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Ludum Dare 22

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The uberimpressive slickness award
Awarded by SpaanseDuif
on December 20, 2011

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Together Alone: Love in Limbo BETA

Posted by
Sunday, November 18th, 2012 6:40 am

About a year ago (LD22) Gijs and I decided to enter the Jam. We coded (me) and drew (him) furiously for a few days and built Together Alone, a story-based puzzler where you could switch between controlling two characters to solve tile-breaking puzzles. We came in 2nd in the Jam, and we decided to start building a sequel.

That sequel became Together Alone: Love in Limbo. A new and improved story, gorgeous hand-drawn graphics, many new game elements and even a level editor. We just released our second beta version and are looking for feedback. Please give it a try and let us know what you think!

Play the beta (Flash)

Big thanks to the Ludum Dare organisers; we thought about building a game for a long time, but this kind of competition is just the kick in the butt we needed to actually get going. We’re already busy designing our the next game, even. But first we need to finish this one. :-) Your comments are appreciated!

New website & JIG

Posted by
Thursday, January 19th, 2012 6:32 am

We were very happy to win the 2nd prize in the Jam with our game Together Alone. Although this was our first LD, Gijs and I have worked on creative projects together for a long time, including games, and it’s gratifying to see that people appreciate our imaginings.

As we’re planning to do more games together, we’ve decided on a name for our two-man team and created a website: Qwok Games. Qwok was a minor character in our old comics (see the site if you’re interested), and we both liked him so much we’ve adopted him as our mascot.

Together with a few other LD22 participants (including Midas and Follow) we were asked by JayIsGames.com if they could host us. We were happy to say yes, and worked hard to provide an even more polished version. It is now up on the site, along with a very positive review. Woohoo!

Postmortem: Together Alone

Posted by
Friday, January 6th, 2012 6:20 am

Time for a little postmortem on our story-driven puzzle game, Together Alone!

What went right

  • Taking part, and finishing! This was our first LD, and from the outset we’ve concentrated on setting a realistic goal, keeping track of our progress, and actually creating a playable, finishable game.
  • Teamwork, roles. The game design was a truly joint effort. Our first idea seemed promising but didn’t really work out, but in a long, productive brainstorm session we managed to turn it around. The other roles were clearly defined: Gijs took care of the graphics, I did the code. I created the ugly programmer art assets first, and Gijs used those as templates for his arcane magicks. All went smoothly this way.
  • Story and mood. The game mechanics are not especially revolutionary, but the simple story and the mood we managed to convey through graphics and sound (simplistic though the music and sounds may be) give the game an extra dimension. Turns out people like a little story with their game, even if it’s cheesy.
  • Difficulty curve. We took care to introduce each gameplay element in a separate puzzle, and have another puzzle to get more familiar with it. This way, players are gradually introduced to your game world, and each puzzle offers something new and fresh.
  • Technology. We went with HTML5 partly because we were curious to see how far we could go with it, and because it’s really simple: the only tools you need are a browser and a text editor. We’re pretty happy with the capabilities of modern browsers and will probably continue to work with HTML5. Browser technology will only get better in the near future. The fact that basically everyone can play your game with just one click helps with judging. Still, this is a double-edged sword, see below.

What could be improved

  • Framework. I created a very simple framework beforehand, which did the trick but wasn’t very flexible. I’m now in the process of refining it. Switching to an established JavaScript game library is also an option, but I have some specific ideas for a rapid development framework that I’m interested in working out.
  • Sounds and music. While I love both Bfxr and WolframTunes, they are limited in what you (or at least I) can produce with them. Maybe for the next LD I’ll get a microphone and try to do my own SFX. It’s probably not easy to get great results that way, but trying will be fun. Music… maybe I’ll try composing something in a mod tracker, I used to dabble in the 90s. :-)
  • Characters and tile colors. For some reason, we chose exactly the wrong combination of which character “owns” which tiles. It can get pretty confusing, and we should’ve made the exact opposite choice (character’s clothing matches their “own” tiles). This will be rectified in a future version.
  • Technology again. HTML5 technologies still haven’t completely crystallized and there are some nagging compatibility issues. Some of them we’ve managed to deal with after the deadline; some of them are simply things we’ll have to avoid in the future. Some examples are: sound playback issues in Chrome and IE, difficulties working with canvas text and custom fonts, audio format support (MP3/OGG), a few cross-browser quirks with localStorage.

All in all, it was a great first stab at rapid game development, and definitely something to try again in the future! An updated version of this game is coming soon.

Yes!! We did it! :-)

Posted by
Monday, December 19th, 2011 2:14 pm

Wow, that was three days of hard work, but the results are pretty awesome, even if we do say so ourselves. I think Gijs’ artwork is top-notch, and I feel that we’ve managed to deliver a polished and fun game. Give it a try, please rate it and let us know what you think!

Progress goes ‘Boink’!

Posted by
Sunday, December 18th, 2011 10:30 am

Well, our progress doesn’t go Boink just yet, we’ll tackle sound tomorrow. But we have made great strides towards an actual playable, even fun, game. Try it yourself!

Also for tomorrow is:

  • Walk cycle, so our characters don’t float like master yogi anymore.
  • A heartwarming, tearjerking (okay, cheesy) story. We’ve got a draft ready.
  • General polish
  • Moar particlez!

If you’re doing LD48: you’re a braver human than I am, and I wish you luck in the last few hours. For fellow LD72’ers: good luck tomorrow!

Real life interfering, pretty artz, concept troubles?

Posted by
Saturday, December 17th, 2011 3:05 pm

Well, this Ludum Dare shit got pretty real today. Yo. As I’m sure many of you have experienced, real life has a way of interfering with crazy gamedev weekend. I had to scoot off for a few hours, but still managed to get quite a bit done nonetheless. Gijs drew some awesome stuff as you can see. That’s why you should leave art to the professionals, kids.

We hit a snag when it seemed our game wasn’t much of a game at all, but we’ve had a good long brainstorm and decided how to (hopefully) make the game challenging and fun while still retaining our original concept.

You can try out the rough, un-fun version here. More to come tomorrow!

A little rusty

Posted by
Saturday, December 17th, 2011 4:04 am

Things aren’t going as fast as I’d hoped, but we’re progressing anyway. Feast your eyes on this lovely programmer art! Hopefully in the next update, things will be a little prettier.

Anyway, we settled on an idea. It’s a puzzle game with 2 people (blobs/things/whatever 😉 stuck in different dimensions. They are both Alone but can influence each other by ‘flipping’ platforms over to the other dimension. It’s not fully formed yet though, so lots of work left. The plan is to have an actually playable version this afternoon, then start polishing and designing levels.

It’s a lot of fun to do though!

Up early, cogitating on the theme

Posted by
Friday, December 16th, 2011 10:24 pm

Okay, maybe I’m not as dedicated as Notch, who seems to have stayed up to start as soon as possible, but 5:30 is a pretty early morning for me.

So, the theme is “Alone”. We were thinking about making a 2D puzzle game as it seems to be a fairly achievable thing for first-timers. How to tie that with the theme? Well… the guy in Soko Ban is alone, isn’t he? Okay, okay, we’ll try to be a little more original than that. And anyway, maybe the best way to emphasize aloneness is to include other people that you cannot or don’t want to interact with. Hmm…

If you’re stuck, why not try a Google Image search for “Alone”? That’s how I found this adorable fella:-)

We’re in!

Posted by
Friday, December 16th, 2011 9:57 am

Ludum Dare always looks like a lot of fun from the outside, time to find out if it’s as much fun (or more?) when you actually take part. My friend Gijs and I will be taking part in the Jam. I will be doing most of the coding, he’ll bring his considerable artistic skills to the table.

Don’t expect a masterpiece or anything, we just want to finish something. Playability and fun are priorities.

One thing I’m not 100% sure about: is it okay for the Jam to use Creative Commons sounds and music? Or is that not in the spirit of the event? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Tools

  • HTML/Javascript, with a little quickie homebrew framework I whipped up today.
  • Probably Photoshop Elements for the graphics, with a dash of Gimp (mostly for the programmer art :-).
  • Audacity for sounds, and maybe something like Bfxr.
  • Notepad++, Firefox, Firebug.

Have fun everyone!

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