About pjchardt (twitter: @pjchardt)

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Entries

 
Ludum Dare 31
 
Ludum Dare 30
 
Ludum Dare 29
 
Ludum Dare 28
 
Ludum Dare 26
 
Ludum Dare 24

pjchardt's Trophies

RunJumpDev LD48 Participant!
Awarded by Hectate
on May 7, 2013
The Black Eyed Peas Award - For Phunking With The Hearts of Players
Awarded by nurabsal
on April 29, 2013

pjchardt's Archive

Art of Peter Padder Pauleypop

Posted by (twitter: @pjchardt)
Saturday, December 13th, 2014 4:40 pm

Greetings jammers. In lieu of a standard post-mortem, I thought I would discuss how I made the visuals for Peter Padder Pauleypop.

The Art

The art seems to resonate with those that have commented on it. I attribute this to two intertwined factors, scanning in and drawing on paper.

Scannning In

I think a flat cut out look is inherent to scanned in art when approached in a certain way.  I also like the contrast in overall flatness in the game to the volume of individual drawings. Once images were scanned in, I looked for ways of playing up the flat cut out nature through parallax and subtle movements, combined with layering images over one another.

Drawing on paper

I have a style when I doodle. It is not an intentional stylistic decision, it is just how I enjoy to draw when I am drawing for the sake of enjoyment. Because I have done this for so long, I am very fast at sketching out images and building up layers of ink. I have not as of yet figured out how to replicate this with my tablet, so by deciding to use this style for my game I was forced to scan but also knew this meant I could generate a decent amount of art in a small amount of time.

My pipeline

Here are some sketches I drew and then scanned into Photoshop.

ScannedImages_Example_1

Here are the images combined in the game with some animation effects applied in code.

PPP_Title

Process of creating the pier

My first idea was to have the character climb the large floating structure. After an hour of playing around in code, I scratched that idea as too ambitious and instead decided I needed a pier for the character to walk on (the idea of fishing came later).

Here you can see the initial sketch I drew in my sketchbook.

ScannedImages_Example_2

Once the drawing was completed I scanned it into Photoshop, erased out the background, did additional drawing/shading work, and kept the off white color silhouette behind the line drawing to give the cut out look.  After that I pulled in some elements from the large structure, did some copy/paste/transform effects, and had the bridge I wanted.

A quick tangent on resolution

The scanned images were dropped down significantly in resolution. Additionally, certain images had to be of a much higher resolution because of the zoom in/out feature.  So the large structure and clouds are at or below 1080p, however because the camera zooms in on the pier I needed a higher res image, so I also duplicated some of the background structure and added detail.  This layer sat on top of the lower resolution portions of the large structure and hid them from view.

Here is the bridge/pier in Photoshop with some of the background structure and some added parts to the pier.  It is now game ready.

ScannedImages_PhotoshopWork

The final step was to pull the image into the game and line it up properly with the large structure.

Cell animation

I don’t have a way to do cell animation outside of the computer, nor do I have any experience in it. So for the main character and the other animations, I was forced to do them in Photoshop. Here is the walk cycle of the main character.

WalkCycle_1

I used a simple hard brush and crosshatched to try and match the effect of the scanned in art. In the future I would like to create brushes to achieve this effect, which can save time.  For the tongue and fish I was a bit more creative, as time was running low. So I would copy and paste parts of other hand drawn images into the drawing to build up depth and detail.

Closing Thoughts

I am happy overall with Peter Padder Pauleypop.  I would like to play around with the experience some more and see if it goes anywhere.  You can play it here

Before I go I am going to also drop a plug :) Last December I made a game for LD called Smooth Operator. That game morphed into a game called Speakeasy, and released on PS4 at the end of November! So here are some links.

Smooth Operator Compo Entry  |  Speakeasy Website

Post Mortem: A Horse With Two Names

Posted by (twitter: @pjchardt)
Thursday, September 4th, 2014 12:36 pm

I also posted this blog over on the site for my game company Super Soul.

 

A Horse With Two Names is a game where players use the source to solve the riddles of the executable.  Players open the source code in the Unity editor to investigate, modify, and alter the code and scene to solve the riddles included in the game executable itself. So far the feedback is limited–understandably so due to the very high barrier to entry–but overall positive.

AHWTN_1

 

How the game came to be

ShaferCreatingTheWorld

 

I imagine it might be interesting to some folks how my game came to be.  While participating in my last few Ludum Dare compos, I have spent more and more time thinking about the fact that the code is included in the submission.  I occasionally added in funny comments, non-sequiturs and absurd function/variable names as a little surprise to anyone looking at the code.  For this LD, I found myself spending more time crafting the code than creating the game!  At some point Friday evening, I decided to scratch my idea and create a game that revolves around the connection between the source and the executable, which seemed to fit quite well with the theme.

 

The Grounding of the Compo

LD30_LightningCartoon

I use Unity all the time here at Super Soul.  I spend the majority of my time doing design work and creating art assets. When I do code I have a solid base I am working from, provided by the delightfully talented duo of John and Shea.  So I get super excited about an idea for LD, know what I need to do, only to sit down at the computer and realize all the things I take for granted during the day are not available :(

 

Turns out writing a basic input system for a riddle game is a bit more difficult when you don’t just pull in some NGUI assets and let NGUI work its magic.

 

The point is that I really value the humbling nature of the LD compo.  The restraints force me to find creative solutions, and further value the work of my teammates and the free/paid assets in the Unity community.

After I wrote an input system I realized I could have used NGUI according to the rules, c’est la vie, it was a nice learning experience.

 

What worked

 

Four compo entries under my belt.  Every time I get a bit better at time management and understanding scope/priorities.

 

Worked out my riddles the first evening, leaving all of Saturday for implementation and Sunday to test/polish/create additional content for the submission.

 

I isolated the one area I needed to move forward that I was unsure about implementing, which was the input system, and developed this system Friday night.  This allowed me to gauge the rest of my time fairly accurately all weekend.

 

I enjoyed myself.  I love LD.  I had fun.  I must have done something right.

 

What didn’t work

 

Music.  As always, the music I create is sub par.  I just need to become comfortable in a given tool and spend some time learning how to create decent music.  Of course this is an endeavor that will take a loooooong time!

 

Assets needed to solve the riddles are not integrated well enough with the assets that drive the game in the executable.  I would have liked to really integrate all of the assets together so that the code you are investigating to solve a riddle would also be the code that visually displayed the riddle and drove that part of the game.

 

I had to change source code that was in the executable to hide the riddle answers.  I wanted to obfuscate the code, hide it in a DLL, something.  I just don’t have the programming knowledge and skills to do this right now.  So I did what I could.  I redacted the code that checked for correct answers and added a note from management :)

 

Some stuff at the end

 

I made a video for anyone interested in checking the game out who does not have Unity:

 

Game Walkthrough : SPOILERS!

 

Ludum Dare Page

 

At the trajectory I am on, my next game will not even be playable by anyone!  Next time I think I will make a single player game with keyboard controls :)

Smooth Operator Post Mortem Heeeyaaaa!

Posted by (twitter: @pjchardt)
Friday, January 3rd, 2014 10:36 am

Smooth Operator is my LD 28 entry and my 3rd comp entry.  It is also my most successful Ludum Dare entry (in my opinion). So without further ado, lets post mortem!

What went right

Most of the last day was testing and polish

LD_PostMortem_Image_1

I learned this one the hard way during my first compo dance. I developed a platformer (first time) and did not have another person play it until a few hours before deadline. It was apparent then that the controls were floaty and difficult, but there was no time to really iterate. What resulted was a frustrating control scheme that hampered any other interesting or compelling qualities the game had.

I am very pleased with my time management and scope on this LD, which left me all of Sunday to test and polish. Perhaps even more important though, this time left to test and polished was sufficient to work at a relaxed pace, meaning those hidden gems and changes that reveal themselves only toward the end could be investigated instead of put on a list for a post compo version. (There is still a list! but I got to address the most intriguing/simplest to execute issues during the compo). I spent this time adding in some juiciness and nice feedback for the player, while also having some friends play the game and making some adjustments based off their feedback. (We had a local meetup for the compo at the offices of my company, Super Soul, which was great for feedback, testing and all around great times!)

I went home the first night AFTER having a basic prototype to test a few times

Screenshot_4

The first night I spent in its entirety developing the code, visuals and sfx to have a functioning prototype to play a few times before going home. This gave me a nice metric to judge how the rest of the weekend would go. It also separated Friday and Saturday along a nice line, Friday being prototype, Saturday being implementing the game. Driving home Friday night and waking up Saturday morning, I had a significant amount to mull over, while also having a fairly clear direction of what I needed to accomplish on Saturday. After spending the first few hours on Saturday planning and designing what I needed to execute on, the rest of the day was fairly straightforward implementation.

I found a good balance between the different ingredients of my LD cake

LD_PostMortem_Cake

I attended a talk by Jenova Chen years ago where he discussed a game being as strong as its weakest element. He illustrated this with a bucket full of water, and each core element of the game represented one wooden slab of the bucket. Each slab’s vertical length corresponded to its quality and execution, thus the water in the bucket was only as high as the lowest slab. I really enjoyed this metaphor for game development, and I now try to follow through on this concept whenever I am working towards building an experience through a game, as opposed to when I am working on a demo and/or investigating some aspect of game development.

I did a pretty good job of dedicating the proper amount of time to mechanics, visuals, sound, UI, feedback, etc. so the game is pretty equal on all fronts. There are many areas I would like to improve, but for the time restraints I am happy that I didn’t allow myself to be consumed by one aspect or ingredient to the detriment of others. I believe the relative times needed for each element, wooden slab or ingredient, to be proportional to my skill and speed, and the relative importance is dependent on the game and its goals. So for Smooth Operator I really wanted a solid experience, in and of itself. While it may be a shallow experience, I believe it has a decent level of polish and consistency to it to give a feeling of completeness (for a jam game of course! )

What went wrong

The game needs depth, as it stands it is a novelty

I am pretty happy with how people have responded to Smooth Operator, and it is certainly my best compo to date. However, I feel there is something missing in the game, and the absence of this something, whatever it is, is why the game lacks depth. As it stands, I think the game provides enjoyment, but is not a game you would want to keep coming back to. To me this is a result of a combat system that while fun, lacks any depth that allows/encourages players to develop and refine their skills, develop strategies, etc. that results in a sense of progression and accomplishment in the players abilities.

I am working on a post compo version of the game now, trying out different ways of adding complexity and depth to the combat. My goal is to keep the input and controls simple, but adding more ways the player can use these inputs, which I hope leads to more strategy and depth. I hope that I can figure out that something that can keep a player coming back.

The visuals should do more to give the game style

I want the game to ooze style. It doesn’t :( It is a decent start, but nothing along the lines of what I would have liked. I think some of this stems from the menus lacking the smooth personality I would have liked. I also feel the game has a bit of a personality crisis, wanting to be comical and frantic during combat, then smooth and slick the rest of the time. Well, writing this just made me reallize I am not sure what I want the game to be! No wonder I failed on this. Oh and I am not very happy about my color scheme. I wanted it flat and iconic, and I was leaning towards a 70’s groove style. But there is something about the colors that kinda bother me. Oh well…post compo!

I continue to slap on UI elements such as controls and how to play

LD_PostMortem_TitleScreen

I guess my rationale is that it is 48 hours and info such as controls and how to play descriptions are important only for functionalities sake. However, I just got done commenting in the things I did right about the importance of all game elements executed to the same degree to maintain a games integrity! For 48 hours I think it is somewhat acceptable, but it frustrates me that my menus and descriptions appear to be an after thought. After all, this is the first experience the player has of the game, and establishes the tone for their experience.

I would like to find better ways to implement my game screens and info. I really don’t have any good ideas, but I certainly love many of the ways others have handled this info in their games, so I am not lacking inspiration and research content. My hope is that moving forward I can integrate this content into the tone and aesthetics of the game itself, which should increase the overall experience and consistency of the game.

Well, that is it. Thanks for reading. You can find my game here: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-28/?action=preview&uid=13158

Smooth Operators Trailer

Posted by (twitter: @pjchardt)
Friday, December 20th, 2013 4:40 pm

Greetings jammers!

Hit their head off!!!

I created a trailer for my LD28 entry, Smooth Operators.  You can check out the trailer below.

I am happy to hear all feedback/criticism!

You can find the Ludum Dare page for Smooth Operators here: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-28/?action=preview&uid=13158

Smooth Operators is a 2 player game so if you are looking for something ridiculous to play this weekend with your friends, here ya go.  I have gotten some really great feedback so far.  People seem to really enjoy it.  I hope you will really enjoy it as well.

Looking for another fantastic 2 player Ludum Dare entry?  How about Gentlemans dueling Felines :)   http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-28/?action=preview&uid=21887

And on the topic of trailers, a great post on Gamasutra today: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/KertGartner/20131216/207009/Cutting_Room_Critique_Top_Indie_Game_Trailers_of_Dec_2013.php

Post Mortem: Where Therefore We Go

Posted by (twitter: @pjchardt)
Sunday, May 5th, 2013 2:11 pm

These are my thoughts about the game I made for the Ludum Dare 26 compo.  I will focus on what I feel was the most successful aspect of the game and the two issues I feel were the weakest.

I wanted to develop something I felt was complete and I accomplished this.

I have been preoccupied lately with the idea of games as complete creative works.  To help me in this thought process I have been toying around with parallels between a painting composed of component parts and a game composed of component parts.

I wanted all of the component parts of my game to support each other so that the sum of the parts was something greater.  I am pretty happy with the end result.  I feel the game has a completeness to it.

There were a number of components I felt had to be addressed sufficiently to fulfill the goal.  Visuals, mechanics, audio, story, and dealing with the medium itself.

For visuals I wanted to integrate the idea of minimalism both on a surface level, in terms of how the game appeared and on a subtler level dealing with the theme and the method of delivery, i.e. the screen and boundaries of the game representing ideas and techniques from minimalist painting.  My dealing with the delivery of the game involved blurring the game border both in terms of visuals and mechanics.  I also tried to break the game area up in various ways to compliment the visual style as well as attempt to change the players perception of the game area.

As for audio this is one of my weakest areas.  I dedicated enough time to work on music and audio that it helped tremendously to have sound that felt intentional.  However, I think significant improvements to the audio can be done.

In terms of story and mechanics, I wanted to tell a story in a minimal way.  I decided to have the keys(letters) on the keyboard that were used for input, WASD, to also be the characters in the game.  I felt this helped complement the game as a whole and effectively deal with the issue of explaining to the player how to play.



In terms of the medium, I tried to resolve this in the visuals, story and mechanics.  I already touched upon this above.  I will just add that one of my main goals was to tell a narrative through interactivity.

What I would improve.

I failed to develop and implement the audio I wanted.

I wanted audio tracks that played in layers and were played at random times based on a weighting system.  Two things prevented this from happening.  One is that I did not come up with a sufficient way to implement this in the time I had.  The other is that I have little experience creating music.  I am still looking for a music creation program that suits me well.  With time and research I hope to resolve these issues.

I sacrificed controls for narrative.

The other improvement I feel is necessary is in the controls.

Infernal says …

Apr 29, 2013 @ 6:38am

The only problem I have is the little slide to stop that occurs when you stop input. In the tight spots between two bars, this can end in frustration as you try to park a letter to wait.

Otherwise, very artistic and clean!

I chose to have each character move to the head of the group when the character’s key was pushed.  This was intended to convey the story of a familial group, each leading when it was necessary.  In order to do this I created an invisible object in the world that was the “hub” for the group.  When characters moved it was relative to the hub.  The result of this was a slide when input stopped and characters moving at odd angles at times; when the input and obstacles almost all existed as right angles.  These issues caused frustrating deaths.

While I still want to marry movement and mechanics to story, I feel I dropped the ball a bit by sacrificing gameplay, and control, for story.  While I don’t believe the choice is always one way, player frustration based off poor implementation is something I always wish to avoid, as for example a narrative can be ruined by control issues taking the player out of the game.

Overall I am happy. Ludum Dare is a wonderful event.  Thanks to everyone who has given feedback on my game.  :)

Thanks for reading.  You can find my Ludum Dare game here:  http://supersoul.co/files/Projects/LD26/LD26.html

Post Mortem: Evolving

Posted by (twitter: @pjchardt)
Friday, September 14th, 2012 11:24 am

This was my first foray into the LD compo and my first postmortem, so here goes…

What went right:

I spent about 2 hours thinking about the theme and how I could marry the theme to the game mechanics before I did any asset development.  I did not get started until around noon on Saturday.  Even then, instead of diving right into code or asset creation, I just sat on my back porch for several hours and thought about the theme.  This allowed me to focus on what mechanic I wanted my game to have and how it would be influenced by/reenforce the theme.

I spent the majority of the first day on the mechanic.  I did not worry about art assets, music, sound or quality code during this time.  Instead I just played around with the player movement and the mechanic of shrinking/growing based on what the player was doing.  Once I had the main mechanic nailed down, it was pretty easy to knock out levels utilizing it.

I set a clear scope that was very manageable.  I really wanted to be able to work on my game casually, and spend time tweaking whatever I felt needed work.  So I really tried to set a goal and scope that I felt was easily achievable.  It turned out for the most part I was correct.  This led to a fun weekend with ample time for error correction (aside the physics problems below).

What went wrong:

NO PLAYTESTING! and therefore floaty physics.  I don’t have much experience with platformers.  The physics and movement of the player felt pretty smooth to me, but of course I was developing it.  I did not have anyone play the game until about 3 hours before the deadline.  It was readily apparent when they played that my physics for the player were floaty and slippery.  Unfortunately, because I did not have anyone play it beforehand, it left me little time to fix the issues.

When the rules say you must create your own assets, YOU MUST CREATE YOUR OWN ASSETS!  This was just a stupid oversight from me.  For some reason I did not think about the music in the game on the same level as art and code.  So Saturday evening I picked out a nice song online that was free to use through the creative commons license.  Then, as I was sitting in front of my computer on Sunday, it dawned on me that I had to create my own music.  I have no music making tools, and no knowledge on how to make game music.  Luckily I recorded myself whistling in Audacity and tweaked it enough to make it work.  Had my game not had a minimalist style, I would have been less fortunate.

It is unclear for the player what to do.  Which can be equated to poor level design.  This goes back to playtesting, but in 48 hours there is not a lot of time.  I should be more sensitive to a new players perspective, and build levels in such a way as to lead them where they need to go.  The game should be challenging by design, not by developer oversight.

Thanks for reading.  I had a great time.  Here is a link to the game: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-24/?action=preview&uid=13158

Pjchardt

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