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Aglæca Post-mortem

Posted by
Tuesday, August 25th, 2015 12:47 am

I actually was forced to finish my Jam entry late last night, but I held off posting about it until now because I only now have been able to post a Windows build of it for people to play. You can check it out at my entry page.

Aglaeca's map screen

Aglaeca’s map screen

Aglæca is a game inspired by Grendel, the oldest monsters in English-language literature, and also by the 1971 novel of the same name (by John Gardner), which is excellent and you should read it. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

You’ve read it now? Good. In any case, I didn’t hew too closely to the novel in my game (or to the original story from a thousand-odd years ago, either).

Because I was only able to spend about 15 hours developing it, the gameplay is much more limited that the idea behind it. Here are some things the game should have had, but didn’t:

  • Multiple monsters to choose from (though Grendel would always be the one I designed around).
  • People travelling around the map who you might run into outside of settlements.
  • People founding additional settlements.
  • The different tribes going to war with each other.
  • The settlements being able to do something with the lumber and iron they collect (they were supposed to build settlement improvements, and weaponry, respectively).
  • An actual combat minigame, either action or strategy, rather than the computer just crunching numbers and telling you how you did.
  • More awesome quotes from Grendel, as well as quotes from Beowulf.
  • Stats other that health/strength, such as cunning and speed.
  • One or more stats (possibly hidden) that keep track of how awful you are – when you are hungry, for instance, do you steal food from the village, or do you just kill and eat a villager? Mind, you’re always bad. This is more about how you are bad.
  • Multiple endings, possibly influenced by the aforementioned hidden stats.
  • Music.
  • Different tilesets for the different seasons.
  • LOTS of balance tweaks. Lots and lots.

So, given that it’s missing all that stuff, is it still a good game? Well, you tell me! Personally, while it’s not everything I had hoped for, I’m pretty happy with what I have so far, as a building block for something bigger.

For this to be a real post-mortem, I need to include what-went-wrong and what-went-right sections,  I suppose.

What Went Wrong

I can already say that my biggest mistake was wasting several precious hours on a procedural island coastline generation algorithm that went nowhere. The problem isn’t just that I didn’t make it work; the bigger problem is that even if I had made it work, it wouldn’t have really added much. If I hadn’t wasted that time, I could have gotten one or more things on the list above in there, instead.

Most of the rest of the problems fundamentally came down to the fact that I was too busy to spend the full time block working on it. Oh, well.

What Went Right

In the end, I really liked the theme. It’s not one I had voted for (in fact, as I recall I down-voted it), but once I thought of basing the game on Grendel rather than, say, Bowser, everything sorta clicked.

I’m also just really glad that I was able to submit anything at all. I haven’t worked on any game code for months at this point, and it felt really good to get back into the swing of it.

Anyway, congratulations to everyone else who submitted an entry, and I look forward to playing some of them myself!

Early Days

Posted by
Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 3:52 am

So, here’s a screen shot of my work on my project, tentatively titled Phygasma’a.


Obviously, it doesn’t look like much so far. But, there’s some stuff going on that isn’t drawn to the screen yet.

(Extreme bonus points if anyone can figure out what my game’s name means. It ties into the theme, but it’s pretty oblique)

I’m sort of in!

Posted by
Tuesday, August 18th, 2015 11:04 pm

I haven’t been able to participate in a while, and I’m only sort of going to be able to participate this time, as I’ll be traveling for work on Monday morning. I expect to get about 10 hours of time for working on my game.

That said, these conditions are similar to the ones I created my LD16 entry, The Legend of Purple Dot: Episode 1: Purple Dot the Explorerwhich ended up being one of my more well-received entries. I think it was because the extra time constraints forced me to keep it really simple.

Maybe this time I’ll make TLoPD Episode 2.

Hey there!

Posted by
Friday, August 24th, 2012 11:47 pm

Just dropping by to say hi. I don’t *really* have time to enter the LD this time around, not with a serious entry, but I have an interesting idea for a small entry (possibly jam rather than competition) that has a text-based interface (console, or web if I have time) that I think I could code up in maybe five to seven hours.

Hope everyone is having fun, looking forward to seeing the entries people are working on!

My game, Princess Mystery Dungeon, is now available in savory Windows and sweet OS X flavors! A big thanks to Spooner for packing up the Windows build for me.

If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a go!

(One warning: There is a very occasional crash during the initial dungeon creation that I haven’t fixed yet. If the game crashes on launch, try running it again, it should work most times).

(There are may be other crashes, too. Probably there are! If you run into any, let me know, and I’ll try and get them fixed.)

Dodongo dislikes smoke.

Posted by
Sunday, May 1st, 2011 7:27 pm

It’s done! It’s not [i]done[/i] done, but it’s done.

I hope to continue improving this in the coming weeks (though I guess I’ll be to busy judging, for  a while!).

Anyway, congratulations to everyone who finished, and to those who are doing the Jam, go baby go!

A notice regarding basecode.

Posted by
Thursday, April 28th, 2011 10:05 am

Hey guys!

I just wanted to let people know that, depending on the theme chosen, I may use a substantial portion of the code written for my LD19 entry as basecode. Specifically, I’m thinking of the map handling, player movement and collision detection code. Obviously, all the art assets will be done from scratch, as will the game text and the map designs and such.

I had originally intended to go in a very different direction with LD20, but if It Is Dangerous To Go Alone, Take This wins, there’s no way I’m not doing another zelda parody.

LD0: Dog (Final, more or less)

Posted by
Tuesday, April 19th, 2011 3:49 am

So, I’m more or less finished with my LD0 catch-up entry: Dog.

I’m too tired to package it up as a proper download right now, but if you want to check it out via source, it’s available here. You’ll need Ruby, Gosu, Chingu and Texplay, too.

I’m also too tired to write proper instructions. The truly adventurous can attempt to figure out how to play by pressing random keystrokes until something happens. Otherwise, I’ll add a Readme tomorrow.

In any case, I will say that I had a lot of fun working on this, and I’m looking forward to LD1: Guardian! Though, I’ll have to take a different tack on it, since I won’t have adequate contiguous time anytime soon.

Dog (LD0 catch-up, WIP)

Posted by
Monday, April 18th, 2011 4:32 pm

Okay, status update for my LD0 catch-up, since I have to take a break to run some important errands. So far, the game looks like this:

You can move your dude around, and instruct the dog to move towards you or stop. The blue walls, only the dude can cross, the green walls, only the dog can cross. The weird red is supposed to be a door that only opens when both the dude and the dog are standing on the pink area at the same time, but I haven’t coded it yet.

Not 100% sure how I’m going to implement the fetch command, or make it necessary for that matter, but we’ll see. As for ‘speak’, well, I need monsters to scare away. So there’s still quite a bit of work left.

Here’s hoping!

LD0 Catch-up

Posted by
Monday, April 18th, 2011 10:31 am

Okay! It’s time for me to make my LD0 (Indirect interaction) game. I will spend as much time as I can muster today doing this.

My idea is a game involving the player and their dog. The  only actions the player can take are the move around the map, and issue instructions to their dog (like, come here, sit, fetch, or speak). They have no agency to act on the world, and must overcome all obstacles through the agency of the dog, thus, indirect interaction. Also, the dog isn’t very smart and can’t navigate mazes themselves.

Given the time constraints, I forsee having very simple graphics, probably no sound at all, and only a few levels. I do hope to implement the four commands I noted above at the very least, and come up maps such that each command must be used at least once to complete the game. Other than that, everything is icing.

Here goes!

PS: Ruby, Gosu, Chingu, Pixen, and some basecode stolen from my other projects, same as always.

I’m participating!

Posted by
Saturday, April 16th, 2011 9:58 pm

Once again I’ll be hopping in on this one. Hope to be able to dedicate a fair amount of time to this one.

As usual, resources will be:

  • Language: Ruby
  • Libraries: Gosu, Chingu
  • SFX: SFXR (or some variant thereon)
  • Music: Autotracker-C (or none at all)
  • Graphics: Pixen, Photoshop

What I do will depend on the theme, but I’m strongly leaning towards doing a platformer of some kind. I’ve never done one before, as I tend to do top-down action/puzzle games. I actually have a neat idea, but it’s too early to say whether it’d fit the theme or not.

On another note, Uhfgood and Mikhail Rudoy have inspired me, and I’m going to (attempt to) do a Ludum Dare catch-up series. I’ve got Monday off, and though I have some errands to run, I think I can fit in an LD0 (Indirect Interaction) game. LD0 was only 24 hours rather than 48, so fitting it into my schedule is reasonably easy. More thoughts on Monday.

I’m in!

Posted by
Monday, December 13th, 2010 11:37 am

Missed out on LD18, but now I’m back! Some good themes so far, though nothing that’s screamed inspiration at me. In any case, tools and libraries include:

Code: Ruby + Gosu + Chingu (probably!)
Graphics: Pixen (probably!) or maybe just colored squares like in LD16 (if I’m lazy!)
Audio: Some form of SFXR

This time around, I aim to focus more on fun gameplay than doing something weird like last time. Capsize was fun to write, but it wasn’t any fun to play. Depending on the theme, I’m aiming for some top-down original-zelda-esque gameplay, but who knows?

A brief post-mortem, and a comment response.

Posted by
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 3:03 pm

So, with the weekend over and some of my voting out of the way, I figured I should write a bit about how thing went. I had really been rooting for Flood, as I had this neat idea for a puzzle-platformer in which you must raise and lower the water level in order to reach new places and manipulate objects of varying buoyancy. Such an idea probably wouldn’t have panned out in 48 hours, but it didn’t end up mattering, since the theme was islands.

I didn’t actually have any idea for the theme, and was considering skipping this LD until my girlfriend suggested I parody the recent comments of Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) concerning the island of Guam, specifically the danger that it would “tip over and capsize”. I thought this was a brilliant idea and set to work.

Things that went well:

  • I got to use my buoyancy ideas that I had been thinking about for the Flood theme.
  • I was able to write a primitive importer to transform an SVG shape into a Chipmunk shape.
  • I produced much better programmer art than I ever had for previous games.
  • I had sound for the first time.
  • I learned a lot.
  • I figured out how to successfully package some very awkward dependencies into a distributable ruby application (specifically, getting FFI packaged up correctly was gratifying).

Things that didn’t go so well:

  • I had very few ideas for actual gameplay until it was way too late.
  • I wasn’t as familiar with my libraries as I thought I was, and introduced lots of subtle bugs that were hard for me to track down.
  • I didn’t manage as much programmer art as I would have liked.
  • I wasted a lot of time trying to wrangle garageband, which I had never used before, and ultimately had to give up on it.
  • There are some very basic bugs that, had I spent time testing at the end, I could easily have fixed.
  • Packaging was difficult.

Some more on that last one; I had some problems getting everything packed up, for both windows and mac, but my biggest problem came from a weird issue with bitbucket. They use Amazon S3 as their storage for downloads, and apparently there was some issue there, because when I uploaded new versions with fixes, they didn’t end up distributed correctly (or so I surmise), because some people clicking the download link got the new version, and other people the old one. That’s all fixed now, so if anyone tried earlier and was unable to get the game to run, you might have more success now.

Now to respond to Hempuli’s comment:

F-Secure blocked it as a “suspicious program”. Probably a false positive, but could you ensure this?

This is almost certainly because the windows version is run using allinoneruby.exe, which is a complete ruby distribution packaged into a self-extracting archive. When you run allinoneruby.exe <scriptfile.rb> (which is what Capsize!.bat does), allinoneruby.exe extracts an entire ruby distribution into a temporary folder, uses that to execute the script, and then cleans itself up. It’s almost certainly this behavior that’s triggering warnings. Harmless though this particular program is, a lot of malware makes use of similar mechanisms. It’s not the most elegant distribution method, but it’s simple to set up, reliable, and fast.

You don’t have to take my word for the binary’s safety, though. If you’re concerned, you can download your own copy of the program and replace mine with it. Or, if you have ruby installed on your system (and know how to use it), you can just use that. The code itself (the stuff that I wrote, for the game) is all there is plain text, if you want it.

Anyway, I hope people who try Capsize are at least amused by it, even if it didn’t turn out a terribly good game. I’m looking forward to LD18 already.

Windows and Mac packages up

Posted by
Monday, April 26th, 2010 8:18 pm

Just a note to let people know that I’ve linked packaged, double-click-it versions for Mac OS X and Windows on my entry page. The combination of libraries I used, and the limitations of my development environment, made this game somewhat difficult to package, so I’d appreciate some feedback letting me know whether or not the packaged versions work, particularly on different os/arch combos (like 32 vs 64 bit, Intel vs powerpc mac, etc).

(A note, for those of you who downloaded entires via bit-torrent, Capsize! didn’t make it into the torrent since the windows build wasn’t ready at the time).

Maybe joining in, maybe not.

Posted by
Wednesday, April 21st, 2010 2:08 pm

I’d love to participate in LD17, but I’ve got a somewhat ambiguous schedule this weekend so the amount of time I can spend on it may be limited. Still, I participated last time on a small-scale basis, and that’s probably what I’ll do this time. I like keeping my hand in, even if my games haven’t really been smashing successes so far.

If I do participate, I’ll be using same as last time, Ruby+Gosu for code, with Pixen for graphics (assuming I get past the ‘draw everything with primitives and fill in the pictures later’ stage this time) and sfxr for audio. If I need physics, I’ll be turning to Chipmunk.

As for other ‘libraries’, I may pull non-gameplay related code from previous projects of my own, all of which can be found here. I may also grab stuff from the Gosu forums.

Participating (a little bit) after all

Posted by
Friday, December 11th, 2009 5:43 pm

All right, so, I’ve managed to work out how to participate without a) unboxing and setting up my computer just for the compo, in the middle of a move, or b) leaving little software dev turds all over someone else’s computer, the solution being, use entirely portable (as in USB-stick portable) software for development. In this case, allinoneruby.exe, notepad++, mercurial (the command-line part only), pidgin (for irc), and whatever graphics software is already on this computer (such as MS paint, probably). This is made even more delightfully awkward by the fact that I normally do my work on a Mac desktop, and now I’m on a PC laptop. Should be awesome.

I should also add, in addition to my previously announced use of Ruby and Gosu, I may make use of chipmunk for physics, and I may steal some code out of an earlier project of mine, Operation Lambda. I anticipate using application-level code like menus, user preferences and resource management, not any gameplay code.

All that being said, this is still a busy weekend; nothing like 48 hours will be spent on this project.

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