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Underbyte – Some words about it!

Posted by (twitter: @unusualcadence)
Friday, December 20th, 2013 7:56 am


So I made this game called Underbyte for the jam this year. Once again I was ridiculously ambitious, missed the 48 hour deadline and submitted it to the Jam at silly-o-clock with a stinking headache and amazing sense of accomplishment. I’m really proud of this one as it’s been a bit of an end-of-year Wot I Learned Doing Gamejams test for myself, and I think it’s fun!

The good:

* Overall I was aiming to do some specific things this jam, and focus on that mystery ‘x’ factor known as ‘feeling’. Manic platform shooters seem to be in my blood, they’re great fun to make and I already had a crack at it earlier in the year with “Invertigo”, which wasn’t too great in hindsight. Overall I’d learned a lot of tricks about particle effects, animation, knockback, screen-shake and control tightening that I wanted to apply to something, before diving in to a fuller title in a similar vein.

* The pixels are better! I started this year with a complete lack of knowledge of how to do tiles, and over the jams I’ve been slowly getting my head around things. Not to say the art is anything more than “barely functional”, but I’m on the path to getting my arty skills up to speed. Maybe the first step of the path, but it’s a start!

* Music + sound. People seem to love the soundtrack, which makes me very happy indeed!

* Serendipity. I stumbled across the smash-two-blocks-together-to-destroy-tiles mechanic by complete accident early on, and thought it worked really well! Further investigations neeeded for sure.

* Stencyl. Ooh I love me some middleware, and I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this (much less so quickly) without Stencyl being a very neat engine! Thanks Team Stencyl!

The bad:

* Level design. I’m getting better at this for sure after cranking out loads for my last entry, but the flow still isn’t quite right for me.

* The animation. Yeahhhh… not my strong suit. C-, must try harder!

* Theme intergration. I originally wanted to put in some ‘?’ blocks that gave you random power ups, but only ever one of each. Then I ran out of time trying to desperately polish the game for release, and just didn’t get to implement the feature properly. I stuck in a key to activate a one-time invincibility. It’s crowbarred in, but it kinda works, I really wish I had left time to implement something much more interesting!

Anyway, thanks for all the kind words that have been left so far! It’s already turned up in a few roundups on NAG Online and IndieStatik which is so awesome. And someone’s done a playthrough already which is linked to in the first post, thank you very much to the person that uploaded it! I have plans to keep on going with this game and turn it in to a more complete adventure, so keep an eye out for it!

Oh yeah, play it here: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-28/?action=preview&uid=20697

Hello everyone!

So I’m super-thrilled that people have been getting in to Total Spaghettification, a lot of people have ‘clicked’ with the mechanics and have been perfecting their runs through the game.

There’s one point of contention that is proving to be an annoyance to people, and that’s arguably the most important part of any game: the controls!

Why are they so weird? Well:

I knew early on I wanted to strip the game controls down to a minimum. Canabalt + Nikujin was the base equation, and I wanted to experiment with not having the usual directional controls. I liked the idea in my head of the lil’ guy just charging around like a Lemming until exploding, and I felt that if you were flowing well enough in the game, just bouncing off walls like a pinball would be enough!

So as I started to put together the movement controls I went with an ‘A’ button to jump and wall-slide, ‘B’ button to floor-slide and dismount from walls. I developed most of the game like this, and got used to the way they worked.

Late on Sunday, I showed it to my partner and quickly found out that the controls were a useless mess, with no flow or form, and only served to make a frustrating game more difficult. Whoops.

So I spent a few hours furiously re-writing the movement logic, and settled on the ass-backwards way that it currently plays – different keys for jumping in different contexts. It was the only way I could get the game to feel like it was flowing again, as doing a succession of wall jumps was just impossible with the jump/wall-jump being on the same key!

I thought it was a fair compromise – if you managed to get to grips with the controls it would be rewarding, but there was a huge danger that I was asking players to get used to an unnatural control scheme, on top of being pressured by the time limit and fall damage. It’s like saying “Hey, I know you’ve got a bus to catch, but would you mind filling in this survey? Also we’re standing next to a wasp’s nest.”

This might have worked out better had I had time to implement a proper tutorial. In fact, this all served to highlight some major flaws in my development skills – how to best teach the player how the mechanics work in a way that is fun and compelling. I just banged in a practice level with no time limit to try and address the problem, which again was a compromise as time was running out, but it probably wasn’t enough overall to address the issue.

All of this is a perfect storm in the kind of environment were people don’t really have time to learn a whole wacky set of controls when going through and rating 100s of games. And not making the controls intuitive enough is a failing on my part, and a lesson for me to take away from this!

Scores on the doors

Posted by (twitter: @unusualcadence)
Wednesday, August 28th, 2013 4:54 am

The leaderboards for Total Spaghettification are growing! There’s some amazing sub 10-minute times in there too!

Current Scores:

1. Toni5 min, 59 sec
2. tobbez6 min, 2 sec
3. Spacelord Ghor8 min, 51 sec
4. Esseb14 min, 17 sec
5. Spongus15 min, 35 sec


Speed runners wanted! [total spaghettification]

Posted by (twitter: @unusualcadence)
Tuesday, August 27th, 2013 12:14 pm


So a couple of people have made it through to the end of Total Spaghettification, which is awesome! The game is ‘a reet bugger’ to complete, but it would be ace if those leaderboards could start growing a bit!

Current Top Times:

1. spongus15 mins, 35 sec
2. GFM22 mins, 35sec

Some of the level design has been smoothed out a bit since I got my initial developer run of 8 mins, 15 sec, so getting below that should be totally do-able! The question is, is anyone up for the challenge?


Total Spaghettification!

Posted by (twitter: @unusualcadence)
Monday, August 26th, 2013 3:24 am

I am exhausted, I have a headache, but I managed to get my game in on time (woo). It is called Total Spaghettification and it’s about running, jumping, sliding and wall-grinding across a spaceship before it’s pulled in to a black hole.


Each level has a time limit. You have two controls: jump and slide. No time for direction control when you’re running for your life!

The game is a love letter to Nikujin, an awesome game about clearing tricky levels, then doing it with finesse, then speed running the game! I wanted to capture the feeling of learning-to-mastery, hence the leaderboards and ever-present timer :)

Everything I learned doing the last Ludum Dare was poured in to this game, and I learned a lot from doing this too… mostly about pixel art! Post-mortem to follow… in the meantime, do me a tweet @unusualcadence if you like/hate/find a bug with the game!

(PS I think the difficulty of this game is ‘do-a-swear hard’. Sorry for any contributions to swear-jars around the world)

Invertigo – Bonus Beats

Posted by (twitter: @unusualcadence)
Friday, May 3rd, 2013 12:15 pm

I’ve uploaded a post-compo tweaked version of Invertigo!, taking in to account some of the feedback left by you, the commenting public. Hopefully this makes the game less angry-challenging, and more hooray-challenging!

Theme From Invertigo

Posted by (twitter: @unusualcadence)
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013 3:45 pm

Sometimes when you haven’t got much time at all, you can do cool things. This is also true of music. Here’s an annotated guide to the general thought process when putting together the music for Invertigo:

musicianship ftw!


Here’s a link to the Invertigo soundtrack, for your downloadin’ pleasure! http://soundcloud.com/rotodrone/invertigo

Haven’t played it yet? That number to dial: Invertigo!

Invertigo – Woah nelly I finished it!

Posted by (twitter: @unusualcadence)
Monday, April 29th, 2013 3:39 am

Hello! This is my first Ludum Dare entry, I’ve always wanted to get involved but lack of coding skills always prevented me. Middleware is so good now though, there’s just no excuse! Making games is for EVERYONE! 😀

GAME – Check it out whydontcha

INVERTIGO! Shoot sprites! Jump! Invert the world with switches! It’s a fast-paced action shooter platformer, and I’m super beaming at how it turned out. It’s not an adventurous style of genre, but it’s one that was easy enough for me to make a working game out of.


What went well:

* Stencyl. I put this together in Stencyl, and it’s superb for rapidly putting ideas and working games together! Also plenty of options for a chump like me who’s learning ActionScript and needs to be able to slot code together like legos.

* It’s not an eyesore! The minimalism theme was perfect for reducing asset creation time, as simple shapes could look alright without too much faff!

* It plays pretty well! Possibly a bit too floaty for some, but I quite like my platformers to have soft, unrigid movement. Hangtime baby!

* Got saving/loading working without causing myself a world of pain and horrors with bugs and things.

What didn’t go so well:

* I didn’t start making levels until about 6 hours before the deadline. That is dumb! I spent so much time in a little whitebox arena tweaking visuals and movement and stuff, I just left the important bit until way too late. This means…

* There aren’t enough levels! The game is fun and I want it to be longer 😐

* I think I broke the design rule about making the game a challenge for yourself, and therefore making it way too hard for everyone else! The game is hard, but this is because I didn’t give myself enough time to tweak and balance levels yadda yadda.

* Triangles man. Didn’t stop to think that it’s hard to tell which way they’re facing… whoops. Makes shooting a bit faffy sometimes!

* Spent too much time faffing with extra design elements. Originally had a level that synced the inversion with the bpm of the music, but had to cut because I didn’t have enough time to make it playable and fun! Also the ability to invert the world at any time the player wanted.

* I started making the game with a beta version of the software, and quickly ran in to some problems with missing features, so had to re-start the project about 6 hours in. Fool! Don’t use beta software when you’re in a hurry!

There’s not much in the way of a design journal as I sorta just got my head down and made, but there’s some sporodic tweets on the twitters www.twitter.com/unusualcadence

Thanks! Go play 😀

Piccy 2

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