About micahcowan (twitter: @micahcowan)

Software developer, musician, family man, skeptic. http://micah.cowan.name/


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State of AntiCon

Posted by (twitter: @micahcowan)
Sunday, April 19th, 2015 5:21 am

So, all in all, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got so far. It’s not quite what I wanted to have at this stage, but I still think it’s lovely. Even if the baddies only come in a constant, boring, unchanging stream at the moment, and the graphics are just geometric shapes. :)

I’m really happy with the sling physics. There’s a very natural feel to it, which is great, especially when you compare it with my earlier, less flexible version of the tether. :)

And the sound adds quite a lot to the experience. Swinging the ball (meant to represent your younger sibling) around fast for awhile gives joyful giggles and squeels, and just helps add to the fun.

The original idea was to have a little joke with the theme, and make it both an unconventional weapon, and a weapon that is anti-convention (as in gaming/anime/comics cons), as you send your little sister hurtling around the convention area. Of course, since I still don’t have any graphics done, it’s not looking very much like a convention. It’s not clear to me that I’m going to find time to do the graphics I wanted, and I’d rather prioritize on improving the gameplay (since, as previously mentioned, there’s currently just an endless, unchanging stream of enemies, and they don’t actually hurt you in any meaningful way). Ah, well, it’ll make a fun game anyway without the added joke.


Posted by (twitter: @micahcowan)
Friday, April 17th, 2015 10:35 pm

Happy to see Unconventional Weapon made it, as it’s the only finalist theme where I already had a decently clear picture what I might do with it.

Was thinking I’d do a sort of top-down shooter, except instead of bullets, you’re armed with a ball-and-chain kind of morning-star-like weapon, where you have to whip it into the bad guys, or whip it around to block bullets and such.

To boost the theme (and humor!) values a bit, I also thought that, instead of a ball at the end of a chain, maybe you’re at a comics/anime type convention, and you’ve got your younger sibling at the end of the tether, slinging it around, knocking over booths and cosplayers. Because, you know, then you have both an Unconventional Weapon, and also an Un-Convention-al Weapon. 😉

Technologies I plan to use include:

  • HTML5 Canvas + JavaScript
  • Possibly some pieces from the CreateJS library (probably SoundJS at least).
  • The Vim (Libre Software text editor)
  • GIMP (Libre Software image editing app)
  • InkScape (Libre Software vector graphics app)
  • Audacity (Libre Software sound editor)
  • Reason by Propellerhead Software (for music)
  • Yamaha NU1 hybrid upright piano (to control Reason)

This will be the second time I’ve been involved with Ludum Dare: the first time was for LD #30, where my entry was a vaguely Puzzle Bobble-like game called Friendly Baubles. As before, I plan on doing the 48-hour compo.

Current milestones plan is roughly:

  • Get the player and weapon basic mechanics working. Player sprite and ball pulled along by tether. No “slack tether” effect, no fancy graphics, but tuned physics for the ball (and possibly elasticity in the tether?)
  • Add baddies and bullets with basic “shape” graphics, to test attacks and shielding with tethered ball.
  • Add real graphics, basic levels, sound effects
  • Music score
  • As many improvements as I can fit in the remaining time.

I’m kind of stoked right now, because last time around I couldn’t find my copy  of Reason 4 to write music with, so I just plonked something out on my digital-hybrid upright-action piano. Couldn’t find it this time, either, but I bought the upgrade to Reason 8 (download), found my MIDI gear after a bit of hunting, tied it to my hybrid upright, and everything’s working the way I need it to. Now I just have to hope I actually end up with enough time to bang out some soundtrack, heh. :)

Friendly Baubles Post-Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @micahcowan)
Sunday, August 24th, 2014 6:19 pm

Whew! Well, done. Just by a nose.

Things I wanted to do but didn’t have time for:

  • More sprite graphics for the various characters (had to slap ugly coloring on repeated ones, to make them distinguishable)
  • Snazzy title screen and/or win graphic
  • More variety of paths in the worlds – currently there’s just world 0, world 1, and the other three worlds’ “friends” all travel the same paths from world 1.

Things I’m proud of accomplishing:

  • Learned a facility with CreateJS
  • A little background music (even if it’s just something I threw together in a few minutes’ recording time)
  • Somewhat sophisticated path-traveling (that I didn’t get to take much advantage of)
  • The few graphics I managed to get finished.
  • Fixed some broken understandings of how prototyping works in JavaScript.

Hopefully I can be much faster next time, now that I’m more comfortable with the tools.

I need to get more familiar with Inkscape’s oddities and quirks, or start using a better replacement. Using it on a Mac instead of Linux also cost me the ability to make some slightly nicer-looking fudged graphics for the end there (using Color Filters instead of wholesale replacing all fill colors on various objects would’ve been nice).

There are some minor quirks with how my version of CreateJS is working. Hopefully I’ll remember and adjust my design accordingly for next time.

Anyway, I did what I set out to, and I had fun doing it. It was a good way to force me to learn the tech better, so hopefully I’ll leverage that to make more games just for fun. :)


Friendly Baubles: now with sound, monologues

Posted by (twitter: @micahcowan)
Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 10:27 pm

Okay, what I have so far (play it here):

An aimable shooter with a ball you can shoot at your “friends” that prompts them to say things. (A/D or Left/Right to aim, Space/W/Enter to fire). The friends move around on preset paths. Their graphics are not even remotely finished, just the barest of tests to play with EaselJS’s Sprite class.

And sound! There’s now background music, which I whipped up in < 10 minutes noodling on my Yamaha NU-1 (it’s probably repetitive: “M” should disable music). Couldn’t find my Reason software, but that’s probably for the best as I’d be tempted to spend too much time dicking with that. And a “fire” sound effect I threw together in Audacity using noise and tone generators, and the Fade Out and Sliding Tone Change effects.

Beginning to come together, I think. The basics are there, now I just need to draw the various people in the different “worlds”, the ability to shift worlds, and the ability to grab friends so you can shoot them at friends in other worlds to try to form a connection. :)

Current look at the game

Basic elements of a Puzzle Bobble-type shooter

Posted by (twitter: @micahcowan)
Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 2:52 pm

The game concept I’m going with right now is a shooter similar to Puzzle Bobble, where the player has different “worlds” of friends, and needs to connect them using friends that have common grounds (shooting friends into other friends).

What I have so far after roughly nine hours of bumbling around so far: a shooter, which shoots balls that bounce off the screen sides, at other balls circling in the screen’s game area.

Click here to see what I’ve got at the moment. Use arrow keys, or A/D, and Space or Enter to fire useless balls. HTML5, only tested in Firefox and Safari.

Dare Accepted

Posted by (twitter: @micahcowan)
Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 9:03 pm

Okay, here we go, gonna make my first attempt for the Ludum Dare!

My game-making experience is pretty minimal. The only one I have that I can point to is Volley, a Pong-like doodad written using SVG and JavaScript. I’ve written small toy games in the distant past, none of which I still have around in any form. I have lots of general programming experience, though, and at least some knowledge of how to make games.

Tools and tech I’ll likely use:

  • HTML5 Canvas + JavaScript
  • the CreateJS library
  • vim (for code editing)
  • the GIMP (art)
  • Inkscape (art)
  • Audacity for sound editing/generation
  • My Yamaha NU-1 piano
  • Propellerhead Reason music synthesis program

When it’s done, I’ll probably host it on the LD30 project page on my blog. I plan to provide versioned source code at github.

For what it’s worth, inspiration to give LD a try is thanks to my friend Rusty Moyher, who joined two others to create Retro Games Crunch, and a series of truly righteous games, all of which were originally LD jams.

Of course, I fully expect my first creation to pretty much suck. But I’ll try to make it not, and in the meantime it’ll certainly be fun, and a good learning experience. See you soon!

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