Ludum Dare 31
December 5th-8th, 2014

About Chris Zamanillo (twitter: @chrisz)

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Thank You Hobo Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @chrisz)
Monday, May 2nd, 2011 9:33 pm
This was my second Ludum Dare after failing miserably (but still submitting) my first time a couple years back.  Thank You Hobo was my entry, an arena shooter that really emphasized the “take this” portion of theme via the hobo swapping your weapon every 10 seconds.

 

WHAT WENT RIGHT
  1. The tools – I recently got back into 2D game development after focusing on 3D for a very long time.  I had used AS3 and Flashpunk for a couple of prototypes, but I was still worried about getting stuck on some functionality the engine might not allow me to do easily.  Thankfully, I was way off.  I don’t think I hit one technical hurdle the whole weekend. In fact, FlashPunk saved me more work than I thought when I realized it had functionality for moving and swept collisions, something I thought I was going to have to implement myself.  I told Chevy Ray on Facebook that I owed him a beer, I will probably be using FlashPunk for several more projects.  GraphicsGale, which I used for the first time for this project, was also the other reason things went so smoothly.  Being able to author, animate, and export assets in spritesheets quickly from one program was incredibly helpful.  And of course, Ogmo Editor and SFXR were really good timesavers.  The reason I am so happy about this positive is that this was the biggest negative for me the first time around.  I was using my own still-in-development engine and working in 3D, so I spent most of the time dealing with plumbing and getting Maya (although I use Blender now) to do what I wanted level-wise rather than writing the game itself.
  2. The art – This was something else I was worried about that happened to work out in the end.  I don’t consider myself a good artist, but I’ve been working really hard for the last year to improve through a lot of study and practice.  Most of that was on paper and pencil though and I hadn’t done pixel art, much less animating it, in a very long time.  Given that, I was happy with the end result and hope it’s at least a step up from programmer art.  Also, like I said above, GraphicsGale got out of the way for most part (although I dont like how it deals with alpha) and sped up my workflow.
  3. No stress - This may seem like a weird one but I only mention it because the first time around I found myself getting stuck on dumb stuff because I insisted on using my own incomplete tools.  This led to a lot of stress and almost no time to participate in the blog posting/reading and IRC part of Ludum Dare which I think is very important to the experience.  Due to the feeling of getting stuff done and not getting stumped on anything, I didn’t feel bad about taking time to read and participate in the IRC channel and the blog.  I was still pressed for time obviously, but was still able to keep up and even play with a couple of the games.  This led to a much more enjoyable experience overall, the way LD is meant to be done in my opinion.

WHAT WENT WRONG

  1. The theme – I did make my peace with what I’m about to say, but I put it in the negative because it did cost me time.  I feel that over time Ludum Dare has attracted more and more people, which is good, but along with that comes a lot of newer game developers that tend to shy away from the more narrow and challenging themes.  This has led to a lot of generic themes getting voted on and winning most of the time (“Enemies as weapons” was the only recent exception) which I think affects things negatively for two reasons.  First, the personal reason that probably others share: I tend to come up with better ideas faster with a good thematic constraint.  Themes like this one are very vague and apply to almost any game, so it’s very difficult to come up with a game from the set of every game imaginable.  I ended up wasting 3 or so hours because I couldn’t come up with an idea I was happy with and I do think that I settled because I didn’t want to devote any more time to brainstorming.  The second reason, which sounds superficial but it’s still important, is that the games don’t tie together very well at the end.  The theme isn’t obvious when you play all of the games like it is with themes like “Advancing Wall of Doom”.  Regardless, I don’t think I will ragequit Ludum Dares because of generic themes.  The experience of getting a game done in 48 hours and participating in the community far outweighs bad themes.
  2. Cutting features – This happens to everybody obviously due to the time constraint, but I think my game would have been more interesting with varied zombie types as I originally described it.  I would have also prefered more weapons to get done from my list, but I’m surprised I got through as many as I did.  There was also a few larger art assets I wanted to work on to vary the environment but I decided to improve a couple that were in there already instead with the little time I had at the end.  I also didn’t have time for music, but I predicted that in my intent-to-join blog post.  Regardless, I’m still bummed about that because I think music is very important to most games.  The bright side of this is that I have a pretty clear set of things to add or change if I work on the game post-compo, which I probably will at some point this year.

Overall, this LD was a far more positive experience.  I can’t wait for the next one!

Thank You Hobo

Posted by (twitter: @chrisz)
Sunday, May 1st, 2011 5:43 pm

That’s the name of the game, now with a helpful hobo running across the screen to give you weapons.  Also managed to finished the title and score screens along with adding the flamethrower you see below.  Also fixed a few bugs and who knows what else.  Unfortunately I wont have time to add other zombies, but I might be able to squeeze in more weapons if I can get some music done in… LESS THAN 1.5 HOURS?! AHHHH

Yeargggh brains

Posted by (twitter: @chrisz)
Sunday, May 1st, 2011 1:24 pm

Ahhh the home stretch! Still need to add more weapons, a new zombie type or two, add better AI, and make the game challenging.  Here’s the game in it’s current state, right now death is turned off since I need to do the title/score screens as well: http://roachpuppy.com/ld48-20/

Oh! And I still need a title for this game… Post your suggestions in the comments!

Moar pixel progress

Posted by (twitter: @chrisz)
Saturday, April 30th, 2011 3:22 pm

Difficult to gather my thoughts and list everything I’ve done since this morning so here’s a screenshot.  It’s all playable and I’ll post up a preview version soon BUT BACK TO WORK .

 

First attempt at zombie killing hero

Posted by (twitter: @chrisz)
Saturday, April 30th, 2011 2:45 am

Decided to go with 16×16 characters to make animation easy and fit as much shit as possible on a typical browser game window.  Here’s my first attempt at the main character, bear with me as I don’t pixel very often.  Yes I defaulted to him looking sorta like me, but I dont wear orange vests with blue shirts though.  I should go to bed, but I’m getting so much done!

Basic gameplay sorta done

Posted by (twitter: @chrisz)
Saturday, April 30th, 2011 1:41 am

As per usual when I start a new project, I coded up the gameplay first with primitives (Image.createRect/Circle in the FlashPunk case :)).  Some stuff that isnt obvious from the screenshot that’s in place in some form:

  • Subsystem for easily swapping weapons and…
  • …spawning their own special “bullets”/effects
  • Zombie spawning rate over time
  • Zombie type system

No no, take this!

Posted by (twitter: @chrisz)
Friday, April 29th, 2011 10:10 pm

Not my favorite theme (so many good choices, but yet again everyone picked a safe generic one :|) but I think I settled on an idea after throwing away about 3 more ambitious ones.

The main character arrives unarmed at a cemetery for some undecided reason, and encounters a hobo that hands him a shotgun while delivering the line.  He enters the cemetery and sure enough, the dead are rising.  You shoot zombies for a bit from a top down arena shooter perspective then all of a sudden the hobo comes back and says something like “no wait, I promised that one to my buddy” and takes the shotgun away and gives you some other weapon.

Long story short, you’ll fight zombies and every 20-30 seconds the hobo will come back and give you some other weapon to kill zombies with.  My plan is to make it interesting by coming up with wacky things to use as weapons.  I’d like to add another layer of gameplay by varying the types of zombies and making them weak to certain classes of weapons but not others.

I might change it from zombies to something else since they’re overdone but naturally its the first aesthetic that came to mind.   Now off to work!

Round 2, FIGHT

Posted by (twitter: @chrisz)
Friday, April 29th, 2011 2:39 pm

Hey everyone, here’s my official intent to join post :D I havent participated in LD48 for about 2 years now so I’m excited to finally throw my hat in again. Last time I made life harder for myself by working in 3D and with my own engine. This time around I’ll be using the following tools, with stuff on the art side varying depending on what I decide to do.

  • Coding in AS3 via Flashpunk and FlashDevelop
  • Inkscape if I do vector art
  • GIMP
  • GraphicsGale
  • Ogmo Editor
  • SFXR
  • Reason (if by some miracle I have time for music)

Remember, if you’re stressed out this weekend you’re doing it wrong.  Have fun!

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