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Super Planet Crusher Extreme – LD23 Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @edg3za)
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 3:18 am

So, thanks to a caffeine, bacon, and sugar fueled event that I happened to be taking part in (the Nokia Lumia Hackathon held in Johannesburg over the same weekend of LD23) I ended up doing LD and the Hackathon at the same time. This presented a whole bunch of interesting problems, the first being that I started after the rest of the hackathon participants (9 hours later to be precise), and the second being that compared to what they had to do I had more work to complete (they could use free sounds and the likes thereof where I had to make my own content. This wasnt a problem particularly, but I definitely got labelled as a weirdo for the weekend.

So, as part of the weekend’s happenings I had the perfect setup for a Jam, there were matresses, people to bounce ideas off of, unlimited coffee, snacks, fruits, cooldrinks, water, and recreational additionals (pinball machine, kinects, a foosball table and so on). This meant 3 things for my LD participation, first that I never had to worry about meals, they were at fixed times every day, and I never forgot to eat, second, I never had to go far to get a random snack or a new cup of coffee (or bottle of water), and so the vast amounts of coffee I consumed didnt dehydrate me, and thirdly I had my friends supporting me from the very start which helped me keep focussed and motivated to mission on in my code.

You can view a lazily-unrotated image of the game here.

How I prepared:

  • I spent a lot of my non-studying time practicing doing random things that I would need to do for LD, these included art (drawings in photoshop), and random songs in FL Studio
  • I made sure during the nights before the theme announce that I got enough sleep so I wouldnt be too tired from waiting up till 2AM to get the theme

What went right:

  • I picked the first idea I came up with at the time, simplified the mechanics, and focussed on prototyping the base mechanics immediately. This meant that I knew how it would feel in the end result. After prototyping I was however slightly dissatisfied about that “fun” aspect of the game, but I decided to stick with the idea anyway so I could have more time to polish the entry.
  • The mechanics were easier to implement completely than I imagined they would be, so I ended up spending the majority of the time I worked on the entry polishing the game. The accomplishment of this LD that I enjoyed most was the fact that this is my single most polished game I have made so far. Regardless of the simplicity of the game mechanics it is visually appealing (at least it is to me), and I hope to in future maintain the same level of polish in games I make.
  • I had constant distractions, which made it easier to focus on the work in sections. I didnt tire my brain out by focussing solely on one thing (though Saturday morning I got close), working near people that needed my helped me a lot in this regard.

What went wrong:

  • It turned out that I miscalculated the time till theme release, and ended up sitting around doing nothing for an hour, as the theme was actually released at 3AM rather than the 2AM I was waiting for. So I ended up shifting my schedule up from sleeping from 3 till 7 to sleeping from 4 till 8.
  • I should have gotten at least an extra hour of sleep as when I got up Saturday morning I struggled to find the single issue with mechanics that slowed my completion of the game. Had I gotten some extra sleep I could have potentially finished earlier (I spent 3~4 hours finding and fixing a single bug that ended up being a simple vector addition that used the wrong components).
  • I got quite stressed because of the pace I worked at, ideally I should have gotten more sleep on Saturday night instead of tanking the tiredness and working till completion by 2AM (roughly), but I think this may have been the influence of the other LumiaHack participants as I spent quite a lot of time helping them with their development.

What’s going to happen (before the next contest in which I partake):

  • I decided to scrap RapidXNA development (I love RapidXNA and will keep using it for my Dream Build Play entry) mostly because XNA support is up in the air, but also because it is time I started supporting multiple platform
  • Im hoping to learn DX11 and OpenGL 4.0 development, and using that I want to wrap them for the 3 main platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux) so I can release on all 3 simultaneously while developing only for one, but this may not be ready for the next LD.
  • Im quite happy with how quickly I can develop the actual mechanic parts of the games I write, so I will keep practicing my art and music making skills, and hopefully for the next LD I can tackle a more adventurous entry that requires more content (simple mechanics, large amounts of content).
  • I will until end of May be focusing on my Dream Build Play entry (for Windows Phone 7), after which I will do exams, after which I will begin looking at the DX11, OpenGL 4.0 and “multiplatform” library that I would like to build. (I may need to rope in someone with a Mac at some point to build/test for me)

Thoughts about my game in general:

  • In the end I didnt work out a second idea and build it instead of submitting the first idea because the content took too long for me to build, if I had chosen another idea after the initial prototype I would probably end up with a more “fun” idea for my entry. Im going to have to think of ways to kick start my game idea thought process when I start these compos so I have ideas to choose between.
  • There are a bunch of additional mechanics that I think would have been cool to add: Suns in the vicinity that you could accidentally travel to and die, black holes that suck you in if you travelled too close, moving past a nearby planet could skew your travel and make you miss your target. Mostly these didnt make it in as I thought it would be too punishing to the player, but also because for the LD theme I couldnt think of the best ways to implement them to emphasize the theme. I will have to address adding of content (mechanics wise) in future.

I am now a function over a Vector Space that takes a matrix in the form of Bacon and converts it to a game!

Posted by (twitter: @edg3za)
Friday, April 20th, 2012 11:11 pm

After starting work on my game at time theme announcement (3AM this morning) I got to the point where I figured I should get my first sleep or the 48H period, so I slept till 7:30AM, and now after breakfast I am back to work. What I did at 3AM was I built a random grid of planets to jump between (and basically destroy), but upon checking up on peoples progress on the blog I have found that someone has the same idea as me basically, so Im going to focus on making the game play focus on the destruction of the worlds you visit, which should hopefully be enough of a distinction!

 

My live stream is up at http://twitch.tv/edg3za and for the next 3~ hours I intend on finishing implementing the mechanics I want and the animations for moving between worlds (which works already, kinda).

 

Developer’s Journal: These Lumia Hackathon hosts tried to entice me out of bed with Bacon and various other breakfasty things, it was super effective! I am quite happy that I didnt wake up to them experimenting on my brain or anything, I will accept Bacon over random experimentation any day! Now… how to maximise the chaos caused in a universe by 1 individual?

RapidXNA 2.0 Alpha

Posted by (twitter: @edg3za)
Thursday, April 19th, 2012 11:48 am

Built for me to use for this LD I have started work on RapidXNA 2.0 (which  I put the design of onto paper a while back) which has the current functionality of RapidXNA 1.0 (still in Beta, though only because I have yet to test the Xbox 360 build still). The new version is in Alpha due to the fact that it contains only rewritten old features, and none of the new features (like a scripting engine that I kinda hope to finish at some point), but should suitably port between Windows, Windows Phone 7, and Xbox 360 (relying on the fact that I hope the Xbox 360 .dll works).

Simply put my aim with RapidXNA was to make it so I could port between those 3 platforms with only minimal code changes, and in the process I decided I should share it with everyone.

 

You can get hold of the preview here: http://rapidxna.codeplex.com/releases/view/86321

 

Should I get enough time, I would like to extend RapidXNA 2.0 to work on every platform supported by MonoXNA as well (giving access to porting to Mac and Linux), but for now, the above 3 should hopefully suffice.

I iz participating!

Posted by (twitter: @edg3za)
Monday, April 16th, 2012 9:58 am

Hi all,

 

I shall be participating, my weapons of choice:

Code: C# w/ XNA (for Windows Phone 7 and Windows), leveraging RapidXNA (which reminds me I need to implement the new features for it some time soon)

Art: Paint.NET/Photoshop

Sound Effects: sfxr

Music: FL Studio

 

I wish you all good luck!


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