About Photon (twitter: @PhotonGD)

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Ludum Dare 32
 
Ludum Dare 29
 
Ludum Dare 28
 
Ludum Dare 27

Photon's Trophies

Has Beaten SnakeFormer And Lived To Tell The Tale
Awarded by TobiasW
on May 19, 2014

Photon's Archive

24h Check-In

Posted by (twitter: @PhotonGD)
Saturday, April 26th, 2014 7:03 pm

Admittedly, it was a bit of a slow day. I’ve been kind of burnt out from real life (and real life still is going on!) and it may have carried over despite the fact that I was pretty excited for this Ludum Dare. On top of that, I decided to tackle one of the bigger AI coding things pretty early; this was so I could gauge whether or not I could finish the project in good time. I ended up sort of crawling along.

That being said, I’ve made SOME progress and after toying with the little tech demo I have, I’m very pleased. Its still pretty bare, but I do think I’m on to something great here. And that means I can hopefully focus on simpler stuff as I head down the stretch. If I can get and maintain some momentum, I think I have a chance of knocking this bad boy out. CAN I MAKE IT?!

You can play with the tech demo a little bit here (you can click to drop more turkeys too):

http://www.stencyl.com/game/play/26060

The debug drawing takes away from the suspense a little, but technically speaking it might be cool to see what’s going on.

ITS A GIRL IN A PARKA!!!

Posted by (twitter: @PhotonGD)
Saturday, April 26th, 2014 6:44 am

SHE'S A GIRL IN A PARKA!!!

Later she’s getting a gun. O.O

With the In-ness

Posted by (twitter: @PhotonGD)
Sunday, April 13th, 2014 12:31 pm

Oooh boy… I’m starting to feel a little pumped what with the “IN” posts starting. Is it really less than two weeks away ALREADY?! Its kind of shocking to realize I’ve actually been watching and waiting for this and now, it’s finally getting about that time! I guess that’s what happens when you start trying to do this consistently, huh? As usual, I’ve got some other stuff going on but so long as nothing situates itself in the “wrong” sweet spot you better believe that I will be IN.

It’ll be my third time and this time, I plan to make the 48h deadline. That’s right! Especially since I will be working solo, let’s see if I can pull it off. I feel like I’ve gotten much stronger in game development since my last two entries. 8)

And the tools:

  • Engine/Toolset: Stencyl
  • Graphics: GIMP, possibly with some MSPaint thrown in there
  • Audio: Um… PXTone? Not entirely sure.

I’m hoping to keep things well scoped and bring something AMAZING to the table this time around, more so than I have before. Watch, my fellow LDers, and bring it yourself with me!

Photon’s Picks

Posted by (twitter: @PhotonGD)
Thursday, December 26th, 2013 7:33 pm

Hey all. I’ve rated a lot of games up to this point (though “a lot” may mean different things to different people around here, lol), and I wanted to quickly share some of my picks, all of which I feel deserve a play and have at least some good gameplay value to them:

Best Overall
Titan Souls

Runner-Up Overall
Jump Chip

Honorable Mention for Innovation
YOGO RocketFist

Honorable Mention for Mood
GAEA

Honorable Mention for Humor
Golden Bomb

Special Mention for being Retro-Styled Goodness
CROSSBORE

Special Mention for Interesting Gameplay Mechanic
One Ninja

Special Mention for Favorite Stencyl-Made Game
The Last Flight

There you go! As for the final one, I’m a Stencyl user myself, so I wanted to give a shout-out to my favorite Stencyl game (not made by myself, of course).

And if you haven’t played mine yet, give Batteries Not Included a go while you are at it too! Thanks!

“Batteries Not Included” Post-Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @PhotonGD)
Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 8:39 pm

In case you haven’t played yet: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-28/?action=preview&uid=7658

So, my second Ludum Dare is in the bag and in my opinion, I think it went A LOT better than last time. The game is significantly more polished and I’m very pleased with the end-product and reception to said product so far. So now its time to share my thoughts:

What Went Right:

Game Concept and Theme: I really didn’t want to go the obvious way with Ludum Dare 28’s theme. “You Only Get One” was a good theme but there were some pretty common avenues I could take with that. Though not necessarily bad ideas, I wanted to be unique in my game design. But how? Mainly, the theme struck me as one that could key in on consequence. Having “only one” wasn’t supposed to be merely an inconvenience; I wanted it to mean something gameplay wise. One of the ideas I thought about was a system where you might have multiple robots, where one was randomly assigned to you at the beginning of the game and, should it die, you might not see it (and its special abilities) again for many playthroughs because of the random select. Unfortunately, this would have taken a lot of time to put together, both mechanics-wise and art-wise, and I knew pretty quickly it wasn’t a very viable option for me or the artist. But I liked the idea of having multiple robots with different abilities, and from it stemmed the driving idea behind “Batteries Not Included”: you would have multiple robots, but you could only use one at a time because you only had one battery. Though swapping characters isn’t particularly new, that idea combined with the shared battery gauge I felt gave me a solid interpretation of the theme and a good basis for gameplay.

Coding and Workflow: Teaming up with Max Glockling Games from Stencyl meant that I could focus on my strong point: programming and logic. Sure, I used placeholder graphics a lot at first, but up to that point I’d sort of underestimated them. Problem is, in the past I’ve been reluctant to use them; knowing my artistic abilities on pixel art and what have you, I was leery of assigning a certain “level of detail” to my art prematurely per size. However, this time I could shoot some dimensions at the artist and he would come through. And I must say, looking back it’s a little eye-opening to see just how efficient I was as a result. On Saturday, with art not so much a concern for myself, I was in the zone with my coding. Code, code, NOT art, and more code. Thanks Max! I did eventually take a “break” and whip up a quick musical tune, but mostly it was me coding away and designing levels. I think its definitely shown me in part how I work best when it comes to games, and its certainly something I need to take into consideration for future projects, particularly those where I’m doing everything myself.

Strong Gameplay Mechanics and Overall Level Design: Though I can’t say I necessarily got to fine-tuning everything to perfection, I feel the game is moderately balanced and diversified in terms of gameplay. Each robot has its ability, specific shape, and battery consumption. The combination of all of these gives some good flexibility, even if I lacked the time to utilize every aspect to its fullest. In short, I had a good set of advantage(s) and disadvantage(s) for each robot. Although I might argue the Floater/UFO guy was harder to balance than the other two, there were certain nuances particularly about his tractor beam that I could exploit to prevent him from making the game too easy (and he’s the biggest battery hog for good reason too).

What Went OK:

Audio: No sound effects, but I did get music in there. It would appear though that the music got to be very repetitive and annoying after awhile to some… at least per the responses on the livestream playthrough I was watching. I actually laughed (I wasn’t the only one). When and if I release a post-compo version, I may have to change things up and look into getting some sound effects too. Ultimately though, I think I made it somewhat satisfactory.

Collision Coding and its Quirks: This. This arguably is what consumed the half or so of my coding time. I dealt with this A LOT. I tried to make certain objects pushable under different circumstances. I tried to make it so the UFO guy couldn’t pick up objects from the side with his beam. I tried to make it so the dozer guy could move past certain objects at times and push them when he needed to. And it wasn’t necessarily unusual for me to get past one problem and have it introduce another. Trying to program all these nuances, in essence, around Stencyl/Box2D’s way of handling collisions was definitely a task! But, in the end, I got it to work. Having that clear dedication to coding definitely helped.

What Went Wrong:

Number of “Planned” Levels: I didn’t get to the amount of levels I wanted; I had been shooting for at least 15, and I only got to 12. On top of that, the first 8 were pretty straightforward because they were sort of introductions to different mechanics. That being said, the last four levels picked things up nicely… sort of. That brings me to my next point…

Somewhat Unbalanced Difficulty: Fortunately in the gaming world these days, people seem a little more forgiving of the super-hard difficulty. The people I watched play my devious Level 11 spent probably 20 minutes trying to figure it out (I went on to claim I probably should have made that one the last level instead of what was Level 12). That being said, they found beating the levels quite rewarding when it was all said and done. Nonetheless, with more time I could have potentially balanced the difficulty a bit better. I kind of cringed a bit as I saw them trying to get past even the first parts of the level, but they hung in there and still seemed to have fun while doing it (although on one occasion they cried my name out in “anger”).

Collision Problems: Hey hey… guess what? Still had some issues here. One issue was more of a collision box tweak that I thought I had fixed, while the other issue behaved like I would have expected it to but caused undue difficulties in certain situations. The latter happened on Level 11 many times in their attempt, and it was a bit hard to watch, especially since the game has that perpetual, looming battery drain going on that can cause total level restarts.

* * * * * * *

All things considered, I think Max and I managed to make a pretty great product. I’m quite encouraged by the feedback I’ve gotten thus far, and we’ll have to see how the ratings turn out. However, getting to see someone play it over livestream was big, and I’m glad I got to see that. This time, if all goes well, I would like to release a post-compo version to Kongregate. I have some ideas I didn’t get to implement, would like to add some more levels, and perhaps iron out a better difficulty curve; I think there is some solid potential still left to tap. If you’d like to see a post-compo version, say so! After all, I’m making the game so people like you can play it, am I right? :)

Thanks for reading.

Quick Question!

Posted by (twitter: @PhotonGD)
Monday, December 16th, 2013 5:03 pm

Does the jam have a one hour submission period following the time expiration like the compo? I can’t remember.

Batteries Not Included Update

Posted by (twitter: @PhotonGD)
Sunday, December 15th, 2013 9:00 am

Check it out on my blog here:

http://photongamedev.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/ld-28-progress-update/

You can see one of the robots has his art among all my programmer placeholder art. You can also notice the battery gauge is up. Things are coming along. Yes.

Proto-a-go-go

Posted by (twitter: @PhotonGD)
Saturday, December 14th, 2013 5:09 pm

http://www.stencyl.com/game/play/23122

Early prototype for “Batteries Not Included”

Pretty basic and maybe a little quirky, but it can at least give you a little idea of what’s going on. Hopefully I’ll give it a little update soon. Check the description for instructions.

Batteries Not Included

Posted by (twitter: @PhotonGD)
Saturday, December 14th, 2013 12:27 pm

Presenting my game idea!

Based on the theme “You Only Get One”, you take control of three separate robots who all have to share the same battery. Each robot has his own key traits, and they also each consume battery power at a different rate. Learning to balance all this power and ability will be key to your success in this puzzle platformer!

Things are moving along rather nicely. I’ve pretty much programmed the basic movements on all of the robots, though I wouldn’t be surprised if I have to tweak things later. For now, you can muse on what each of these robots might look like or do.

…In?

Posted by (twitter: @PhotonGD)
Thursday, December 5th, 2013 5:17 pm

Oh boy. I’m not so sure about this. Exam on Saturday and on Monday and LD?

Haha… I guess we’ll see. 😛

I’m thinking I may try to hammer out something quick… something relatively no-nonsense? Probably depend on how much gas I have left in the tank. Those (blasted) exams have to have priority over this, unfortunately. Guess we’ll see how hardy I’m feeling.

Anyway, tools:

Engine: Probably Stencyl; possibly Python and Pygame

Graphics: MSPaint and/or Gimp

Audio: PXTone and sfxr

Simple, simple, simple…

Where did I go?

Posted by (twitter: @PhotonGD)
Friday, October 18th, 2013 5:26 pm

(Copied from my blog: www.photongamedev.wordpress.com)

Short answer: homework and midterms this week. That about sums it up.

So down to business then, shall we? So first, the October Challenge. I can’t say I’m overly thrilled to say this, but I’m just not sure it’s going to happen. I have quite a few big things coming up school-wise near the end of October. As is often the case with LD, never seems to be enough time, eh (though timing is only half the issue; read on)? But that being said, I’m still planning to work on SOMETHING; I just don’t see it coming together before the end of October,and whether I continue this current idea or not is up in the air.

Which brings me to my next point. Why would I want to drop my idea? Actually, I’m not convinced it has to do entirely with the idea. I’ve come to a bit of a conclusion lately: I’m just not enjoying game-making like I used to in Stencyl. As a nitty-gritty programmer type, a part of me WANTS to work with hard code. And simply put, I’m just not sure Stencyl is at a point where I can really flex the power I want. Particularly, its the data management quirks that really get to me. Obvious things (define my own classes, stronger data scoping control) I can do with hard-coding don’t appear even remotely simple/obvious with Stencyl. Ultimately, its the trade-off of using a particular engine, of course; I want to be sure that I highlight that Stencyl is an incredible piece of software and its some of those streamlined features that kept me around, but for my personal tastes I’m just not sure its cutting it anymore. It’s just not as enjoyable for me.

So what’s the plan then? At least initially, I’m going back to my roots with Python and Pygame. Though I know that may raise the question of speed and performance, at this point and time I’m not too concerned about it. I’m going to try and build a personally-coded library on top of Pygame for my game-making needs and see how that goes. I’ve learned quite a bit, actually, from using Stencyl, and I feel better equipped to start more from the “ground-up” approach. And who knows? There are a lot of opportunities: in the future I could look into learning C#, as I know the popular Unity engine runs off of that. I think, at least for now, Python will suit me just fine; I know how to work with it and I have designed two rough games in it before.

So in short, I’m not going away. I’m still in the rough design phases with my Python coding (per my school and personal experience, I’m trying to get this whole “planning” thing down a bit better), but the gears are turning a bit more vigorously than they were before. And if you like Stencyl, don’t worry! I’ll probably still be around the forums and may still post some Stencyl-related materials on my blog here and there.

So there you go. Photon out. :)

—————————————–

Must admit though: I’m seeing a lot of stellar looking stuff (my eye has been caught my that drone game in particular)! Hopefully I’ll be playing some of it in the near future!

Photon’s October Challenge 2013: Day 13

Posted by (twitter: @PhotonGD)
Sunday, October 13th, 2013 6:31 pm

(Copied from my blog: www.photongamedev.wordpress.com)

Still chipping away…

I was working on configuring basic gameplay settings that apply throughout the entire game, such as level exit conditions, total restarts of a level, item collection… stuff like that. Not much to write home about… again. But hey, progress is progress.

Photon’s October Challenge 2013: Day 12

Posted by (twitter: @PhotonGD)
Saturday, October 12th, 2013 5:55 pm

(Copied from my blog: www.photongamedev.wordpress.com)

Hey everyone. My Thursday and Friday ended up being quite long and eventful, and I was feeling a little burned out. On top of that, I might be getting sick. But who wants to hear about my woes? C’mon, y’all wanna hear about the GAME, right? So despite another absence, I knew I needed to get back into it before I let my rhythm get too heavily jarred.

So I’m chugging along, even if it be slowly. I started programming resettable game objects today, like the fading/crumbling platform. I’ve also brushed up the resetting power a bit so it doesn’t cause cloning (start position player and reset position player). I actually think the programming and stuff is going to be a bit simpler than I anticipated. Again, I think simplicity will be my friend here. I just think its going to be a matter of picking up my pace just a bit so I can make the October deadline, as I still have some graphical and musical stuff to think about.

So I still don’t have a whole lot to show, but I’m trying to keep some form of steady pace. I chose Stencyl because I know its good for rapid game-making and publishing a Flash game gives me an easy target for my $1. Stay tuned for some (hopefully) more substantial updates in the near future!

Photon’s October Challenge 2013: Day 9

Posted by (twitter: @PhotonGD)
Wednesday, October 9th, 2013 5:03 pm

(Copied from my blog: www.photongamedev.wordpress.com)

Woohoo! I think I have the physics just about where I want them: nice and “crispy”! The only thing I might change eventually is the wall jump, as it feels a little unnatural at times. However, I don’t feel its going to hinder the progression of my game design as it stands right now.

I also decided I need to take some time to really consider how I wanted to flex this game’s “fun” muscles before I dove too far in. I have a great concept, but as far as execution went, I hadn’t thought too specifically about how to make it a well-oiled machine as opposed to a cluster of gimmick-stages. So I fell back on some of my personal musings about the construction of games, particularly this writing: http://wp.me/p3AkJt-4V

So where were do my priorities lie? As a ninja-based, action platformer, surely this was going to fall somewhat on the instinctive side of things: a healthy dose of speed with some nice variation to keep the player on their feet. But I was also struck more profoundly about the side-effect of my reset power: the ability to directly undo your progress. In most games, progress is undone as the result of stuff like a lost life or failed objective… mistakes by the player. But not this game; the player has direct control over the ability to undo (some) progress. And as I said before, the mischief here is that such a thing can be for better or for worse.

So what does this mean for the design of the game? Obviously, I’ve been working on the fluidity and speed, as I want the game to feel crisp to control. Pacing will be important to some of the potential chaos that can ensue. Beyond that, I think the utilization of some simple switch-ups and traps will keep the player guessing at times. My suspicion is that the player might start to lean on the reset power as a panic button when needed. A simple trap might spring that puts the player in an urgent situation. Do you mash the reset button in your haste? Careful, you may have to backtrack and redo a certain section of the level to get back that lost progress. I want to utilize little things that can subtly punish the player.

So, in summary:

  • Capitalize on speed for a more urgent pace
  • Throw little but meaningful wrenches into the mix
  • Challenge the player’s ability to maintain progress without punishing them too heavily

Part of it is about making the “reset” power complement the frenetic nature of the action platformer. Give the player their speed and control, then let the subtle change-ups and reset power keep them alert and mess with their head a little. Haha… I like where this is going!

Photon’s October Challenge 2013: Day 8

Posted by (twitter: @PhotonGD)
Tuesday, October 8th, 2013 7:51 pm

(Copied from my blog: www.photongamedev.wordpress.com)

Today’s progress:

I plopped down a quick little test level for my ninja to run around in and started tweaking collision and physics stuff. The challenge is to kind of give this sensation of floating that a ninja might experience while keeping the actual handling clean and crisp. I’m thinking I’m just about there. I’ve got gravity about where I want it in terms of force and I think its just a matter of giving the ninja’s personal forces like walking a little extra “crispness”.

Either way, I think I can begin actually laying out the levels here soon in Stencyl. Exciting! Chugging along at a small pace perhaps, but I’m moving. I’m thinking I’m going to stick with this art style now too, as I will probably focus more on game coding this time around and, again, I need to be conscious of the timeframe allotted for the challenge.

Photon’s October Challenge 2013: Day 7

Posted by (twitter: @PhotonGD)
Monday, October 7th, 2013 8:30 pm

(Copied from my blog: www.photongamedev.wordpress.com)

……

Oh, what’s that? Oh right, there’s another game I should be talking about other than Mighty No. 9. Or maybe not. Well, anyway…

Actually, I’m feeling a bit more motivated (slightly because of the latter; see my tactly entitled post “?!?!?!”). I got a rough version of the reset power working today. With Stencyl, it’s pretty easy to get what I’m going for by using scene reloads and then properly accounting for the new player position. I’ll have to think about non-resettable key items later as well. I’ll probably work on fine-tuning some physics-related parts of the game before I progress too much farther on actual level building, of course.

So yeah, progress. So… can I go back to posting about Mighty No. 9 now? Haha…

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