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About Volute (twitter: @StormAlligator)
Ray's Seal Of Approval
Awarded by RaysAndLazors
on August 27, 2014
So I participated in the Ludum Dare for the 8th time in a row! It’s always an awesome experience.
I really liked the theme. I made a game with a story again, because I love games with stories. You play as Pauline, an archeologist who is obsessed with a mysterious temple. After the intro, you’ll have to discover documents that will help you find the truth.
I did the jam this time, and 3 days were hardly enough! I was glad I could implement the full story with the 2 endings, add music, draw all the characters and significant elements. But I regret not having the time to add more visual details to make the different locations more lively.
I hope you’ll enjoy the game
Here’s the link to the entry:
I thought I wouldn’t be able to participate this time because I had a lot of work to do this week-end. But the theme was really nice so I took some time on my Sunday to work on a LD entry.
Here’s the result:
It’s an exploration game where you talk to various NPC and dive in the sea to help them. I’m happy with the result in relation to the much shorter time than usual I spent on it. I had fun writing the NPC. I had very few bugs to deal with. And I was able to implement all the story I had in mind.
My only regret is not to have been able to work on the sound part because it would have added a lot to the game. But it was to be expected… I’ll probably make an extended version with some work on moody sound effects and a background music, a title menu, a restart option, sound control, a preloader and more graphics.
I hope you’ll enjoy the game!
First of all, I’m very glad I could finish a game one more time
I went for an extreme take on the theme. The game will only let you play ONE TIME.
“Dream forever, live once” is a metaphorical game about life. As you play/lose, the character goes through various stages of life, represented by the constellations, until…
I hope you enjoy it
I’m in for the 1-2-3-4-5…6th time !
I’ll use :
Code : Flash/Actionscript. I don’t work with it on a daily basis anymore so I’ll probably be a little rusty
Graphics : Flash/Photoshop
Music : GarageBand iOS or ThumbJam or Figure, whichever inspires me more when comes the time to rush and make some sound.
Here’s the link to my entry : 10 seconds to save the day.
Before Ludum Dare begins
This Ludum Dare, I wanted to make an adventure game. Not one like Lucas’ Quest Backwards (LD 24) with platform sequences or This is not a minimalist game (LD 26) with puzzles. I wanted to make an adventure game where you only advance through dialogs. I like writing stories, and I thought that such a game wouldn’t be long to code and that it would give me plenty of time to polish the story, the graphics and add music.
Like many, I was convinced that the theme would be 10 seconds. This is the first time in a Ludum Dare that the theme is not a surprise for me. But I hadn’t given much thought to it. I didn’t like it, it felt exactly like “Minimalism” : more of an additional constraint than a theme, and I hoped it wouldn’t be chosen despite its very high score during the first round of votes.
But it was announced : 10 seconds.
I didn’t know what to do. I tried to find gameplay ideas with 10 seconds, but nothing very inspiring. All 10 seconds based gameplay seemed so frustrating. So I came back to my initial idea of making a story, and I let my mind wander in many directions. I wanted the 10 seconds to be an important part of the story, and not just be the equivalent of “a short moment”.
10 seconds… 10 seconds… 10 seconds event… Give 10 seconds… Stop ! The “Give 10 seconds” trail seemed interesting.
I wanted the characters to be able to give 10 seconds, but how ? Then came this idea of ghosts being able to give away the last 10 seconds of their lives to other dead people in order to prevent a tragedy, and I liked it a lot. I was just worried about not being able to write good enough characters and a good enough tragic event for the story to work.
I slept on it (in France, the theme is announced at 3 a.m.). I was still worried when I woke up, so I started writing, finished writing… and I was so relieved I finally came up with something that seemed to work that it didn’t even occurred to me that I could take a few moments to see if the characters and the rhythm of the story could be improved. I wrote everything in one go and never touched it again.
Then I started to write the dialogs. It was kind of confusing because I wrote everything in a plain text file, and after a while it became really hard to distinguish what dialog unlocked what, what dialog was unlocked by what… I started to become very anxious.
Moreover, more than 1h30 had passed, and I had only written what corresponded to 1/25e of my story, not even coded it ! It didn’t look good at all.
So I rushed. When the code was satisfying enough, I started to code the story. Then I realised than a feature was missing : I wanted the player to be able to unlock a list of topics, and be able to ask any character about these topics. So I coded it, and it bugged a lot, and I fixed all the bugs. It took me several hours.
Then I rushed writing the dialogs and the story.
When the first day was over, I had only coded the first point of my to-do list. There were 18 points ! I realised I could never finish unless I cut a lot of the planned investigation sequences. So I did it with regret…
The game at the end of day 1
The second day, the hours were flying and the game was only progressing slowly. So I made even more cuts. When I finally got to the end of the story, there were only 4 hours left.
While re-testing the game, it occurred to me that my “topics” features only served once… So I deleted it and added manually the topic where it was needed. Which caused many bugs and dead ends ! Arggg !!!
I only had time left to polish the graphics. I focused on the characters. Drawing them took me all the remaining time because there are a lot of NPC and playable characters and I drew 4 frames by animation.
Almost no time was left for the music unfortunately, so I used abundant-music.com.
What went right
– I never thought I could finish the story, but I did it. Even if I had to cut a lot of interactions with the player, I consider it a win. There’s still a lot of content.
– This was the first time I drew animated non-pixel-art characters for a game, I enjoyed it and I was happy with the result.
– I’m still happy with the story.
What went wrong
– The river of bugs caused by a feature that wasn’t even implemented in the game. I should have taken more time to plan what I was going to do and what I would need.
– I had planned a lot more interactions with the player that I had no time to implement.
– I could have improved the story, but I was already so uncomfortable writing it in the first place that it seemed impossible to me to change it even a little bit, it was like written in stone.
Explain everything or not ?
– I thought that I could leave some things to the interpretation of the player. It was a deliberate choice not to explain why things happen like this in the end. I could have explained it, but it didn’t seemed necessary. On the contrary, it would have seemed kind of clumsy to me.
Unfortunately, it looks like it was necessary. Some players on Kong decided that the unexplained ending made no sense, and therefore was weak.
But some understood, so I don’t know what was the right choice after all.
Testing… my own patience
– Testing was horrible. I had to test the game so many times to fix problems that I became sick of my own game and it wasn’t even released. Seeing the same dialogs for the 100th time, discovering that something is still wrong and things don’t unlock correctly, grrr !!! In the end, I didn’t even read the dialogs anymore, I just pressed the keys in the right order.
Even if I had ways to start testing at a given point of the story, I spent an awful lot of time on testing, I’d say more than 50%.
Plus, the code was very tricky to organize. I like clean, readable code, and it wasn’t. It was very hard to tell what unlocked what and where. It was like being lost in a labyrinth or trying to unlock a complex web. And with more interactions with the player like I wanted initially, it would have been even worse.
When I made a post-compo version for Kongregate, I thought that adding a short animation at the end would make it less brutal, and wouldn’t take a lot of time. But I really didn’t have the courage to work on the game anymore, so I didn’t do it.
Even if I’m satisfied with the game I made, I didn’t really enjoy making it after the “imagine-the-story” part. Long dialog based story are tricky to make (at least for me) and painful to test in such a short amount of time.
I’m not saying “never again”, I’m just saying “definitely not next time”
You can play my entry here. I hope you like it !
10 seconds to save the day is an adventure game where you play as a ghost.
You died in a terrible accident that made dozens of victims. You remember that for 10 seconds, you knew you were going to die… In the clouds, such moments are called “extra time”.
There’s a rule that if you have unfinished business on Earth you can give this “extra time” to another person. But who to give it to and can 10 seconds be enough to prevent the accident ?
Here’s the link :
Entry page of 10 seconds to save the day
I hope you enjoy the game !
I’ll probably write a post-mortem in the next few days. Meanwhile, it’s time to play some games
… for the 5th time.
I won’t have much time but I hope I’ll still end up making a game I like
My tools :
Still working with AS3. I’ll have to code in Flash Pro because this time I’m on a Mac. I’ll miss FlashDevelop a lot.
I’ll probably use Flash for graphics too.
ThumbJam or PixiTraker for music.
And here’s a picture of my workstation :
Hope you all have a great Ludum Dare !
Only 1 day left to rate games ! I’ve rated about 160 games. I didn’t really like “Minimalism” at first, but seeing how many great concepts people came up with, I guess it was a good theme after all
[placeholder] – mtrc – 48 Hour Compo Entry
It’s a puzzle game for programmers, which is a great idea, as the audience here (us, participants) mostly is. Lines of commented code help you figure out what to do, and you have to deal with nasty bugs. Very cool !
Unst – Milo – 48 Hour Compo Entry
A very challenging puzzle game with a concept I’ve never seen before.
Floating Point – 7Soul – 48 Hour Compo Entry
A very uncommon entry. You have to have two browser windows opened side by side to play. On one side, there’s the detailed world, on the other, there’s the abstract world. It’s a point and click game, and your actions on one world have an effect on the other. The graphics and mood are excellent.
The Road – GeorgeBroussard – 48 Hour Compo Entry
This one nailed the theme in my opinion. The graphics are very minimal. You play a red square, you have to go forward and avoid stuff. The whole thing represents real life. When you die by hitting a black triangle for instance, the game tells what it represents, how you died in real life. Some deaths are very funny.
Street of Rave – TinyDrakkarStudio – Jam Entry
So much fun in this game ! You dance, and you have to run around people in the street to make them dance too. You have to avoid the walls and the cops that will chase you will make your life harder.
Minimal Annihilation – Zener – 48 Hour Compo Entry
A Starcraft in 2D with minimal graphics. I think it’s perfectly done, and the UI is very intuitive.
MONO – timtipgames – 48 Hour Compo Entry
A highly polished and professional looking entry. An amazing work in 48 hours.
CLRS – acatcalledfrank – 48 Hour Compo Entry
Another great looking entry with a very cool concept. Evil color circles are attacking you and you have to defend yourself by drawing lines of the right colors around you. It’s a “draw-em-up”, as the author says
Zip – Chronodrax – 48 Hour Compo Entry
A fun puzzle game with cool graphics and a very nice concept. The little character can absorb the color of the platform he’s on, and then he’ll be able to pass through any block of that color. You have to do things in the right order, or you’ll fall !
Schrodinger – myachin – 48 Hour Compo Entry
A very interesting experience where you play a wave function. You have to change state to go through obstacles, gain speed, and avoid the black hole that chases you. I really like how the graphics twist when you start to lose.
nadir – Zillix – 48 Hour Compo Entry
This game tells a story in such an interesting way. Your character (a pink square) is falling and she’s trying to remember what happened to her by reliving her dialogs with her fellow adventurers. While progressing through the memories, you have to avoid the dark walls around you, and it really adds something to the immersion.
Lunar Rain – LeafThief – 48 Hour Compo Entry
A point and click with fantastic graphics and mood.
L’Hypnose – Wan & Almudys – Jam Entry
A very artsy, oniric experience.
Reich 18 – jerombd – Jam Entry
A Game & Watch like looking game with awesome visuals. Really worth a look !
Dragon Drop – Tom 7 – 48 Hour Compo Entry
A game with a great twist that made me smile
LOOP – vandriver – 48 Hour Compo Entry
Escape Shaft – Zathalos – 48 Hour Compo Entry
It’s a very cool puzzle action game with a concept that works very well. You have to optimize your shots and be patient to kill all the monsters in the room.
It was my fourth participation to the Ludum Dare, and it’s a great experience every time ! Here’s the game I did for the compo :
About the game
It’s a platformer – adventure game. You play a warrior in a medieval fantastic universe who does quests for various NPC. Suddenly the world changes. It has no more colors, no more details, and the people are talking rectangles.
At first, I had minimum inspiration for “Minimalism”…
It made me think of Mondrian, but also of Magritte (“This is not a pipe”, “This is not an apple”). I like Magritte’s work, so I wanted to put a reference to it in the game, but I didn’t know how.
Then I had this idea of a basic character from a medieval fantastic game who finds himself in a minimalist world. I tried to imagine what a minimal NPC would be like, then I thought of this rectangle who wants squares and tries to use the minimum of words to interact with the player. And I started from there.
I roughly had the whole story in mind when I started to code. In my timezone, you discover the theme at 4 a.m., so you can really sleep on it.
I was convinced I’d had to make cuts because there were so many scenes. In my previous LD, I was never able to do everything I wanted. For Tinysasters (LD23 – Tiny World), I had to rush the graphics and the sound during the last hour, and the gameplay was not working. For Lucas’s Quest Backwards (LD24 – Evolution), I had to abandon the compo and go for the jam. And for Crime in the City (LD25 – You are the villain), I couldn’t work on the graphics at all.
When the first day was over, I had 6 scenes left. No work had been done on the graphics or the sounds. Although, what was very convenient about this theme was that all my prototype-looking graphics for the minimalist world could almost be considered as final
Fortunately, it only took me 1 hour by scene, so I had plenty of time to finish when he gameplay was done.
For the code, I used As3 (flash) with the framework Flixel. I never use Flixel or heavy frameworks outside the Ludum Dare, because I like to code more freely. But it was great for this LD and it saved me a lot of time.
For the level design, I used DAME. It works great with Flixel. It’s nice to be able to draw the maps so easily with a set of tile.
For the graphics I used Photoshop CS2. It’s not the best tool for pixel art but it’s the one I’m comfortable with. It’s also good enough for animations, although not very handy.
For the music, I used ThumbJam (iOS). This is a fantastic app that lets you compose music like you were playing an instrument. And the interface is so simple !
Things that went (a little) wrong
A lot of people on the comments of Kongregate and Newgrounds said that the game was inspired by Flatland. It’s not, I’ve never read this book and I hadn’t heard of it before I released the game. But I will probably read it now, sounds interesting !
The puzzle aspect
The game looks like a puzzle game, but it wasn’t supposed to be one. Actually, there are only two puzzles in the game… The mirror one wasn’t even planned, it came to me when I was developing the scene.
The idea is that the character brought the change with him to the minimal world. He doesn’t make the change happen, the change is already there (the red squares, etc.). The character is only the spark that lights things up, he’s not really active in this. That’s why things can feel a little random to people used to puzzle games, This is not a minimalist game is a story before everything. If I had more time, I would have made more dialogs, NPC, choices and alternate storylines.
What went right
Time is on my side
This is the first time in a Ludum Dare that I didn’t run out of time. I had 7 hours to do the graphics, the music and some polish. It was very comfortable. I’d definetly like to do it again ! But I wonder how much it had to do with the theme…
Lots of plays
The game is currently featured on Kongregate and Newgrounds. I’m very happy so many people get to play the game !
Thanks for taking the time to read my post-mortem.
Here’s the link to the game : This is not a minimalist game
I hope you’ll enjoy it
I’ll make a post in a few days about my favorite games. I’ve rated 60 so far and saw some great entries !
For this LD25 I came up with the game “Crime in the City“. This is a cardgame where you compose a deck of baddies and send them on raids throughout the city to raise the crime level in the city and, ultimately, take control of it.
What went wrong
I wasn’t very fond of this theme, “You are the villain”. Partly because with my partner we had just finished a game that let you play as the villain (Demons vs Fairyland). It made the theme feel somewhat old to me, and made me feel uninspired. All I could think of was the villains in super hero stories.
During these last two weeks, I played and rated about 80 games. I was really impressed by the ones that put the player in the opposite of the role he usually has. I wish I could think of something like that.
I used AS3. As soon I do my second compilation, everything is all broken ! My little base code doesn’t work anymore and it’s an error message I never had before. The compiler enumerates all my classes and says they’re undefined or something like that… It wasn’t a good start !
Turns out I had given a class the same name as a package, which was a very bad thing to do. I was lucky it only took me a few minutes to figure it out.
I also made my usual mistakes a few times :
– write “lenght” instead of “length”. Where is auto-completion when you need it !
– write “i < array" instead of "i < array.length" in a for loop…
– instructions happening in a bad order, but at this point the code is too tricky for it to be obvious so you have to go through the long debug session to spot the problem.
What about you, do you have "usual mistakes" ?
I thought I would have a full day to work on the graphics and the sounds. I had big plans. I wanted to do an interface inspired by Inspector Gadget, with the hand of the villain moving when you push the buttons (It was actually done in a LD game ! Villain OS 8). And instead of a cat, I would have drawn a goat.
But it was highly unrealistic given the amount of options in the game. The number of game design pages should have given me a hint.
What was disturbing was that the features felt almost finished at the end of the first day, only one was missing. But I had worked too much and without breaks on the first day, I was very tired at the beginning of the second. And when I saw it was late and I wouldn’t be able to work on the graphics, I stressed out and it made things worse.
What went right
I finished the game in the 48 hours, which is better than last LD when the game I started as a compo became a jam game (Lucas’s Quest Backwards).
Game complete (bis) !
When I look at the game… it actually has a lot of options ! I’m very happy I could do it in only two days. It’s amazing how jams make you surpass yourself.
They weren’t that many. Considering how the code was rushed and how tired I was, it could have been a lot worse.
A second jam
With my partner we decided to participate to Folis’ New Year Game Jam. The result was another cardgame : a team for the job.
On paper, it looked a lot simpler. A few different cards, a few interactions, very little procedural content. The game design documents were nothing more than a few notes.
Once again, things didn’t go as expected, and we couldn’t complete the game for the jam, we only released it 2 days later.
What went wrong
The code was done the first day, but there was two or three very nasty bugs which took a lot of time to fix during the second day. As the IA needs to temporize for the player to understand what’s happening, there are a lot of callbacks in the code, which made debug sessions a lot more painful.
We didn’t have a lot of time to work on the game (the jam was december 31 and january 1st). And anyway, as far as I’m concerned, I didn’t have the motivation to work 16 hours a day like I did for LD25.
In the end, it’s not very surprising that a project that seemed simpler than “Crime in the City” took more days to finish.
So far, our projects have always taken more time as we thought they would. Jams are a good training to help us get better at evaluating the time needed by a project. That’s why we decided to participate to One Game a Month. You can find us there as StormAlligator. Aside from our regular projects, we’ll try to do a game in jam conditions each month. We publish regular updates on our facebook.
Reading back this article, bugs seems to be part of the problem. Bugs are a big time consumer and cannot be planned. A good thing before choosing a game idea for a jam would be to evaluate if it’s likely to attract bugs and if the code will make this bugs easy or hard to remove.
Thanks for reading !
I wanted to write a post-mortem today for my compo entry, but I am still very tired so I’ll do it another day
I’ll just present the game instead. So let me introduce you to…
Crime in the City lets you play a villain whose dream is to control the city. Hire a team of baddies and send them sow chaos in the city !
The game plays like an asymetrical card game, it works like Netrunner. You build a deck of bad guys, launch raids and the other side will try to stop you. The other side is mainly cops and a super hero, “The Dark Cape”.
This was a big project, probably too big. I didn’t have time to work on the graphics at all, so the art stayed prototype art. I only had 20 minutes to do the music. And no goats ! I had a nice idea on how to add one though… I’ll tell you about it on the post-mortem.
The bright side of things is that the game is fully functional and actually quite fun once you get it I hope you’ll like it anyway !
As for me, I’m going to get some more sleep, so that I’ll be in good shape to play your games tomorrow !
Hello everyone, I hope your projects are doing well !
I will soon begin my second day of development. I worked 16 hours yesterday and I still feel very tired, but hey, the show must go on !
I’m working on a game that is basically a card game even if it doesn’t look like one that much. You’re a super-villain, you hire monsters and evil guys and send them on various missions. The objective is to take control of the city.
I wanted to have all the code done yesterday, but there are a lot of features. Fortunately there’s not that much left so hopefully I’ll be able to start working on sounds and graphics in 2 or 3 hours. Maybe I’ll have a first version to show you then !