Archive for the ‘LD #21’ Category
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I wasn’t able to finish anything for LD21, in the end I started all over for the jam, but didn’t get that finished either. Last week I spent some more time on it and now it is finally ready: Asteroid Escape.
In this game, you are exploring caves in an asteroid when suddenly lava starts to rise, which you have to escape.
In total I spent about 34 hours on this, but spread out over several days. I used haXe and my own base code and Random Art Evolver. There are 7 levels.
- Play: http://www.wieringsoftware.nl/flash/asteroid-escape/ (Flash)
Well, I finally got a look at my results for Unrest:
For a game that was mainly based around concept, and my first entry, I can’t imagine a better result. I managed to get in the top 25 on both theme and innovation, which I think classes a game based on idea more than anything else as a success. I even managed to get a 1 for audio without having any in the game XD.
So yeah, really chuffed with that as an end result. Hopefully next LD I can make something with a bit more gameplay.
I unfortunately didn’t get very high with coolness – I ended up testing most of the Linux entries, and a fair few of the web-based ones, but never got around to testing the Windows ones, so my apologies there.
Overall, I’ve had fun, and look forward to the next one, I’ll definitely plan to compete again.
Seeing as this is my first blog post I’ll include a preface about my first LD48 experience!:
I’ve been waiting to do a Ludum Dare event until I had 1) Spare time, and 2) Recent experience with a game programming language/library. The second point is important because I do programming entirely as a side hobby. I haven’t had much experience with the art in the past 4 years. I’ve taken swings at SDL, LWJGL, and Allegro before… but this time I had been learning to use Flixel.
Cut to the night of the competition–I was checking my email in bed on my netbook and decided to check on the LD website and HOLY LUDUM they’re having a competition right now! Man, this is cool stuff… what would I do for the “escape” theme if I were participating? Actually, what can I do? Well basing it on Flixel what if I made the main character an extension of the FlxTileMap class instead of the FlxSprite class? Hey this is an exciting idea… let’s actually do it! So I opened up FlashDevelop and started typing away in bed. I ended up coding the whole thing on a netbook. The graphics I did on my old old desktop simply because I wanted higher resolution and I already had Paint.net installed on it. It was crashing on me but… I frantically got my desktop stable again and pressed on. In the end I learned a lot more about Flixel and even came up with something good enough to submit! My only regret was not having enough time to squash bugs.
So on with the blog entry thing. Results!
Here we go in reverse order:
Humor: No ratings at all? I must be super un-funny. I wasn’t really going for funny but the game itself is a bit corny. I expected a low rating for humor but got none at all. *shrug*
Community: I could probably benefit from posting once in awhile. I didn’t post before the competition because I didn’t register until a few hours into it. Plus there was no planning whatsoever. I didn’t make a post during the competition because I couldn’t figure out how to even navigate the LD website (and it was down mostly). I’d like to put a lot more effort into community stuff next time…
Fun: Well this was sort of expected. But I am surprised it got this low relative to my other scores. I knew it would be low because my game is confusing and buggy, and those make games very un-fun. On the other hand it’s fun in a innovative/schmup/puzzler sort of way. I guess my gameplay is also quite nitch and suffers from being something I want to make and not what others want to play. But I don’t think that’s not a bad thing.
Overall: Okay. Not much to say. Overall is sort of each individual’s weighted average. johnfn pointed out that Overall is closely linked to fun, so this score makes sense.
Audio: It’s nice to get a score in audio since the last time I touched game audio at all was with Modplug back around 2001. I only included a Level Complete Jingle for my game. I tried to have various pitch sound effects for when blobs hit you but my attempts didn’t sound right and I was wasting time. I’ll take a swing at sfxr now that I know it exists (thanks community!). I’d like to try including music when I’m comfortable believing that I can make something that actually sounds like music.
Theme: I was hoping to do a liiitle better here. Simply because my game was about escaping a prison, and each level involved you escaping off the top of the screen. I even included the line “Escaped!” as a possible level-win message. Plus I used the word “Prisonbreak” (not a “real word”, this is intentional) in the title, which I thought was a little more creative than games that simply used “Escape” in their titles. But I’m not complaining here so much as nit picking.
Graphics: A pleasant surprise to score this high on graphics. I did throw out my first colorful floor tiles in preference of a simple brick pattern after my roommate complained that they looked like shit. I guess it paid off.
Coolness: Ah yeah! My game is so cool! Oh right, this is about how many games I played. I made a point to avoid the overly-popular games during the voting. I played a mix of what looked interesting and those straight from the rate games page. My favorites were:
|Dystopian Future Underground City – j_peeba|
|Bunnies, Back Into Your Cage! – ratking|
|Planetary Mission – NMcCoy|
|Towering Inferno – tenpn|
|Snake Plissken: Surfin’ U.S.A. – vandriver|
I pity the fool who can’t beat Dystopian Future Underground City and Snake Plissken: Surfin’ U.S.A.
Innovation: I’ve been disappointed at myself that I couldn’t polish my game more or weed out bugs before submitting it. I was thinking, “well, at least I might score okay in ‘innovation'”. Turns out I did pretty darn well, and I’m really happy about it! I think most of us wouldn’t work on a game at all if we didn’t think it was innovative in some way. Why make something if it already exists? This i’s especially important to me because I spend a lot more time thinking about game ideas than actually making them (I don’t program for a living). Plus this is the first time I’ve made something public. So I couldn’t be happier with this result. I even made the Top 25 Categories page!
While I think my game does have potential, I don’t have plans to develop it much further. I think it would have to be reworked from the ground up. I would up the tile size to 16×16 and try to make gameplay smoother. My original plan didn’t have movement locked into a grid, and I’d still like to try it without the grid (which would need other changes for balance). Balancing could already use some work to improve the strategy aspect… things like reducing the color count to 4 in the earlier levels or changing the floor tile algorithm for better color clumping. (Without clumping there is no point to the bullet-adopts-the-color-of-the-floor-tile mechanic.) Ultimately I think my time is better spent on a randomly-generated platformer I’ve been tinkering with for some time already. I might start another separate short-term project or just wait until the next LD48. But until my “fun” rating becomes decent, I think I have to focus my time on real life concerns.
*** Update! *** See below… (or click here)
Now that the smoke has cleared and the results have gone live (as well as me finally being moved in to my new apartment), I’d like to start a discussion about that nagging issue of site costs. Phil and I have some ideas, but it’s you guys that keep us going, so I want to hear what you think.
In case you missed it, during Ludum Dare 21 Phil and I migrated the Ludum Dare server from a $10/mo shared host to a $60/mo VPS… and when that wasn’t enough, to a $200/mo VPS. So as of August, our burn rate went from an easy $150/yr (12 months hosting + domains) all the way to about $2500/yr. That’s not really pocket change anymore.
The root of the problem is that Ludum Dare isn’t a normal website or blog. Most of our content is dynamically generated, in real time, over one high volume weekend every 4 months. I was sent (and very much appreciate the) numerous offers to host us during the the event, but what most people don’t realize is that we’re not a bandwidth hog, but a CPU hog. All that dynamically generated content was A MONSTER on CPU usage, and that’s what raised the warning flags on the shared host.
As it stands now, we should be able to take a good sized burst of incoming traffic (Hi Markus). That’s not really an invitation (yet), but whatever happens happens.
So we have a website… it just costs a lot of money.
There are probably some things we can do help scale the cost of the site during low traffic times. Amazon has been suggested multiple times, but I have no clue how one runs a wordpress blog on Amazon, nor how to calculate what our costs would be. Again, CPU hog. Cloudflare has also been mentioned a few times, but I have to admit, as a small business owner, I kinda want to save my free instance for me.
So, how can we cover our costs?
Option 1. Take Donations
We actually used to do this, but stopped once people started abusing our generosity. ludumdare.com has a pretty decent site-rank, so we used to offer a link to anyone that sent us money. But the shadiness of some of the sites we were asked to link to convinced me to stop doing this. To be fair to everyone that did contribute, I decided to simply leave the links as-is for the past year.
So, we could open up the Paypal box again. Phil has been looking at some plugins that will sort-of automate the “hey we need money” side of things, but nothing is settled.
Compared to options that follow, this is easy.
Option 2. Regular Kickstarter Campaigns
I really don’t like this option, but would expect it to work. I don’t know Kickstarter’s fee, but I do suspect a direct Paypal deposit is lower. Personally, I’m kinda bothered by the whole “PBS yearly donation drive” mentality. “Give us money and we’ll continue showing educational television. Give us $100 and you get a T-Shirt”. At least, I don’t think that suits us.
Also it’s far more work, as a typical kickstarter offers incentives, and all of us on the staff are busy trying to run our respected gamedev businesses. Ludum Dare works best for us when we have very little to do.
Option 3. Adsense/Advertising
While it’s true banners and ad networks are an option, I don’t think we do enough volume for it to be helpful. Yes, we do lots and lots of traffic in one weekend, but I think for the most part it’s the same 1000-2000 people checking the site over and over again, where those banner avenues are all about uniques.
What we have instead is an EXTREMELY specific audience; Game Developers. People from the industry, students, and indies. Pretty much every facet of game development, we’ve got. So with that in mind, we’d probably be a really good place to advertise middleware, platforms/app stores, and perhaps even companies looking to hire.
I do think, honestly, we are not a good place to advertise a game. But hey, if somebody does really well and wants to give back, then who are we to argue.
Option 4. Take Sponsors
A variation of option 3. Per main event (April, August, December), take on 1 single sponsor that is the sponsor of that event. Whatever we charge sponsors should be enough to cover our costs for the next 4 months (maybe 6 to buffer), even though they’re paying mainly for the time around that weekend.
Unfortunately, this adds a more complexity and work to running LD, as it means I need to approach potential sponsors every 4 months to cover our costs. This might not be all that difficult; I have had some interested parties come to me directly already, and simply putting up a sponsorship invitation might be enough to get more. But I don’t know yet.
Option 5. Hosting Sponsor
All that considered, if someone or some company wants to outright eat our hosting costs for us, then that means we just have to run a site. Simple. We’re game developers here, and our time should really be spent doing that.
I used to say the Ludum Dare website ran on autopilot, and it mostly does, but Phil and I do put a lot of time in to it (like me, right now, writing this post). We learn lots running the site and the community, but I have to admit it might be nice to let someone else do all the server work for us.
Donations vs. Sponsors
That’s pretty much what the above options are. Either we the community pay for it, or some 3rd party does.
In a sense, that’s kind-of where Phil and my opinions deviate.
Phil is out of town at the moment, so I apologize for speaking on his behalf, but I think his opinion is we the community should pay for it. I think this is great, but personally, I am a little scared of donations having to cover $2400 per year. We could probably do this fine for a couple years, but I am really worried about this long term. If we could predictably be directly responsible for some Notch-like success stories then sure, but hahaha, you can’t predict that kind of thing.
When the costs were $10/mo, that was easy; We could totally pay that (as we have) or ask a few people throw some $20 bills our way. Done. But we don’t really have that luxury anymore.
So alternatively, I’ve been leaning towards the outside sponsorship option. Give some limelight “Ludum Dare XX, Sponsored by YY”. I do know we have something potentially very interesting to sponsors in our niche (gamedev). And companies certainly pay more money for far-worse advertising opportunities.
But at the same time, I’m like “HOLY CRAP! That’s WAAAY more work for me!”. It’s not like I get paid to do this.
Prizes and Incentives
I still get approached about this every so often (today even). Somebody wants to offer prizes for the winners.
Personally, I think one of the best things we do for both you the participants and us the organizers is our “no prizes; your prize is your product” mantra.
For you, it sets a good precedent. Win or lose, you are creating for you. Win is obviously better, but the takeaway from a Ludum Dare can be quantified in so many positive ways. All it costs is a weekend, some sleep, and maybe a little bit of sanity. That’s fair though.
For us, even though we have somewhat strict rules, we don’t have to enforce them vigorously because no money was lost. In other words we can be a little lazy, but really we are trying to encourage and foster a very positive game development community. Competitive yes, but in the best way possible.
That said, I’m not entirely opposed to prizes and/or things given out to participants, but I fear what our judging process would become if it was directly responsible for rewarding the prizes.
Also if we introduce sponsors, they may want to offer incentives. After all, what better time to crash course learn a piece of middleware than during an LD? I kinda think this could work, but at the same time I would never agree to an event that *only* used a piece of middleware. If you want to give a little something special to those that do, by all means.
Scaling down costs
Of course, probably the best to deal with the increased costs is to lower them in the first place. I briefly covered what has been suggested (Amazon, Cloudflare), but if anyone wants to comment on cost reduction ideas feel free.
We’re on a VPS now, and a little birdie in my ear is saying for that we should be dedicated, but that doesn’t lower the cost really.
So. Ludum Dare. We are complicated
Phew! I think that about covers all the angles, concerns and things we have to deal with. I would love this to be a simple “snap my finger and it’s done” problem, but things aren’t all that simple.
We are committed to making this event happen, since we all think it is incredibly important and valuable to a lot of people, but we don’t have infinite time either. We also think that it should stay and be as free as possible for everyone to participate in (this is the Internet after all).
So that’s what has been going on in my noggin’. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
#93 Audio 3.08
#207 Community 2.67
#276 Graphics 2.62
#280 Theme 2.85
#375 Overall 2.46
#379 Innovation 2.23
#399 Fun 2.08
#418 Coolness 0%
#466 Humor 1.00
Well… Let’s start with the bad stuff… Humor. I… didn’t have much, as you can see… Coolness. I am not very good at rating games, or playing them, when I have other things to occupy myself. I probably easily could have gotten a better score if I was actually interested. Fun. In this case, it was the large amount of fake difficulty in the hidden enemies, as well as the rather unorthodox control scheme. Innovation. Not much here, either. I completely agree with my low points.
Overall hits a little low, and it was even worse than my last entry in LD19 (2.46 vs. 2.82) -_-; It wasn’t a particularly good game, and I probably will only touch it to steal different things from it, just like I did from my last LD game.
Now let’s hit with the higher points. Theme. It fit the theme, but you weren’t really given backstory, and it didn’t really try to go anywhere special, so maybe a little higher than expected? Graphics. Honestly, there was little I did to do good graphics. It was a particle snow effect, some filtering, and some nice little tidbits like bullet cartridges, impact points, and the such. I didn’t even do any character sprites, let alone finish them. Community. Like the Coolness score above, this one didn’t really strike me as important. I simply posted my intent, midway point, and game. Audio. Well, actually, this one was pretty good. The soundtrack, though quickly made in Autotracker-C and edited to fit, worked rather well with the mood. I made sound effects to go with pretty much every action (except enemy movement for some reason, though I did for bullet cartridges), sometimes having to combine different sounds to get the effect I wanted (for example the gun-fire and the reload). It was easily my best attribute, and though it didn’t score top 25, I’m proud of the score I did get.
All in all, this was a rather mediocre game, and the players agreed. Though it had good points, it also had some low points. I’m not necessarily happy with my overall score, though I am happy with my Audio score, and content with my game as a whole.
I have a 365 day runway (until 9 Sep 2012) to earn £20k (about $32k) from games development.
The earnings value is based on a UK minimum wage calculation of about £6 per hour 9-5 job, and factoring in that I will have to pay money to make them, buying in music ect, and overheads for payment providers?
Me, Unity, PC, Mac, iPod, Android.
Currently I manage to produce game ‘Prototypes’ like these http://www.kongregate.com/accounts/Arowx/favorites
Art, 3D Animation, Procrastination, Funds, Motivation, Experience, Marketing
If I have not hit or exceeded this target by the deadline and proved I can make a living from games I have to dust off my CV and get a job!
So what advice would you give or better still how do you do it?
Ludum Dare 21 is finished and rating time too and we have the rating results.
Vampire Runner was #290, not so good as other of our previous Ludum Dare games, but on the other hand there was a lot of games in this one, almost three times the games of the previous Ludum Dares.
Here are the scores Vampire Runner got in this Ludum Dare:
Position Category Score #87 Community 3.22 #144 Coolness 4% #159 Fun 2.94 #168 Humor 2.18 #290 Overall 2.75 #305 Graphics 2.50 #339 Audio 1.29 #345 Innovation 2.38 #450 Theme 2.00
Now, I want to share a small post mortem of the game and explain why I feel the score is what I expected.
What went wrong
- As the game started like some kind of Canabalt clone, because my lack of imagination, I was a bit unmotivated so Saturday progress was really slow and unproductive.
- I feel I lost too much time making the vampire animations and forgot about the environment assets.
- The game lack of audio and that goes against the Ludum Dare score.
- I forgot to reflect inside the game the connection with Ludum Dare’s theme.
- Missing on-line high scores: it shouldn’t be so hard to add it as I have Face Hunt (and other games) experience but I was a bit lazy and didn’t. One reason to have this one is to make the game more competitive and also to know who is playing the game.
What went right
- On Sunday, I almost restarted the way I was making the game and focused on making it really small and fun. It kinda worked.
- Making the game available on a lot of platforms: Linux, Mac, Windows and Android.
I totally agree with the score of the game because I started with no motivation and for that reason I didn’t tried so hard, obviously that goes against making a good game. Here is a list of why I agree or not with each score.
- Community: I shared a lot of stuff: source code, timelapse, made it work on multiple platforms. I believe that counts as community rating, so 3.22 is right for me.
- Fun: Game IS fun (at least I feel that and some other people does), so 2.94 is right for me (maybe a bit more).
- Humor: Game has a bit of humor when the vampire explodes, and maybe the vampire graphics are funny too, but only that, so 2.18 is right for me (even more than I expected).
- Graphics: Only the vampire animation is something worth to value here, the background and obstacles are not so cool, so 2.50 is around what I expected.
- Audio: Game has no audio, I am not agree with the score of 1.29.
- Innovation: Game is almost a clone of Canabalt with some modifications, it has a bit of innovation but not too much, so I agree with a score of 2.38.
- Theme: If you read the game description, it says what was the intention of the theme connection but as I failed to reflect that inside the game I believe 2.00 is right for me.
Thats all, hope you like it.
(note: this entry is almost a copy/paste of this entry from our blog)
Did you know that today(13 September) is a programmers’ day?
It’s the 256(=2^8) day of the year!!
So if you are a programmer then:
Happy Programmers’ Day 2011!!!
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll state up front that the main reason for this post is because someone told me I couldn’t get trophies if I hadn’t written a blog post. I have no idea if we’re too late for any awarding, but what the hell.
I haven’t really felt the need to talk about my game, EscapeOut, because it wasn’t a particularly interesting process. Relying on a 20-min show-off video by Photon Storm about how to make a brick breaker in 20mins, I stumbled my way through Flixel and came up with something that put a little spin on the core concept. The theme of LD21 was Escape, so how else does one apply that to a brick breaker? Easy: something on the screen has got to try to get the hell out of dodge. From there it was a simple leap in logic to the eventual core mechanic. I won’t say what that is because I don’t like to spoil the game. In fact, I really liked setting friends down in front of EscapeOut with no instructions to see if they can figure it out. The game has no instructions for a very intentional reason.
Judging by the comments on EscapeOut, forcing players to discover the game’s mechanic paid off. I’ve been a very bad LD participant: haven’t blogged, haven’t played many of the entries, haven’t used the IRC channel except for a couple technical questions. Mostly this has been due to time; I only managed to spend half of the 48 hour timeframe coding, due to oversleeping and family obligations. So, I was quite surprised to log on today and see the comments and ratings left for EscapeOut. A few people really seemed to like it, more than I ever could have imagined. Even more shocking, the game was rated #54 in humour. Seriously, a game with no instructions, no words other than “YOU HAVE DIED” and “YOU ESCAPED”, no characters, no narrative, and even no sound effects or music, ranked within the top 10% of humourous games in the entire Ludum Dare 21!
I guess this really goes to show that an intriguing mechanic can turn a relatively bland experience into an interesting one, even if only for a few minutes.
Howdy! I’ve made a small update spurred on by the success of Stratus in the graphics category, and 9th place overall (very happy right now, thanks to all who voted on my entry!) I can’t wait for the next Dare :]
first of all, i thought I would still be able to edit my entry to add an ‘after compo update’ separate download, but the edit button appears to have vanished now the results are out :S. So I’ve edited the original zip- since the voting is over and the changes don’t affect the actual game, I hope it won’t be controversial.
here’s what’s changed:
– added some contact details to the beginning of the game
– added arrow key support and changed input to use keyboard codes, so the equivalent of wasd should work on non-qwerty keyboards (sorry it took so long to add this non-qwerty guys)