Archive for the ‘LD #20 – It’s Dangerous to go Alone! Take This!’ Category
I have to be honest, I mostly didn’t participate in the last LD because I wasn’t a huge fan of the theme. I know, I suck, but it’s the past now…
….. But now, to make up for my laziness, I am bringing the past back!
Starting this Friday, I’m having a Quarter Quell (#HungerGamesReference). For a week, I will make a game based on one of the 25 first topics, and it would be cool if you guys joined me in this effort! If not, it’s cool lol.
You can pick any topic (or topics) from the random list below. I went to www.random.org/sequences/ and randomly selected 10 out of the 25 numbers:
So the topics are:
Advancing Wall of Doom
Build the level you play
Preparation — Set it up, let it go
It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this!
Growth … <– “Grow”, also this May’s optional theme for One Game A Month
I think standard LD rules should apply, minus the week to do it. I plan to do this alone, but you can be in a team if you so desire. If you want to participate, post in the comments of this post your intent to do so… and share your finish products when you’re done!
If any of you decide to participate with me, let’s see what awesomeness we can create!
I just compiled all of the songs from my various Ludum Dare entries into a single soundtrack. You can download it for free HERE !
Some of you may remember “TRI“, the game I made for Ludum Dare #20 with Unity. The theme was “It’s dangerous to go alone, take this!”, which was good luck, as it fitted the idea I had the night before. It also was my first real Ludum Dare back then.
The original TRI
The game was about triangles; you created them by shooting three little spheres onto gray surfaces. These triangles could then be used as platforms and reflectors. That’s about it. TRI didn’t feature any story, but some texts on walls here and there, for hints and to somewhat simulate the voice from some god-like entity, like GlaDOS. Overall it worked pretty well and there were some people who liked the game although the controls were pretty flawed.
A year later, we (my partner and me) decided to make TRI into a full commercial game. Only the idea of the triangles was adopted, so the setting, the “tri gun”, the maincharacter, the story and the everything changed, or are due to change. (We still use Unity, though.) This basically means the new TRI isn’t a sequel to the LD game.
The new TRI – WIP
We added some gameplay elements, most prominently the wall walking. Yes, the triangles can now not only be used as platforms to walk on, they also temporarily change the personal gravity of the player. This way, she or he is even able to jump into a hole in the ceiling – this needs a little bit of exercise though.
Walking on walls
Also, instead of deadly lasers only there are also non-fatal light rays now, with which you activate crystals in order to open doors and do other things. And then there are those little flying ghosts (the Kami), which lead the way and later can be reflected, too. They will be more important later in the game.
Reflecting light rays
The new TRI is still named TRI, as most of the names we came up with were just too silly or too complicated (Some examples: “Trinsane”, “Trizarre” (thanks Cell), “Tri and Error”, “The Third Eye”, “Connect the dots”, “Konstrukt”, “Trigonomancer”, “Trimancy”, “Triception”, “Triplex”, “The Right Angle”, “180 degrees”, “From Point To Point”, “neuTrino”, …).
TRI can now be pre-ordered for $5, which guarantees access to the pre-alpha. The current build has one big level (with three sub-levels) which basically serves as a tutorial. There’s also a demo, showcasing the first sub-level. Oh, and here’s a trailer:
The final version hopefully will come out end of the year, and have a price tag of $10. There are far more informations on the official website, tri-game.com, so you might want to give it a look.
Thanks for reading!
When I first read about the October Challenge, I was inspired, though I kind of missed the mark in the end. I had been working on a game called Against the Wall for months, since the LD #20 really. It was my dream to make it my first commercial game! Thing is, I was promoting it minimally, nothing much besides a couple forum topics, a blog, and an under-used Twitter account. I had been working on fulfilling my dream project in near secrecy, a bit afraid of the reception my rather unconventional first-person platformer might have received.
When I saw the challenge go up, I accepted it… sort of. I knew that the game would not be finished within a month, and I would be unable to sell any real copies. Instead of following the LD’s challenge, I started to follow my own hacked version of it. I’d make a Kickstarter project and recieve crowd-funding rather than sell a completed game. I also decided to add a new level to the game with some additional strangeness that would be a hook for people playing the alpha.
I was pretty preoccupied by this whole thing, making a video of me feverishly explaining the game and why I needed donations, scripting the new level, debugging constantly, and putting together a few new art assets. I was so distracted that I completely missed the deadlines for a some major indie games festivals. But no matter, My Kickstarter project was the real goal here.
By mid-October, I loaded a new version of the game and prepared to launch. It was a rather nerve racking experience, putting my game out there for the whole world to see, exposing it to potential scrutiny and so on. Nonetheless, I managed to press the launch button… five days later after my Amazon Payments account linked up with my new bank (a requirement for Kickstarter). I used the extra time to fix some of the more atrocious bugs, add checkpoints, and test the thing repeatedly.
Then I launched it. The praise was mostly positive, and I was happy. A little while later, a friend managed to get my game on a Kotaku article, which gave my site over 15 thousand visitors!
At the end of the month, after receiving a good number of donations, I had to decide whether to submit the game to the October Challenge. You can correct me if I’m wrong, but I felt as if my game did not qualify, being unfinished and lacking any real sales (the major rules for the competition). I hadn’t made a single dollar, Kickstarter only cashes out once the threshold has been reached. Instead, I opted to walk away from this particular challenge, satisfied in my own little victory.
Just thought I’d share it with you, and at least update everyone on that my LD#20 game has been progressing. I’m looking forward to the LD#22 and all the crazy game concepts that the community will come up with!
You can play it on Kongregate – HMS Lightning BETA v0.2
Just an Update on my LD20 project, added in a menu (see below).
Improved the intro graphics, couldn’t resist adding a Scuba HUD.
Music and sound effects added but still quite a bit I would like to add!
Please give it a whirl and let me know what you think, on LD or Kongregate.
The idea is to progress these games polish them and improve them over time.
So don’t just leave your LD game on the shelf go back to it improve it, enhance it and get it out there where people can see, play and enjoy it!
This was my 2nd Ludum Dare (you can play my LD #20 game here) I was a bit un-prepared this time, since I only found out that I would have the weekend free about 45 minutes before Ludum Dare started. Talk about timing!
Once again I chose to use the Flixel engine. It’s a powerful and simple little engine, and developing in Flash means just about everyone will be capable of playing my game with no trouble. For my IDE, I used Flash Develop running in Windows 7, running in a Parallels VM on my Mac. I don’t recall exactly why, but that’s what I did last time so I stuck with it. Once again, sounds were recorded on my iPhone and edited in Audacity (cfxr doesn’t work on OS X Lion. I might need to fork it and fix that…) Also, I recorded a time-lapse of the whole thing using ScreenNinja, a Mac app I developed for exactly this purpose. One minor hiccup: I didn’t have Photoshop installed on the machine I was using, so I grabbed Pixelmator from the App Store. It’s a nice little photoshop replacement app suitable for most tasks, but unfortunately making pixel sprites isn’t one of those things, and I think that may have cost me some time.
The main frustration I had with my previous Ludum Dare game was that it was very short, so this time I knew I wanted to have some sort of endless map (plus, I think it fits with the theme) – so that’s where I started. Progressive level generation is tricky to get right, and looping though a single map just isn’t the same thing. What I ended up doing was designing a number of levels (at first 3, in the final entry I believe there are 11), each only slightly larger than a single screen, and as you approach the edge of one level, the game randomly picks another level and inserts it on the screen. Because the ‘levels’ are tile maps, and each is loaded from a .png file, I was able to design levels in Pixelmator and easily see how each level would look next to all the others, and make sure the edges lined up right.
Once I got that working I quickly threw together some basic player and enemy logic (it’s fun seeing the henchmen jump off cliffs, lemmings style), then it was just a matter of throwing things together and seeing what was fun. In action movies, the gun is a versatile tool. Along with killing the bad guy, guns can also be used to open doors, disable equipment, activate buttons or traps at a distance, or anything else an escaping hero might need to do. So I thought a game based around a sort of chase sequence might be fun. One of the things I programmed and didn’t end up using was for the wall mounted turrets to fire missiles that would destroy the ground under you. It looked really cool, but unfortunately the player could get stuck in the craters, so I had to take it out (although it’s still in the source code if you’d like to see how I did it)
Bugs. Hopefully there are no major bugs in my game, but there’s always a few weird ones. Occasionally the henchmen just won’t jump off the edge of a cliff, and I can’t figure out why. I’m pretty sure 30 lines of AI code isn’t enough to gain sentience, right? Also, sometimes the door spawner will spawn a henchman 32 pixels lower than it’s suposed to (and he ends up stuck in the ground below) But, since neither of these were game breaking bugs, I said screw it and worked on new features instead.
And finally, I tried to add a little humor and competition to the game in the final few hours with the game over screen. Much like in Super Shotgun Deathrace, the final text is assembled from many different pieces so it’s different each time. After showing a near final prototype to a few friends online as well as the IRC, it was suggested that I should have some stats besides distance displayed at the end of the game. So, I added the damage values and a henchmen killed counter. Took all of about 10 minutes to do, and I think it significantly improves the game, so thanks everyone who suggested that.
With LD21 rapidly approaching, I wanted to do a Post-Post-Mortem of my LD20 entry, since in addition to improving the game to make it ready for wide release, I’ve been working on a sequel for the last 4 months. Links for those who don’t want to read:
Diamond Hollow on Kongregate (380,000+ plays): Diamond Hollow
Diamond Hollow II: Coming soon…
So let’s get to it!
In the beginning (approximate 7pm PST on the opening day of LD20), there were a couple of block games. These block games were well intentioned, but I could tell they weren’t going in the direction I wanted them to, so I quickly tossed them in the trash (the last one actually went into a filing folder somewhere to deal with at a later date).
My goal was to make something that players would find fun. Being the superficial dev I am, I quickly took to the past winners pages, and found that players like platformers. Great! So I immediately switched focus from block/puzzle game to platformer. I decided to go with a tower climbing theme, and this was born:
It was very generic; it was very simple. Now that I had the basics down in a way that I thought I could turn into something fun, I began drafting out what features I wanted in the game. Among these were:
- Randomly generated infinitely high level
- Quick paced movement and jumping
- Gun shooting with the mouse
- Enemies to kill
- Something to collect
- Upgrades to spend your collections on
It was looking good! It was at this point I needed to choose a theme. While it was a tower climbing game, I wanted to do something not tower related. My first thoughts were climbing a castle (but that would have just been a tower so I threw that out), and climbing up through the branches of two large trees on either side of you. However, my powers of art are extremely limited, so while I would have enjoyed a tree climbing theme, it would have looked pretty terrible and have taken too much time. However, dirt was something I knew I could do easily (fill brown, add noise filter, DONE) in photoshop, and the first thing that popped into my mind was a cave. So quickly I hopped to photoshop, and the pictures above immediately grew into:
Awesome! But then I hit the “collect” point. What can you collect in a cave? Rocks? Bats? Diamonds! It wasn’t the most elegant solution, but with the clock ticking, I hopped on it, and it wasn’t long until I had cute little diamonds sitting to collect. At this point I also added my first enemy, the slime:
Things were looking great now! I could jump up a cave, collect diamonds, and avoid cute little slimes that liked to wander back and forth (why? because they are slimes of course). However, in order to hook players I needed upgrades. Many people find upgrades cheap and hate them, but they are like crack in the world of casual flash gaming (and I, like many others, feel drawn to upgrade anything and everything). However, in preparing how I wanted to do upgrades, I started thinking of other aspects of games that hook me. The main one that came to me was Achievements. Achievements usually mean nothing, but they can make a game much more fun by giving you goals, and goals in games are always great. For example, killing goblins for hours can be boring, but when you’re doing it for a quest or achievement, you feel driven to do it, and you feel like it means something. If I’m going to have you climbing an endless cave, I might as well reward you as much as I can.
So I took to photoshop, and in a surprisingly short amount of time (according to my timelapse), I had a protype mostly complete:
This is what pushed me over and kicked my motivation into overdrive. As soon as I had this working I blogged it. There was just something about it that made me want to play the game myself, and it sounded like others liked it too.
I continued to work to polish the game, add a few more enemies (plants that shoot at you), and get the game in a generally fun state. However, sunday morning at about 4am I ran into a hurdle. I had never actually used FLStudio before, and after downloading the demo, I found I probably should have practiced. I started putting random beats together, and would constantly start new projects because every song I tried to make was like terrible terrible noise. I googled some tutorials, but found nothing all that great. After looking around for something to save me, I found some videos showing how to put together simple beats and use instruments. I put together a basic background beat, threw in an obnoxious sounding tune on top of it, and called it good (it still kills my ears when I hear it though). When trying to save it, I realized it would be good if I could save the actual project, so I attempted to buy the full version to save my “creation”. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to like my credit card. I tried again. And again. Strange. The funny thing is, when I attempted to go for breakfast, my card was also declined. It wasn’t until Monday night that I learned that me trying to buy a strange program (FLStudio) on a strange website at a strange hour in the morning (5am) flagged the fraud check on my card, and they disabled it thinking I had it stolen. In the end it is for the best that I no longer have anything more of an mp3 for the “music” I made that morning.
After a nice 8 hours of sleep, adding sound effects went much easier thanks to as3sfxr. I got through that, balanced the game a bit, and ended up with pretty much a final product.
The last thing I needed was a name. I asked a couple of friends what they would call a game about collecting diamonds in a cave, and I got some absolutely terrible suggestions (that I’m happy I didn’t go with, because some were names of other games about caves they had played at one point but forget). Eventually, after using thesaurus.com for a bit, I settled on a simple “Diamond Hollow”. It wasn’t exciting, daring, or clever, but it got the job done.
And with that… It was complete! And before the deadline, even! Overly excited, I submitted it and took a sigh of relief.
The next day I woke up refreshed, pulled up the game and started to play. Immediately I realized my error. The game was not balanced at all. Knockback was frustrating, the game was hard in general, and some of the achievements were way overtuned. Fortunately, while it was too late to change for the contest, there was still a life that Diamond Hollow could take after the competition.
Wasting no time I immediately got to fixing things. The first thing was the music. It had to go. Without the restrictions of having to make it myself, I turned to music licensed under the creative commons, and found something upbeat and catchy. An instant huge improvement. I then started rebalancing things which turned out to be a much bigger feat than expected. Changing achievements to require less skill is easy, but when you make gameplay changes that affect how easy the game is overall, all of a sudden your rebalanced achievements need re-rebalancing. It was a headache, but it got done. I then adding more polish to the game, fixing things like spawning, diamond locations, just to make the game feel less “thrown together”.
My goto place for flash games is Kongregate, so that is where I settled on for a home for Diamond Hollow. I wasn’t expecting much, as this game was made in a very short amount of time (well under 48 hours, even if you count the improvements I made). I was thinking it would get a low to mediocre response, and it was going to be something I would just watch and see how it progressed so that I could learn from it, and use player feedback as a way to improve my game development skills for future projects. But it turned out very different.
As soon as I posted it, it got an “okay” rating, but I began getting tons of feedback. While I had intended to use the feedback for future improvement in general, it all felt like improvements that the game should have had in the first place. I began compiling the feedback, coming up with concrete things to change to address the issues, and got to work. Every couple days I would work on implementing the latest round of feedback, release a new version, and announce the changes. It turns out that players like it when a developer listens and implements their feedback, and the effect was incredible. My “meh” rating went up by quite a bit until it was a “pretty good” rating. My plays started growing quickly, I got featured on the front page, and soon enough I obtained badges for my game. At the time of writing, the game has over 380,000 plays on kongregate. This was really exciting!
Then the feedback changed into bigger things. People wanted to explore. People wanted bosses. People wanted an “ending”. At this point I had to start rethinking my actions. There were a lot of things I would have liked to put into Diamond Hollow if I had the time during the competition, and there were a lot of features that players think would improve the game a ton. However, these would require major rewrites of all the code, at which point I might as well just start over from scratch. And that is where Diamond Hollow II was born.
Like with Diamond Hollow, I began by drafting out the features I wanted. Given I had no time constraint, I was able to include a lot of things, but I also had to limit myself. Did I want to get myself into an overbudgeted project that I would never finish? That was something I wanted to avoid at all costs. Among the list of features, I had the following:
- An ending
- Multiple guns
- More achievements
- A story mode
- Varied graphical environments
- More enemies
With these goals down, I got to work. Rewriting the engine from scratch, I was able to greatly optimize it, allowing me to implement all the features I wanted, without it being slower than the original. However, I hit some major snags along the way in the form of content. Creating levels was taking quite a long time and it was starting to make me rethink having a story mode with hand crafted levels. Perhaps I could randomly generate the levels? Would players know the difference? In the end I stuck with it, and eventually managed to carve out the shell of a story mode. Then I began to fill it with enemies (new and old), and tons of improvements including new graphics, powerups, more upgrades, story text, and bosses.
Well, after about 2 months of bug fixing, content adding, level designing (God I hate level designing), doing exams (urgh), and waiting (so much waiting), I got my game for Ludum Dare 20, “Alone”, sponsored by MoFunZone
You can play it here: http://www.mofunzone.com/online_games/alone.shtml
It was my first (full) Ludum Dare, and I have to say, I loved every second of it, and the game I eventually finished with. It was an awesome thing to do, and as you can see, actually got me motivated to work on and finally sell a game.
The game is going viral on the 10th of July, so keep your eyes peeled for this appearing on Newgrounds and Kongregate and the like soon
Lets get some upvotes on reddit for the LD 20 results…