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The One Fork Restaurant DX released!

Posted by (twitter: @ludoscience)
Monday, June 15th, 2015 11:36 am

For those of you who remembers Ludum Dare 28 (December 2013 – theme “You Only Get One”), I’ve just released an improved and extended version of my entry: The One Fork Restaurant DX.

The One Fork Restaurant DX - Gameplay

This game takes place in a restaurant where many customers are coming to eat, but unfortunately the restaurant only has a single fork! So the customers have to share it to eat their meals, but they aren’t really patient…

During the compo, the game got ranked #4 in the “Theme” category, which, added to all the wonderful feedback I received, motivated me to spend some months to enhance the game. It now plays better, should be more fun, and more beautiful to watch and listen to. And, last but not least, it’s also available on Android!

Play it online here (Browser – Flash)

Download the Android version here (Google Play)

The One Fork Restaurant – Post-compo version & results!

Posted by (twitter: @ludoscience)
Tuesday, January 7th, 2014 8:50 am

As promised, I just released a post-compo version of my game The One Fork Restaurant. It adds musics, a bit of general polish, and an better Android port besides the regular web (flash) version.

The One Fork Restaurant

I’ve updated the post-mortem of the game, to include the results of the game. For a first participation in the compo, I wasn’t excepting much, so I’m quite astonished by one the ratings:

The One Fork Restaurant - Ratings

Theme

4th place, woaw! Due to the high quality of the others entries I’ve played here (Titan Souls, One Precious Arrow…), I wasn’t excepting to reach top 5 in one category – so thanks to all of you who voted for the game! I guess washing dishes can actually help you have game design ideas with some potential after all :p!

Humor & Fun

Around top 100 on those two seems quite nice too, though I’ll try to really get in the top 100 for Fun next time!

Innovation & Overall

For sure the game wasn’t that experimental, and I guess the Overall score has been lowered by the remaining categories. But I’m still quite happy with those results for a first participation.

Mood & Graphics & Audio

As I said, I’m no graphic artist, and not a musician (the compo version didn’t have music). Guess I now know the areas I have to improve on during the next 4 months…

Conclusion

All in all, this first LudumDare was a really wonderful experience for me! During the compo, seeing all those ideas and in-progress reports were really motivating. After the compo, I’ve discovered a nice community with a lot of people providing very useful feedback during the ratings. So, thanks to all of you and to the organizers, because it was really awesome to take part into this event, and I’m really looking forward for the next one! :)

The One Fork Restaurant – Post-Compo WIP

Posted by (twitter: @ludoscience)
Sunday, January 5th, 2014 10:46 am

Happy New Year Everybody! As the competition results are coming, I’ve been working on a post-compo version of my game The One Fork Restaurant. It’s a kind of “time-management” game. It takes place in a restaurant where people come to eat various meals, but the restaurant only have one fork, so customers have to share it!

The One Fork Restaurant - final compo version

Since the compo, I’ve been doing the following:

  • Added music and some new SFX, a credits screen and some animations in the menus (i.e. polishing)
  • The highscore is now saved on the local machine
  • Some fune-tuning to the game balance
  • Added the ability to pause the game
  • Released a working Android version

I’m currently looking for overall feedback, in order to see if there are any other areas where the game need to be improved! After that I’ll release the post-compo version officially (for now, this improved version is only published on my test server and only in the Web/Flash version).

Play the Work-In-Progress version here

Thanks in advance for your feedback!

The One Fork Restaurant – Android version released!

Posted by (twitter: @ludoscience)
Thursday, December 26th, 2013 8:31 am

Many of you suggested in your comments that my game The One Fork Restaurant would be nice to play on a touchscreen – so I’ve just released an Android version of the game!

You can swap the fork in touchscreen!

You can now swap the fork in touchscreen!

The game is a self-signed APK, so you’ll need to allow “untrusted sources” on your terminal to install it. Also, it’s my first ever Android game, so any feedback is welcome! You can download the apk file directly from the game page. And if you’re seeking for challenge, the current game record is 1360 points!

P.S.: for those of you who enjoyed the game, I’ve also written a in-depth post mortem.

The One Fork Restaurant – Post-mortem

Posted by (twitter: @ludoscience)
Sunday, December 22nd, 2013 2:01 pm

Well, after a week, it’s time for me to write the post-mortem of my first ever LD48 entry: The One Fork Restaurant. As the title implies, it’s a time-management game taking place in a restaurant, where many people come to eat various meals. But the restaurant has only one fork, so customers have to share it!

The One Fork Restaurant

When the customers are waiting for the fork, they start to get bored, and may leave the restaurant if they wait for too long. Eating gives them a little relief, so each time they eat, they’ll be able to wait a little longer afterwards. The player will have to swap the fork as often as needed so every customer can enjoy (and finish) his/her meal!

In order to get the best of this quite detailed post-mortem, I suggest you to try the game first (it’s a web based flash game).

The birth of an idea

This first Ludum Dare started quite bad for me. Here, the compo starts at 3 am. I was planning on staying up late the first night so I could know the theme, then sleep over it, and start creating a game in the morning. But unfortunately, I’ve got an extra-busy week at work, and I was already lacking a lot of sleep when the weekend started. So I passed out at around 1 am, only to wake up about 13 hours later, at 2 pm on the saturday… Sure, I was feeling rested, but I was also quite angry at myself for wasting 12h compo hours on sleeping before I even started making anything!

Well, I then fired up my computer to discover the theme, and I went to take a quick brunch before starting to work. As I didn’t had time to follow closely the theme voting, I wasn’t excepting anything special, so I wasn’t disappointed by the theme (unlike a lot of other people it seems). On the contrary, I found it quite original. While searching for ideas, I first came up with the obvious ones: one life, one bullet, one arrow, one button… However, I didn’t want to follow that route – I knew that many others LDers, more skilled than me, would make impressive games on these ideas (Titan Souls, I’m looking at you!). I wanted to find something more original, and funnily stupid if possible.

So, I was toying with ideas about “sharing one stuff”: people sunbathing but sharing one umbrella to avoid being sunburnt, dog puppies sharing one bone, babies sharing one plastic dummy… After my brunch, as I was washing my dishes, it finally stroke me: what about people sharing a single fork in a restaurant? – that sounded cool, so, 1 hour after discovering the theme, I had found my idea and started working on it!

Evolution of the game

As a old-time Flash user, I chose to create the game solely with Flash IDE (that means no cool framework like Flixel, and mouse-drawn vector-based graphics instead of pixel art). I started by coding the core gameplay with ugly programmer art. After about 4h30 of work, I got this roughly-working-but-ugly prototype:

The One Fork Restaurant - prototype 1

As you can see, in this prototype the player can move a fork from one table to another. When a customer receive the fork, it triggers an “happy” animation and it start to increase its “meal” gauge (the black bar at the bottom). When a customer is waiting for the fork, it triggers a “sad” animation, and it slowly decrease its “patience” gauge (the colored bar on top). I defined a series of four “customer profiles”, with different quantities of meals to eat, and different starting amount of patience. The core gameplay was now working, so I had to design some graphics. As I’m not a skilled graphic artist at all, this was very hard for me. But after 4 more hours of work, I finally came up with a funny eating animation for the customers, and a set of different customers faces:

The One Fork Restaurant - prototype 2

Here, I basically had a working game, after 8h of work. I still had many time-consuming stuffs to do, but the “proof-of-concept” was here. That’s usually where I start to loose interested in a project: when the main idea is here, but an awful lot of tedious polishing work remains to be done. Hopefully, even though I was working alone at home, browsing through the Ludum Dare site made me feel “being part of something”. It really motivated me to go through the end of the game dev process. So a big thanks to all of you guys for posting so many interesting and motivating posts about your ideas, your problems, and your work-in-progress – it really motivated me (I even posted 4 updates myself to “take part in the event”).

From this point on, I spent the rest of the compo time doing some additional graphics (backgrounds, GUI), creating a tutorial, a menu and game over screen, generating sounds with AS3sfxr, testing the game and balancing it the best I could in the too short time I had left. I also had to sleep a lot again between Saturday and Sunday (about 8-9 hours). In the end, after about 19 hours of work in total, the game looks like this:

The One Fork Restaurant - final compo version

Balancing is hard

As I finally chose a rather simple game idea, I was able to come up with a working prototype rather quickly (basically at the end of the first day). It means I got the opportunity to spend some time to balance the game (in fact quite a lot of time – about 5 hours in total). My first task to balance the game was to define different customers profiles and to introduce them in the game progressively. The longer you play, the slower the customers eat and the faster they get bored of waiting for the fork. I also balanced the number of maximum customers available at the same time. To test all of this, I needed testers – so thanks again to those of you who took some time to test the game for me. This was very tedious and hard to do, but according to the comments on the game page, It seems most of you hopefully find the game quite well balanced :)!

Besides fine-tuning the mechanics, another hard part of balancing is to provide meaningful and easy to read feedback to the players. I tried different strategies here:

The One Fork Restaurant - Different Feedback StrategiesAt first (left picture), I decided to use two gauges: one at the top for the remaining patience, and one at the bottom for the % of meal eaten. But it appeared that two separates gauges are hard to read when playing a rather fast-paced game. So I decided to remove the bottom bar, and to animate the food bowl instead: as the customer eats, its bowl is getting empty (middle picture). But it then appeared that it was hard to focus on both the bowl and the bar. As I was testing the game, I found myself losing customers because I was too focused on the bowl and I forgot to watch their waiting bar. In other words, the two “gauges” were too far apart from each other for the player to be able to read them during the game. So I moved down the waiting bar beneath the food bowl, and now, finally, I was able to watch them both during the fast-paced game! (right picture).

The One Fork Restaurant - Tutorial Screen

Last but not least, if you want players to enjoy your game, they have to understand how to play it – so I made a tutorial screen. Honestly, if I had enough time, I would have liked to implement a real in-game tutorial, but the deadline was too short. So instead I wrote up an introductory “how to play” screen, featuring an animation for people who don’t like to read (i.e. 90% of players, including me). And I order to test if the game was easy enough to understand and play, I took it to the ultimate test: the “girlfriend test” (another popular version is the “mommy test”). My girlfriend doesn’t play videogames, so she is an excellent “ingenuous” tester. While playing my game, at first she didn’t understand that you simply need to click on the target customer to move the fork. She was actually trying to click the customer who had the fork first, in order to “get back the fork before giving it to another customer”. That’s why the tutorial now reads “Using your mouse, click on the customer to swap the fork”, alongside with an animation showing how it’s done.

Then, she didn’t understand that you can swap the fork between customers BEFORE they finish their meal (that’s in fact the core mechanic of the game). So, she was moving the fork to one customer, waiting for him to finish his meal, then swapping it to another, etc. Needless to say she wasn’t able to go very far in the game that way. To address this issue, I added a “tip” message in the animation, and I also made sure to specify this on every text description of the game I would write when submitting it.

In the end, besides making sounds and additional graphics, I basically spent the entire second day (up to the compo deadline) testing and balancing the game. Sure, it was tedious, but I think it was worth it – it really seems to make the game more enjoyable, and maybe feel a bit “polished” despite a very tight schedule.

I’ll now conclude this lengthy and wordy post-mortem with the two the classical sections:

What went wrong

  • Sleep management.
    I’m not sure how I could have addressed this problem, but I clearly spent way too much time sleeping (about 20 hours out of 48 hours, nearly half of the compo time…). As I said earlier, I was exhausted from work so I needed to have some rest, but I’m still angry at myself that I “lost” so much time that I could have used to do more stuffs, such as:
  • Music.
    Yes, the game lacks music, and it’s the only thing I regret not creating during the compo. I never composed music before and I didn’t had time to test some tools, but still, I wish I could have tried to compose something. In fact, at first I was planning to use some creative commons music like I always do, but I then realized during the compo that it was against the rules. Although I latter saw that many compoers didn’t always stick to that rule, I don’t regret that I did – I can say that 100% of my game was made during the compo time, and only by myself. (but be sure that I’ll try to pick a nice tune by a skilled musician for a post-compo version ;))
  • Understanding rating.
    I can’t really say that it went “wrong” as I have some wonderfully constructive feedback on my game page (thank you by the way). But I must say that it took me a long time to understand how the rating works. At first, I thought that you only had to rate 20 games in three weeks, and then that the games were presented to you in random order. But I latter figured out that the more game you play and rate, the more chance you have to be rated too. So, at first, I started to rate only a few games each day, saying to myself “relax, you have three weeks to rate them all”. But when I saw that some LDers rated more than 100 games in a day (guys, when do you sleep? :)), I started to do some research and I realized how wrong I was. I found a post on this weblog that explained quite well how “Default” score works – I think it should be made more visible for newcomers like me! Anyway, I have no hardfeeling at all here – on the contrary I’m positively surprised and pleased to see how much the community is nice and tend to rate and comment the games, which motivated me to do the same. But I lost two days rating games without leaving a comment, a rookie mistake I wouldn’t have done if the rating system was better explained on the rating page ;).

What went right

  • Scope.
    In the end, I’m happy of the scope of my idea: it’s usually one of my weakness, but here I’ve been able to come up with a game idea that I could complete in the short compo time.
  • Playtesting and balance.
    As discussed above, I’m glad that I could spend some time balancing and playtesting the game, because I think it’s very important!
  • Graphics and sounds.
    I’m not an artist. I can’t draw, and I can’t compose sound or music. But thanks to the Flash drawing tools and to AS3sfxr, I’ve been able to produce some “cartoony” graphics and some fitting sounds, and I’m proud of it regarding my lack of skills in these two areas!
  • The Game?
    The first comments I’ve got let me think that game is actually funny and entertaining to play, which makes me very happy! But feel free to test it by yourself, and please let me know what you think of it!

Future steps?

I think I’ll try to do a post-compo version of the game when the rating session is over. Ideally, I’d like to add a music, polish the graphics, and maybe extend the game itself. For example, one of my ideas was to add some customers who wouldn’t eat without a clean fork. So you’ll have to wash the fork between each customer, adding a layer of complexity to the game. I could also add some others customer eating two food bowls instead of one, etc.

As it was suggested in the comments, I’d also like to make an Android version of the game. I’ve already tested the game on a Flash-capable Android tablet, and it indeed plays nicely. But now I’ll have to stick my nose in the “Making AIR for Android games with FlashDevelop” topic. It’s rather scary btw, so if you have any good advice, tips or tutorial on how to create Flash games for Android, please let me know!

Anyway, thanks for reading this (too) long post-mortem, and I hope you find it interesting. If yes, please feel free try my game:

Play and Rate the game

The One Fork Restaurant (submitted!)

Posted by (twitter: @ludoscience)
Sunday, December 15th, 2013 6:29 pm

The One Fork Restaurant is a game that takes place in a restaurant where many customers are coming to eat, but unfortunately the restaurant has only one fork! So the customers have to share this fork in order to eat their meals, but they aren’t really patient…

The One Fork Restaurant

You move the fork from one customer to another by clicking on them. The patience of each customer (represented by the gauge below them) slowly decreases when they are waiting for the fork. Each customer must eat his whole bowl before running out of patience. Therefore, you are strongly encouraged to swap the fork before each customer finishes his meal, if you want them to stay in your restaurant.  You’ll get points each time a customer complete his meal. You are allowed five “unhappy leaving customers” before encountering the game over screen.

Two people, eating with one fork!

Two people, eating with one fork!

As it’s my first participation in LD48, I’m happy to have been able to complete this game. I’ve started late due to being exhausted from the job week and oversleeping the first day, but in the end I’ve been able to devote about 19h-20h to work on this game over the weekend, which is good for me!

The game was made with Flash CS3 (drawing and coding directly in the Flash IDE), and sounds created with AS3sfxr. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

Play the game (Web – Flash)

Rate the game

 

The One Fork Restaurant (update #4 – testers needed!)

Posted by (twitter: @ludoscience)
Sunday, December 15th, 2013 10:49 am

After a “good” night of sleep, I’ve been resuming work on my “restaurant customers have to share the fork” game. I’ve updated the graphics with backgrounds, menus and a short tutorial.

The One Fork Restaurant - Sharing Fork :)

The One Fork Restaurant – Sharing Fork :)

I feel that right now the game only lacks sounds and balance. That’s where I need your help! I’ve been trying to balance the game for the last couple hours, but It’s hard for me to judge whether the result is good or not. So if you test the game here, could you please tell me:

  • What is your final score?
  • Do you find the game too easy, too hard, or quite balanced?

I guess all of you are busy finishing their games, but thanks to those who will help! :)

The One Fork Restaurant (update #3 – playable demo)

Posted by (twitter: @ludoscience)
Saturday, December 14th, 2013 8:40 pm

One last update before going to sleep. Doing graphics and balancing gameplay is indeed way more time consuming (and less rewarding) than programming the proof-of-concept prototypes!

Anyway, I’ve been able to draw and animate four cartoon-like customers, and I started to tune in the gameplay to create a first playable demo available here.

The One Fork Restaurant - first playable demo [WIP]

The One Fork Restaurant – first playable demo [WIP]

You move the fork from one table to another by clicking on the tables. Each customer has to eat the content of his rice bowl before the end of the bar representing his own time limit (below each character). Each character type has a different eating speed / waiting time tolerance. You are allowed five mistakes before going to the game over screen. Aim for the high-score!

The gameplay seem to still need a lot of balancing, especially in mid-game (around 300-500 points I have the feeling that it gets too hard, after 600 points I think it starts getting too easy). But it’s hard for me to balance the game as I’ve been somewhat accustomed to it. So any feedback regarding the gameplay flow and balance is very welcome!

To do tomorrow:

  • Finish the graphics : draw a background, a title screen and a proper game over screen, and do some general polish
  • Fine-tune the gameplay balance so the game delivers an interesting difficulty flow :)
  • Add in some sounds and music (seems like I gonna play with sfxr!)
  • Add some basic tutorial / instructions

The One Fork Restaurant (update #2)

Posted by (twitter: @ludoscience)
Saturday, December 14th, 2013 4:21 pm

I’ve spend the last few hours trying to work on the graphics for the game. I really suck at graphics, but I think this little anim will do the trick for the customers eating with the “only one” fork:

The One Fork Restaurant - Eating Anim

The One Fork Restaurant – Eating Anim

Now I’ll try to make some variations of this guy to add some graphical variety to the game, and I’ll also try to define several related “customer profile” to start balancing the game!

The One Fork Restaurant (update #1)

Posted by (twitter: @ludoscience)
Saturday, December 14th, 2013 12:06 pm

Well, I was tired of an heavy job week, so I started by getting too much sleep… Starting about 12 hours after the theme have been announced, I quickly had an idea for a simple “time-management” game : “The One Fork Restaurant”.

The One Fork Restaurant (4h30 of work prototype)

The One Fork Restaurant (4h30 of work prototype)

As the title implies, it’s a restaurant where people come to eat various meals, but the restaurant only have one fork, so customers have to share it! But when the customers are waiting for the fork, they start to get bored, and may leave the restaurant if they wait for too long. Eating gives them a little relief, so each time they eat, they’ll be able to wait a little longer afterwards.

After about 4h30 of work (with Flash), I’ve got this roughly working gameplay prototype full of ugly programmer art:

The upper bar is the waiting jauge for each customer, and the lower bar the amount of meal they've eaten.

The upper bar is the waiting jauge for each customer, and the lower bar the amount of meal they’ve eaten.

Done:

  • Basic gameplay mechanics (click on tables to swap the fork)
  • A skeleton to generate customers with various stats (eating time, waiting time, face, etc.)

Next Steps:

  • Do all the Art (and I usually suck at this)
  • Define a list of customers with balanced stats (easy to say, hard to achieve)
  • Add some more mechanics. For example, I was thinking that some customers wouldn’t want to use a dirty fork, so, for them, you’ll have to wash the fork before sending it to them (right now, every customer have rather loose hygiene standards ;))

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