August 24th-27th 2012 :: Theme: Evolution

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Rings of Evolution

by gbellgames - Jam Entry

Rings of Evolution, made by Gbell Games

F4 Toggles full-screen mode. All the info to play the game is into the game itself (Enter to start, arrows to move, Z attacks, space jumps. More controls check out the info screen in the game)

You can press enter in the intro to skip it.

The game is quite challenging, but the Easy mode gives you 99 continues. If you just want to check out the whole game, play on easy mode. (The difference between difficulty levels is just how many lives and continues you start with)

It was made inside the 48 hours of the Compo deadline, but we used the extra time for the Jam to test if everything was ok. All content, coding and resources for the game were made in the LD24 weekend.

Gbell Games is a team made of high-school students (and one teacher) from Colegio Graham Bell in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. It begun as a "after class" project with students learning the basics of game development. This is not only their first attempt at Ludum Dare, but it's also the first attempt of making a game for most of them.

More stuff will come out from this team in the future!

Rafael Lima
Caio Barberan

Additional Programming:
Maurucio Falbo
Nathalia Borges

Nathalia Borges
Luiza Fernandes
Luana Fernandes

Additional Graphics:
Lucas Cid
Caio Barberan

Music and Sound Effects:
Gabriel Gomes

Plot and Logistic:
Lucas Cid

Thanks to: Rosangela Gomes, Denise Vilardo, Claudio Lopes, Valeria Graca, Deise Nicacio, Paloma Cosentino, Alan Barreira, Katharine Akyer, Sandra de Lima, Cleber M. de Souza, Hannah Wong, Rachel Cid, Paulo Roberto, Cesar Goncalves, Celso Rocha, Claudia Ximenes, Renato Borges, Wilson Nunes
Potter the Dog :D
all staff from Colegio Graham Bell


The game does have an issue with the Audio... you may hear cracks when the music loops, and when the music is loading an annoying sound may appear for a couple of seconds. This happens in some computers, but it doesn't happen in other computers. This is an issue with how GameMaker handles MP3s. We should had used an external library to handle the music of the game, but as we didn't state it before, it would break the rules, and there were no time to code one from scratch.

We really only noticed that when we begun testing the game in other computers and saw it happening.

It's a real shame, since the music is actually very good IMO, when it's not cracking :/

Porting the code to GameMaker Studio would probably solve the problem, but this would require some changing in the code, which I am not sure would break the rules.

If you want to skip levels, there's a cheat to do it: press enter+end at the same time. You can keep skipping levels up until you see the ending, though you will miss all the bosses of the game, which are all very cool I think :)

Downloads and Links




zuloo37 says ...
Aug 28, 2012 @ 3:33am

Good story. Intro was a little long, though.

dalbinblue says ...
Aug 28, 2012 @ 3:44am

Very long introduction to the game. I would suggest breaking the story up with a short introduction at the beginning, and then fill the user in as they started each level.

Also the sound could use some work. The initial song during the intro made me think the game froze, and some of the sound effects (like the elevator) were simply ear piercing.

gbellgames says ...
Aug 28, 2012 @ 3:55am

There's a problem with the music in the game, and its due to how GameMaker deals with big music files, which indeed sux. We will have to do it better next time :)

Regarding the intro, you can press enter to skip it :)

Kharza says ...
Aug 28, 2012 @ 4:07am

Hellz yea, old school supernes style shooter! I was too inebriated to finish it but this is super long and ambitious! It's like a full length cartridge from the old days. Really good effort!

BTW, the best line of the entire compo "She now has her own balls of energy!"

gbellgames says ...
Aug 28, 2012 @ 4:11am

Glad you liked it :)
We really pushed it to make something exactly like this: a full game similar to what you would play in a 8/16 bits system ... except we had just 2 days to do it :D

azurenimbus says ...
Aug 28, 2012 @ 5:01am

Thanks for trying to play my game, as you mentioned, it was buggy before, please try again if you can! I will also play yours tomorrow (too exhausted now).

madpew says ...
Aug 28, 2012 @ 1:56pm

I really liked where this is going, great idea and a nice story. but I had to quit after the 3rd planet. Playing the almost same Spaceship part (that's very long as well) between is getting old really fast. Good work tough, I enjoyed it!

gbellgames says ...
Aug 28, 2012 @ 8:05pm

We were supposed to make the spaceship part more varied... but we ran out of time :D

Kayelgee says ...
Aug 28, 2012 @ 9:04pm

The intro music kinda sounded like it was broken so that was quite irritating but I liked it overall.
The enemies spawning without end in the run and gun part makes it really hard to not die.

DevWouter says ...
Aug 28, 2012 @ 9:07pm

Slightly more playbalancing and it would have been awesome.

gbellgames says ...
Aug 28, 2012 @ 9:12pm

"Slightly more playbalancing and it would have been awesome."

It's very difficulty to balance a game like this in 48 hours. Not that I am trying to make any excuses or anything :D I actually agree with that, I've been playing the game a lot and I can see how lots of things could had been better if we had done this with more proper development time :)

It was our first try doing a game though :D

The intro music cracks while loading in some computer. This is an issue with gamemaker. It would had been better if we used an external library to deal with the music, but as we didn't announce previously we would use one, and I wouldn't be able to code one fast enough to use, we ended up using what GM offered us... which kinda sucks indeed, since I personally thing some of the music in this game is really great.

I'll try to port the game to Game Maker Studio later and see if it deals better with the music issue.

kyyrma says ...
Aug 28, 2012 @ 9:15pm

The scope of this game is pretty impressive for 48 hours, even if most of the content could use some polish. Really nice work. The easy mode was a good idea, as most people have only so much time to review a single title.

It's great to hear that there are game development clubs in high schools. Would've been great to have something like that back in my own school. I hope you all keep at it, and once again great job on finishing your first LD entry!

Jacic says ...
Aug 28, 2012 @ 9:42pm

It seemed like the audio was a little low-quality, with clicks and other sounds invading the sounds and music. Or maybe that was intentional. The on-planet levels were very easy, and much easier than the space levels.

The game is polished, and quite fun to play, however. :)

tastive says ...
Aug 28, 2012 @ 10:29pm

Trim everything but the bosses and work on the audio and your game would be awesome. Nice work for 3 days :)

SusanTheCat says ...
Aug 28, 2012 @ 10:36pm

Reminded me of games from when I was a teenager. Lots of thought went into the story.

gbellgames says ...
Aug 29, 2012 @ 12:09am

Yeah, it seems porting to GM Studio would solve the problems with the Music, but I would have to change some code to make it work, which I think would go against the rules.

Its a real shame.. this issue with the music doesn't happen in every computer. For example, in my computer works finely, but in the school it has problems in some computers, while in others it works fine (Computers with the VERY SAME configuration !) . There was one computer where the problem with the music would happen sometimes, and sometimes it would work all right.

It's really an issue with GameMaker, there's nothing we can do right now unfortunately, unless we port the game to the more robust Game Maker Studio

science4cake says ...
Aug 29, 2012 @ 4:01am

Hey there! My game was finally approved if you'd still like to try it out. :)

mes says ...
Aug 29, 2012 @ 4:05am

some cool bits, but i think you guys should have tried making the game shorter but more focused and polished.

Cambrian_Man says ...
Aug 29, 2012 @ 4:46am

It's really cool that this was done by high school students. More game design classes are always a plus! I was impressed by just how much there was... lots of levels, music, plot, everything. Even if you have a big team, getting things to come together can be tough. Good job!

gbellgames says ...
Aug 29, 2012 @ 4:55am

" Even if you have a big team, getting things to come together can be tough. Good job!"

Yes, that actually was one of the most difficulty parts of doing this. But it was lots of fun :D

EatThePath says ...
Aug 29, 2012 @ 4:56am

The intro seriously drags, and the music loop behind it is just not very good. There's no obvious option to skip as far as I can tell, either. The font is pretty hard to read at times, as well. I admire the length of the game, but the gameplay feels really unpolished, so I don't think I'm going to see the whole thing.

panzermancer says ...
Aug 29, 2012 @ 5:19am

Alright, constructive criticism time. Where to start, where to start.

By the way, there might be spoilers in this, so don't read this if you plan to play this game.

I just want to let you guys know, I'm not writing all this to be mean. I'm just trying to give you advice, from one designer to another. I saw that there was a lot of effort put into this game (especially considering it was done in 3 days), but ultimately, there was a ton that could have gone better, even in that given time, and some stuff you could have just thrown out altogether, which would have probably freed up enough time to fix other aspects of the game and make them decent. Plus, a lot of these criticisms are things I've encountered myself in previous efforts, so trust me, I've been there too.

Alright, so I guess I'll start with the start. The storyline is kind of cool, in a pulp science fiction kind of sense. I liked how you played as what was essentially the antagonist. However, whoever you got to do cutscene art, really doesn't know proportions all that well. The first thing I saw of the antagonist, whose name escapes me (in fact, the way you had so many weird names to learn in so little time, nothing else really stuck either), her arms literally stopped at her waist, and her hands must have been at least the size of her entire head. After that panel, I sort of skipped the rest of the intro, which, as everyone said, was far too long. You see, first impressions are huge. There are exceptions with extremely well-written opening cutscenes (which, although not terrible, this game's writing was in fact not well-written), but, especially with an indie title of a smaller magnitude, we really just want to see the gameplay first. I'm cool with opening cutscenes in these, as long as they're brief and to-the-point. This was most certainly not that.

I wish this game was a bit more non-linear, and we could have obtained the first four evolutions in any order we wanted. Obviously, that would have had to been something you guys had planned from the onset to implement correctly, so I get why that's not in here.

So, the space-shooter bits, they're kind of sub-par. I guess my main problem with them is that everything comes at you too fast, and there really is no opportunity to dodge a lot of stuff, simply because we're not aware of what's coming up, and by the time we see it, it's far too late. This is something I've encountered myself a while ago when I made a shmup, and this is something I refer to as "programmer's difficulty." You see, if the programmer is the one testing the game (especially with something as fast-paced and twitchy as a shmup), he already knows what's coming up, and so subconsciously knows how to avoid things from the onset. He'll consider the game too easy, because he's beating it so effortlessly, that the programmer would then tend to amp it up for a challenge for themselves. This is a big no-no. It doesn't matter how much you try to intentionally "dumb yourself down" when playtesting, you'll still know subconsciously, and you'll see it affect your gameplay. This leads to a whole bunch of things which, quite frankly, would need either inside information or outright clairvoyance to dodge the first time. And like I said, even then, everything moves so fast anyways that there are times where there's literally no possible way not to take damage.

The most annoying part about the shooter bits, is that they come right after acquiring a new evolution. That's just bad pacing. When someone acquires a new ability, of any sort, 10 times out of 10, the first thing they want to do is test it out; they don't want to go do something else first. The shooter bits just felt unnecessary to me; I feel like if you instead worked solely on the platforming parts, then we'd have one decent mode instead of two sub-par ones.

Alright, now the platformer bits. First off, the walking animation looks silly, but that's a minor thing. The controls are pretty weird; you jump way higher than you'd expect yourself to, and you can't move that far horizontally in mid-air, so it's pretty difficult to judge your jumps. The enemies are just pests, and if there's any platforming involved at all near them they're just impossible to avoid.

The evolutions, for the most part, don't feel very powerful, with the one exception being the lasers. Besides that, the others just feel sort of, well, weird. The spikes don't have the oomph you'd want them to have, the energy balls are an outright pain to control, and the weird energy blast thing, I don't even understand what that's supposed to do, besides just be a standard horizontal attack. I'm guessing it does a spray thing when it hits a wall, but the effect for that looks the same as the shield things, so it just looks sort of weird.

Now, the bosses are probably the weakest part of this game. You see, the main game design error with these, is that they often perform attacks that are just outright impossible to dodge, again unless you happen to know the pixel-by-pixel optimal playthrough, in which case you're either the programmer or a robot. It's just terrible, there's literally no mathematical way to dodge all the stuff that's being thrown at you. The boss might as well take away ten of your continues.

The music, strangely enough, is what I consider the strong point of this game. It just has this science-fiction action feel to it that I feel was lost with the era of all those free indie space-shooters that cropped up in the 90's all the time. I'm not kidding when I say my favorite part in this entire game is when your ship goes down onto the planet. I genuinely liked those parts.

The ending, although somewhat predictable, was nonetheless pretty cool. I did like that part, to a degree. This is probably just me, but I personally feel like it would have been cooler if she literally flipped inside-out and the entire universe rested inside her. That would have been ironic, because this evolution led to her possessing the entire universe, but being unable to really do anything with it. Just a thought.

I think the main problem with this game, was that you guys tried doing far too much for 72 hours. This ended up making everything feel really rushed, and instead of 5 to 10 minutes of something really interesting, we've got 45 minutes that just feel strung together. However, I will say this: the game has soul. It just emanates this feeling, this strange feeling you don't get in many other games, even most classics. I don't know how to explain it, but the game has character. A lot of the flaws I mentioned, they give this amateur feel, but in a very unique way. I could tell it was your guy's first game from the get-go, but I could also tell you had a lot of fun making it. I guess it just sort of made me feel nostalgic for when I first starting making games. Don't get me wrong, I'm still quite a ways away from where I want to be in game design, but I could sense humble beginnings in this game, in a good way. Who knows, you guys might make some great games, after all. Everyone makes mistakes on their first few :)

Alright, that's definitely the longest review I've ever written for an indie game, and possibly the longest ever written in Ludum Dare history (although I definitely could be wrong). I hope you guys don't think I'm some grouch that's just pointing out your every flaw, I just want to see you guys do better, because I feel like you're genuinely capable of doing that. Whatever you guys do, don't give up, keep going with this. Just make sure that every project is also a learning experience; trust me, that's pretty hard not to do :3

gbellgames says ...
Aug 29, 2012 @ 5:59am

Hi there panzermacer.

I am the teacher who was overseeing all the work done in this game (I also did some programming, mostly in the platform parts)

I just want to say thank you for your comments, I think you made some fair constructive criticism.

And make no mistake, this wasn't made in 72 hours. It was actually made in 48 hours. There was some discussion over the theme for about 2 hours after the theme was unleashed. Then everyone went to sleep, and work was done in Saturday (Brazilian time) from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm and sunday from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. (24 hours of real work)

Like it was said, it was the first game for most of those kids. They are aged 14-16, are still learning code, they had never even tried making graphics or serious programming for a big game before.

I can obviously clearly see a *lot* of stuff that could have done better. I've made a few games in the past (mostly as a hobby), but I've never been part of something like this, and it was a big learning experience to me too (I am sure it was for the kids). After all the ratings are done, I am really feeling like sitting with all of them and seeing everything that could be done better.

The different weapons indeed should be better balanced. The energy balls are useless (We all had agreed they were useless by the end of the development, but it was too late too change), the spikes should had been stronger, and the last weapon... we were basically out of ideas :D. The shooter levels are too long and too unbalanced (again, when we noticed it was too late), and they should had proper level design. The intro indeed is too long too (But the kids *loved* working in that). They had a lot of trouble when doing graphics to notice they need to work with the same resolution in mind all the time... they begun to get the hang of it close to the end of the deadline. There were a lot of resizing done without keeping the ratio in that intro which, in a "professional" game, shouldn't be there. Also the writing indeed isn't good... but none of them have english as their first language! Translating the text from portuguese to english was one of the biggest tasks they had to do.

As for the bosses... I don't completely agree with you. The shooter bosses aren't really *that* difficulty, if you have experience with shoot'em ups. Their bullet patterns are pretty easy to avoid most of the time.

But I also know most people nowadays barely plays this kind of game seriously. (Take a look at videos on youtube for games like Dodonpachi, Deathsmiles, Mushihimesama .. those games are furious on their difficulty, our shooter levels are a piece of cake compared to those)

Though I agrre, most of their attacks (Including the platform bosses) will be hard to avoid the "first time", but that's how most games were in the 80s and 90s... you *would* die first time you got to a boss, then learn and do it better next time. THat's something we were trying to do, get that vibe from games of that era (Have you ever played the NES Megaman games? :D). Although I agree there are a few attacks that really should give the player some warning.

The jump'n'run bosses, the 3rd one (The blue cute guy who fires the blue energy balls) is really completely broken (And it's my fault there), it's the only part of the game that I have big trouble to get past without dying, and indeed the direction and speed of his attacks demand out of this world reflexes. THe last boss also has at least 1 attack that's nearly impossible to avoid, even when you know what you're doing.

The platform levels have endless spawning enemies, if you stay in the same place for a while you will get overwhelmed and certainly die, and most of the time is easier to just rush the levels (Now if this is a bad design or not is debatable, but I can asure you that's not how it was planned).

And its obvious we all tried to do more than we could at such a small timeframe. Yet everyone really wanted to do a *complete* game. We didn't want to make a concept game with a couple of levels and call it a day, we wanted to do something that felt it was a complete game.

I'll write a Post Morten about all of this, but you were so kind in posting this comment that I really felt you deserved a reply. (And it seems I am reviewing and batantly pointing out the flaws of our game, which I bet it isn't common either :D). I would like you to know what this little project sparked in our school:

All the kids working in the game are now kinda of "heroes" in the school. Everyone wants to know what they did, they are showing their games to everyone. Other kids now are interested in learning more about programming and game development, at least 3 kids told me they want to participante in the next LD;

Some of the students who worked in this game have been trying to make a game in the "post-class" project for like 3-4 months and couldn't do anything... and suddenly they are part of project that materializes and exists in 48 hours. They really feel they *CAN DO IT* now. \

The parents of at least 2 of the students were awesomely proudly of what they did. One of them even wanted to know more about what is this Ludum Dare thing.

There were students in our school in a WEEKEND, which is a first for our school.

And believe me, this team will grow and make even better games in the future. If they could do something like this in 48 hours, as their FIRST project... imagine what they can do now, with a little more experience, the possibility of planning something properly and work with a more relaxed deadline?

There will be a showcase of what they will do up until the end of the year (They are now going to work in solo projects up until there, and one big group project). I would love to keep you updated about those projects if you are interested :)

gbellgames says ...
Aug 29, 2012 @ 6:06am

And to be fair.

The thing about "Getting new attack - cant use it right after" is something I hadn't think about and you are completely right.

And some of the other stuff (Like the weird names, the out of place cut-scenes , etc) I actually noticed while the game was being produced... but as a teacher, I thought it was better to let some stuff be made like this, and then they could later evaluate what they've done and learn by their own mistakes.

There's even more I could criticize in the game, but I'll do it in the post-morten post :D

RARoadkill says ...
Aug 29, 2012 @ 6:38am

Great game. Probably has the longest length of any of the games I have played so far. All very well done. I didn't make it all the way to the end yet. But I am planning on going back and getting there

panzermancer says ...
Aug 29, 2012 @ 7:09am

Wow. You know what's terrible of me? I didn't notice in the description that this game was made by kids just starting out. I feel pretty mean right now; I try reading all the descriptions, but after you play so many of them you just end up skimming the longer ones, you know?

But jeez, a bunch of 15-year-olds making this starting out? That changes my viewpoint on this quite a bit. Granted, it doesn't completely invalidate my criticisms, but as far as graphics go, I can completely understand why they're at that level.

But wow, the fact that you're a teacher, and you weren't offended by my deconstructing of everything your students did - usually you'd expect a teacher to do the opposite. It's great that you get what I'm saying, though, and that you're going to let them know what they can improve - after all, they want to learn how to make games. That's amazing; if one of my teachers ran something like this, they'd just get pissed at someone pointing out those flaws, even though, in the end, I'm just trying to help.

Considering this is their first effort, it is genuinely impressive that you got them to all work together and make something this extensive. I'd love to keep track of how these guys are doing, this is something I wish every school did! You're seriously an awesome teacher!

zatyka says ...
Aug 30, 2012 @ 11:43pm

My criticism matches other comments for the most part, so I'll skip it. What I want to say is that I think it's so awesome that you did this with a bunch of students. I would have LOVED to have something like this when I was in highschool. Seriously, rock on.

BrothersT says ...
Aug 31, 2012 @ 2:38am

Very impressed with what you guys have managed to achieve here, you have bright futures ahead of you if you keep at it, and it looks like you have plenty of feedback to help you on your way :)

You mentioned that you couldn't play our game before, and we've been doing some bug fixing if you'd like to give the new version a try :) Cheers! Rob.

jarnik says ...
Sep 2, 2012 @ 5:16pm

Combination of a space shooter and platformer is a nice idea :) It was fun playing it.

sev_inf says ...
Sep 8, 2012 @ 1:40pm

Nice idea, enjoyed the game. Music in intro is a bit anoying, but the rest of sound effects are good.

RawBits says ...
Sep 14, 2012 @ 7:30pm

The shooter part was surprisingly good in mechanics - did not liked the platformer though... And there is a million of you worked on this project how is that you can not made some real gfx or actual music? And you have really needed to steal the Captain Planet stuff?

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