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heldensagen – day 3+

Posted by (twitter: @Ragzouken)
Tuesday, March 29th, 2016 8:02 am

claire and sam are doing great artwork – we have two cool character portraits, great ship models and some icons based on those on the way. i’ve focused mostly on making the hex map, camera controller etc look & feel nice. finished a very basic skeleton for the interface for choosing moves and am finally inching into the gameplay itself.

i know there’s an interesting tactics game to be made from the ideas we’ve had, i’m not sure we’re going to find it by the time the jam ends – but i know i’m going to keep at after the jam until we do! i worked out how i want the computer player to take moves against you, so it really is just a matter of crawling through the implementation until submission time ;-;

i’ve also been putting in small sounds (often forgotten in jam games!) just a few switch noises for button presses and move rotation, ambient engine hum for the fleets, and (at the beginning actually) some creative commons performance of a piece by mahler (one of the many many compositions featured in legend of the galactic heroes)

the game looks, feels, and sounds great already! just need the full set of assets and to complete the gameplay lol

hex menu for fleets

hex menu for fleets

heldensagen – the first two days in vines

Posted by (twitter: @Ragzouken)
Sunday, March 27th, 2016 6:00 pm

trying its hardest to be legend of the galactic heroes
team is mark wonnacottclaire morley, sam chester

PORTHOLE Post-mortem

Posted by (twitter: @Ragzouken)
Thursday, May 1st, 2014 2:35 pm

This was my first time doing the jam instead of compo, and Claire’s first time doing the full Ludum Dare at all! We had a lot of fun making our claymation exploration game, PORTHOLE, and here’s a post-mortem of how things went from both our perspectives:

21

Claire

Day 1

Saturday was pretty much all planning for me, I had to fit the jam around work on the first day so we began with a pub lunch to get some ideas together. We started talking about spaceships, black holes, and planetary exploration, which got me thinking about some cool spacescape clay textures I’d made previously. I’m always a fan of games that use claymation, papercraft, etc., and this seemed like a great opportunity to try and make a new one! I had plenty of time during the day to think about what kind of creatures the player would encounter, and sketched them out in the evening. I based a lot of them on prehistoric life forms, which often do have a bit of an alien feel to them.

Day 2

Sunday was when the clay came out! I started off by making the porthole itself, and after that it was essentially just creatures, as I had the background textures pre-made from a couple of months ago. I got a little carried away with the first creature (the green and yellow worm), and then had to speed up a little after I realised how long the first one had taken! The most challenging one by far was the monster that destroys your ship, the psychedelic octopus. I knew exactly how I wanted it to look, with its skin pulsing rainbow colours, but after the third hour of adding tiny amounts of clay to each limb for each frame I began to wonder if it would be worth it (I think it turned out pretty well though).

claire2claire3

claire1

These photos were taken about half-way through the octopus animation, and show my fairly amateur set-up!

Day 3

Monday began optimistically and turned into a rush to get as many creatures as I could moulded, photographed and animated. A few that I had planned smooth, reasonably complex movement patterns for had to be cut down to save on time, and an interesting ending scene involving the octopus opening up and devouring the ship never made it into the game…

What went well

I ended up with around 12 fully animated creatures, which was pretty good for 2 days work! They ended up looking really great on the backgrounds I had made, along with some awesome blend modes and colour changing from Mark. The octopus went particularly well, and I kept it simpler than my original plan due to the time constraint, which was definitely a good move. The idea to use clay worked really well with the atmosphere of the game, which ultimately became very creepy.

What went badly

My set-up limited me somewhat, in that I could have really used a proper light-box, which probably would have reduced my editing time in Photoshop hugely! I was a little unsatisfied with some of the creature movement, and should really have taken the time to plan it out better beforehand rather than jumping straight in to the modelling.

Stuff I learnt

Claymation takes ages if you want to do it properly, and that’s why more people don’t do it. Don’t try and use a laptop and model clay at the same time, clay gets everywhere.

STUDIO

We joined some other local indies at the Force of Habit studio to jam!

Mark

Day 1

Not used to working in a team, and Claire had to work all day so we had limited time to discuss what I’d be doing that day. We had plans to meet on Claire’s lunch break to hash some ideas out, but until then I was on my own and decided to prototype some interesting vortex effect inspired by the dark rift in Skies of Arcadia – had been thinking about it a lot recently and thought it might be an interesting direction to try. Ended up with some sweet spinning cloud effect that looks ominous, but didn’t really lend itself to a game at all.

I showed Claire some vines of the cloud effect over lunch and she showed some awesome clay textures she had done recently. At this point I think we settled on some kind of diving or immersion in an alien atmosphere with those textures as backgrounds. I knew what I was working on and headed back to the office!

portal

I started with this initial visual prototype – inspired by the dark rift in Skies of Arcadia

Back at the office I loaded the background in and started playing around and seeing what I could come up with. Initially I tried to use some old code I had to wrap an image around a cylinder, but it really didn’t work and you could hardly tell I was doing it because of the detailed and irregular background. I switched to making sounds because I couldn’t work out anything useful to do with the implementation, mostly killing time until Claire got off work and could help provide some direction.

Once Claire was in the office we managed to iron out the ideas we had and the work I had already done into something usable; we switched my cloud texture for some post processed clay texture, and I started turning it into the portal affect that made it into the final game – the idea was it was supposed to be the atmospheric gasses thinning. I mocked out a porthole stencil for what we had and we decided it’d be great to have a clay one framing the game, Claire would make that, and lots of creatures on day 2, and I would start implementing some kind of movement and get ready to accept creatures.

Day 2

Claire spent the day at home making the various clay graphics, though later joined us for dinner. I got into the office about lunchtime and soon after the porthole graphic made its way into the game, which was great to see and upped my motivation. I started work on having multiple layers to the game and a few hours later the first creature came over and I was really impressed – the aesthetic was really coming together! Over the rest of the afternoon I pulled in more creatures and put in the lens effect.

After dinner I was re-energised and the game was looking great so I jumped into getting the perspective (simple scaling) working for the multiple layers. I always find the kind of stuff fiddly, but by the end of the night I had implemented the effect for transition between layers. I went home and waited up whilst Claire finished off the awesome octopus she was making for the ending.

Day 3

The day got off to a very slow start for me – I had lunch at the studio but by this time everyone else was back to their usual as the compo had ended and we were the only ones doing the jam. After lunch I headed over to Claire’s place to make communication easier. We solved a few problems such as “the player doesn’t do anything” and “how we make sure you ever encounter any creatures” and it seemed like the game might actually turn out alright! Claire worked tirelessly on miscellaneous assets and painstakingly cutting out photos of the creature frames whilst I moaned that my code wasn’t doing what I wanted. Didn’t have dinner until I left for home with just a few small things to add. So drained, but so worth it!

noteslud

The notes I made through the jam; mostly visual ideas and thankfully no hard problems to solve!

What went well

Surprisingly, the audio turned out really well! I’ve been experimenting a little with audio for a while now and it seems I am more capable than my last two ludum dare entries (many complaints about uncomfortable ears). I supposed it’s a lot easier to create sounds for an eerie submersed environment, but there’s no shame in playing to your strengths! The game itself turned out pretty frickin’ awesome too, despite how thin on the ground any actual ideas were – it was very much designed on the basis of an aesthetic and mood with little consideration to interaction!

What went badly

My motivation waned a lot, mostly because I doubted the idea was going to work out, but sometimes because I wasn’t really sure what I should do next and couldn’t just indulge myself, because it was a team project. Definitely didn’t treat myself well during the jam, stayed up too late and had dinner three hours late on the final day!

Stuff I learnt

Working in a team is great! Although I couldn’t just run free with my own ideas, and had to try hard to be less precious about them, it was great to have Claire’s input to steer the game into the final piece. It’s also really helpful to have someone to tell you the game is awesome when you’re getting down about it.

We should probably have fleshed out the idea earlier – going with the flow is great, but not knowing if it’s going to come together can be really demotivating!

monkey target

Posted by (twitter: @Ragzouken)
Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 6:03 pm

demaking the monkey target party game from super monkey ball, we’re just over a day in and here’s what we have:

i’m also having a go at making music using bosca ceoil – it’s going okay! https://soundcloud.com/ragzouken/monkey-go-go-demo-2

IECSFXR – Three new ways to use sfxr

Posted by (twitter: @Ragzouken)
Tuesday, July 30th, 2013 9:07 am

For my masters project at The University Of  Bristol I am investigating the use of interactive evolutionary computation for generating videogame sound effects. My works are based on the familiar SFXR sound generator by DrPetter, using the flash version AS3FXR by Tom Vian.

Ludum Darites are the target audience of this program so it’d be great if you guys would give the programs a try, and fill out my questionnaire too!

The interfaces are:

  • sweepsfxr – a minimal interface for randomly searching the soundspace.
  • evosfxr – an evolutionary approach that asks the user to select the most promising sounds and help recombine them.
  • studiosfxr – a user directed interface for crossing and mutating sounds, and testing them out in dummy games.

Hope you guys find the programs useful!

sweepsfxrevosfxrstudiosfxr

soundscape – Post-mortem of an audio game

Posted by (twitter: @Ragzouken)
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013 1:41 pm

 

 

I decided to take the theme of minimalism in the direction of minimal interface: try to make a game that can be played by audio alone!

soundscape overview

What went right:

  • Framework: I used love2d again, and this time I had even more experience. I used the collision library I learnt about in LD24 and without it this game would not have been possible for me to make in the time frame.
  • Idea: I think this was a really interesting idea, and a lot of people agreed. I’ve never played such a game before, though I have heard of a few. I’m really interested in making similar games and seeing what can be done with audio games.
  • Visuals: I think I have managed to achieve a visual style is simple but elegant, and fits the theme quite nicely. It’s quite neat that the player’s route overlaid on the map looks like minimalist art itself.

What went wrong:

  • Sound: I made a similar mistake in LD24 – having really irritating sounds. Some people reported the feeler noise hurt their ears.
  • Playability: I really had no idea how to design an audio game, and it shows! I’m not entirely sure the directional sound for the goal works properly, and I think the theramin-style feeler is a very good interface for blind navigation. I don’t think I made it clear enough what the static meant, especially since the grid scrolls even when you aren’t moving! That said, I was pleasantly surprised by how many people enjoyed the game and actually made it to the end!
  • Dead ends: I spent a lot of time playing with dead end ideas – namely trying to do levels made of constructive solid geometry (way too fiddly to implement in the time frame). The sound element of the game is very stripped down from the weird stuff I was playing with, and the levels are nothing like I wanted them to be originally!

Like last time, in LD24, it was great fun to participate. I’ve made an interesting game that’s like nothing I’ve ever made before, and really has me thinking about new possibilities for other audio-games.

I’m in and bringing chums

Posted by (twitter: @Ragzouken)
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 12:17 pm

I’m participating in this, my second ludum dare, and bringing two chums into the mix too!

Last time I focused on theme and looks, but this time I want to do something interesting more than anything else. Easier said that done, of course.

I’ll be coding for love2d and probably using bfxr and/or goofy microphone recordings. Graphics are most likely to be procedural!

Looking forward to an interesting theme. I saw Magical Girl in the slaughter but it doesn’t look like it made it through; would have been interesting to see what people came up with for that 😛

SURVIVE – Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @Ragzouken)
Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 3:45 am

This was my first Ludum Dare, and I really enjoyed it! From what I read, it’s traditional to do a little write up of what happens, so here is mine for SURVIVE:

SURVIVE win screen

What went right:

  • Framework: I learned love2d a while back, then I started a warm-up game before TIGJAM UK 7, and made a game in it there too. This left me with a pretty good understanding of the framework, which made programming it a breeze. The only thing that could have gone better here is if I had tried the HardOnCollider library before Ludum Dare; it made collision detection so easy post-compo, and really improved the game.
  • Idea: Regardless of  anyone else’s opinion, I thought the idea was strong; which meant I was quite motivated to make it. Originally I didn’t know how I would turn the simulation of these organisms into a game; I had some ideas, but none were very good. As often happens, better ideas emerged as I played around with game and developed the other aspects, and lead to what I have now.
  • Visuals: The game practically started as a screen-saver. It looked pretty, and that was really motivating. When it came to the point that the gameplay just didn’t work, and I had some horrible changes ahead of me, I decided to make the start/win/lose transitions for the game instead. This was a nice distraction: fun and rewarding – the game felt more like a game, even if it didn’t play very well.

What went wrong:

  • Sound: This was a complaint from a lot of people. I thought I could make the game a little more interesting by throwing in some sounds that related to what was going on – a sound where the higher the pitch, the better the event was for you. In theory this sounded okay, but in practice sound is not so simple, and I should have picked the sounds more carefully. I ended up with lots of  dissonant bleeps and bloops that really annoyed people. This wasn’t helped by a bug that the each loss added a looping warning sound to the background!
  • Playability: The game was difficult to figure out, even with instructions (especially since some people will ignore them – I know I often do). It’s a frantic game and near the end death often results in gaining control of an organism that’s about to die soon too. This leaves your camera jumping about a lot with no real way to get back into the game – very frustrating! Someone suggested the level should start with fewer organisms, you have a chance to work out what’s going on – this is probably a good idea, but I’d have to put in some controls to stop them winning before the difficulty kicks in!
  • Organism behaviour: The AI was not very smart, which was one of the main causes for the bad playability because you find yourself taking control of organisms that have practically committed suicide already! I didn’t have collision detection in place and I really should have tried to do it – post compo I added it in just a couple of hours, and it made a vast improvement. Firstly it stops too many cells occupying the same space, which makes it easier to see what the hell is going on. Secondly, it made it much easier to detect nearby organisms in code, which meant I could improve the behaviour a lot – in those same couple of hours I added behaviour for the organism to try and create their babies in relative safety, and to attack closer enemies with priority; this really improved the game!

Overall, it was a very positive experience, and I’m left with a game that both looks great and is something I’d like to keep working on. I definitely will participate again! Please give the game a try. Rating it would be great, and comments are greater! If you like my game, there’s a post-compo version with improvements to organism behaviour.

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