I don’t know if I’m behind or not, but probably! I think I have an idea that I can finish, and may end up doing the jam because I want to go to the fair today. Ah, priorities!
The game is going to be a cross between sokoban, the stealth genre, with a world-switching mechanic. In the physical world you can do normal things like flipping switches and pushing boxes – but you have to watch out for the patrolling guards and not let them catch you. In the spiritual world you can push people around and the guards wont see you, but your physical form stays in its original place. I probably dont have time to make decent levels, but if I get the basic mechanics working I’ll be pretty happy with it.
In very little time I already have 3 ideas I kind of like. I’m not quite sure where to go with them, but maybe as I write them out they will solidify.
1) Space game. Since the theme is connected worlds, it can lean away from being a trading/dogfighting game, and maybe to something else. A wormhole between an alien planet and earth, and how that affects the two worlds. Might take a bit too long to build this into a workable game foundation but we’ll see.
2) Sokoban style puzzler. What you do in one world affects the next, but the logic of what does what where isn’t spelled out. Destroying one kind of block may create that block in the other world, while another type of block will be destroyed in both. Possibly one of the worlds is fairly abstract, but the other world is more realized – you make abstract choices and then see what that actually means in the realized world.
3) Something to do with hacking/social networking/a fake mmo. I’ve always wanted to build a game around these ideas but never have gotten far with it. The “connected worlds” of our different spheres of life.
I have lost count of how many of these “I’m in” posts I have written that I have not actually followed up on with a game! But what are past failures but more fuel for the eventual rocket ship? To the moon!
Tools: Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
And maybe some python + pysfml as well.
I meant to enter LD28 but when I was underwhelmed by the theme I didn’t even try. It’s been a while since I’ve really done one of these, and I feel like I am ready to kill myself trying to make a game in a weekend again! No “bad theme” excuses allowed this time. I’m going to make an honest attempt, even if it’s something dumb like a jrpg where an npc mentions the theme in passing, like “This accursed rain… You know what they always say young sir. ‘It never ends'”. And then a couple minutes later, “Huh, look, the rain stopped. I guess it ends after all.”
Anyway, I intend to use python+pygame, and build an engine around the new/old-fangled entity component architecture. Rather than what I usually do, which is make an NPC class and then make everything a special case of NPC. (Projectiles, scenery, items – it’s all npcs!) That usually works well enough for the type of games I make, but gets annoying to work with whenever I try to expand beyond a compo time limit.
And actually, none of the themes strike me as too terrible for once. I think it’s going to be a good weekend.
Wow another one of these? I’m doing this to myself again? I intend to be pygaming it up as usual, using my super small base code that I use for everything (pwbc). Art to be drawn (badly) in either gimp or inkscape depending on where the muse takes me. Probably going to twitch it up as well.
The themes are all relatively interesting, hopefully my idea brain is actually available this weekend to make use of the seeds that have been planted in ludum dare’s soil.
Fear ye, fear ye, for the time of the flowing creativity unbounded is nigh, and what could be a more dangerous weapon than the imagination unleashed on an unsuspecting universe of interconnected pixels who may or may not be people?
I have spent the last few hours tinkering trying to figure out a strategy that would let me have a more playable game without having to spend too much time. Could not think of anything. I then spent some time tweaking the existing game to see if I could find the fun. I couldn’t So I slapped a score on it, and made it restart the level when you die, and am going to “ship it”. I feel like there might be something there but I kind of hate it right now and don’t want to poke around anymore.
You can toggle formations with 1 and 2, and press the arrow keys to change the direction. Formation 2 is kind of broken and useless, and the level is easy enough I think you can “win” without pressing a key, although you won’t get the best score. My best is 22, with only a few baddies missed. Not sure if it’s possible to hit every grunt but it might be.
What went wrong :
*idea too hard to pull off in 2 days, needed more upfront design
*Spent most of yesterday playing with formations and tweaking controls without level data. How do I even know if the controls are good or not without something to test against?
*Spent too much time tweaking at the end when a bit of extra polish could hide the bad gameplay
What went right:
*Got formation and base code up quickly first night
*Not much else
For next time:
*levels first controls second
*try to find easier idea
*limit tweak time for each feature so I have more time to see how well elements fit with each other
*dont make a scrolling shooter ever again, it never works out for me
It’s not exactly fun, but that’s what the second 24 hours is for, amirite? I think my main problem is I got a bit carried away with how easy and fun it is for me as the developer to design all these crazy formations. Within the actual game, choosing from such a large selection just doesn’t work that well. I bound 4 very directional formations (basically lines facing in each cardinal direction) to wasd, with the other ones bound to the arrow keys. It’s not terrible, and I can pretty easily kill the two enemies that spawn.
I REALLY need to actually flesh out the level in some way that I can judge the controls and gameplay a bit better. But I guess this is still a pretty big milestone, so I’m happy!
Oh man, I just thought of a great variation for my idea, but I don’t think I have time to implement it. For now I think it’s best to stick to the plan. I thought of it because as part of the design, I made the game load in the formations from image files:
You can see in the top all of the image files which present the selectable unit formations. What would be cool is, if you had to create new formations during gameplay, where instead of me predefining them, the game is about finding a set of formations, or a single formation, that allows your units to beat the level. Anyway, I’ll see what happens when I add enemies.
Yep, I am following my old ways – implement just enough of a shell to provide the programmer in me lots of things to tinker with, and then delay adding the actual game by tinkering into eternity.
Finally made a google code project for it: http://code.google.com/p/mini-ld-28-unitformations/
* force self to make gameplay
* force self to make gameplay fun
The units go into formation and shoot. For now there is only the line formation, but you can toggle the direction the line faces by pressing the direction keys. The units shoot at a steady rate, but stop shooting when you change directions, so you can’t just go back and forth to quickly shoot all directions. I might add a timer to prevent you from changing to rapidly, or I might leave it. Right now with the small number of units it kind of just feels like r-type Not that that’s a bad thing but it’s not quite what I was going for.
The units only move forward when they are facing to the right, so you can stop to fight things off and then set them marching forward.
Nothing to shoot yet, but that comes next. Then I find out how tough I can make it to force you to need to change your formation.
I decided to go with a more or less linear shooter, with the variation that rather than have direct control over a single unit, you have more strategic controls over a team of units. I still like my other idea better (the god game where you try and keep two warring nations from destroying each other), but I was having some major design difficulties with making that work. When you are doing well, the game basically consists of watching not much happen, and when you are doing poorly there really isn’t the feedback to know how to do better. Going to shelve that idea and maybe work on it later!
So, how to do formations? I have some pretty good ideas of how to give enough control to the player to really be in charge of the outcome of the game without it being challenging or turning into a click fest. I’ve started coding, but making the units actually work is going to be interesting. In addition I don’t think I really have much time to actually work on it
I will consider it a success if I can get the 3 formations I have planned to even work properly, and at least have some opposition that makes the gameplay necessary. I have my doubts.
Here are the 3 formations:
Line – the standard formation. Think revolutionary war. Everyone lines up and fires at the enemy that appears in their sights. You can control the position and spread of the units. Best used in situations where the enemy is also in a line.
Circle – your units stand in a circle aiming in all directions. Most obvious use is when you are surrounded.
Concentrated – Sort of a diamond shape, with your units all aiming at the same spot. For when you really need to bring the firepower!
I’m sure I could keep going, but this is probably as far as I can get. I’ll probably have 2 types of enemies, a tough and a grunt, and they’ll basically come in waves and with very simple patterns. If that.
I have a few really cool ideas, but all are a bit experimental and not fleshed out. I kind of wanted to do something simple and well-tread, with maybe a twist, as I haven’t really been making games in a long time. But I don’t have any simple, well-tread ideas that I care to put any time into. So awkward and experimental it is, if the mini-ld 28 is to be at all.
First idea – a “troop movement” game. In this game, you command a small squad of units, who are trying to achieve some objective. Your only controls are to change their formation, and choose when they halt or advance. I imagine the structure of the game to be similar to a scrolling shooter, but the gameplay is a bit simulation-ish, since you don’t actually control the units.
Example: you are in wide formation marching through a field. A few enemy units pop up but they are quickly taken down. A tank rolls across the top of the screen, taking out the top half of your units. Should have switched to a compressed formation! Your units would be sort of like health and firepower combined, and throughout the level you would have opportunities to call in various reinforcements. There will be terrain elements such as trenches or towers that have some advantage when they are used.
Second idea – war prevention god game. Two civilizations are being built in close proximity to each other. They get angry at each other at the slightest provocation. If one city makes fire before the other one, the raw meat eaters are likely to try and take out the guys with fire – with a bad outcome.As the game progresses, the cities get larger, so it takes more work to take them out, but they also get stronger weapons, making them more destructive.
You play a god who wants to try and keep both civilizations alive for a certain amount of time. You have certain powers, like raising mountains (to slow army attacks), raining down food when they are hungry so they forget about fighting, or raining down destruction to keep a potentially more bloodthirsty civilization from gaining too much of an upper hand. You have to temper your use of power though. If you rain down food on one city, they may worship you, but the other city will grow jealous, and all of a sudden the two nations are at war over you.
Hmph. The formation shooter will be easier to make, but hard to make well I think. The sim game will be hard to do everything I want to do in a short amount of time, as well as being even more experimental and difficult to determine if the gameplay even works. I am leaning toward the god game, but worried that like most of the sims I have made in the past, it will feel like you pretty much just watch stuff happen and there is not much gameplay.
Anyone have any advice?
On the technical side I’m torn between trying something new like flash, or sticking with my trusty python+pygame. Overall I expect more trouble with the game design than with any technical problems.
The only changes in this edition are to do with making the game play a little nicer with some people’s systems. If you’re computer supports 320×200 resolution in fullscreen, and is 32 bit, you should find very little difference between the previous release and this one. If however you have a 64 bit operating system, would rather run the game in a window, or can’t support small resolutions in fullscreen, you should download this 800×600 resolution version:
There are no gameplay or balance fixes, as I am saving game updates for post competition.
The biggest problem people are finding with the game is with the control. I did conciously choose to use sim-based controls rather than arcade, as I find them much more interesting. Unfortunately they seem to be harder to pick up than I realized. As for future versions, I’m not sure how much I am willing to dumb the controls down, but I’ll admit they might be a little excessive at this point. One thing I had been planning to add at some point were better ships that had more engines (perhaps a reverse thruster) or better engines (easier turning).
Personally I do find the control a little hard, but also a lot more fun than it would be if there were velocity or angular speed limits. You can’t just hold your thrusters down, because you will continually accelerate (both in turning or moving forward). Just a little bit of force is enough to get you turning. If you want to turn faster, hold it down more. If you want to turn slower, hold the opposite key slightly. I am really glad I tweaked turning before release (It was twice as fast before one of the final changes I made), but apparently I didn’t tweak it enough.
Game balance in general is pretty random I admit. I spent the majority of my time on physics, particle effects, and ai, saving the very last few hours to actually balance the game. Not only are the trade runs rife with exploits or the planet names rediculous, but the random spawns are far too random, and most enemies shoot too fast to put up with them. For the immediate future, I hope to have some variety with enemies, and keep most of the starting areas much safer. I also want the game to be less random in general, with more simulation behind the scenes. I just didn’t have time for this before. The game would be more satisfying if you could go toe to toe with some enemies more often, instead of having to constantly run away I have had a few fights that were very exciting and winnable, but they are very rare. It’s also possible to be killed 3 seconds into the game, which is just dumb.
There is also a bug with the planet police. If a pirate attacks you and manages to hit a civillian ship, the police will come out and think you are the culprit! The police were invented to protect the exploit of camping the civilian ships for all of their cargo. (If you haven’t ever won a fight, you may not know that ships drop cargo when they die) So I made the police extremely tough. As a result of the bug and the strong police, any fight near a planet will quickly result in destruction, as a stray bullet from the fight hits a civilian ship
I also received several comments to this effect: “This game is so tiny! But how does it fit the minimal theme?” This may have not been communicated adequately, but I went for minimal window size and minimal code size. I also went for a minimal space sim, and there weren’t any features that I felt I could take away. But the screen size was the main source of minimal. This fixed release kind of takes that away, but I suppose it had to be done.
I will be improving this game once voting is over. First I will tackle the bugs, and then I will tackle the spawn system. I plan on adding some semblance of story or an overall goal too, with trading being a means of completing that goal; and numerous interesting events and things to see throughout the system. I don’t plan on adding any form of hyperspace, and I probably wont add quests like they are usually implemented. Oh yeah, and there will be a way to save your game! I’m real sorry I didn’t have time for that one