About Dark Acre Jack (twitter: @DarkAcreJack)

Hail to the #KINGINDIE, fools.

Don't let your kids grow up to be gamedevs.

Entries

 
Ludum Dare 27
 
Ludum Dare 26
 
Ludum Dare 25
 
Ludum Dare 24
 
Ludum Dare 23
 
Ludum Dare 22
 
Ludum Dare 21
 
Ludum Dare 20
 
Ludum Dare 19

Dark Acre Jack's Trophies

Extreme Pro
Awarded by CoffeeOnimal
on December 17, 2012
Dying Patient is Dying Award
Awarded by k_wright
on May 4, 2011

Dark Acre Jack's Archive

In

Posted by (twitter: @DarkAcreJack)
Sunday, December 8th, 2013 11:21 pm

Like I’ve got anything better to do.

Unity, FL Studio, & assorted super-expensive Adobe/Autodesk products.

#INDIEGOD

10 Seconds Down

Posted by (twitter: @DarkAcreJack)
Tuesday, August 27th, 2013 12:29 pm

remote… remote control.

Well, that’s 9 for 9 in a row for LD compos. Happy, exhausted, all the usual emotions plus a handful more. Congrats to all successful entries. The following is reprinted from the official project page:


What Went Right

1. Continued Apolicy
Once more total radio silence on the theme proved a good strategy. I wonder what would happen if no one voted? But then again I think about that every time there’s any kind of democracy.

2. New Environment

The new Dark Acre office in Nanaimo is game development heaven compared to the apartments in the West End of Vancouver. I felt more relaxed, focused, & at ease throughout the compo, despite complications (see 1 below).

3. Outside Time
Went for walks, something I hadn’t purposely done in previous compos. Also smoked a bit of pipe tobacco, a dirty habit I hadn’t really touched much for the past 5 years. Not advocating, do what you want. Did it help me think clearly? I believe so, health concerns aside.

4. Riding a Wave of Successful Ludum Dare Compos
I’ve done this so many times now it’s become routine. It’s a major advantage but also something of a drawback (see 2 below).


What Went Wrong

1. That Damn Cat

Pon Pon
The Dark Acre cat, Pon Pon, escaped a few days before the compo began. We recovered her with a dislocated jaw and chip in her spine. This was stressful in itself, but we were glad to get her back in relative safety.

Then on the Saturday of the compo I was carrying her to the vet for a progress check up & she broke out of the carrier. She holed up in an inaccessible crawlspace under our apartment for 10 hours, causing stress & distraction. We once again recovered her, & were forced to re-schedule the check up for the Sunday of the compo. More lost time.

I’m never one to make excuses, but accidents do happen. Due to the lost production time I was unable to process audio & expand the level design. This was the first time 9 compos that such a thing happened, so I count myself lucky in that regard.

2. Familiarity Breeds Contempt
I love the compo. It’s the closest I’ve come to feeling like there’s actual value in hardcore production. The sweat, the tears, the neglected health & family members. But in the last year it’s come with ever-diminishing returns on educational value, & only reinforced my belief that long-term projects are where it’s at.

3. Overall Lack of Practice/New Tools
I think I executed well, given the circumstances, but it could have been better not only with the full amount of time but with a little more time spent in the new tools. I’d recently upgraded to the ’14 versions of my Autodesk stuff, 3.6 of Substance Designer, & I hadn’t even opened Unity3D since the last compo. There were a few minor hiccups, like losing all my keysets for Max, or completely forgetting how to assemble a Substance, but overall I was pleased with how the coding went & the discovery of the improvements Unity’s made to its engine.



Play & rate “10 Seconds”. Thanks for throwing your eyeballs across these words.

In

Posted by (twitter: @DarkAcreJack)
Monday, August 19th, 2013 5:49 pm

What’s this, 9? 10 in a row? Whatever.

Unity 3D + various expensive tools.

Here’s a look at where the magic happens:

Best of luck to all competitors & if you give up you never wanted to try in the first place.


#KINGINDIE

How Do You Rate?

Posted by (twitter: @DarkAcreJack)
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013 2:03 pm

Cross-posted from the Dark Acre blog
How Do You Rate?

The only thing more important than finishing & shipping—yes, those are one thing—a Ludum Dare 48 compo entry is then rating the hard work of all the other clinically insane brave competitors. Well aside from eating, drinking, & sleeping but that should go without saying. Shouldn’t it?

In the earlier days of LD48 this was a relatively easy task to accomplish, even for the competitor with a day job. A couple hundred entries could be leisurely played over the course of the allotted two weeks.

Then somewhere along the line LD48 became more mainstream—this said without a hint of hip irony, I mean come on, it’s the truth—attracting larger numbers of participants each time.

The most recent event saw some 2,347 (supposedly) playable video & analog games submitted for peer evaluation.

Competitors are given 3 full weeks to play then rate each entry, & leave a comment if they’re feeling egotistical/snarky/fancy. I tend to leave a lot of fancy, ego-driven snark. It shows I care.

So 3 weeks. That’s 30,240 minutes. Assuming you do nothing but play & rate entries that allows just under 12 minutes for each one.

The key question then becomes how much time should you allot for playing vs. offering stars & design advice? It takes me about 8 minutes to complete my own entry, & I know exactly how to complete it. I imagine it could take some folks upwards of 30 minutes to finish. If their goal is to be completely, magnanimously fair with the ratings process they wouldn’t even have time to finish & would be forced to offer a rating based on an experience not wholly experienced! Not that there’s anything wrong with that, game journalists & forum commenters do it all the time but that’s beside the point.

A person is then forced to make certain compromises if they want to go sifting through the entries for the gems. There are gems in there, trust me, but unless you just want to sit back & wait for others to find them, not bother rating—which ends up reflecting poorly on your own entry—, & shun the process entirely you need some form of filter.

This was my 8th Ludum Dare 48 in a row. I’ve gone from rating all of them to not giving a damn & then realizing I have to give a damn if I’m to get rated myself, so I’ve run the gamut.

I’ve crafted a handy spreadsheet of my evaluation process, suitable for framing.

It’s a “do unto others” sort of framework, & I’m horribly selfishly biased because I’m capable of producing web builds. But I’ve stomped my way down that route only because I kinda wanna get as many people as possible to play my game. If I was only in it to show off I’d just pull a SOS.

Rate early, rate often. Rate with purpose.


It’s only time that you’re wasting. Too bad it’s the only thing that you’ve really got.

Once More Unto the Breach

Posted by (twitter: @DarkAcreJack)
Friday, April 19th, 2013 4:20 am

You Never Go Full Indie

Whatever.

Compo only.

I’ll be using just Unity3D—Pro, but just the bare bones stuff that’s available in Free aside from the custom splash screen—SFXR for sound effects & FL Studio for a song loop if I’m feeling fancy.

iTween for basic animations.

Modeling & advanced animation in 3D Studio Max, texturing in Substance Designer, UI via NGUI. External image editing via Photoshop.

Oh, & M2H’s most excellent Localization Package since it makes text handling such a breeze.

Lots of alcohol. Kids, if you drink don’t drive.

Oh, and don’t go full indie. You never go full indie.

A Walkthrough for Your Broken Legs

Posted by (twitter: @DarkAcreJack)
Thursday, December 20th, 2012 11:20 am

Here’s a video of me playing & talking about my entry:

Also, if there’s no comment on your entry from me yet, it means I haven’t come across it. I’m rating like mad, so if you want me to drop some wisdom/pain on you feel free to link me your entry & I’ll git right on that.

Jack’s Most Portem

Posted by (twitter: @DarkAcreJack)
Wednesday, December 19th, 2012 5:38 pm

Hey.

Special shout-out & thanks to all who’ve given my entry a go & taken the time to write a comment. I added a detailed design breakdown in the entry comments, so if you’re curious about why I made some of the choices I made there’s some info there.

The following is copy-pasted from the project page on the Acre:

What Went Right

1. Years of Preparation
I’ve been at this for more than two years now. The only jam I participate in is the Ludum Dare 48 Compo, because I love its brutal nature and it’s perfectly suited to my modus operandi. This was my 7th entry, and I’ve submitted working games for each. In the interim I’ve done more than a dozen Darkade jams, a handful of major projects, and all the while gathered skills with the tools I use. All of that culminates in these compos, which I see as tests of my abilities. So yeah, I’ve got experience and it really showed this time out. I managed to make what was in my head a reality, and within the time limit. It’s not without its warts and bruises, but it’s by far my best entry yet, and that’s all to do with the talent I’ve been cultivating through relentless full-time practice in the art of making videogames.

2. Focusing on Content
In the past I spent way too much time trying to come up with “innovative” systems to support my designs. This time I kept it simple so that I could spend less time mucking around in the guts of Unity and more time doing things like creating interactive objects. I chose a fixed camera, no lighting systems, and a very basic graphics pipeline. All of that enabled me to come up with a nice, tight little adventure game.

3. Holistic Asset Creation
For the first time in my history of attempting these challenges, I managed to correct something that previous post-mortems had identified: the uneven creation of game objects. In the past I would approach everything in a sort of layered way; code the interaction systems, block out the levels, add models, materials, textures, and finally audio. This time I made things as I went, treating each little asset as final, and imagining that I wouldn’t be coming back to polish it later. Whether or not this is a “best practice” is debatable; I’ll let my results speak for themselves. But by crafting every in-game object to be fully functional on implementation, I was able to keep cranking out content right to the end without worrying if I’d added appropriate SFX to a door, or properly textured a wall, or written a description for an area.

4. Fixed Camera, No (Visible) Characters
I decided almost immediately that the environment was going to be the main protagonaist, so I focused a lot of the storytelling production there. Like, how could I make this area interesting? How could I show a bit of history with this object? It wasn’t an extremely detailed execution, but that was only because I knew I only had 32 hours to work (I like to get 16 for sleep) and I could only communicate so much with that amount of production time. There were no (visible) humanoid characters, so there was no rigging or complex modeling to worry about. Also by fixing the camera and forcing the player to move in a grid-like fashion I could tightly control what they saw at all times. It also freed me from worrying about things like collision and physics. So yeah, for those who are complaining about the fixed camera/movement system, that was by design and it helped me execute the game on time. If I had allowed more freedom who knows how many more hours of production I would have needed to finish. More than 32, that’s for certain.

5. Sought Early Feedback
I threw up the production build almost immediately, I think within the first 4 hours, and right away I got a lot of good responses. It was clear that my initial camera choice (free, mouselook 1:1) was not comfortable. Certain things didn’t read well. Parts of the UI were confusing. I managed to address all of these concerns (some perhaps not to 100% satisfaction, it’s hard to work for perfection when you’re under the gun) but at least they were informed design choices. I knew by the time I submitted my entry that it had been tested to some small degree, and in game development even having one extra pair of eyes other than your own on the project can mean the difference between a good game and a bad one.


The Green Room

What Went Wrong

1. Not Enough Time Spent Mastering Texturing
I’ve identified a bit of a weakness in my speed pipeline, and that’s with texturing. Originally I envisioned using the “AO bake style” that you see in the game to complement some nice bumped/specular textures made either in Quixel’s nDo/dDo or Allegorithmic’s Substance Designer. As I worked I kept notes on what was to go where: grated floor panels in the main corridor, control panels on the machine and keypads, grime on the sewer walls, an so on. Right up to the last few minutes I had everything clearly mapped in my mind, but there just wasn’t time. I made that decision early on when going with the “holistic asset creation” method mentioned above, and I told myself that the AO bakes would be acceptable. And I think they are, I mean at least the game has a unified look to it. But it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a few detailed textures in there, either.

2. No Title Card
This shouldn’t bug me, but it does. The game jumps right from the standard Dark Acre splash into the game. I would have rather had a little title marquee with “THE CONDEMNED” animated somewhere on it, but whatever. It’s a vanity thing.

3. Looked At #LD48 & the Ludum Dare Site During Compo
I think somewhere I’m quoted as saying that one of my secrets of success is how little I engage with Twitter/blogs/comments. And I think this is still the truth, but for this compo I let that discipline slip a bit. I figured making a few community posts on the site would help. Sadly, the pessimist in me tends to focus on the negative, so when confronted with people complaining about the theme, or dropping out, I got a bit down. But then I said to myself, “screw those weak bitches” and let their failure fuel my success. There’s only ever been one theme for LD48 for me, and that’s “make a playable videogame in 48 hours or less, and make it one that doesn’t waste anyone’s time”. I’ve managed to do this 7 times in a row now. The streak is real. Now if only I could win the thing I could retire.


Thanks again for reading, and happy holidays!

P.S. A playthrough with developer commentary is coming, hopefully before the end of the week.
P.P.S. If you tried to play the game using the Windows standalone, it was broken. That’s been fixed now.
P.P.P.S. The flashlight doesn’t work in the sewer; that’s by design. If it did work as intended I doubt so many people would be able to “win” the game. I’ll talk more about that in the video.

7 for 7

Posted by (twitter: @DarkAcreJack)
Sunday, December 16th, 2012 7:06 pm

I think I used every available calorie of energy my aging body would let me.

Kind of wish there was an “ambition” category.

Best entry yet? We’ll see.

To all the others who’ve successfully completed their compo entries:

To everyone who didn’t make it… I’m sorry your parents didn’t raise you better.

Where’s George’s entry?

Gettin’ That Community Dollar – Pt. 2

Posted by (twitter: @DarkAcreJack)
Saturday, December 15th, 2012 11:48 pm

You shouldn’t be reading this. You should either be sleeping or working on your game. Unless you gave up.

No pictures of my food, for I sustain myself on the tears of the competitors who couldn’t make it. Every “I’m out” is like a fine morsel of filet mignon.

Here’s a screenshot:

Effluvia

Hell yeah it’s dark. Dark like the Acre.

My ambition is becoming a reality. This has been the best attempt so far, and this is the seventh attempt in a row. Will he finish? Will it suck? All questions shall be answered in due time.

Detailed updates live here. There’s a link to a “playable” build on that page.

Follow me on Twitter, Friend me on Facebook, Subscribe to me on YouTube. The usual crap.

Dark Acre Jack, signing off for the night.

Gettin’ That Community Dollar

Posted by (twitter: @DarkAcreJack)
Friday, December 14th, 2012 11:10 pm

I don’t usually post progress reports on here, not really sure if anyone actually reads them they fly by so fast during compo, but whatever. Gotta get that mad “Community” mark by at least pooping out something up in this here piece, amirite?

Here’s a picture of an empty glass that held 3 liberal rum & eggnogs:

Fill this with the tears you cried over how terrible you thought the theme was.

And here’s the latest screenshot:

Freedom?

Not really sure what I’m going for aside from my most ambitious entry to date. I guess we’ll see if it all comes together in time. Track it here. There’s a link to a “playable” build on that page.

Follow me on Twitter, Friend me on Facebook, Subscribe to me on YouTube. The usual crap.

Dark Acre Jack, signing off for the night.

HO! HO! HO! MAKE A #*$&ING VIDEOGAME!

Posted by (twitter: @DarkAcreJack)
Friday, December 7th, 2012 11:10 am

Seven times you’ve called. Seven times I’ve answered.

It’s no longer a question. The rest of the time I’m not doing LD I’m Conan the Barbarian. Pushing on the Wheel of Pain. Preparing.

Once again the copy-paste from the previous “I’m in’s”. The more things change, the more they don’t. Or something like that.

Primary Tools

  • Unity3D 4.0 Pro
  • Autodesk 3D Studio Max
  • FL Studio 10.x

Secondary Tools

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • NGUI
  • Substance Designer
  • nDo
  • dDo
  • Autodesk Mudbox
  • Autodesk Motionbuilder

Tertiary Tools

  • Propellerhead Figure
  • KORG iMS-20
  • KORG iELECTRIBE
  • Animoog
  • SampleWiz

Libraries

The Darkade template contains copywritten material. Anything related to Dark Acre, iTween, Owlchemy’s Texture scaling or Strumpy Shader are property of their owners. Refer to various licenses for details.

Let’s have a good time and REMEMBER! If you must quit, give up, or bitch about the theme please carefully write down all your issues in a well-worded document, go into the bathroom, and hang yourself. Because no one else gives a toss.

<3

Post-Mortem + Apologia

Posted by (twitter: @DarkAcreJack)
Monday, August 27th, 2012 12:27 pm

Another Dare in the can.

Check out the detailed explanation on the Dark Acre.

Best of luck to all competitors and we’ll see you again in a few months!

I’m in…

Posted by (twitter: @DarkAcreJack)
Monday, August 20th, 2012 9:44 am

… your mom making you a baby brother.

Despite Arenanet putting their Guild Wars 2 head-start right smack in the middle of this Ludum Dare, I wouldn’t DARE (get it) miss this as I’m 5/5 in a row and ain’t no way I’m breaking this streak.

You’ll pardon the copy-paste from the previous “I’m in”. Or you won’t. It’s up to you.

Primary Tools

  • Unity3D Pro
  • Autodesk 3D Studio Max
  • FL Studio 10.x

Secondary Tools

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • NGUI
  • Substance Designer
  • Autodesk Mudbox
  • Autodesk Motionbuilder

Tertiary Tools

  • Propellerhead Figure
  • KORG iMS-20
  • KORG iELECTRIBE
  • Animoog
  • SampleWiz

Libraries

The Darkade template contains copywritten material. Anything related to Dark Acre, iTween, Owlchemy’s Texture scaling or Strumpy Shader are property of their owners. Refer to various licenses for details.

Let’s have a good time and REMEMBER! If you must quit, give up, or bitch about the theme please carefully write down all your issues in a well-worded document, go into the bathroom, and hang yourself. Because no one else gives a toss.

<3

Lapse & Comment

Posted by (twitter: @DarkAcreJack)
Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 5:02 pm

The requisite 48-hours of time-compressed evidence.

Enjoy?

Walkthrough this World with Me

Posted by (twitter: @DarkAcreJack)
Monday, April 23rd, 2012 3:21 pm

Posted a Linux version video demonstration.

Still doesn’t tell you how to win, but that’s kind of the point.

Jack’s Back

Posted by (twitter: @DarkAcreJack)
Thursday, April 19th, 2012 11:53 am

Let’s go for 5 of 5, shall we?

Quick tour of the office:

Primary Tools

  • Unity3D Pro
  • Autodesk 3D Studio Max
  • FL Studio 10.x

Secondary Tools

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • NGUI
  • Substance Designer
  • Autodesk Mudbox
  • Autodesk Motionbuilder

Tertiary Tools

  • Propellerhead Figure
  • KORG iMS-20
  • KORG iELECTRIBE
  • Animoog
  • SampleWiz
  • Libraries

    The Darkade template contains copywritten material. Anything related to Dark Acre, iTween, Owlchemy’s Texture scaling or Strumpy Shader are property of their owners. Refer to various licenses for details.

    You could use the Dark Acre textures but uh, why would you? Just replace them if you want to use the same animation effects.

    Let’s have fun, and remember: it’s very difficult to play an unfinished game.

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