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[Solito] Web Version Available

Posted by
Monday, December 14th, 2015 9:08 pm



Sorry to anyone that would have preferred a web version of my game. I’ve finally gotten the web build up for anyone that wants to play. I had it available with the rest of my builds yesterday, but I needed a place to host it.

The game uses the left and right mouse buttons so be sure to run it in fullscreen or the right click menu will interrupt the gameplay.

Growing Skyward LD#34

Posted by
Monday, December 14th, 2015 5:19 pm




 After 48 hours I’ve completed my second Ludum Dare project, and my first Compo submission. I had a few ideas for this theme, and didn’t even intend on making the one I did, but I’m very glad I did. The game was made in Unity 5 and I created the assets it Maya.

Here are some of my thoughts about my entry:

Gameplay and Aesthetics
Just in case it has to be spelled out, Solito signifies “Little Sun”. In Solito you play as plant growing upwards. In order to continue growing you need to collect Solitos. If you fall over or run out of Solitos you will shrivel and fall apart. The art style is all super low poly because I absolutely love low poly. I’d never really gotten the chance to make a low poly game, so I wanted to jump on that. I’m really quite pleased with the overall aesthetic. With the addition of tilt shift, deliberate shadow placement, background environment, and blue fog, the game feels more atmospheric. I’m glad to have been able to incorporate a bunch of little background items. I think there are still some gameplay mechanics to tweak to ensure that a good player can continue to improve rather than hit the same ceiling every time.

I got a lot of inspiration for the background visual and style from Battlefield Heroes (RIP) and other low poly scenes I’ve come across.

Development Issues
I ran into a few development issues along the way, most of them having to deal with Unity. Here’s what they were and how I overcame them.

1) Skewed Segments: Plant segments were becoming exceedingly skewed (One hundred times wider than tall) after about 30 additions or after the stalk fell past a certain level. This is a known issue with Unity and has to do with non-uniform scaling. There were likely other small issues that compounded to create this defect. To resolve it I had to use my actual model asset instead of Unity primitives (this was alright as I was almost finished with prototyping). In addition I reworked the way physics had an effect on the game.


2) Snowball Falling: The point of the game is to climb higher without tipping over. With Unity’s default physics engine, however, the player would have experienced a snowball effect. If you noticed you were falling over you’d naturally start building on the opposite side to counterbalance. However, since you could only build so quickly, everything you built would tend to join the rest of your stalk as it fell. The more you built to regain balance, the more segments would end up getting pulled over and therefore imbalance your stalk even further. To solve this I wrote my own balance functionality that counted the amount of segments on either side of your base segment. Depending on how tall you were, the net balance would affect the entire stalk. In order to actual prevent the snowballing, however, I had the balance system only consider the top ten segments. This means that you only need to balance the stalk in the short term. Doing otherwise is difficult and not very fun.

I listened exclusively to Phish for the duration of the development. It’s always interesting to know what people were listening to when they worked on their jam entry.

My take on the theme is somewhat generic, but I’m happy with how it turned out. I imagine there could be many other games similar to mine, so I wanted to make mine visually distinct and appealing. My compo version is complete, and I think I’ll continue to work on this project. Soon I’ll create an Android build so I can play it on my phone as well. I spent way less time on this entry and worked much quicker than I did last time (LD#30) and I was able to submit this for my first Compo.

For future versions I’d like to include some of the following
– High score saving and high score notifications
– Powerups
– Sounds Effects / Music
– More atmospheric effects (Falling leaves and floating dirt)
– Point bonus for completing a circle (It could grow a tomato for example)
– Weather effects
– Arrow Keys for controls instead of just the mouse
– Moving Clouds / Trains / Planes / Hot Air Balloons / Etc. in the background
– Enemy Solitos
– Moving Solitos
– More background items

Final Notes
I’m really quite pleased with my entry. I feel like I was able to include everything I planned on, and I didn’t damage my sanity doing so. I hope people like it and want to see more. I’d love to continue development and work on a mobile build.

My biggest suggestion for anyone working on a Ludum Dare project is to be reasonable. This is something most developers can relate to. It’s easy to get swept away into what you could add or what would make the game better. A solid and polished small game beats a poorly made large one any day.

Creating a game with virtual cardboard

Posted by
Friday, August 29th, 2014 10:10 am


Hey guys! I hope everyone had a great time drafting and executing their game ideas.

Diorama is my first Ludum Dare entry. I should also note that my team composed of just me. I focused heavily on creating an aesthetically pleasing environment and creating an enjoyable mood. Ideally, with the specific combination of art, music, and writing, playing the game should support a state of happiness and calmness.

Oddly enough, I created all of the scenes for the game before thinking about characters or their desires. I did so even before imagining how they would weave together. While I realize that could have been a severe detriment to the gameplay and “connectivity” of the story (rushing forward without a clear thought in mind), I also believe it forced me to think as openly as I could. I believe this in turn helped me tremendously.

The Experience Overall & Working Alone
Being strictly honest, many times over the course of creating Diorama, I wanted to simply set it down and give up. The task of creating all of the primary and secondary scenes, characters, dialogue, items, stories – and on top of that, programming the entire thing together was exceedingly daunting. I often found myself switching glances between my monitor and my bed, which had remained unoccupied for the greater portion of the night and early morning. Upon finishing the game, however, I felt an enormous amount of relief and satisfaction. I’m glad to have participated overall.

Notes and Thoughts
As I’ve said, Diorama focuses highly on mood and aesthetics. For example, all of the characters speak in rhyme and rhythm. Additionally, each scene and character is to look as if it were created in a Diorama (tape and string supporting items, cut-out flaps, etc). The music as well was another important part of setting the right mood.

Each character has a specific desire, however I wanted to avoid having them asking the player directly to help them with it. The player would find that they formulate a way to help them, and instead of the character expecting the help, they receive it as a surprise. Also, I wanted to give the player and idea of why each character deserved the help, or the context as to why it was important to the character.

Here’s some art advice as well. Don’t expect things to look great from the start. Seldom have I found my favorite works of art looked fantastic when they began. Keep a sharp eye out for inspirational art. I can’t describe how much I love looking at people’s art and seeing what techniques or advice I can take in from it.

Character Desires
I had to spend quite a bit of time mulling over what each character would want. For example, the Lumberjack in the Forest was expected to want something with his trees, however that would have created for a very flat character (no pun intended). Additionally, at the time I had not thought of having two characters interact directly, unlike the others who interact indirectly. With a bit of relaxation and clear thought, many of the character’s desires and connections seemed to fall into place. One thing lead to another, and not before long, I had a creative link from start to finish.

Creating a Complete Game
I wanted more than anything to create a complete game, no matter the costs. (Those costs were my comfort, sleep, and sanity). I’m incredibly relieved to have completed the entire vision of my game within the time constraints. If this was an issue for anyone out there, I wouldn’t suggest you worry about it, (Realistically, I placed as many hours into the creation of this as the average full-time worker puts into their job over a week) I sacrificed a lot of time, and it’s up to the individual to see if it’s worth it. I’m still trying to debate that question.

Overall it was a neat experience, and hearing the positive feedback on the game makes it all worth it. I’ll certainly be participating in the next Ludum Dare!



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