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Alien Escape – Postmortem

Friday, May 8th, 2015 7:53 am

ld32_final_level_1

This LD was a strange one for me: i almost quit several times, had no idea what game i’d like to do for most of the time and also had the stop working to attend to social obligations during the compo. It was a great recipe for failure, but somehow i managed to finish it, despite the game having bugs and lacking a lot of intended features. Ok let’s go over the traditional good / bad parts.

The bad

  • Initial idea – I innocently started this ludum dare with the “beat’em up” style in mind. I wanted to make a final-fight like game with combos and different enemies. After trying to draw fighter sprites i “quickly” (see next bullet) realized my mistake: the hard part of this game type is the art and animations, especially for a programmer with no background in pixel-art (or any other kind);
  • The map – Of course, as a programmer my first task was to create a map with the appropriate axonometric projection, the “cabinet projection” which was commonly used for fighting games such as Cadillac and Dinosaurs, Final Fight, etc. The problem was it took some precious time to make, and while the result was good enough, by the time i finished i had already scrapped the beat’em up idea and had to think what to do with this thing;
  • The theme – Besides the artistic difficulty, the coup de grâce to my original idea was that the theme was ‘an unconventional weapon’ – i figured that using your fists was not unconventional enough and almost quit the compo. After some thought i decided to continue and in a stroke of craziness i decided to do a turn-based game. The theme was also a problem and i ended up with this “just-to-fit-the-theme” mechanic in which you have to grab enemies to use them as throwing weapons;
  • Time / Life – I had two unavoidable social obligations during the LD weekend: a dinner saturday night and a lunch with my in-laws sunday. I didn’t plan ahead for this compo and had to pay the price, losing ~4-5 hours of development time;
  • Art and music – I had planned a background for the game and some extra frames for the player character but couldn’t do it. I am still very bad at drawing humans, the player character looks like a giant-headed power ranger. I was planning an intro, menus and a much better and user-friendly UI also. And i couldn’t even touch the music generation programs i wanted to use, all because of poor planning and time lost at the beginning of the project.

The good

tileset_b

  • Art – Besides having very few assets people who commented complimented the art style, which made this Ludum Dare the best one for me so far. This is a huge milestone because this time i actually used a drawing tablet and spent some time thinking about colors and the whole style for the game. I am particularly happy with the map tiles i created :)
  • Cabinet Projection – Besides being a weird projection and some times hiding stuff (clickable tiles, enemies) this axonometric projection worked and will certainly try to reuse it in the future (hopefully making the beat’em up game);
  • Turn-based – Alien escape is a very simple game, but it was the very first time i tried to do a turn-based one and besides having little time and some bugs the whole thing ended up working ok i guess. Of course the code is a mess but i think i successfully added the “turn-based” skill to my repertoire. I’ll surely make a post-compo version of this game!
  • Completion – Every time you participate in the compo enduring the restrictions and finishing a game i think you gain valuable experience in the “finishing a game” skill. This one for me was more of a personal challenge: having a theme i didn’t like, completely changing my game idea and finishing the game regardless of these problems.

To summarize, even with all the unexpected things i really liked doing this Ludum Dare, it was the third time i managed to finish a game and i plan to keep participating – each time i do i learn a lot and i’m actually getting better at drawing! :)

P.S.: There is still a long way to go before i can really care about ratings – for now i only care about comments (criticisms, suggestions, bugs) and honing my skills.

P.P.S: If you liked this post and wish to try the game, here are the links:

Alien Escape – Ludum Dare Page

Alien Escape – Web version (Flash)

Progress

Saturday, April 18th, 2015 5:28 pm

Just replaced the tile placeholders for a brand new “programmer tileset”:

ld32_tileset_progress

I still have the following things to do before finishing:

  • Player character with at least these frames: jump, holding enemy, idle (and if there’s enough time: taking damage and dead);
  • Enemy with at least these frames: jump and idle (if there’s enough time: attack and dead);
  • Make enemies track and attack player;
  • Make player the enemy up to use it as weapon;
  • Winning and game over conditions;
  • UI.

 

First Screenshot

Saturday, April 18th, 2015 8:19 am

Work so far – no art yet.

ld32_screenshot

As soon as i get the core mechanic working i’m gonna focus on the characters.

I’m In!

Friday, April 17th, 2015 9:39 am

Once again i’ll try to make something at Ludum Dare.

At first i thought about using Unreal Engine 4, but as LD is a mostly web-based event i quickly dismissed the idea. Unfortunately UE4 has a hopefully-not-long road to take before WebGL deployment is a reality (currently the build takes too long, the resulting package is too big (at least > 100MB) and does not run in Chrome).

I’ll try to focus on the art again, only this time i’ll change from pixel art to vector graphics. My latest attempt at LD 31 resulted in some really crappy pixel sprites and took much longer than i thought it would.

Other thing i totally neglected the last time was audio: i simply used bfxr presets with no regard to loudness or pleasantness – most of the negative comments my entry got was related to sound. So this time i plan to take greater care with sound effects and also try to put some music in the game (procedurally generated, that is).

That said, i’ll fall back to using my usual tools for game jams:

This time i’ll also hang out at a local gathering in my town: PUC-PR in Curitiba, Brazil. I’ll be there during the first night only, to meet people and also get more motivated than just trying from home.

Well, i think that’s it.

Good luck for everyone and see you at the other side!

P.S.: All tools have links in case somebody wishes to know more about it (maybe even use in this compo!).

I’m in!

Friday, December 5th, 2014 6:50 pm

Tools:

– Haxe + OpenFL + HaxeFlixel;

– Pickle for drawing;

– Sublime Text 2 as ide.

I’m in!

Saturday, December 14th, 2013 6:10 am

I wasn’t sure if i was going to participate in this one, but after a good night of sleep and some thinking on the theme this morning i got some ideas to try.

Tools:

Programming: Haxe language and HaxeFlixel engine;

Art: Pen, Scanner and Photoshop;

Music: Digital Piano + Audacity;

SFX: Sfxr and/or Bfxr;

Other: Chronolapse, FlashDevelop, OpenFL.

A Fish Called Revenge – Finished, at last!

Sunday, April 28th, 2013 5:58 pm

Participating in this Ludum Dare was one of the most challenging and fun experiences i had in a long time!

game_d

A few hours ago i wasn’t sure if i would really finish the game, and had to cut some “features” to be able to make it: music and some art.

Let me do a quick recap of rights and wrongs:

Rights:

  • Sleeping normally: in both nights i slept around 6 to 8 hours, this made a great difference in my productivity;
  • Art: i’m a programmer, and although the game’s art is low quality, for my first experience i think it went ok (kind of);
  • Art tools: I used and tested a lot of software, but to make the seamless tiles and the terrain, Pickle was a simple, yet powerful and user-friendly. Definitely gonna buy it!
  • Framework: i used HaxeFlixel, and it allowed me to prototype and test features ultra-quickly!
  • SFX: sfxr is the savior in this regard. It made a time-consuming and hard task in a very quick endeavor.

Wrongs:

  • Couldn’t put some music in the game. My initial plan was to create some very simple tracks: one for the level and one for the boss. Unfortunately i couldn’t find time to create them;
  • Animation: I think the underwater setting made this difficult. I tried to animate the swimming motion for the fish and lost some time. In the end i gave it up to be able to finish (also the squid would be insanely difficult to animate correctly);
  • Water overlay: this is the what i missed the most. The idea was to create a water tilemap and put it over the level. I couldn’t find the right mix of colors (some characters would be total black, or invisible), and the time was running, so i had to cut the feature.

Overall, i’m very happy with the result, and also very tired!

Progress

Saturday, April 27th, 2013 10:41 pm

Not much progress, upgraded the map and tilese, finished enemy AI (and also halfway through the boss AI).

I hope there is enough time to do everything!

Picture of fight with the boss:

progress

 

Going to bed now…

 

Progress so far…

Saturday, April 27th, 2013 12:11 pm

I chose to create something under the water: you are a fish and…

Didn’t come up with a good idea for the gameplay yet. I have been focusing on the art, since this is the area in which i have almost no skill and experience.

All i have for the moment is the player, 2 enemies , a tilemap and a very simple tileset.

Screenshot:

ld26_screenshot

I’m in

Friday, April 26th, 2013 12:15 pm

Tools:

Language/IDE/Framework: Haxe/FlashDevelop/HaxeFlixel

Art: Pickle and/or Graphics Gale Free

Audio: sfxr, maybe Autotracker-C if i discover how to use it.

Map editor: Tiled (if applicable)

 

This is gonna be my first LD, let’s see how it goes!

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