About shasharala (twitter: @shasharala)

I am a geek that often spends a large amount of time working on very small things. When not attempting to make some form of income so I can continue to eat things and live in a somewhat comfortable manner, I am fiddling about with my website, various servers I run, and designing or playing video games.

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Ludum Dare 30
 
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Belated “I’m In”

Posted by (twitter: @shasharala)
Saturday, August 22nd, 2015 11:27 pm

Hi there!
Long time no see!
I am back and ready to make a game!
I am starting a bit late as I have had a lot of work to do lately and just have not had the time to commit to this jam as I had wanted.

Regardless, I will be doing the jam and it will be a Twine game in accordance with the theme. I have a few ideas and I intend to get a completed game done, hopefully with music and some other tasteful things.

Ludum Dare 31: Post-Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @shasharala)
Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 11:04 pm

This Ludum Dare felt like such a dream. There wasn’t much sleep to be had which probably contributed in part to it, but I also started late. I didn’t even get my “I’m In!” message up till after Ludum Dare had started. In the end, I didn’t even get a game finished and withdrew from the event at the very end. Mostly, this had to do with my inexperience with level creation and collision detection, things that I’ve been struggling with for a while, but havn’t yet completed outside of a jam.

Regardless, I learned plenty and did manage to get a somewhat simple map/level creation bit setup. It takes the pixels from a small image and in-turn uses the colors to generate something on the level/map that corresponds to that specific hexadecimal color. It took a bit of work and I learned a lot about bitmasking, but I lost all progress when creating my collision system. I understand how axis-aligned bounding boxes work and I’m familiar with spatial partitioning, but for whatever reason (I still havn’t sorted out the bugs), collision just isn’t happening. In fact, my scripts break and the whole game freezes up. Yay! I suppose I should have should have some fallthrough so things don’t completely halt if something breaks.

To make matters even worse, my game engine has some as of yet unidentified memory leak. While it’s not particularly awful (yet), I imagine after running for a while it’d be pretty detrimental. I’ve isolated it to a few functions and plan to fiddle with it in the weeks to come.

So where do I go from here? Well, after reading Rami Ismail’s post about making a game every week, I’ve decided that it would be interesting to give his ideas a try. After all, I already spend lots of time fiddling about with miniature projects. If I were to focus and aim to finish them within a weeks time and then start over on something new every week I’m sure I’d learn all sorts of things. Outside of game development fun I also want to start teaching myself PHP/SQL. I’ve been interested in working on back-end web development for a long time but I’ve been distracted with front-end stuff so much that I simply havn’t had the time. No longer! I’m going to try to take any extra time I have and devote it to learning some back-end stuff!

I know I can do this. I just need to focus.
If you’d like to see my various projects I’ll be writing about them on my website regularly.

Oh, oh! And to those of you who did complete your games: They’re lovely! They’re beautiful! I’ve seen some amazing submissions!
And those of you who didn’t make it in: I know it can make one feel down, but there is always next time and there’s always something to learn from this jam!
I love you all~

I’m In (Belated)

Posted by (twitter: @shasharala)
Saturday, December 6th, 2014 3:59 am

I’m in!
Yes, I’m running behind, but I am most definitely going to try to do what I can for LD31!

    The tools of my trade

IDE: Atom/Brackets/VIM/Emacs – it depends on where I am or what I am doing!
Platform: Browser
Language: HTML5, Javascript
Graphics: HTML5 Canvas, Gimp
Sound: sfxr, bosca ceoil

I will be competing in the Jam and I think I have a few ideas for the interesting theme.

Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @shasharala)
Saturday, August 30th, 2014 5:50 am

Ahh, the dreaded postmortem writeup.

I’ve been putting this off as earlier this week I became sick and further destroyed my sleep schedule.
Regardless, I feel like this Ludum Dare was particularly fruitful. Using tools that I am familiar with and have had experience with made a huge difference this time about. As an example, during my last Ludum Dare I attempted to use Twine without having had any prior experience with it. When attempting to do specific things I found that the editor did other things that made what I wanted difficult. A lot of effort was not being used correctly as I attempted to combat the editor that I was unfamiliar with.

During this Ludum Dare I decided to simply build everything myself. Using jQuery as my lib and some functions I’d written previously for other projects made this project flow smoothly. While the end product did not seem to be particularly fascinating I’m rejuvenated and excited that I was able to make a complete game and get it entered within the time limit! I consider that significant progress since the last Ludum Dare.

I was also happy with the amount of focus I had on my project this time around. As soon as Ludum Dare started I was prepared. As soon as the theme was out I wrote upon five to seven pieces of paper every single idea that I had in regards to the game I was going. I started with a game that was going to be about the connections between machines and the users that used them and moved to the connection we have with objects around us. From that I thought of mirrors, objects that have long had various interpretations involving fear and a subtle curiousity of the unknown.

Initially I’d intended the mirror to have a monster coming through that the player needed to stop, but with my current amount of skill and the hours ticking by I decided to make something more Twine-like where the player will be presented with options to choose from. As for the mirror speaking to the player and informing them that everything they do is wrong… well, that was tied into an awkward understanding of the inner debate that goes on in the minds of some people. Being scared to talk or confide in others, a social anxiety if you will, I’ve had experiences where I realize I’ve been debating with myself for hours about something. Talking to myself and effectively denying everything I want, tearing it down, and tearing myself down. I wanted this game to be something like that. A game about the connected worlds inside the mind. The interconnected ideas that stray and degrade the rest of a person’s happiness. The things we all need to let go of but can’t.

It ended up being kind of weird and hardly polished. It ended up not really going anywhere with any obvious goal. But I’m happy. I made a complete game in 48 hours for the first time. I made ‘graphics’ that ‘moved’.

I’m really looking forward to the next Ludum Dare. Next time I want to use HTML5 Canvas or WebGL to produce my graphics. In the meantime, I’m going to be practicing and fiddling about with those and I think I want to play with Hexels a bit as well. I want to practice producing assets and whatnot for my games. It’s the only way I can get better, after all.

So I look forward to seeing you all next time and I hope you all stay well till then.

All In

Posted by (twitter: @shasharala)
Monday, August 18th, 2014 7:42 am

Once again Ludum Dare is upon us!
In the past four months I’ve done a lot of reading and studying and I am very excited for LD30.
This time around I won’t be using Twine, instead I’m going to design everything myself with the magic of Javascript and various libraries.
Here’s the list:

IDE: Atom

Platform: Browser

Language: HTML5, Javascript

Graphics: HTML5 Canvas, Gimp

Sound: sfxr, bosca ceoil

Libraries: http://www.shasharala.tk/res/js/main.js & jQuery

I’m not sure if I’ll need anything else, but we’ll see after examining the theme.
Good luck to everyone!

Influence

Posted by (twitter: @shasharala)
Saturday, May 10th, 2014 3:29 am

Since Ludum Dare’s jam entries have closed I have been letting my ideas for my game boil and fester in the back of my mind. I have been thinking of ways to implement user interaction with their environment in a metaphysical way, but through text. Having enjoyed the ease with which Twine¬†let me create a text-based game I have been studying the syntax for Javascript so I may recreate my text-based game from scratch with everything molded exactly as I would like. While doing so, in regards to text-based games, I came across¬†A Dark Room which I played all the way through in one very long sitting. It was amazing, inspirational even.

While I do not want to create a copy of it, I do want to employ some of the special quirks I noticed while playing it. The ease of use, the menu system, the mystery that gripped me as I played, compelling me to finish a mere text-based game. Speaking of influence, since joining Ludum Dare I have had so much fun creating. It’s a wonder I put it off for so long. I wanted to join Ludum Dare many a time but felt incapable of participating in it. Just jumping in, embarrassed as I was at my lack of skill, has been what I consider one of my best choices of this year. Just working on something, doing it, and having fun while doing so is all I wanted for so long.

Ludum Dare 29: Post-Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @shasharala)
Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 8:39 pm

Taking part in LD29 was really amazing. There was an astounding amount of community support fueled by a fervent passion to create. Following various events as they unfolded on Twitter was almost as fun as making my game. At one point someone posted a link to this Youtube video. It got retweeted various times but when I saw it I was inspired, not so much by the video, but by the various designers, coders, artists, and creators that were taking time out of their busy lives to not only make something over a weekend but to support each other as a collective. Some people did not even submit a game or design anything over the weekend but continued to post comments cheering everyone on. When I made a few comments about some of the problems I was running into some people even messaged me directly with their support. The support that everyone spurned out over the last few days has been heart-achingly beautiful.

While I did not finish my game I learned a lot of things that I am sure will help me, not only in future jams, but in my own personal design. One of the most important things I took away from this was to be prepared. While I had made sure to have a clean work space, food, and time, I had not tested the tools I was going to be using for this jam. That was not done out of a lack of foresight but it happened because I could not decide what tools I wanted to use for this jam. I flitted between Twine, sfxr, Dart, Game Maker Studio, and many more because I was unfamiliar with any of those development environments. The last time I designed a video game was years ago when I was studying C++ in college. Despite ardent desires to make more games for years I have always managed to put those wants on hold to chase after what I considered more pressing matters. Finally, more recently, I am making an effort to get into what appears to be an amazing culture.

This leads me to the next thing I am taking away from the past few days. Knowing my tools is important. Deciding what I want to do and what tools I will use for the job is not only a matter of choosing a tool to fit what I am doing but it is choosing something I am familiar with that will really help me get work done. Unfortunately, I was not familiar with any of the tools I wanted to use to make my game. Outside of working on designing my website recently with a heavy focus on HTML I have not managed to get into any game design. As great as leaping in to this challenge was, worrying that I was in over my head was a constant concern of mine. Regardless, I kept trying to remain focused on coming up with something that would be interesting.

I did not figure out what tool I wanted to use and what my game would actually be till several hours had passed from Ludum Dare’s start. I had interpreted “Beneath the Surface” as an allegory for the different personas a human invariably has and the desires that sometimes remain hidden beneath the surface of the masks humans wear. Trying to figure that into game design was very difficult, considering my skills and, again, familiarity with the tools I had available. At one point, while taking a break from fiddling about with Game Maker Studio and a few other tools, I saw Notch’s game that was posted significantly early and it spurned me into thinking that Dart would be an amazing choice to design my game with. Unfortunately, this foolishly led to more study and careful reading.

I began to panic as I realized that time was quickly running out and I had effectively wasted a full days worth of design through full-heartedly chasing after a tool that would assist me to make the best game I could in the amount of time I was allotted. I had no intention of entering the compo to begin with, but had thought it would be nice if I could manage it. At this point there was no way I was going to get my game done in time for the compo, much less the jam. Dejected, I started to lose focus.

What kept me going was various posts I had seen in the tips section of this website. When I first chose to get involved with Ludum Dare I read a few posts that mentioned that even if you do not finish your game to turn it in. To do something. To keep at it till the end but most importantly, I read, was to have fun. Fretting over time constraints and the way my lack of progress could be interpreted was not fun and realizing that not turning in anything would make me feel even worse I resolved to get back to work.

I completely changed my idea for the game and decided to focus on making something that reflected the theme through gameplay. I decided that my game would focus on looking at things beyond their form. Beneath the surface, a chair is not just an item used to suit its purpose. Chairs are used to sleep in, as a means to reach higher heights, as weapons, as a table, and much more. What really made me want to focus on this as the theme of my game was the idea of using the mere thought of light as a means to explore a dark cave. By having the player focus on objects more closely they would be able to discern great detail from those items, leading to more choices, options, or objects to examine even more closely. By examining even the faintest glimmer of light and gleaning knowledge from their surroundings the player could light up the darkness even without a torch, flashlight, bonfire, or light emitting entity. I wanted to represent this by having each death the player experiences give them more and more abilities in relation to their environment.

From here I chose to use Twine since it outputs a HTML file. Something I am familiar with! I could do this! Things started looking up. I started to use Twine and realized that it could use variables. I was elated at this point.

Then I realized I needed something to drive the player along. Simply having an interesting game mechanic is not going to make a game. Time was starting to get even shorter. I had almost a days worth of time left for the jam. Piecing together what I could and learning how to use Twine (sometimes fighting it as it overrode stylesheets I created) I started to build something I imagined I would be able to get done within the remaining time allotted me. Obviously, this did not work out. The need for sleep after jamming so much knowledge into my head throughout the day was overwhelming.

I awoke and realized I had six hours left in the jam. Six! After all this time I still did not have a game. Sure, there were choices to be made and consequences for the choices, but it was not going anywhere. There was no meaning. It was not what I wanted to make. With these thoughts in mind I began to polish what I had in time to get it turned in.

After everything I am not proud of what I designed, but I am happy that I kept at it. I think I will continue to work on this game more outside the jam and focus more on using elements in the environment at a more base level to advance the plot in what I consider to be an interesting way. “Don’t have a key to get into this room? Examine that keyhole more closely, know its form, become the keyhole, and get in there.” Something about playing with the metaphysical expectations of the player seems fun to me.

Whatever happens, I want to thank you, all of you, for continuing to be awesome, and making my first Ludum Dare jam a wonderful one. Without the amazing continued support of everyone I am unsure I would be able to smile like am right now, even after having submitted an incomplete game for my entry.

Little Progress but a Lot of Thinking

Posted by (twitter: @shasharala)
Sunday, April 27th, 2014 5:04 pm

Jumping into this was not the best idea. Sure, it got me to stop focusing on other things for a while. It got me to actually start working on something instead of thinking about working on something. Unfortunately, I do not have much to show so far.

Breaking down why I have not got very far yet is going to be something I want to go into more detail in after Ludum Dare, but in the meantime I can simply state that I got distracted with Dart for a while after I saw Notch’s game. After fiddling with Dart for a while, I realized that trying to use a new tool for Ludum Dare was not a good idea at all, no matter how provocative the tool was. Unfortunately, trying to figure out Dart had left me feeling overwhelmed and my idea for my game did not feel like something I would want to spend various hours working on just yet.

This meant that my time was spent on various distractions while the idea of my game evolved in the back of my head. At this point I am certain that I will be using Twine for my game and that my game will be incorporating “Beneath the Surface” through mystery. I have a lot of story and game mechanics written out already, but writing too much about them would spoil the game.

At this point I do not think I will be able to finish my game in the next twenty-four hours for Ludum Dare, but I am definitely going to submit what I do have at that point. This is something I also can see myself working on after Ludum Dare, so I am actually happy that I have gotten to this point, regardless of various blunders that have been made by me along the way. This is something to learn from and I am happy that I was able to be a part of it.

I will post more as it happens, but for now I am going to focus on getting as much done as I possibly can.

Putting the Pieces Together

Posted by (twitter: @shasharala)
Friday, April 25th, 2014 8:20 pm

With the announcement of the theme of Ludum Dare 29, “Beneath the Surface”, I find myself filled with apprehension. “Should I have not joined ‘officially’ and just made a game for myself in the background?” is a thought that is coming to mind now. I have not done much development of anything besides my website in a very long while.

Regardless, I am excited. I already have a git repository set up for the event and I am starting to think of a few ideas for my game. The first thing that came to mind when I saw the theme was the personalities that we have beneath the surface of our physical being. We interact in so many different ways with people on a regular basis. Combining that with timed dialogue events like Anna Anthropy’s I think something interesting could come out of it. Possibly forcing the player to wear many masks to continue through the game in search of some ‘intrinsic’ goal… it is something I can work on.

I have seen a few other ideas out there that I did not even think of till seeing them. It is amusing how the mind works. Even something as simple as a ‘mining’ game did not come to mind. I love mining games, by the way. There is something a bit relaxing about hording materials.

Anyway, my goals! I think I will be using HTML. Unfortunately, I have not kept up with any of the helpful tools that have been getting more and more popular, like Game Maker Studio or Unity. I also have not been keeping myself proficient in C++ for a few years now. I think after this jam I will try to focus on that.

For now, though, I will be designing a game based on interaction between the player and their environment. What that entails is entirely subject to viewpoint. It will be text-based, I fear, but I will probably find a way to add some graphics as well. I will probably be using Twine or simply using the things I already know with HTML to design this. SFXR and Bosca Ceoil will be for sounds. GIMP for graphics.

I know I have come somewhat ill-equipped to LD29, but I really want to get back into designing again. I am hoping this helps somewhat. It sure has me wanting to learn how to use some more tools!

First Ludum Dare Attempt

Posted by (twitter: @shasharala)
Thursday, April 24th, 2014 9:18 am

As this is my first attempt at making a game in an incredibly small amount of time, I will probably be submitting everything to the 72-hour jam. I do not think I could manage the stricter nature of the compo just yet.

As for tools and languages, I am highly unsure what to focus on with my game. I could use Visual Studio for C++, HTML5 and Javascript, or LWJGL/Slick2D. I have Game Maker and Multimedia fusion, but those do not appear to be well suited for this jam. Then there’s Twine. Good old lovely, delicious Twine.

Sounds would be created with sfxr or bosca ceoil while graphics would be handled in Gimp. If any point is going to be a weak point it is going to be my handling of graphics. I have yet to come up with a style I appreciate.

Starting out here for the first time fills me with apprehension, but I am looking forward to flexing my design skills in a way I have not in a very long time.

At this point, I am looking forward to seeing what the theme will be and picking my tools from there.

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