Ludum Dare 30
Ludum Dare 29
Ludum Dare 28
Ludum Dare 27
Ludum Dare 26
Ludum Dare 25
Ludum Dare 24
Ludum Dare 23
Ludum Dare 22
Best Game of Ludum Dare 29
Awarded by Rother Games
on May 1, 2014
Most twitch viewer's - by far!
Awarded by Aske
on August 19, 2013
General expression of well-wishing.
Awarded by xgeovanni
on December 5, 2012
Probably the most famous person with two trophies.
Awarded by Spaceoff
on September 4, 2012
Probably the most famous person with no trophies.
Awarded by xgeovanni
on August 27, 2012
I’m super excited to be participating in another Ludum Dare compo! This will mark the 9th time I participate in a row, and once again I will be livestreaming the whole thing — since to me that’s the best part about the weekend. I still don’t know why 10,000+ people think that watching someone program is a good way to spend the weekend, but I certainly appreciate the company.
My weapon of choice is Unity, Blender, Photoshop, and Audacity.
This was my 8th Ludum Dare but only my second time doing a strategy/simulation game — which is weird, because those are the kinds of games I live for. I think the barrier is typically that coming up with game mechanics and balance is so much trickier for strategy/simulation games than a more arcade-y one. Additionally, most strategy/simulation games take a while to learn, master, and fully experience — and for Ludum Dare I always aim for something that is playable in 5-10 minutes.
What Went Right:
- Streaming. Nothing else keeps me more motivated, interested, on-track, and just plain-old entertained as much as streaming the creation process does.
- Low-FPS Pixel Art. I’m actually pretty quick at making simple 3d models so I’m not sure that it saved me any man-hours, but given the amount of stuff that would be visible, pixel art made more sense from a visual and technical point of view. The overhead on the CPU/GPU would be reduced, but also most of the animations in the game are set to run at 2 FPS…and they look good doing so. They only have 2 or 3 frames of animation, and that turned out to be ideal to show “work” happening without being too busy.
- My schedule. I always do the same thing, and it always works well. Friday is 1 hour thinking about the game I want to make, then 2 hours prototyping. Saturday morning I’m allowed to throw everything out and start over — but otherwise is all feature development. Sunday is meant to be all polish (though a few last minute features usually get developed here too). I always plan on submitting the game an hour before the deadline (that way I can deal with any last minute disasters). I get lots of sleep, and I try to go for a walk around the block every hour or two.
- Knowing my tools. I’ve worked with Unity and C# for three years now, including six previous Ludum Dares. While the 2d toolkit is still relatively novel for me, most of the fundamentals are solidly rooted in my brain now, which means less time checking documentation or figuring out the best way to implement various mechanics.
- Working within a genre I know well. While almost none of the mechanics work in any way like SimTower’s (there’s no elevators or day-night cycle), the fact that I was able to visualize the look and feel of the game before I started made it easier to stay focused.
What Went Wrong:
- OMG WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU. Every competition you say “I’ll just make something simple like a themed Pong,” but nooooooo…you have to go and make a game that requires a ton of animations, relatively complex AI, interactions between different types of units and different types of buildings, resource management, etc… The number and complexity of the bugs you had to squash was ludicrous. You are not a good example of what people should attempt during Ludum Dare. At least you didn’t do multiplayer again (LD 23 & 26).
- It’s an established fact that Unity really doesn’t perform well when you have many, many active GameObjects in a scene. They are just too “heavy”. Despite this, I went with a game where each tile is implemented via its own GameObject…with several components. This made development much quicker and easier, but I was taking a massive risk that the game wouldn’t be performant enough. I had to adjust the scope of the game (camera zoom level, victory condition) to help keep the number of tiles modest. Anyone who continues the play past the victory condition will start to experience poor framerates.
- God damn freaking gaps between god damn freaking tiles. Lots of people have experienced this issue with Unity 2d’s system, and no amount of Point filter modes or camera orthographic nonsense could get true pixel-perfect placement in Unity without using custom shaders. I will NOT be using the built-in 2d sprite system for background tiles ever again. It’s slow and doesn’t work right. I wasted far too much time trying to resolve this, and the issue can still sneak up in the final build at certain resolutions.
- No ability to do spritesheet/palette swaps using Unity’s built-in 2d animation system. Unity’s 2d sprite splicing and animation system is excellent for a lot of things, but because it does all the heavy lifting in the editor there’s no way to do a spritesheet substitution at runtime (to make it easy to have the different worker careers have different outfits). This is something that would have been possible if I’d written my own sprite handler (which wouldn’t have been difficult).
- Improper nutrition. I always prepare good, high-quality food before Ludum Dare…but this time I more or less forgot to eat it. I spent Sunday afternoon completely burned out until I had a proper meal and my energy levels shot up. I should have forced myself to eat more consistently.
What’s Going to Happen:
I was already working on a Unity Tile Engine. I’ve now added support for multi-tile, animated “rooms” and run tests to see if the performance problem was resolvable.
The Ludum Dare version needs about 30 tiles wide and maybe 30 tiles deep (about 900 tiles). I want to support an area that is at least 100×100 (10,000 tiles). So…I tested a map that was 1,000 x 1,000 (One million tiles). To make things even more difficult, I tested on a 3-year-old MacBook Air, the weakest computer I could get my hands on.
Visual FPS – Minimum Required: 60. I got 350 with ~100 tiles visible and 150 with ~500 tiles visible (which is so far zoomed out that you won’t be able to make out tile details).
Simulation Thread FPS – Minimum Required: 2. I got 30. On a 100×100 map, I get 3,800 fps. If I want to tempt ever more complex multithreading issues, I should be able to improve the performance even further for multi-core systems since I can easily chop up the map into chunks for simulation.
So I’ve definitely got an engine that can support an extended version of Drill18. It’s also immune to any weird “gap” issues in the background. People also seem to like the game. Will this finally be my time to release a polished version of a Ludum Dare entry?
“First superaddictive game on this compo” — TeamInCharge
“Complete 5 stars. I’ve been playing it for god knows how long.” — CoderMusgrove
“if I wouldn’t see your stream doing it, I wouldn’t believe you made it in 48h” — dusho
“Wow! this was the first game I [kept playing] after I was done rating it” — Dreii
“Fantastically fun” — zkenshin
“Impressive is the word.” — javifugitivo
“Oh my god the addiction” — tomvert
“Those small details and animations everywhere are what makes you love games” — PapyGaragos
“This blows most of the other games out of the park.” — Bevilacqua
People are constantly asking the same questions over and over, so I took it upon myself to try to write up a clearer version of the rules.
I look forward to Ludum Dare more than any birthday or holiday. Here’s my “I’m in” post.
Except for the time that I participated while flying across the Atlantic, I’ve always livestreamed the entire process from start to finish. For LD #28, I had tens of thousands of people watching me — and if you told me before all this that people would be willing to watch someone program in real time, I would have told you that you’d be nuts. I guess maybe it’s just my audience that’s nuts.
Tool disclosure: Unity, Photoshop, Audacity, Blender, and possibly the A* Pathfinding library from Aron Granberg, which I still prefer to the built-in Unity pathfinding. Additionally, I may use some code from my freely available Unity 3d tutorials. Specifically, I’m feeling a little “tilemapish”. I’ve done a couple of multiplayer games in the past, and if I go down that route again I’ll likely make use of Photon.
BTW, for all you Indie Devs — I do game preview/review videos on YouTube. I have 140,000 subscribers and I love to cover indie stuff (primarily strategy, simulation, and RPG games for PC). Email me at [email protected] if you have something you think I should see.
48 hours to make a game isn’t crazy enough. Why not add multiplayer?
You can play my LD #26 entry here: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-26/?action=preview&uid=7862
I’ll be trying to make another multiplayer game this time, if the theme fits. Maybe something more strategy-oriented.
Watch the tutorial video here: http://youtu.be/AIgwZK151-A
I actually make a lot of Unity 3d tutorials, and my First-Person Shooter one is definitely the most popular of the bunch. Now I’m raising the bar by making a complete Multiplayer First-Person Shooter using only free stuff available in Unity.
What is covered:
- Building a level in Blender 3d
- Texturing and UV Mapping
- First-person character controller
- Photon Unity Networking, Cloud-based servers
- Matchmaking, room-creation, and joining
- Syncing character positions across the network
- Mecanim-based character animation (Running, Strafing, Jumping)
- Shooting, Taking Damage, and Dying
- Using RPC calls to broadcast events across the network
I didn’t think I’d be able to participate at all this Ludum Dare, as a result of being out of the country for business-related activities. However, I really didn’t want to break my 6-LD streak, so I decided to take my own advice: Just participate in any way you can, even if it’s just with an extremely simple game.
So when I found myself on a trans-Atlantic flight with no mouse, no Internet access, but with a small amount of free time, I decided to do the best that I could. What resulted is a infinite-frogger-style game with a very weak hacking theme. What I really wanted to do a riff on the Hollywood-style hacking visuals that you see in movies and tv shows. To do it right, I would have really needed some nice custom shaders, and that’s not something I can produce without more time AND access to copious documentation.
Still, in the end I produced an actual game. It has loss conditions (get “traced” by running out of time, smash into a firewall) and a goal (accumulate as many points as possible before you inevitably collide into the ever-speedier firewalls, or run out of time of course). My interpretation of the “10 seconds” theme is very obvious, but enabled me to focus on a very simple arcady game that would be doable in just a few hours.
I started the game when I was still in Germany, finished it up somewhere over the Atlantic, and uploaded it using the Toronto Pearson International Airport’s free wifi.
Things that I did this Ludum Dare that pretty much go against every recommendation:
- Throw away everything and start over from scratch after 13 hours into the competition with a completely different game.
- Make a 16-player multiplayer game. With automatic matchmaking.
- AI bots too, to fill any empty slots automatically. Make sure they have the ability to navigate a 3d space in real time, looking for powerups if there’s nothing to kill.
- Livestream the whole thing to almost 8,000 unique viewers and try to keep everyone entertained while coding.
- Include nearly 50 different death sounds, because it’s not like we’re on a tight deadline or anything.
Despite all these ridiculous challenges, I’ve completed what is by far my most fun Ludum Dare entry ever! At peak load, there were nearly 200 players connected simultaneously to the multiplayer servers. The only unfortunate thing is that now that the stream is over, there are sometimes no human opponents available — and they really make the game a lot more enjoyable.
If you’re going to test Shoot (AAA_FPS_GOTY), see if you can get a friend or two to connect at the same time. It’s way more fun than just fragging bots.
This visual makes death sting a little less.
Everything you see in Shoot (AAA_FPS_GOTY) can be made using entirely free tools.
I used the trial copy of Unity 3d Pro that was offered for Ludum Dare, but the free version would have been perfectly sufficient. The only “pro” feature I used was the shadow on the character — but a blob projector would have been just as good here. I also made use of the A* Pathfinding Project Free library as well as Photon Unity Networking. A free Photon Cloud server is used for matchmaking.
I used Blender for modelling — including making an animated character for the first time for use in an actual game. That was fun. The textures were drawn in Photoshop, but could have been made in Paint. I also used Substance Designer (trial) to get the ambient occlusion texture for the character as a learning experience, but I could have done the same thing just as easily (better?) in Blender itself.
The face of a killer.
Anyway, I hope you can take the time to try Shoot (AAA_FPS_GOTY) and pwn some noobs.
I have a bunch of easy to follow tutorials for Unity 3d available on my channel, including things like sound manipulation and networking.
Source code for the projects can be downloaded from here:
There’s not much in there that’s terribly sophisticated — but you may consider the code to be publicly-available libraries/templates for the purpose of using it in a Ludum Dare entry.
Good News: My toolchain seems to be in great shape.
Bad News: My Internet is poop?
The only reason I enjoy Ludum Dare as much as I do is become I can livestream the whole thing and get a few hundred of my viewers to keep me entertained while I work. It’s an amazing 48-hour party that just happens to result in a game being produced in the end. Unfortunately, my Internet seemed to cut out for a few seconds every few minutes, resulting in the occasional lag-fest, or an outright disconnect of my stream requiring me to restart it. This is very distracting and extremely frustrating. After calling it quits, I went and checked the various cables that my ISP setup as part of my fibre install and I think that I tracked down a faulty Cat-5 connection between the transceiver and the modem/router/firewall. I have replaced this and since then, my connection appears to have stabilized. Unfortunately, the problem was intermittent in the first place, so who knows. I’m also getting a tech from the ISP to check the signal strength on the actual fibre line, just to be positive.
I will be doing additional streaming this week (SimCity!) to see if things have stopped being poop.
Programming environment/library declaration: Unity 3d, including built-in standard library assets. Additional publicly-available libraries that might be used depending on theme and how feisty I’m feeling: Photon Unity Networking, A* Pathfinding Project, whydoidoit’s Loom, Unity Serializer, usfxr. Because obviously a multi-threaded, multi-player game with intelligent enemies and proper save/restore functions is TOTALLY doable in 48 hours.
Pong. I’m making pong.
Anyway… while other tools are not required to be declared, I like to list the ones that I’m likely to use because I like it when developers highlight useful stuff. I’ll be making use of some combination of: Photoshop, GIMP, Paint.Net, Substance Designer (including built-in Unity 3d substance generators), Blender, Audacity, BFXR, atrk-bu, SchismTracker, Spacescape, XSplit, Sublime Text 2, Notepad++, and more!
Livestream will begin at 16:00 UTC on Saturday, April 20.
I’ve already made one Unity 3d Multiplayer Tutorial, but there have been a lot of people asking for more depth and details, plus for an example of a multiplayer FPS specifically.
I’ve been in contact with the amazing people over at Exit Games (the Photon people) and they’ve arranged a 1,500 concurrent user demo server (my livestreams have peaked at 4,500 viewers — though I don’t expect that many tomorrow).
It should be an awesome time. This is also going to act as a warm-up for Ludum Dare. Make sure to go to the Twitch.TV channel and “follow” to be alerted when we go live.
If you can’t make it, videos should be available later on my quill18creates channel on YouTube.
I’m going to attempt to place the complete project on the Unity asset site afterwards, assuming I can figure out the submission process.