Ludum Dare 25
Ludum Dare 21
Ludum Dare 19
Ludum Dare 17
Ludum Dare 16
The Theme & My Idea:
In truth I had a very specific goal coming into this Ludum Dare weekend. I wanted to prototype a mix of game mechanics and see if it was compelling. As long as the theme was fairly generic I figured I could make it work.
The theme “You are the villain” was announced as I was leaving work. I like timing the theme announcement time for when I’m not at a computer. I had an hour long commute to think through what I wanted to do.
My initial concept was a serious topic, but this fell apart early Saturday afternoon. What emerged was a tale about a cat.
Another goal I was hoping to accomplish this weekend was to get my fiancee (Melinda) involved in writing dialog trees. We’ve been trying to get traction on our own game idea for a long time so this presented a good opportunity to put a fire under our asses to figure out a usable workflow. One of the first things I did Friday evening was write out a template in Google Docs including a sample dialog tree. The thought was that Melinda should could edit this doc, I could copy and paste into Chat Mapper, then export to XML for use in the game.
This workflow worked… pretty good! Melinda was able to follow the template well. Copying and pasting into Chat Mapper was quick. And the resulting XML files were usable almost immediately. What I didn’t account for was game dialog logic being so foreign to Melinda (she is not a gamer). I’ve played so many games with dialog that I can just see the underlying structure. It was difficult for Melinda to write without fully understanding how it would flow in the final project. Thankfully it took me literally minutes to turn her dialog into gameplay so she could see it in action and adjust accordingly. Rapid iteration saved the day.
The original scope was 3 stages each with 3 characters – so 9 dialog trees total. Final game had 1 stage and 3 dialog trees which was plenty of content for this jam. Melinda learned a heck of a lot about dialog in games and I learned a hell of a lot about explaining these systems. I’m considering ditching Chat Mapper for a simpler text-only file format. While the time it took to copy and paste into Chat Mapper was negligible, I quickly found that the tool might be too cumbersome to rapidly iterate on a text-heavy game.
For the first time in 3 years I didn’t use Flixel for this Ludum Dare. In September I started learning Starling and have been building my own helper classes. This was my first completed project with this codebase. Things… mostly worked. There were a few very broken things that I came across that I had to just design around. I’m not a framework programmer by any stretch so I’m impressed when any of my code can be reused.
At this point I’m not sure if I’ll continue developing my own codebase much more or if I’ll just wait and either adopt Flash Punk 2 fully, or just parts of it.
Graphics & Sound:
I feel like I barely got to really polish the game and as such I had to make due with some fairly awful graphics and sound. Certainly for (my) Ludum Dare standards they are fine, but they just don’t come together as nicely as I’ve managed in the past.
As stated, my primary goal this weekend was to test out several game mechanics and see how they played together. I originally covered the Platforming/Random RPG Battles in Abarrane (LD 19). These worked well together. For Fluffy, I wanted to try out my idea for a dialog “mini-game” that relied on stats that you’d build in combat. This came together pretty good, although I was incredibly nervous for most of the weekend. Essentially I was juggling 4 distinct gameplay mechanics during a 48 game jam. I honestly didn’t feel like I gave any of them the love and attention they each deserved. I was most worried about that intangible “glue” that holds these things together and until late Saturday I didn’t think this game would come together as well as it did.
Was this my “best” Ludum Dare entry? No. But did I achieve many of the goals I set out to achieve? Yup. Ludum Dare’s are all about learning and practicing my craft so just participating is rewarding for me. Having a game I can show others after the weekend is just a bonus.
Let’s see here…
Code declared and repository created (https://bitbucket.org/kaylasara/ld25)
Desk… sorta cleaned.
Yeah I’m in. I haven’t done an LD in 16 months and I’m quite excited. I’ll be using some of the classes I’ve been developing on-top of Starling and Nape. Development tools will be: Flash Builder 4.7, Photoshop, Flash Professional, Gitbox, ChatMapper (maybe), Audacity, probably a bunch more. I’ll be building with a mobile target in mind but with keyboard controls for easy reviewing post-compo.
I won’t decide on if I’m in the compo or jam until later in the weekend. I’m not in this to win. I’m here for the fun and the learning that Ludum Dare provides for me again and again.
Good luck everyone.
Roller-Derby 20XX: Mega Islands of Awesome (my April 2010 Ludum Dare entry) has been rebuilt from the ground up, sponsored and released under a shorter title “Roller Derby 20XX”.
I always intended to revisit this game post-compo but it took many months before I actually did anything about it. The talented musical stylings of Amon26 and exquisite pixel-artistry of Paul Veer made the game come to life. As for me, I rewrote a lot of the code and tweaked the controls significantly from the original release.
Actually going through the process of releasing a game, finding sponsorship and distribution was hugely rewarding. I learned so much that will put me in a stronger position if I decide to do another sponsored Flash game. Financially, Roller Derby 20XX was a break-even proposition. I was able to pay the artists and FGL’s 10% cut. Which is fine. The experience was far more valuable to me than any monetary gains.
Ludum Dare has been a life-changer for me. I don’t have much free time and I’m not disciplined enough to spend an hour or two on game development every day. But I can free up a weekend and know that I will have something prototyped after 48hrs. Sometimes these prototypes are worth expanding on.
I recommend to anyone: take one of your compo entries, polish it up and throw it up on Flash Game License. Just experience what it’s like to go through that process.
Total investment in Roller Derby 20XX: About 150 hours. Value gained from the experience? Priceless.
Happy voting and commenting everyone.
Have a great holiday season and I hope to see a bunch of you at GDC in February.
It’s now 26hrs post LD #19 compo end. The dust has settled, my brain has had a chance to wind down. It’s time for a post-mortem.
The Theme & My Idea
Ludum Dare 19’s theme was “Discovery”. I wasn’t a fan of it considering a year ago the theme was “Exploration”. But the bonus is it did give everyone a lot of creative leg room. On my ride back home after derby practice on Friday night I started brainstorming ideas. I settled on focusing on “self-discovery”, doing something a bit surreal, and having levels based around Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The idea would be that the player would battle through each of their stages of needs only to reach self enlightenment.
The game would play as a side-scroller / RPG hybrid. This gameplay concept is something I’ve wanted to prototype for Granville for months now.
I knew immediately that my idea was ambitious. I’ve never made a platformer with levels before nor have I ever coded an RPG battle system.
Pretty pleased with where I’m at. Since I was only able to start in full today I got a lot done. The RPG and Platformer bits are all working relatively good. The atmosphere is hitting exactly what I want. I’m not content complete as I’d prefer to be at this point, but I’ll just have to hustle tomorrow. There wont be as much time for polish.
The concept is about self-discovery and fighting through the various stages of needs to hit self-actualization. Working title: Super Maslow RPG.
Playable build available here: http://www.refrag.com/gamedev/LD19/bin-debug/LD19.html
Panic starts to set in during Ludum Dare theme voting week and by-golly this week has gone by fast. I wasn’t able to participate in LD #18 so I’m excited to be getting ready for #19. My machines are all rebooted with a clean desktop and ready to rock.
– iMac 27″ Core i7
– HP Laptop (in case I need to use any Windows apps)
– Flash Builder 4
– Flixel 2.35
– Adobe Photoshop CS5
– Wacom Bamboo
– iPad apps (maybe)
– iPhone/iPad apps (maybe)
– Chat Mapper (if I go with a dialog heavy game idea)
Unfortunately I won’t get a chance to start right away on Friday evening so my usual plan will be out of whack. But roughly this is what I’ll stick to:
– Friday night: Think of an idea that fits the theme
– Saturday Morning: Prototype
– Saturday Afternoon/Night: Drive to Alpha (core content, fully playable, submittable if needed)
– Sunday: polish, tuning, nice-to-haves.
First, thank you to everyone who’s played, voted and provided feedback on Roller-Derby 20XX: Mega Islands of Awesome. You guys are the mega awesome ones!
Some responses to some of the comments:
- Music: I’m glad everyone likes the soundtrack. As requested by skintkingle I’ve uploaded the MP3s and they are accessible here: http://www.refrag.com/game-dev/roller-derby-20xx/
- Title Screen: Glad you liked this Terry. I had so much fun making myself into an NES style titlescreen. I saved extra time on Sunday just for this final touch.
- Collisions: Feedback around the “fishy” nature of collisions is good feedback to hear and very valid! In reality collisions are working exactly as I coded them. When you intersect an enemy there is a dice roll based on their “aggro-level” (which is randomly generated at spawn). There is a chance they will hit you. If they hit you you will either bump forward, or there is a chance you will fall. But yes I can totally see how this isn’t very intuitive. Surprisingly this dynamic tests better with more casual game players who seem to accept a “fuzzy” logic to collisions. The more experienced gamer seems to expect either binary rules or a way to pre-determine the result to better strategize. (Neato!)
I have some ideas on how to build on this game concept (thanks to your feedback!) and hope to flesh out and expand on this “world” in the near future.
Another great weekend. Ludum Dare is such a special event. You go into it knowing it’s going to be a boatload of work. You know you’re going to lose sleep and probably not eat very healthy. But all the pain and suffering is over in 48hrs and all you’re left with is a game you made yourself.
And I’m done. I had full intention of sticking more closely to the theme, but I was just having too much fun with this game. Would love to hear any feedback you may have.
Timelapse and full Postmortem coming later this week.
A huge thanks to everyone that provided feedback during development and of course a gigantic thanks to the organizers at Ludum Dare HQ. It was an awesome weekend as always.
Saturday is over! I spent far less time this Saturday than I did during LD #16 which is probably for the best. I’m fairly pleased with where I’m at. I’ve spent 16hrs of development time so far and I expect to log about 7 more tomorrow.
Flixel is a life saver. I find I’m not worrying about tech at all. I don’t feel like I have any tech risk on this project and anything I want to do is coming fairly easily. I’m also really really enjoying Flash Builder as a development environment.
I realize that my game has drifted from the theme a bit, but I’m having fun and that’s all that matters. Right?
Latest build available here: http://www.refrag.com/2010/04/23/ld48-go/#more-668