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I’m the Opposite of Out!

Posted by (twitter: @willeastcott)
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 4:50 am

I’m recovering from the norovirus having eaten undercooked sausage meat. Providing I’m still alive, I’m in! In my arsenal this time around:

  • PlayCanvas (cloud-hosted WebGL game engine)
  • Maya
  • 3DS Max
  • Photoshop
  • BFXR

I’ll be flying solo this time around, so expect a certain level of crapness, particularly on the audio front.

I’m feel very ill. And I’m still in.

Posted by (twitter: @willeastcott)
Friday, December 13th, 2013 6:12 pm

Suffering from a nasty cold but I’ll give it a bash anyway.  I shall mostly be using:

Engine: PlayCanvas

Tools: Photoshop, 3DS Max, Maya

Food: Junk

Good luck everyone!

Post Mortem: ‘Soldier of Yellowism’

Posted by (twitter: @willeastcott)
Monday, April 29th, 2013 5:19 pm

This was my first solo entry for Ludum Dare having previously been on a couple of jam teams. The result was ‘Soldier of Yellowism’ (click below image to play):

title

My key inspirations were Piet Mondrian, Vladimir Umanets and a BBC Micro game I used to play 30 years ago called Painter. I had a few goals for the game:

  • It should demonstrate a realtime physics simulation.
  • It should be a well-rounded, balanced game with some level of uniqueness.
  • It should challenge my weaknesses (UI construction, audio creation, for example).

I certainly ran out of time (not helped by partying all night on Saturday and waking up at 2PM on Sunday!).  However, I really believe that a carefully selected suite of tools saved my butt.  I used:

  • PlayCanvas. All of my level editing, coding and publishing was done from here.  This accounted for maybe 75% of my work time.
  • Maya. I built the gallery model with Maya which took maybe an hour.
  • TextEdit (Mac).  You’ll never guess why.  Did you know you can select text in TextEdit and then export it as spoken audio to iTunes?  All of the game’s speech was synthesised – I liked the effect personally.
  • BFXR.  It just randomly generates bleepy-bloopy sounds – the mainstay of any quality videogame!
  • Paint (Windows).  For building my level (Mondrian painting) maps.
  • Visual Studio 2008.  To write a console application that read the pixel maps and spit out lines of JavaScript that I could copy into my scripts.  Over the top?  Maybe.  It worked.
  • media.io.  To convert all my audio files to the right formats.

Something to note is that the vast majority of my development was done in the browser, in the cloud.  It was really handy to jump back and forth between my Mac and PC depending on what browser I was testing or what content I was building.

Another awesome element of the game’s development was how I broadcast my progress.  Every few hours, I would hit publish in PlayCanvas and make the current snapshot live on a URL and then tweet it out.  This meant I got regular feedback and I think people genuinely found it fascinating to see how the game evolved over such a short period.

If I had to pick the thing that worked best, it was embedding what was effectively one game environment seamlessly within another.  I’ve loved that approach to design ever since I played a virtual arcade cabinet in Shenmue.

So what went wrong:

  • I, like most other people, ran out of time. There was so much more I wanted to do. Add power ups, add a server-hosted leaderboard, add fancy graphical effects, etc. Ludum Dare is cruel to us for only providing 48 hours, but to be fair, I probably would have keeled over if I had carried on past that.
  • I spent way too long trying to figure out how to synthesise speech. I wasted about 2 hours until I came up with the solution above.  2 hours is a lifetime when you’re doing a Ludum Dare. That said, I think the speech really added atmosphere.
  • I didn’t compose any music.  I probably should have but I am the least musical person you’ll ever meet.  There needs to be a solution for this for people like me.  Some kind of procedural tune generator that tone deaf no-hopers like me can use.
  • I wasted a lot of time coding up the movement of the little yellow ball (that moves around the ‘maze’).  It’s a classic Pacman style problem and I figured it would be super easy but, no, it took me a while to settle on a good solution.  I should probably abstract the code into a library because lots of games require this kind of movement, like Bomberman say.

But ultimately, I’m really happy with how the game turned out.  Ludum Dare makes me a better person.  It’s not just about improving my own skills, it’s about marvelling at other peoples’.  I feel like I’ve just come out of a traumatic ordeal and I can identify with everyone else.  That makes it all OK.  Until next time!

I’m In!

Posted by (twitter: @willeastcott)
Friday, December 14th, 2012 6:52 pm

So this is my second Ludum Dare and I’ll be jamming with the inimitable daredevildave. I’m struggling to keep my creative juices in check….8…more…minutes…

Engine: PlayCanvas

Language: JavaScript

Art: GIMP, 3DS Max, Maya

Underlying tech: HTML5 (WebGL)

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