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Doodle Book Survival — Post-Mortem

Saturday, May 7th, 2016 11:03 pm

LD35 Post-Mortem: Doodle Book Survival

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Ludum Dare 35 was my fourth Ludum Dare, and third successful one. I’ve been super busy since the compo and haven’t had as much time to play and rate games as I would like, but I wanted to put up this post-mortem to jot down my thoughts on another great 48 hours.

Doodle Book Survival is a classic survival game in which you have to stop oncoming waves of enemies by shooting them. To hit different enemies, you need to transform between three different characters. The entire thing is set within the pages of a distracted student’s notebook, and it gets hard, fast. I was inspired in large part by a classic Flash game I love, Zombie Mayhem.

I used Unity as my engine, wrote in C#, animated in Flash, did visual polish in Photoshop, captured sound effects from BFXR, and generated music through FakeMusicGenerator.

 


 

What Went Well

With the theme being Shapeshift, I decided early on to focus on animation. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, since I actually got into game making through Flash animation, but in previous LDs I focused more on mechanics and story and left the art til the end. This time, though, I started with the idea of hand-animating transformations, and I’m very happy with the result!

 

doodle

Shapeshift!

I did the animation in Flash, making the in-between frames by hand to transition between the three different player states. To import into Unity, I copied each frame of the animation and pasted them in a new document, but spread out in a sprite sheet that Unity can read. I included the sprite sheets here, since I think it makes a good case for the quality you can get out of animation when you do things manually. It takes time, but it gives the animation some nice originality that you don’t get from tweening.

transform1

Gremlin (?) to human

transform2

Human to giraffe

transform3

Giraffe to gremlin (?)

I was also pretty happy with the overall structure of my game. Although its simplistic, the conceit of the whole game being doodles in a notebook gave it a nice over-arching consistency. I like when games have menus/UI that tie into the world of the game, so I was happy that I could do that here.

endScreen

The end screen was my personal favorite

A final piece I’m proud of is that the game works. It was actually one of the easier programming experiences I’ve had. So that was nice. And the end result is a game that is definitely playable.


What Went Less-Well

The biggest problem was that my first 12 hours were spent on a different idea. I originally wanted to make a more original game, where you controlled a robot soldier who could transform into a turret, using the robot to attack one set of enemies and the turret to shoot others. I still like the concept. The problems were (1) I was having a hell of a time coding some aspects of it and (2) I discovered I can not draw robots.

So I hit upon a cool idea that I might revisit one day, but that did not help me in the 48 hour compo. After the first night of work, I threw out most of what I had done and simplified. I focused on drawing that I knew I could do and simpler gameplay mechanics. I am happy with the game I launched, but it would’ve been nice to have those extra twelve hours to make the gameplay a bit more interesting and the difficulty curve a bit smoother.

The game is overall very simple. It doesn’t stand out in any real way. The shapeshifting is cool, but it doesn’t do much to change the way the game plays. And it plays like a bog-standard survival game. I’m not going to beat myself up about this too much, because making a game in 48 hours is hard enough without it also having to be unique and original, but in future compos I’m going to try to be more innovative.

The biggest issue that has been called out in the comments on my game is the difficulty, and rightly so. It starts off alright, but then it gets really hard really fast. Like super hard. But over the course of developing and testing I got pretty good at the game, so with classic game-dev blinders I didn’t see that it was an unreasonably sharp curve. This is particularly annoying as a mistake because it would’ve been easy to fix by just tweaking the spawning method, but I didn’t consider it needing fixing because I was looking at the game from my perspective instead of imagining how people who had never played it would experience it. That’s a big no-no, and another thing I will try to fix next time.


 

Overall, I was very happy with my work in this Ludum Dare. I miss the narrative stuff I did in previous compos, but I like that I could focus more on artwork, and I’m glad to have made it to the finish line with something to show for it.

Looking forward to playing more of your games, now and after the voting ends!

Sure, I’m In!

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016 7:27 pm

This will be my 4th Ludum Dare: I completed LD28, dropped out of LD30, and redeemed myself by completing LD32. I’ve been really proud of my work every time I’ve participated, and I absolutely love this community, so I’m excited to be taking part once again (barring any unforeseen work disaster).

My tools will be:

–Unity and C# (Engine/Code)

–Flash and Photoshop (Art)

–bfxr, FakeMusicGenerator, and Audacity (SFX)

 

Very much looking forward to theme voting and developing another game!

Savior Postmortem

Saturday, April 25th, 2015 4:44 pm

I was pretty happy with my entry for LD32, so I figured I’d write up a more formal postmortem this time; partially because it might be interesting, and partially because I’ve learned a ton from this compo and want to get my thoughts down. So, without further ado, here’s what worked and didn’t work in Savior: On the Advantages of Unconventional Weaponry in Combating the Zombie Apocalypse.

TitleScreen

How It Started

I’m not the best programmer and am somewhere between average and solid when it comes to art, so for jams like this one I like to try to come up with a kind of clever gameplay idea that can be interwoven with story (in fact, I just finished my senior thesis on this very subject at university). I think games can be very effective when story and play go hand in hand, informing each other, and I like to play around with that on a small scale for Ludum Dare.

I’ve been sitting on an idea for a game where you play as a scientist curing zombies for quite some time, but never figured out the mechanics of how it would work. With this theme, “an unconventional weapon,” I first wanted to make a sniper-style game where you take pictures instead of shoot people, but I realized I wasn’t familiar enough with the coding I would need to do to make it work. I decided a few hours in to give the idea of saving zombies a go, using a zombie curing serum as a “weapon” that actually helps the zombies. It quickly became a stealth action platformer, and then I was off to the races.

screenshot1

Level 0

 

How It Changed

My original idea was to do a somber, gritty zombie story. I was going to rotoscope animations in Flash so that my characters would look realistic and the animations would be fully fleshed out. As soon as I finished my first walk cycle it became clear that this wouldn’t be feasible within the time frame; I can animate fast, but not THAT fast, and I’m new to Unity’s animation system anyways. So I took a long break and struggled to come up with a new art style.

The result was this guy: a sort of bean like thing who I grew attached to over to course of the compo.

sprites1

Some animations in sprite-sheet form for the Player Character

 

The thing is, this guy looks silly. You can’t tell a gritty zombie story with a bean as your protagonist. So the goals mutated. I started playing up the humor, adding the bloody messages and dopey signs to the backgrounds of levels and trying to entertain myself as I drew. If I could make myself chuckle, maybe I could make other people. I took a lot of inspiration from games like Portal and tried not to take anything I did too seriously. The result, from feedback, seems to have been pretty good!

screenshot4

Stuck with a blank white wall in your level? Write a dumb joke! In blood!

 

The End

(spoilers after the break — play it now if you don’t want the shocking ending ruined!)

(more…)

Mortem

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 10:07 pm

It is done! After a long 48 hours, complete with back pain and my roommate thinking I’m insane, I have finished my second Ludum Dare game for the Compo!

Savior: On the Advantages of Unconventional Weaponry in Combating the Zombie Apocalypse

 

TitleScreen

Play it here if you want. Any and all feedback is appreciated, particularly if you find bugs.

I’ll do a more complete postmortem soon. But in the meantime, congrats on everyone who completed and participated in LD32! And good luck to you Jammers for the next 24 hours!

I’m going to take a nap….

I’m In!

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 6:12 pm

I turned in my senior thesis today. Suddenly free time has become a possibility. So I’m in for the LD 32 compo!

This is my third LudumDare. I participated in LD 28 and was really happy with the result. I attempted LD 30 but had to drop out due to a combination of poor progress and personal stuff. So I’m excited to be back to try again! Hoping to finish a game and ideally making it good!

Tools:

–Either ActionScript in Adobe Flash CC or C# in Unity depending on my game idea (code)

–Flash CC and/or Photoshop (art)

–bfxr, Audacity, and maybe some other random music generators (sound)

–Coca-Cola, Oreos (energy)

 

Looking forward to it!

–CP

Welp, Bad News and Good News

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 4:03 pm

As we near the 24 hour mark, I have to face the unfortunate fact that my game idea is not going to be finished in time. I’m new to making a lot of the systems that I’ve been trying to implement, and my art has been more demanding then I expected, so I just don’t have enough reusable elements to flesh out a complete game. I’m disappointed that I have to drop out of only my second LD ever, especially after completing and really enjoying my first, but I don’t want to kill myself in the next day only to turn in a crappy game (for some personal reasons its also going to be good for me to take a day off on Sunday).

BUT! As there so often is in this life, there is a silver lining. I was one of the people really rooting for a theme other than Connected Worlds; I just thought it was bland. But when the theme was chosen, I challenged myself to come up with a unique interpretation of the theme. And I really, really like what I’ve come up with. I’m really proud of the progress I’ve made in the last 24 hours. And though I can’t turn my inspiration into a complete game this weekend, I do want to complete it. I want to see this story through. So thank you, Ludum Dare, for giving me an idea to push me forward.

Best of luck to everyone, and I look forward to playing all of your games.

See you in December!

[no title yet] Update 1

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 11:11 pm

I’ve just gotten done pretty much pinning down the core mechanics for one of my “worlds,” so I think I’m gonna sleep for a couple hours, but I figured I might throw up an update before calling it a night.

The basic idea of my game is that you are a mildly successful author who has written a series of pulpy, kind of crappy cowboy novels. The game takes place both in the world of the writer, as he deals with his personal life, and in the world of the novel, as the author continues to write the story. Events from the author’s life bleed in to the story that he is writing (I’m hoping to have time to make the cowboy story react to player’s choices in the real world). My initial plan was the have the real world be very laid back, more “interactive fiction” than game, while the cowboy sequences would be more platformer/shooter-y, but depending how things go when I start coding that tomorrow, I might have to abandon the idea of having two distinct gameplay modes and build the cowboy sequences as interactive fiction, too. But we shall see what I come up with!

Hoping to focus a lot more on art this year, so here’s a rough look at in terms of what I’m going for with the “real world” art style (black rectangle is a placeholder character model)

LDupdate1

Best of luck to all of you tonight and through the rest of the weekend!

Count Me In!

Monday, August 18th, 2014 2:32 pm

I’m throwing my hat into the ring for my second Ludum Dare. I did LD28 last year and had a great time and was happy with the results, so I’m back to try it again (couldn’t do LD29 because of school).

Gonna switch things up a bit this time, so I’m going to program and animate in Flash CC using AS3.

For sound I’ll be using Audacity and bfxr.

For energy I’ll be using Coca-Cola ™.

Can’t wait!

Well, I made it

Sunday, December 15th, 2013 7:25 pm

One Ludum Dare down, hopefully many more to go!

It’s been a hectic 48 hours, but I’ve come away with a product that I’m very happy with as someone who has never done LD before, let alone much programming in general. If you would like to play it for yourself, you can find it through the tubes connected to this link: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-28/?action=preview&uid=28902

Looking forward to playing everyone else’s games, and to getting some much-needed rest.

endscreen

I declare “In!”

Friday, December 6th, 2013 7:52 am

I posted a rule clarification a little bit back, but I figured I’d throw in my official “I’m in post.” This is my first Ludum Dare after watching the past few years. No idea how it’ll go but I’m looking forward to it. I end finals on the 13th so it’ll be just in time to start programming…but almost no time to warm up.

My tools:

–For code: Unity (Java)

–For graphics: Photoshop, Flash (for some animations), Blender (if I decide to go 3D)

–For sound: sfxr, Audacity, possibly Otomata

Best of luck to everyone!

Rule Question

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 5:57 pm

Hey everyone,

Nice to meet you all. I’ve been watching Ludum Dare for a while and have finally decided to give it a shot this time. I’m not a super experienced programmer, but I’ve been fiddling with Unity for a little while and am looking forward to seeing what I can make in 48 hours. I do have a quick question about the rules, so it would be awesome if some more experienced jammers could enlighten me.

What’s the rule on using (1) online tutorials and (2) Unity assets? Like I said, I’m pretty inexperienced, so I tend to check out a lot of online tutorials while working out code. If I end up using any of the code from tutorials or forums online, would that be problematic? Should I avoid using tutorials entirely, or post the code that I find useful from tutorials? And I’m not planning on downloading assets from the Unity store or anything, but was just wondering what the rule on the default assets, like character controllers and skyboxes is (I’ll probably end up making a 2D game but I figured I’d ask just in case).

Thanks in advance for the help and I look forward to giving this thing a shot in the coming week.

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