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Gardener Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @RustyBotGames)
Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 1:26 pm

The technology behind

This Ludum Dare I only could spend one day for making a game and I wanted to try out a new technology (HaxePunk). Usually that’s not a good idea for a time restricted jam, especially with restricting oneself even further.

Working with a new language and library worked surprisingly well. Tuning down the scope of my game probably helped, but Haxe seems to be quite a convenient language to work with. The HaxePunk library was a great addition to have quick results, as most of the basic engine stuff necessary for my game was already in there.

For creating some ambient background sound for my game I had a nice idea: As it is finally spring now in Germany, I wanted to record some spring sounds, like birds. I did this with my phone, which worked pretty well. Unfortunately transferring the file into Audacity did something very strange to the sound and it was too late to figure out how to solve it. That is the reasons the bird sounds seem more like from a jungle than a mid-European garden.


What’s that game about

As mentioned, I didn’t have the full 48 hours, so I had to come up with something really simple. The basic idea has some resemblance to my LD23 game Bottlecolonies, but this time with free placement and only two different colors. This makes the gameplay probably a little boring quite soon.

Can you spot the similar concept?

Can you spot the similar concept?

The idea is, that with each new planted flower, the existing ones will grow through different stages. If there are negative influences around (potatoes, mushrooms, different kind of plant) and surpass the positive ones (same kind of plants) the plant will decay. Additionally, a feature implemented quite late, the mushrooms will spread for a while. So goal and strategy of the game is to place the same kind of plants close to each other, block spreading of mushrooms and avoid the negative stuff around your seedlings. The rhythm as how the two different plants are seeded is quite simple. Each three plants it will change. You will win the game if there are enough grown plants and will lose if there are too many decayed ones.

What went right

  • Getting the idea (I already had this idea in my mind for OneGameAMonth for the theme “spring” and it also fits the LD theme)
  • Fast progress with a new tech (I’m surprised by myself how well I got into HaxePunk)
  • Making a Flash game (a lot more plays than usually with a Windows standalone)
  • Finish in time (was a long evening, but I did cut the features early enough)

What went wrong

  • Making the background sounds (as mentioned above, and took me some time to mix the few recorded sounds to not be to repetitive)
  • Player feedback in the game (A lot of people mentioned it: an indicator for the placing position and some feedback what will seed next would be great; I agree)

So all in all I’m quite happy with my entry.

Go play and rate

Games with few ratings you should try out

Posted by (twitter: @RustyBotGames)
Thursday, May 9th, 2013 12:55 pm

After rating over 50 games (some of the previous recommendations included), I noticed that I played some games definitely worth to play and rate, that have only a few ratings yet. I mostly found those games by random browsing, searching for specific keywords (haxepunk, haxeflixel) or a comment on my entry.

OggOrbis by Michael Hall

This is a clever physics based simulation where the position of your one and only shot per level decides if you solve it or not.

Duds by nexantic.com

The basic mechanic is pathfinding for your troops by drawing the path. This makes an interesting but short strategy game.

Pixi : The pixel that is not a square ! by Panda313

Not only you have to switch the RGB colors on the protagonist to surpass specific obstacles, but also those color components define the hero’s stats.

Minimalistic Life by wonderwhy-er

Another great simulation-like concept. This is based on Conway’s game of life. Solve the puzzles by adding the right cells. Pretty challenging.

TunnelVision by wzl

Retro 3D space navigation. I had to get into the joystick-like controls (remember X-Wing back in the 90s), but the gameplay is pretty good.

Togglio by Zemmi

Reaction driven puzzler that is really minimalistic. Great concept and style.

Go play and vote, have fun!


Game is done

Posted by (twitter: @RustyBotGames)
Sunday, April 28th, 2013 3:46 pm

There it is:

Gardener in Minimalism Spring

If anyone could give me a hint why the flash file scales up to browser window size, I would be very grateful. Found out a way around this with hosting it on my blog. The “music” are hand-recorded spring birds in our garden (and some strange auto-processing through file converting makes it sound pretty jungle like).


First Screen of “Gardener in Minimalism Spring”

Posted by (twitter: @RustyBotGames)
Sunday, April 28th, 2013 9:13 am

Yeah. Progress.

I’m a little proud of myself getting along with a totally new programming language and library (HaxePunk in this case). So here is a first screenshot of my game called Gardener in Minimalism Spring. (There are also potatoes included.)


In again

Posted by (twitter: @RustyBotGames)
Friday, April 26th, 2013 7:52 am

After leaving out the last LD, this time I’m in again for my fifth LD.

Already had some special food yesterday for preparation:

2013-04-25 18.50.54

This time I will go with some different tools (no python/pygame) and will give HaxePunk a try. So hopefully I will craft a game that is playable via web in your browser of choice.

Other tools:

  • Gimp
  • Audacity
  • Musagi
  • Guitar
  • Wacom Bamboo
  • bfxr

Have fun, to everyone!

Father-Daughter Teamwork Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @RustyBotGames)
Thursday, September 13th, 2012 1:09 pm

Finally I found some time to make a post-mortem for “Watercolor Wheel Evolution“:

What went well:

  • Letting my daughter with her now 3 years doing the art. She did incredibly well, had fun doing this (as every time she can make some watercolor pictures), and was really impressed with the result in the game. Seeing her self painted creatures move along the screen put a really big smile on her face. Is there a better way to give your child some insight into your game-making hobby?

My daughter at work doing the game sprites.

  • Being in the jam – not only due to the teamwork but to have this extra day. This is quite valuable with wife and two children at home.
  • Fixing late bugs. Wow, it is quite scary everytime what strange bugs will appear if your game is almost finished and the deadline approaching. But I could fix them.
  • Noticing the progress I’ve made since my first LD one year ago. This is one of the greatest aspects of this time restricted jams. You really get a hang on efficient techniques for creating and developing and also improve in code structuring even if it’s still quite a mess compared with a project in a more extended time frame. The sound/music recording, which cost me some time last LD, was merely a routine this time.

Like last LD: totally professional recording equipment.

What went wrong:

  • The game mechanics. I totally missed the point with giving the player a good incentive doing the things the player should do to make the mechanics work. I don’t know if that was due to lack of testing the game or a misconception of the whole mechanics.
  • Social (real) life. My wife fled with the children on sunday noon as I was too much into game development. Returned in the evening ;).

So if you like to, you can play and rate here.

The result.

Watercolor Wheel Evolution

Posted by (twitter: @RustyBotGames)
Monday, August 27th, 2012 3:15 pm

The family team’s project is done. Almost all of the arts is by my little daughter (almost 3). She also had some impact on the strange name of the game ;).

Try and rate!

Finally a Screenshot

Posted by (twitter: @RustyBotGames)
Sunday, August 26th, 2012 6:52 am

So this is the current progress of my game. All the arts is by my daughter, who will become 3 next week, except the player circle. She refused to try drawing a circle even if she’d done before with the yellow one. *sigh*

Looks like a fish tank.

Some of the stuff swirling around should be collected by the player, some should be avoided. What you collect in a given time will decide your next stage, which resembles evolution into the next generation.

Lead Artist at Work

Posted by (twitter: @RustyBotGames)
Saturday, August 25th, 2012 11:06 pm

Just a picture from yesterday on which the lead artist of our team (my daughter) is creating the game sprites.

This will become one of the “bad guys”.

Enteringt the Jam with a Family Tag Team

Posted by (twitter: @RustyBotGames)
Friday, August 24th, 2012 8:10 am

I’m in this weekend. Due to the fact, that my wife and my children are swirling around, I’ll do it differently than planned. I’m going to enter the jam with my older daughter, who will become 3 next week, as my teammate. She would like to do some painted arts for the game and probably will also give me some game design advice (like “pa, this game needs more pirates”). Here is a reference how the art style could look like:

That game will probably become quite unique. At least visually.

My tools:

  • python with pygame
  • paper, watercolor and pencil or felt pen
  • scanner
  • gimp
  • audacity + acoustic guitar OR
  • musagi


New target platform for next Ludum Dare?

Posted by (twitter: @RustyBotGames)
Sunday, July 1st, 2012 3:41 am

Actually I’m really considering using this Raspberry Pi as my new target platform for game jams like Ludum Dare. The technical specifications are rather limited which gives an extra challenge. As I’ve already been using mostly python and pygame for game development this should work without much extra effort. Next I’m going to test if my previous entries run on it. (This should not prevent me from having additional Windows builds of my games 😉 )

Raspberry Pi – Runs Linux

On other platform-related news, some French guy that goes with the webname “Loopingstar” has experimented with the basic idea of my LD23 game Bottlecolonies and made a port to Flash with some extras added. I especially like the variations in buildings and clearer visual feedbak of points earned/lost while placing buildings. You can give it a try here: http://loopingstar.fr/colonies/colonies_v2.swf

Final day rating – Some suggestions with few ratings

Posted by (twitter: @RustyBotGames)
Saturday, May 12th, 2012 1:42 am

The final day of rating is approaching very fast. After playing about 10 percent of the Ludum Dare 23 games and my LD23 folder growing to alomst 1 gig I would like to suggest a few games with only few ratings that should get more ratings (Click the headlines):

Cracked – BlackBird (33 ratings)

Interesting puzzle game. Gets more challenging in later levels. Game mechanics work pretty well.

Robots Are Red, Violets Are Blue – d_durham (39 ratings)

The control mechanics for the robot are pretty unique and make this game interesting to play and quite challenging.

c!ph3r – frosty (33 ratings)

A game about the right timing. The setting is great and the sound effects almost make a soundtrack.

World In A Bottle – Serilyn (38 ratings)

Pretty atmospheric concept about balancing a world in a tiny bottle. Also it has the smem basic idea as my game with a completely different execution.

Tiny Garden of Hope – steamgirl (40 ratings)

Very beautiful game which isn’t that difficult to beat if you are patient enough for letting the robot give you some advice.

Go and play those, they deserve more ratings than that. For my own game I’m actually working on the next post-compo version. You can find some information here.

Post-compo Version of Bottlecolonies

Posted by (twitter: @RustyBotGames)
Sunday, May 6th, 2012 1:12 pm

As promised, here comes the first post-compo version of my LD 23 game Bottlecolonies. I evaluated a lot of the feedback you gave me on my LD entry and tried to improve the game with different additions and changes. If you click the link below, you can see that this is just the first beta version for the finalized game. At the moment there is only the windows executable. I’m working on a Linux port but have to try out if the subfolder works first. The changes from the LD version so far:

Link to post compo webpage

  • Add: +1 bonus point if a building is placed next to any park
  • Change: -6 point for discarding a tile
  • Add: second music track
  • Add: new map, selectable as level 3. The old level 3 is hidden behind level 2. If you beat level 2 you automatically will play the old level 3 next.
  • Change: goal scores for prosperous colonies changed for new bonus points
  • Change: subfolder for assets
  • Add: elliptic marker where next tile will be placed

Further updates will include:

  • More maps
  • At least one more music track
  • Additional buildings for the end game to make the game more interesting
  • Saved highscore per level

Even if you have played it before, you should try it out again. The changes in the score system have a big impact on available strategies. In case you haven’t rated the original version yet, you can find it here.

And last a screenshot of the new map:

Bottlecolonies – A post mortem

Posted by (twitter: @RustyBotGames)
Saturday, April 28th, 2012 3:55 am

So finally I’ve found some time to wrtite up my impressions of the past Ludum Dare event. As ever it was a big pleasure to participate and I’m really impressed with the sheer amount of games being made and the overall quality which feels a little higher than the last times.

Now about my game “Bottlecolonies” which you can play here.

The good

  • I finished everything I planned to minimally have in the game in time.
  • The creation of a windows executable with py2exe worked immediately this time, thanks to experience from past Ludum Dares.
  • I’m pretty happy that I really took my accoustic guitar to make ingame sound and music.
  • I managed to make a game with quiet a consistent style and feel due to the handdrawn graphics.
  • I’m totally happy with the game I’ve made. With my third LD this time I noticed how much my self-organisation and the outcome progressed from event to event.

The bad

  • I totally underestimated the effort even to record only a small music track with a real instrument.
  • There are still some small issues that could have been solved within time (especially some sort of marker where one builds).
  • To solve the challenges stated in the levels requires more training and strategic thinking than I expected. It’s the standard issue that usually the developer himself is the most experienced player of his game and tends to make it too difficult.

To sum it up

You can see I’m really glad with my LD entry this time. I’m very confident now with my tools (especially python/pygame) and know roughly how much time different steps in development needs and what I’m able to achieve in 48 hours. I think that is the most valuable experience you get from an event like this.

Already put a marker for positioning in the post compo version.

Additionally the reception of my game has been quite positive. Hence I’ll put some more effort in a post compo version which shall at least include:

  • A marker for the building position (done)
  • Additional music (one new track already recorded)
  • More levels
  • Highscores of past plays

As I’ve already written two teasers for this post mortem I’ll stop here and just give you a visual impression of the development details:

From first prototype to post compo - with handdrawn graphics and self made guitar music.

Want to try and rate ?

Professional recording equipment

Posted by (twitter: @RustyBotGames)
Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 11:36 am

Another teaser for my post mortem cause I don’t have time for a longer text at the moment.

This is a pic of my totally professional recording equipment. It’s a simple gaming headset clamped on my accoustic guitar. I had some trouble not to let it fall off during recording. The pin for the guitar strap helped a lot.

Some people stated the music a tad repetitive. I take this as a good sign cause they seem to spend enough time to notice ;).

Btw, I have just recorded a second track for an eventual post-compo version of my game.

Try and Rate here!

Illustrated progress – from prototype to finished game

Posted by (twitter: @RustyBotGames)
Monday, April 23rd, 2012 3:47 am

Here is a quick teaser for my post mortem to come when I have more time to write things up (probably middle/end of this week).

These two screenshot nicely illustrate the progress made from first prototype (about 4 hrs) to finished game (about 18 hrs).

You can give the game a try HERE.

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