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Artificial Incompetence Post-Mortem

Posted by
Tuesday, December 18th, 2012 1:06 pm

My first Ludum Dare/Game Jam was a success! There were definitely bumps along the way, but we’ll get to that in a minute. First of all the game I ended up with (Play it here!). You have a fleet of AI controlled ships fighting an enemy ship, but the problem is that your ships aren’t all that “intelligent”. So whenever they malfunction you have to complete a minigame or quick time event and fix whatever went wrong. As the game goes the events come faster and faster, and by the end an event is happening about every second. Now that that’s out of the way, here’s what all happened and what I learned.

 

AIScreenshot1

 

Bad Stuff

  • I had a game idea about one hour after the theme was revealed. In it you controlled the traps on a Meat Boy style level and had to stop the heroes from getting through. This was going well until about 12 hours later when I realized the game had a ton of problems, the biggest one being that it wasn’t fun. It also was going to take more art than I was willing to make and I hadn’t set anything up right so adding in new traps and whatnot was a pain. So I completely scrapped the idea and started fresh. More on that in the good part.
  • The game gets repetitive fairly quickly. I feel like a lot of LD games fall into this trap, but mine kind of shoves the repetitiveness into your face. I had originally planned for more events to be in the game, but I ended up with only 4. This was partly because I lost that first day to the first idea, and partly because by Monday I was completely burnt out. What I have now is basically a cleaned up version of a single day of work, even though I had plenty of time to add in probably two or three more events.
  • The game is incredibly hard. I’m sure you all know how hard it is to balance a game, especially in the span of only a few days, but I don’t think anyone besides myself can beat this game. I tried to balance it so I could beat it easily, which would mean that anyone else should be able to just barely beat it or just barely lose on a second attempt (It’s supposed to be hard, but not this hard). Apparently that thinking was completely incorrect. So the lesson learned is 1) find playtesters and 2) make the game to the point where you find it too easy and then make it easier.

Good Stuff

  • Despite losing that first day to a different idea, I still ended up with a solid and complete game. I attribute this mainly to Unity. I only started seriously using it about a month ago, and it still amazes me how simple it makes everything. So the lesson to learn from this is if your game is no good after a few hours don’t be afraid to scrap it and start again. If you’re working on a game you don’t like then you aren’t going to have any fun and the game is going to suffer because of it.
  • Again, Unity. I’ve talked to programmers before who don’t like it for one reason or another even though they’ve never even touched it. There’s no way this game would be anywhere close to what it is without Unity.
  • I actually had next to no planning when it came to the final game. Once I scrapped the first idea I had another one that did involve controlling AI ships, but not anywhere close to what it is now. So I started making that new idea by making some planets and making a bunch of flocking ships. Then I accidentally made the ships move way too fast and they started zooming around the planets and bouncing off the side of the screen. That gave me the idea for the “Gravity changing” minigame (Even though it makes no sense) and the rest of the game was born from there. If there’s a lesson in this it’s that even if you don’t have a solid idea just start making something. Inspiration will come from somewhere.

 

So that’s my thoughts on the weekend. I’m incredibly happy with how the game turned out (Again, you should totally play it here) and look forward to the next Ludum Dare. Now to get back to playing everyone else’s awesome games!

Artificial Incompetence is done!

Posted by
Monday, December 17th, 2012 4:22 pm

I completely changed game ideas almost 24 hours in, but I still finished! I’m honestly somewhat surprised I did finish anything, especially since this is my first ever game jam. But it was a lot of fun, so I’ll definitely do it again.

So I ended up making a game where you control a fleet of AI ships that don’t exactly do what they’re supposed to do. You have to fix their malfunctions and make sure they kill the “Good Guy Alliance” ship before it gets across the screen. It’s a short little game, but it’s filled with a lot of frantic fun.

Here’s the entry: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-25/?action=preview&uid=18155

AIScreenshot3

First game idea was no good, so I made a different one

Posted by
Sunday, December 16th, 2012 10:14 pm

If you were to go back through my posts you would see that not long ago I was making a completely different game. There were a lot of problems with that game. First, it wasn’t fun to make it. Second, it probably wasn’t going to be fun to play. And third it required too much art, and seeing as I’m not an artist that was a bad thing. But I’m glad that happened, because I’m really happy with the game I have now. Luckily I’d always planned on entering the jam so losing a dayish of work wasn’t too bad.

So here’s a screenshot of “Artificial Incompetence”. You have to control a race of incompetent AI beings to try and stop the Good Guy Alliance from destroying you. It’s really simple but also really fast paced, which I tend to like. Now I’m off to sleep, then polish polish polish tomorrow.ArtificalIncompetence

I’ve got a thing you could (Loosely) call a “game”!

Posted by
Friday, December 14th, 2012 11:13 pm

Took about an hour to come up with the idea, so here’s about 2 or 3 hours of work. Basically the idea is you manually control the traps in a masochistic side-scroller. A bunch of AI “players” stream in from the left and you have to first click on a trap on the top screen and then the bottom screen will zoom in on that trap. From there you’ll have to perform the right series of inputs to make the trap fire. For instance, the saw trap I have right now just requires the user to press the up arrow, but a cannon might require the down arrow to put a cannon ball in, then the right arrow to pack it in, and then space to fire. As the game progresses you’ll get more traps in the level and there will be more dudes streaming in which should make it become very frantic. Once x number of dudes get through it’s game over and you’re scored on kills or time or something.

Build1

 

So it’s a relatively simple idea and shouldn’t be too hard to pull off, but I’m going to be proud as hell if I finish it!

Well, guess I’m in!

Posted by
Wednesday, December 12th, 2012 9:56 am

It’s my first time doing this, so I’m doing the Jam rather than the Compo. I have no doubt that I’m going to need that extra day. But seeing as I’m in the middle of another game right now, it will be awesome to (hopefully) actually finish one no matter how small it is!

I’ll be using Unity 4 and MonoDevelop with C#, GIMP, bfxr, and whatever else I learn how to use in the next few days.

Good luck everyone!

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