About Thought Reactor (twitter: @thghtreactr)


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Things are coming along…

Posted by (twitter: @thghtreactr)
Saturday, December 10th, 2016 2:54 pm

Decided on a “one room” dungeon shooter a la Binding of Isaac. Got a majority of the mechanics in place, time to add more enemies, weapon upgrades, and obstacles! I can’t wait to spend some time on art later this evening. Keep grinding everyone!

In for the Solo Dolo

Posted by (twitter: @thghtreactr)
Thursday, December 8th, 2016 11:56 am

This time around I’m going to go for the solo. LD37 will be my 9th attempt overall and my 4th attempt at solo. I will have my apartment to myself for most of Saturday and Sunday, so I will be able to focus on the code frenzy that is Ludum Dare! Last time around I gave up pretty quick due to time constraints and some frustration with the theme. To prevent any theme mishaps this time around I want to come up with at least 2 or 3 ‘ideas’ for each of the 16 potential themes before the announcement tomorrow evening.

I will be running with:

  • Unity for a 3D game
  • Construct 2 if it’s a 2D game
  • Photoshop for art
  • BFXR for sound effects
  • FL Studio 12 for music

Good Luck & Have fun!

I’ve been real indecisive…

Posted by (twitter: @thghtreactr)
Saturday, August 27th, 2016 5:44 pm

After going back and forth between Construct and Unity dealing with hang ups, I’ve finally settled back in Construct 2. I have the majority of the gameplay implemented so now it’s time to sit down with some graphics and start iterating and building levels. Decided to add a couple more ‘ancient tools’ that give you a fireball and double jump. We’re turning this bad boy into a classic platformer!

I’m definitely going to be cutting this one close! Wish me luck.

The beam is fixed…time for bed!

Posted by (twitter: @thghtreactr)
Friday, August 26th, 2016 10:51 pm

The rendering for the beam graphic is pretty good for now! Tomorrow I will have to smooth out this Spider-man movement and the collisions. For almost 3 hours – I’m quite satisfied. I’m happy I can sleep easy tonight knowing my character moves and is starting to use his Gauntlet!

Keep grinding!

I have something going…

Posted by (twitter: @thghtreactr)
Friday, August 26th, 2016 9:59 pm

I was reaaallly wanting that Alchemy theme, but this one is definitely better than some of the other options. I decided quickly on a 2D sidescroller in Construct 2. The game revolves around platform elements with a ‘hookshot’ tool given to the player as gift from…


Two hours in and I have my dude moving and I’m beginning to draw his Gauntlet’s ‘tractor beam’. Check out this GIF of the wonky Gauntlet beam:

Let’s back to the maths on drawing this beam! It’s already 11 PM in my neck of the woods, so I’m going to finish this beam and get some shut eye!

Hope everyone is staying focused and making some dope games!

Overcoming Creative Anxiety

Posted by (twitter: @thghtreactr)
Friday, August 26th, 2016 11:06 am


With the preparation of any upcoming event or task comes some anxiety. It is a natural part of our brain’s ability to cope with change and adapt for the future. The problem is our brains often don’t help us distinguish the good anxiety from the bad – it all generally feels the same. Sweaty palms. Lack of focus. Stammered speech. Nerves and anxiety distract us from the reality we’re facing as a means of getting us to recognize the impending thing that we’re anxious about. Nevertheless, this feeling usually brings on more anxiety. Anxiety over being anxious.

In the case of production, anxiety can leave us at a standstill. This creative anxiety, as I call it, is the number one killer for developers participating in Ludum Dare. You can be super prepared and still find that your creative juices aren’t flowing when that theme drops. It may feel different to each of us, and come upon us in different ways – but it is the same mental blockade that our mammalian brain creates. The simple beauty of instinct can often bite us in the ass!

Can we actually overcome this anxiety? I argue that it isn’t about overcoming, so much as it is about channeling it. When we can sit back and try to be cognizant of our anxiety we can gain control over it. Whether it’s the fear of failure, feeling like there’s not enough time, or just feeling unprepared for chaos – these things are meant to give us a certain clairvoyance. The physiological aspect of anxiety is often what bogs us down. The mental aspect can be used as a powerful tool.

I wish it were a simple thing to just channel it. It’s not. Some of us are more prone to anxiety than others and, as mentioned previously, are affected by it in different ways. Now for the motivational part of this blog.

You are not your anxiety. You are a creator and your anxiety is a product of your passion to create.

An event like Ludum Dare is daunting. I’m on my 9th Ludum Dare and I wouldn’t even think of telling you any different. This shit is nuts. It’s absolute masochism to put your brain through such a test. That’s the kicker – just putting your mental fortitude through the ringer will embolden you. There is no trick, no life hack to get you through Ludum Dare. Like our good friend Shia LaBeouf says you just have to “Do it.”

Now, not everyone has perseverance, you say? This is true. Some of us crack under the pressure – I’ve done so 4 out of the last 8 times I’ve done this. But I keep coming back for more. The same must be true for you in the small sense. Keep coming back for more. Don’t stop. Keep grinding. You may not finish. You may feel like you failed. In the words of a fortune cookie I so coincidentally received yesterday:

Failure is the tuition you pay for success.

Failure is not an end – it is a beginning. It is how we learn and adapt. Is that not what anxiety is for, as well? Does anxiety not teach us about failure? Anxiety often emphasizes failure and for all the right reasons. We, in a society that thrives on success both individual and collective, have done ourselves a disservice by linking failure with meritocratic grading systems and negative connotations. Failure is learning.

Your Ludum Dare experience – even if you get it done – will be filled with micro-failures. You will hit walls. You will feel like you’re coming up short. Just keep these things in mind and you can and will persevere:

  1. Your time is finite
  2. Your task, whilst seemingly insurmountable, is actually quite simple – only you will allow your anxiety to complicate it
  3. This contest is about mental fortitude – not perfection, not popularity
  4. Fail fast, learn faster
  5. Fail some more
  6. Have fun!

The last thing that is worth noting is managing all this in some sort of process, right? Outside of trying to mobilize your mind around acceptance and flexibility, there are procedures that can help. They won’t work for everyone – and often don’t work for me. Some of us have a hard time staying on top of things without notes, lists, and so on. If this is you – leverage these things. But bear in mind that you don’t want to resort to micro-managing. At this level, anxiety is dictating you. Every last detail is not important and trying to account for all of them will push your mind to deeper anxiety, an anxiety you can’t channel.

If you can take away one thing, let it be this: we are defined by our success, but our success is defined by our failures. Do not be afraid to have to settle for less – this is a good failure that promotes a higher level of reasoning with the tasks you have in front of you. Do not convince yourself that the art, the code, or the music is not ‘perfect’ or even ‘ideal’ – and by whose standards? Your task with Ludum Dare is to make a game in 48 or 72 hours – just make the game!

Good luck to all the participants! Only 9 hours until we get this puppy rolling!

Thought Reactor is all in!

Posted by (twitter: @thghtreactr)
Friday, August 26th, 2016 8:30 am

Super excited for this Ludum Dare! There are lot’s of pretty good themes to vote on, so fingers crossed.

I’ll be going at this one solo for the compo this time around. Last time around we did a small team and made a game called IGEO, which we’ve been working on getting ready for an Early Access release in September. You can play the current LD35 version at: https://thoughtreactor.itch.io/igeo.

For this LD, I’m going to use the following tools:

  • Unity3D or Construct 2 (depends on the idea and whether I want to do 2D or 3D)
  • Photoshop CC
  • FL Studio 12
  • Bfxr
  • OBS for recording timelapse

I’m working on a cool motivational blog for my website, but I’ll share it here as well once I have it done. Until then, good luck to my fellow jammers! Get HYPE.

Thought Reactor is in!

Posted by (twitter: @thghtreactr)
Friday, April 15th, 2016 9:48 pm

The theme is pretty wild, but we’re in. This time we’ll be going at it with a two man team for the jam. Have fun going solo for the past couple jams – but now it is time to work as a team and make a better game!

We’ll likely be using:

  • Unity3D
  • Photoshop and Blender for graphics
  • FL Studio 12 for muzac
  • BFXR for sound fx, of course!
  • Sublime Text/Visual Studio for code stuffs
  • Trello and idealizr (my own creation) for tracking

Lastly, I made a little prototype app, called idealizr, to help collect ideas in a neat, organized way. It’s pretty rudimentary, but it should suffice as a cool way to jot some ideas down for those of us ‘millenials’ who hate paper and/or word processors. It was something I was toying around with to use instead of Trello for brainstorming – so I figured I’d share it with you all! Also, we’ll be streaming from time to time on Thought Reactor Live, so come check out our progress.

Good luck to everyone – it’s going to be a crazy weekend!

Those Post-Ludum Feels – Light Drifter 34 Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @thghtreactr)
Thursday, December 17th, 2015 9:51 pm


So I managed to pull through. I attempted streaming and posting at the start, but in all honestly, focusing on that stuff was really distracting so I ended up turning it off and going dark.

This LD was rough, ladies and gentlemen. I can say that I was successful in sticking to my plan – if I couldn’t get the idea working in a short time, I ditched it. The problem was there was just too many of these bad ideas by the time I had resolved on Light Drifter 34.

I had less than 24 hours to get the game done and frankly, it wasn’t enough. I had to settle for quickly scrapped together levels that are poorly designed and lend for some frustrating experiences.

On the other hand it illuminated how damn fun the game could be if the levels were far more refined. I think the potential for some more “puzzley” levels can make a rather simple mechanic like this really shine.

Usually after Ludum Dare I just abandon these projects and get back into whatever I was working on before. This time around, I don’t really have anything to go back to so I think I may continue to develop this game further.

I want to add some light customization mechanics to allow users to tailor their play style for different “styles” of levels. In addition to addressing some of the pacing issues commenters have made, I want to add a level selection system with rankings and so on. That, coupled with loads of really well tuned levels could make for a really fun game!

I don’t think I would sell it, but who knows – maybe after everything is said and done it will be worth it. While I struggled with this LD, it really was an epiphany for me. It allowed to recognize my strengths and see where I was trying to make up for my weaknesses. I’m glad I was able to get this baby done and I’m proud of the result.

It sucks that the finished product could have been better had I come to this idea sooner – but that’s the way it goes. It was a stressful and fun ride. Can’t wait to go at it again in April – maybe with the team this time!

If you haven’t come across my game yet, give it a spin and leave a comment – I’ll be sure to give your game a play as well! I’ve played some really awesome games so far and it’s been encouraging to see everyone’s feedback across the site. Keep up the good work everyone!

Well damn…one last go at this.

Posted by (twitter: @thghtreactr)
Saturday, December 12th, 2015 2:22 pm

So, in sticking with my initial plan to scratch any idea that couldn’t get implemented in under 2 or so hours, I’m now down to idea #3.

This idea will use the Two Button Control theme instead of growing. I’m going for a 3D snake or runner game, perhaps with some obstacles thrown in. I’m super pressed for time, so it has to be a pretty small game. Third time’s a charm!

Let’s kick it into high gear!

Posted by (twitter: @thghtreactr)
Saturday, December 12th, 2015 12:05 pm

So the first idea that I came up with after last night’s announcement was a tree-growing tower-defense game of sorts. The player would grow a tree from sapling to mature while plotting seed pods on various branches to bomb the invading gnomes who want to turn your tree into lumber.

I really liked the idea and sat down to see if I could execute on it. Truth be told – it’s definitely something I can make, but I had a feeling like I wouldn’t have gotten it done in time and I would have had to brush up on a little trigonometry (not something I want to spend time on during LD – but needs to happen).

With that, I did some quick planning on a really simple city simulator game where you build structures to grow resources, population, and cash. The player can win by either Infrastructure, Economic, or Population victories.

There is under 36 hours left – this is going to be a mad race to the finish! Come watch us stream live at http://twitch.tv/thoughtreactorlive, we have funk, soul, and all kinds of great music playing.

Wish me luck!

I’m in! Time to rebound from the last two failed LDs…

Posted by (twitter: @thghtreactr)
Tuesday, December 8th, 2015 12:31 pm

So I failed to submit in the previous two LDs this year, one time as a team and the other solo. I’m not going to let that get me down, however. I’m going to narrow my process and scope and really work on coming up with one solid mechanic and getting it implemented ASAP. If it takes me more than 2 or 3 hours to code the mechanic then it’s no good!

As for my toolset, it really depends on what the theme ends up being. I’m really itching for a broad enough theme that can allow me to get away with a real simple 3D game, but alas, I’ll likely be settling for a 2D game.

Engine: Unity3D or Construct 2
Code: VisualStudio 2013 or Sublime Text 3
Graphics: Photoshop CC
Audio: FL Studio 12 and BFXR
Support: Trello, TweetDeck, Google Docs/Spreadsheets, Spotify, SourceTree (for Git)

I’m really making it my goal to “keep it simple, stupid”. I don’t even care if I personally don’t like the game, I need to execute to get this puppy done! If you want to follow the journey, I’ll be microblogging over at http://thoughtreactor.tumblr.com and streaming at http://twitch.tv/thoughtreactorlive.

Good luck everyone! Keep it simple. And most importantly – have fun!

Desperate times call for…well, quickness!

Posted by (twitter: @thghtreactr)
Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 9:46 am

So I mentioned laaaaaate last night (with less than 24 hours to spare in the compo) that the “Shade”/sneaking game idea had hit a demoralizing roadblock. Even though I was certain of failure – I wanted to press on!

I thought about a little base defense game but realized the technical challenges and opted for a game I knew would be mostly straight forward.

So I drank a midnight Red Bull and settled on a really cheesy idea of playing a laser shooting giant-lizard named Lazard. Basically it’s a on-rails shooter with infinite waves. Here’s a screenshot of it in action with some placeholder art.

The next steps are to create some more enemy planes and commercial planes. All the planes will spawn bodies for the player to catch in his mouth! I have the beginning workings of a neat stat and score system that I would love to work into a leaderboard if I can find the time to spin up a quick Laravel/Lumen project.

I have some cleaning to do today so I’m not sure it will get done before 9PM tonight. If I can find some time to wrap it up between now and tomorrow night then I’ll be submitting it for the 72 hour jam.

Seriously, though, wish me luck – I’m gunna’ need it!

Probably done for

Posted by (twitter: @thghtreactr)
Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 9:41 pm

Well I ran into one of the strangest bugs in Construct 2 that brought development to a screeching halt for about 2 to 3 solid hours. The detriment of time this has caused has basically ruled out any possibility of me getting this game done.

But I don’t want to stop! I’m going to abandon the idea and abandon Construct for Unity 5. While I’m not counting on getting anything done – I just want to use the rest of this opportunity to make a game. I have a basic idea for a defense game where you play as goblins and you build various rooms to thwart invading adventurers.

Wish me luck!

Making some progress…

Posted by (twitter: @thghtreactr)
Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 3:17 pm

So after deciding to roll with the “sneaking” game idea I’ve begun to make good progress on the gameplay. Our character can move and “sneak”, slowing his pace and he dies when entering the brighter section of the lights. In addition, I am putting some final tweaks on my super-basic node-based path system. I’ve yet to test it out with multiple enemies and it needs a function to help it loop.

Here is a look at that in action (the red diamonds will be hidden in the final version):

Once I have pathing fine tuned we can start to attach lights to our enemies! Let’s keep up the pace and I might actually get this one done!

All the games people are making look fantastic – really excited for some of the Donald Trump themed ones. ;-D

We’re still streaming this puppy live at http://twitch.tv/thoughtreactorlive, so come check out the progress!

Slow start…

Posted by (twitter: @thghtreactr)
Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 10:46 am

The theme is…well…it’s okay.

So, like most of my previous LDs, I always get bogged down in the idea phase. Worrying too much about how adherent to the theme I should be or not is often what gets me.

Went to bed last night with a couple idea’s jotted down that I figured I would “sleep” on. None of them really resonated with me but I think I’m on to something new.

Taking from my blog post on Thursday about balance, I figured I should first find a gameplay mechanic that I would enjoy creating and then find an interesting art and story to go with it. What I have is a very basic idea for a 3/4 view sneaking game called Shade.

The game is centered around a demon from the Darkwold named, well, Shade. In the game, humans have found a way to reach the Darkworld and have disrupted Shades slumber by turning on a bunch of lights. In the Darkworld lights are essentially poison, slowly eating away at the demons and ghouls that inhabit this strange otherworld.

So the goal as Shade is to avoid the lights of the wandering “Astronauts” while destroying their sources of light. I’m thinking a very short narrative romp through a couple “puzzley” levels. We’ll be streaming at http://twitch.tv/thoughtreactorlive very soon, so be sure to drop in and check out the last stages of finalizing this idea. We should (finally) be getting to building this puppy within the hour!

Wish me luck! Less than 34 hours to go!

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