, which I loved. The epic background countdown came from my hatred of blurry 2D Toolkit fonts :)

I was also able to get the game up on Kongregate, so that people can compete for high scores (although the actual recording of scores doesn’t seem to work that reliably for some reason). I haven’t been able to work out whether Kongregate have some sort of dev environment where you can test things like submitting scores, if anyone has any idea, please let me know!

Naming my games is also a lot easier now that I delegate that decision to wikipedia’s random article… :)

The bad

Controls are always the part of game dev that I find hardest, and Tokyo Station was no exception. There are a few problems with the current controls, and I have a few ideas on how to possibly resolve them in the future:

  • Its hard to estimate the distance between you and oncoming targets, and the perspective of the camera, which makes it hard to tell if you are going to collide with an object. I’m thinking it might be possible to resolve this by having some sort of laser-targeting line emitting forwards from the player. I don’t want to change the perspective of the camera, as that would kill of the sensation of falling, but the chromatic aberration effect should probably be toned down a bit at the edges.
  • The controls feel a bit floaty and imprecise. I think this is because there isn’t a 1:1 relationship between your mouse position and your player position. I might be able to get around this by just hiding the cursor.
  • Some of the powerups get spawned right at the edge of screen and are impossible (or very difficult) to collect. This is a bit of a symptom of how quickly the game was made (the original version was created on the Monday, for the jam). There is no fixed “play area”, the player can move around in a certain zone (which is probably slightly too large) and the walls and powerups spawn in a roughly overlapping zone. I just need to lock everything to the same play area.

Now its time for me to put the game to one side for a while and rate more games! 😀

Tokyo Station: Post-compo version live on kongregate

Posted by (twitter: @mark_ff)
Monday, September 2nd, 2013 5:32 am

I’ve uploaded a post-compo version of my game, “Tokyo Station” to Kongregate.

The new version has:

  • Better music
  • Improved feedback on collisions
  • More varied gameplay

Tokyo Station

 

Play Now!

Tokyo Station

Posted by (twitter: @mark_ff)
Thursday, August 29th, 2013 11:20 am

Knights of Uruk (post-compo version)

Posted by (twitter: @mark_ff)
Friday, December 21st, 2012 5:00 am

Just a quick update to say that I’ve uploaded a bugfixed post-compo version of my mini-RTS “Knights of Uruk”, which you can play here!

battle1

A few people were confused about which units were which (My fault – one of the units was displaying the wrong sprite when idle). But to clarify things I added a little visual guide to the game page:

Knights of Uruk - Tactics

Aloft | Gameplay video + mini-PM

Posted by (twitter: @mark_ff)
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 6:41 am

Play now

Post-mortem

Really enjoyed the theme this time round. I had a clear idea of what I wanted to make right from the outset. The game was originally intended to be a bit more of an RTS, but I ended up shoehorning in some more arcadey elements so that the whole thing was a bit more “gamey”. As a result the game ended up being kinda frustrating and stressful to play.

I’m going to be working on a updated version over the next few weeks, reworking the gameplay to focus more on building and calm fun, which will hopefully include:

  • Originally I had the option to scroll between the different layers (surface, aquifer, rock, magma etc.). I’m planning to re-implement that and allow subterranean mines and magma forges!
  • The ability to build gyropters and send them to explore other floating islands
  • I’m going to redesign the combat element of the game, so that you can construct turrets for defence and so that the attackers are more varied and less overwhelming
  • Reworked GUI and controls
  • I’ll probably also get rid of the “hover over resources to collect” mechanic

TLDR
Post-compo version coming.

 
Play! Vote!

Final stretch

Posted by (twitter: @mark_ff)
Monday, April 23rd, 2012 3:19 am

Aiming to get this submitted into the jam later today. After a nights sleep I’ve had some new ideas on how to structure the gameplay – Hopefully I can get them done in time for the deadline tonight, but either way I’m sure I’m going to carry on working on this after the competition is over.

There’s now resources to collect and build with, and enemy blimps to fight off. So its starting to actually resemble a game!

The one thing I have no idea about right now is a title – Any suggestions?

“Playable” build

Posted by (twitter: @mark_ff)
Saturday, April 21st, 2012 11:45 am

I’m using playable in the loosest possible sense, as there’s currently almost nothing to do… but what the hell.

I’m still working out what the actual gameplay is going to be, but I’m thinking maybe a kind of cross between Grow and an old edutainment game, the name of which escapes me right now (Battle for the planet or something like that??)

http://bit.ly/I0quvK

Be sure to turn on the factory! Feedback appreciated!!

Tiny world in Unity WIP

Posted by (twitter: @mark_ff)
Saturday, April 21st, 2012 7:35 am

I am loving Unity’s particle effects…

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