Posts Tagged ‘final post mortem’

GLITCh – A ludum dare 36 post mortem.

Posted by (twitter: @_mathieu_muller)
Wednesday, September 14th, 2016 4:43 am

Introduction

It’s time for a new post-mortem! Today I’ll talk about the game I made for the Ludum Dare 36, G.L.I.T.Ch. Yes, it’s an acronym and stands for “Game that Learns Information Technology to Children”. I must be honest, I got the gameplay idea long before the LD, mostly when I saw the Cubetto project on kickstarter. I told myself “Cubetto is fun in the base concept, but you could extend it a lot more if your robot was virtual”. I left this project/idea on a sheet of paper, extending with new features for weeks. I even talked about it on a forum like four months ago ( in french ).

GLITCh

GLITCh – A ludum dare 36 game

The ludum dare was the opportunity to materialize the concept in a proof of concept. For the theme, I immediately thought about Wall-E, an old robot forsaken on earth (that’s your ancient technology) but the only one “alive” as other, more advanced robots suffered from a glitch. As the player, you would have to program your robot by placing instructions on the level. In it’s core concept, the game is reminiscent from the old Amiga game “Brat” ( gameplay video ).

Saturday

Due to the heat at this end of the month, I woke up at 5 am. As I live in France, the LD theme is announced at 4 am, so it was almost a perfect match. I just checked the theme of the LD and got back to sleep.

At 8 am, I fired up my IDE with MonoGame, a open-source XNA replacement, and with my MonoGame extension libs. Having done mostly platformers with the previous ludum dare, I knew that my lib didn’t have such features as controls (in the Windows sense); I would have to implement draggable items, buttons, control panels, and so on. Also, my lib supports sprite animation but it is very experimental, and I never tested it in a game (only functional and unit testing where done in a previous project, but I didn’t know if the framework put in place to handle the animations was easy to use or not).

I basically started by copy / pasting the initialization code from the LD35, and replaced menu and title images from the previous game with new images. I choose to use pixel-art (upscaled 4 times, that means that each sprite pixels use 16 pixels on screen) because it’s an art style that I’m at ease with, but also because it’s fast to produce.

The day was taken mostly to add basic features and to test the core concept, aka “put arrows in place, make the robot follow the arrows to the exit”. Around midnight, I had my first level working, but very rough controls and input (mostly due to bugs in the draggable code).

Sunday

I had to get back my daughter who was on holidays for a week with my girlfriend’s parents. I only had the time to code/draw late at night (starting from 9 pm to 12pm). I already knew that I could not make it to the compo, and that I’ll have to use the Jam extended time period to finish my game.

However, as the base was working, I could code new tile behaviors (the no command tile). I also had the idea of a switch that can control a distant gate, but my level editor ( which is a simple HTML page where you can drag and drop items on it, generating the XML for the level ) didn’t support editing of properties that aren’t positioning properties (i.e. top left width left and tile type). While for other games, I could dodge this missing feature by using tricks, I had to implement it for the LD 36, as I needed to tell the switch which gate it could open.

Level Editor

The new, improved, level editor with property edition

I also had another problem; in the first design, I thought I could make the robot “fall” from the level if an arrow was misplaced; however this proved difficult to implement as you may run in drawing order changes ( currently, the level is splitted in layers, a bit like photoshop: the background with the tiles, the one where the commands are added, and then the layer containing the robot ). This layering system is a legacy from the previous ludum dare ( it’s nice for a platformer, as you can put items behind or before the player sprite ) but is not so clever for a top down game. So, when falling, my robot should have been occluded by tiles that are at the same ground, but lower from a screen perspective. Due to the false 3D perspective, I would have to encode some kind of Z component on each tile to tell if the robot was occluded by the tile when falling.

That was really too complicated, especially due to the time frame left. It was simplier to stop the robot in a fail-safe mode (OK, it is ancient technology, but even the Roomba has sensors to prevent to fall from stairs :D) and indicate the player that he was stuck. And that was doing the trick!

Monday

Again, as I was working, I did know that I only would have 3 or 4 hours more to work on the game on Monday. I usually spend Mondays on polishing the game: adding transitions, tests, timers, fading screens and so on. Usually, the game without these things shows a gameplay concept, but taking time to adding non critical things like this gives your game a polished look. I prefer, in general, have less features but a well finished game than putting a lot of untested / badly tested features in a game. And most of the time, some last added features proves to be bad features. Keep It Simple and Stupid (KISS) principle prevails in all of my games :D.

Unfortunately, there are some things that I could not finish in time:

  • The robot animations (move left and right were made, but I also wanted to include rotations and move up / down animations). Drawing the robot rotation in pixel-art proved to be a real challenge.
  • More levels. Like said, the ideas are not missing for this game. The robot already includes a battery (it’ll fail if you start an loop ingame due to battery depletion), but there is no representation of it in game. The robot could also use tiles that replenishes it’s batteries (induction anyone? :D). Threading could be represented through multiple robots doing tasks concurrently. Robots could pick up items (in a stack), so you could technically make a level that would allow a Tower of Hanoi kind of problem to be solved. Pressures plates could be a thing to (similar to a dead-man switch where you have to stay on the switch to allow it to function). Logical gates (Switch A and B must be activated to open a gate). Arithmetics counters tiles. There are really a lot of things doable for such a game…

Conclusion

This game was made essentially to teach the basics of computer science to my daughter; It was time for her to test the game. After explaining her the base concepts of the game, she was able to play through level 1 to 4, but the fifth level proved to be a bit difficult for her, and I had to accompany her and explain her some tricks to finish the level.

Now, I have a question for you all. The game was intended to be played on a mobile device (tablet, or smartphone), and some testers asked me for more levels (and I didn’t forgot you at all, I was working on code upgrades/clean up required for these new levels). Should I really continue this game? I have lots of features ideas (that could teach the principles of threading, stacks and so on) that I could put in it, but only if more people are interested in this game. If you say yes, I could maybe work more on the game, and release it, but I’m unsure about it as it wasn’t my original plan at all…

Link to the game’s entry: GLITCh

The Empty – Post Mortem

Posted by
Tuesday, September 15th, 2015 4:24 pm

LudmDare_Post

As I said, this year was the first time that I decided to participate in the compo. 48 hours: a game, with all the code, art and music by myself and donated to the public. Yesterday, the voting period ended, and I admit that I was expecting a much lower score on the criteria that interested me.

Scale: 1 to 5

Ludum_Score

Despite bugs and problems in the early days of the compo, the worst days for that to happen, the game had a relatively good reception.

Mood / Theme:

I learned that gritty atmosphere can even be attained with a naïve aesthetic seen in voxels without generating a negative reaction; nonlinear writing however confused several users, but many got by far uncomfortable sensations, which it was my goal; The proof of concept where the player is a psychopath, but without clarifying who is truly the monster or victim, was extremely well received and many believe that I should expand the concept to a full game; something that interests me the most.

The main reason to the average score is mainly the story was lost; which I owe to the lack of more time to be polish it, it just wasn’t well delivered. My mistake was to deepen the unessential story.

Graphics:

Many pondered the visual style and the work of shaders. Especially the technical work; as in the case, I used a single texture that was a RGB palette rendered into tiny PNG. The shader used to divide the screen into a pixelated grid; was also highly welcomed. As well the use of chromatic aberration and noise, to emulate a feeling of loss of sense of reality was highly appreciated.

Several mentioned that the artistic aspect was lost mostly to the shader pixelating the game world. An error on my part was too not adding more variety in vegetation for the courtyard.

 Audio:

I’m a terrible musician, but I have less musical talent than a fish. I admit it’s not my forte, and I expected that low score. However, most criticism was the lack of variety in the music, which I will consider for the next competition. My mistake was also unable to provide sound effects, but I did not have time to create sounds like crying or injuries of the victim.

Innovation:

The main reason for the low score is the same as I expected, given the clone of the game of cat and mouse that I implemented. Although I wanted to do a much more complex game of stealth, with executions and elements alike, creating the AI ​​for the game, consumed me a good couple of hours I could not use for anything else.

However, many admitted that expanding the concept to more elements of gameplay would be welcoming, something that attracts me to do if I expand this concept to a big game.

Overall:

With all the aforementioned elements, the graphics and gameplay limited factor, affecting a higher score. Things to keep in mind the next time. The good thing is that this AI can be used in any other project, which will give me another occasion greater creative freedom and attention to the gameplay.

Humor / Fun:

The game at no time sought to be hilarious and fun. On the contrary, looking for something to bother and generate similar experiences. You’re a murderer at the end of the day, without precisely defined emotions, the mood was reached, and my objective accomplished. The fun score, shows me clearly that the elements of cat and mouse, are already very common for this kind of games, and that the opportunity for the victim to defend itself undoubtedly was tempting and would have scored me several more points, but time was lacking.

Conclusion:

In TL;DR. I learned a lot, I did an AI using Environment Query Systems, a system damage and a lot of feedback to the idea of a game like I aforementioned before: it is indeed good, and maybe if things improve: I’ll expand the AI, improve the art, make a new aesthetic and above all things, not limit it to one house and do it as a full game

Pedestrian Slaughterer: Post Mortem

Posted by
Tuesday, August 25th, 2015 3:34 pm

My entry for the 48 hour compo Ludum Dare was Pedestrian Slaughterer, a game where you shall do your very best to slaughter as many pedestrians as you can because you’re a monster, however if you run out of bloodlust you lose! To your advantage you have a hovercraft to more easily slaughter more pedestrians quickly, however be aware if you hit something to hard you will fall off and lose!

What Went Well

  • Graphics: I am actually quite happy about the 3D models of my game. I really enjoyed working in blender, however I don’t have much experience with it and this was my very first 3D game that I actually completed. Which I am very happy about. The outline effect gave a cartoon-ish look, which I find very cool.
  • Using db4free.net: I had a suggestion to add a score board in my first game and I used that advice, luckily I have used this free database service before and it is really easy to setup, it is not very reliable but for something like Ludum Dare I don’t really care about consistency or security (let’s be honest, who’d actually care about creating a dedicated server for a small game like this?).
  • Ragdolls: I successfully added ragdolls to my game which is awesome, I mean they are probably the best thing ever.
  • The idea: The theme was probably the best one so far for me and I am really happy with the idea I came up with. I love ragdolls and I wanted to do a 3D game for a change instead of “another one of those 2D platformers”.
  • Sound effects: I had very little time left for music and SFX, so I just ended up doing some random sounds with my voice and audacity which I find added a lot to the style of the game.

What Did Not Go Well

  • Time Management: As usual I am not very good at prioritizing fundamental game components from small details making it hard to throw in everything I want to make a “decent” game. I’d like to get better at it, but I guess practice is one of the best ways.
  • Lose and win conditions: Originally I planned to just let the player try to kill as many pedestrians as they could and the only way to loose would be to crash into some house or mountain but I figured it could easily be exploited and people could just go really slow and practically avoid losing whatsoever.
  • Control issues: I had some complains from my friends that the hovercraft was hard to control, and the only excuse I have is that I didn’t have time to do any play testing really. I really wanted to implement drifting so that you could “drift” around houses and have much better control.

Thanks for reading my post and have a lovely day because you are awesome!

Postmortem: You Are The Slime!

Posted by (twitter: @SecularBaron)
Tuesday, August 25th, 2015 11:56 am

Play You Are The Slime!

 

youaretheslime2

 

This is my second Ludum Dare and I’ve never wrote a postmortem so forgive me if there is a format i’m overlooking. Between work and the rest of life I decided to dive in and take part in the jam. The theme “You Are The Monster” inspired me to work on an idea I’ve had floating around (and apparently many before me have had as well) to make a game where you play as the low-level fodder mob, The Slime. Far too long have slimes been abused and their peaceful forest homes encroached upon by adventurers on a journey to greater treasure.

What Worked Out:

Originally your slime grew and absorbed people and rats just by moving over them. When I changed this to having to mash the space bar in order to absorb an enemy I think this added a lot of needed interactively and gave me a better understanding of the monumental task a slime must go through to take on larger powerful prey. Finding the right rate for the growing and shrinking mechanic was easy enough to program. The far more difficult and time consuming task I was able to overcome was making the objects interact and look right with the slime. I really enjoyed how the arrows, humans, and skeletons slowly rotate in the slime and can move just enough to escape with difficulty. I think I did okay in the time I had with additional details such as the archers gathering arrows and the humans bleeding out when their flesh had dissolved.

What Didn’t Work:

Most of my poor time management went to programming small details I could of overlooked for the jam. It would of been far better for my project if I would of put more effort into the art and sound. I had imagined much more of a slope in the game play and difficulty. I ended up cutting out the rats and other creatures which you would hypothetically take on first.  The rate of absorption when attacking the archers is far too slow and becomes tedious.

If I Continue:

I have a couple of more serious long running projects I try to not lose focus on (again) so i’m hesitant to start another side project. I’d like to add in more creatures, enemies, power ups, and general immersive flavor to the world. As well as redo the map, most of the artwork, and all of the sound. The controls and the rates of absorbing need adjustments. Additionally I’d want to fix the difficulty curve to go a little more in the way of Katamari, starting small and slowly growing large till you battle tougher enemies and devour a town.

What I’ve Learned From Jams:

I’m really bad at finishing projects. It really helped me having constraints and a deadline. What this jam has reminded me is the benefits and difficulties of working within a time constraint. In my personal projects I constantly find myself removing entire systems and rebuilding them . Nothing is ever good enough and i’ll stay stuck in a loop of “improvement”. The time constraint is also a difficulty as I didn’t have time to polish the aspects that would have increased engagement and I was forced to cut things I wanted to include, like animals. This makes me have sympathy for AAA developers who have to deal with budgets, time constraints, and knowing their failures will cost people their livelihoods.

Overall this Ludum Dare was a ton of fun and i’m finding awesome games. Good job everyone!

– Andrew, @SecularBaronMy Games

 

 

Mass-X Post-Mortum!

Posted by (twitter: @charlottegore)
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015 6:11 am

For LD32 I knew I wanted to tackle the ultimate Classic Ludum Dare game: The 2d pixel art platformer with a cute and hopefully distinctive mechanic inspired by the theme. My aim, this time, was to try to improve on my ‘fun’ score and if that’s what the final verdict is I will be so happy.

There was no need to kill this robot.

The result was Mass-X, where the mechanic is being able to switch positions with robots. I didn’t include any puzzle elements – I wanted it to be all about trying to find creative ways to kill as many robots, as possible or get through levels as fast as possible, or basically just bounce around for fun.

What went badly:

Day one was murder. I wanted to have the basic mechanics of the game coded by lunch. It actually took me the entire day. My custom engine itself didn’t have all the features I needed, was full of bugs (probably still is!) and the collision detection stuff was a total shambles, so it was all incredibly slow and difficult.

I also found working with programmer art incredibly depressing. The game looked beyond awful and I was rapidly losing faith in my ability to make this something worth playing. By the end of the first day it looked like this…

… and I wanted to give the whole thing up and die. 3 months of preparation for this rubbish?

It was actually about 6pm (6 hours before the deadline, my time) by the time I’d recorded the music and sound effects and done all the tile art for the sprites (and got the animations into the game) and was finally ready to begin designing levels… at which point I started discovering even more bugs with the collision detection and found out that my level editing tool was completely broken. I had to constantly save, export then restart the software every time I need to create a new level or make a change to a level. Nightmare.

The result is that the game is far shorter than I intended. Far, far, far shorter. I really wanted to prove that my tools were good enough to make a lot of content quickly and I have learnt that, in fact, no. They’re not. Not even close.

Final “What went badly” was the fact that I completely forgot that this was a browser game and I completely screwed up the mouse controls. If the cursor goes outside of the browser window, your cursor freezes. There’s a bug in the cursor-to-world translation, too. Basically the controls are a mess which is fine until the last two levels, at which point many people find it impossible. Quick workaround is to reduce the width of your browser window, creating some buffer space at the bottom. I apparently developed the game like this which is why I didn’t find the problem until it was too late.

What went well

Going Pixel Art was terrifying. Something about sharing stuff you’ve drawn… it’s so much more personal than 3d models. I feel like Mass-X is far more of me than any other game I’ve made.  I stuck with 10×10 pixel tiles which worked out nicely. They’re a lot less work to draw than 16×16 (156 fewer pixels to colour in per tile!) but more expressive and detailed than 8×8. I know I have a long way to go with pixel art (MOAR DEPTH!!!) but I accidentally achieved a consistent style which I think works pretty well.

Swanky Paint – it’s a quirky clone of Deluxe Paint 2 with one absolutely killer feature for me: It supports bloom. It meant that I could draw the art ‘bloomed’ then save them without. It meant that when rendered in game the art looked like it did in Swanky rather than all blown-out and too bright. Swanky Paint saved my bacon.

Guitar Midi Synth – I have this thing on my guitar which makes it output midi, which meant I was able to compose music on an instrument I actually understand and can improvise with. I’m quite pleased with the music even if it’s pretty rough and filthy. The sound effects were also a huge amount of fun to make – lots of layered sounds from my own voice and synths, all put through fancy effects. I’m especially thrilled with the bumper sound and the swapping noise.. a dirty buzz and a whoosh and a bang. :)

I also think the basic idea of the game works as well. I hope it’s fun for other people too. It has a lot of potential as a puzzle platformer but I kept it more action/adventure approach than I could have – I’ve seen some fantastic LD games with the same basic mechanic but done as a puzzle platformer instead. It turns out this particular mechanic has a lot more potential than I realised.

The engine is a little trooper as well. It turns tilemaps into single meshes which are incredibly quick for GPUs to draw. The post-processing effects are a bit of a trial for really bad GPUs, but you can get 60fps on an Intel HD 3000 as long as you don’t try to run it in 1080p.

Finally… deploying. This time I was able to deploy for HTML5 and for Windows, OSX and Linux (32 bit) with a single command. I’d done a lot of work preparing this side of things and it really paid off.

Lessons For Next Time

Assuming I want to make another 2d pixel art platformer I’m going to want to fix my level editor’s bugs, add more features to make drawing levels quicker – cut and paste would help. I also need some sort of game boilerplate that means i can start by writing object logic rather than having to set up switching between titles and levels and all that.

My personal challenge for next time? I want to see what the verdict on Mass-X is first. Then I’ll know what I need to focus on next. Fun is, I think, the most important category. It’s the truest test of a would-be game designer’s skill, I think.

Thank you for reading and for playing Mass-X. It’s a short, broken little game but I think I actually love this one.

Play Mass-X here

Skull Bomb Post Mortem

Posted by
Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 6:46 pm

Cross posted from my blog at NewbQuest.com

I did my first game jam this weekend! I participated in the jam portion of Ludum Dare 32 and made a little game called Skull Bomb (play it here). The theme was “An Unconventional Weapon” and after it was announced I brainstormed a bit before settling on ‘blowing yourself up’ as my interpretation of the theme. I didn’t want to have my player character blowing up other humans so I decided to make the game about a world taken over by evil robots. This also worked in my favor that I didn’t have to program any sort of realistic AI.

I’ve been really wanting to do a Ludum Dare since I learned about it but being a dad, having a job, etc always seem to stand in the way of coming up with 48 uninterrupted hours on the jam weekends. This time I decided to not let that stop me and jammed in the hours after my kids bedtime, for a total of maybe 16 or so hours over the 72 hour jam period. I’m really glad I did!
What went well:

I made a game! Not waiting for the perfect moment and the planets to align allowed me to actually make something.

I scoped correctly. I picked a topic I was able to finish in the time I had without crazy crunching.

Used Unity 5. That went well, Unity ran smoothly, few crashes and weird bugs. I think it crashed once.

Using Unity’s Navigation for AI. Setting up the enemy units as Navmesh Agents worked great. I made an array of destinations and selected randomly from that to get enemies moving around un-predictably. Easy and effective.

Simple Sound Design. I added some spooky synth drones that I made with Logic X’s built in Sculpture synthesizer. Sculpture is a physical modeling synth and I love the timbres you can get out of it, I thought they set a good, ominous and abstract tone for the game.

Narrative via Voice Over. This was probably the best received aspect of the project. I wrote a simple voiceover script describing a dystopian sci fi world overrun by machines and laid out the players mission. I had my girlfriend read this and did a bit of editing and mixing in Logic. Details I was happy with that people commented on as well were the cut-up phone maze style strings of numbers that added to the overall dehumanizing atmosphere. Using a voice over was cheap and easy (maybe 2 hours work to write, edit, mix and implement) and added a whole narrative layer to the game that I thought was very effective. Because it ran in the background at startup it allowed the player to experience the narrative without having to wait, read or otherwise be delayed from experiencing the game play. Several people commenting on the game remarked on how well the voice over worked so that was definitely a high point.

New Genre/Mechanic. I’ve never tried to make a stealth / sneaking style game and was quite happy with that aspect of it. I definitely learned a lot and enjoyed working with the form in a short format. This is perhaps my favorite aspect of jamming, the chance to try out different genres or ideas in a short form, low stakes way and get feedback.

Art Style. The art style that I chose was simple, minimal and achievable. I was happy with the result and felt like it worked well with the theme. I got a few nice comments on it so I consider that a success, especially since I consider myself a non-artist. I also got pretty close to my initial ‘vision’ visually.

Getting Feedback / Iterating. By posting the build a few hours before the deadline I got some very useful, maybe critical feedback about playability, controls and clarity. This included a lack of clarity on where to go which I tried to address and not locking the mouse cursor which lead to issues in browser based play. Catching these early was good. I’ll definitely aim to do this in the future, getting those little bits of feedback before finalizing was great.

What went poorly:

Level Design. Several people commented that they wandered around, didn’t know where to go, couldn’t find the goal. The way I laid out the level had no clear (or unclear) path through it, it was just a big box. After getting that feedback I added a moment in the beginning where the player falls from high up and gets a chance to see the black box that represents the server. In hindsight I really gave the player almost no clues as to where to go. I even was considering initially having the monolith change it’s location each time player spawned to add replayability and difficulty. I realize now that that would have been a mistake.

Difficulty. The difficulty was very inconsistent. Sometimes the enemies randomly left big clear paths, sometimes they created impossible, inescapable situations. With more time or better planning I would have set up some more carefully planned routes for the AI to patrol that interlocked, created gaps etc. As Twitter friend @ChrisLaPollo points out though that these are the types of things that you learn in making a jam game and can polish up after.

Browser Support. Annoyingly Google Chrome dropped support for NPAPI plugins right before the jam breaking support for Unity Web Player. The game played fine in other browsers but this was just kinda annoying.

Control Tuning / Playtesting. Several players complained that the movement speed was a little slow. I actually bumped it up a bit but probably could have taken it up a little higher. More playtesting earlier probably would have helped this but given that I was jamming on my own in my apartment I didn’t have local playtesters available. In the future I’d like to try and jam with a team and / or at a space with other people. I think this would have helped a lot to catch this and some other issues before posting.

Play the game here, or watch a video below:

SKULL BOMB: Mini Post Mortem

Posted by
Monday, April 20th, 2015 7:31 pm

Skull Bomb by @mattmirrorfish

This is my first time Ludum Dare-ing. I have been putting off doing it because I never have un-interrupted time on weekends but this weekend I decided to go for it anyway. This game was made in the hours after my kids went to bed and any other little bits of time I could get together over the weekend, maybe 16 hours or so in total. I hit on the mechanic and theme I wanted to do pretty quickly on Friday night: my interpretation of an unconventional weapon was a suicide bombers bomb.  Because I knew I wouldn’t have time to do sophisticated AI I decided to make the enemies robots which would make their slightly stupid behavior thematically appropriate. The AI could be improved a bit but for now it mostly works. The theme also supported my primitive art style which is made using basic primitives within the Unity editor.  The main mechanic is avoiding coming into contact with the red awareness zones of the enemies while trying to get to the end of the level and blow up the enemy server. I leaned heavily on stuff Unity does easily out of the box for this, in this case Navigation. The flying and hovering enemy types each have nav mesh agent components attached and a script randomly assigns waypoints from an array. This causes them to path through the level randomly and adds some un-predictability. I also added some searchlight gun tower type enemies inside the ‘city block’ formations since running through them, where the hovering enemies couldn’t go, seemed to be a dominant strategy.

I created the audio using Logic which is mainly sounds made with Logic’s built in Sculpture synthesizer. I stuck to ominous drone sounds mostly. I wrote a minute long text which adds some additional context and had my girlfriend read it on mic, which I then processed and cut up a bit. I think it adds a lot to the vibe of the game and provides some useful expository narrative framework.

All in all I had a ton of fun doing this! I’m going to aim to continue to jam, even when limited for time, and try to block out a full weekend to get together with a team and attempt something more ambitious.

Here’s my entry: SKULL BOMB.

If you liked the game or just want to say hi I’m @mattmirrorfish on Twitter. Thanks for reading!

 

EDIT:

I got some great notes from people playing and rating my game which allowed me to make a few small tweaks, hopefully for the better before the cutoff. I found players didn’t know where to go so I made the final objective more visible, and had the players drop in from high up so they get an initial birds eye view of the level. I also moved an enemy that was sort of spawn camping the player in a really unfair way :)

Also, lot’s of people liked the voice over! I must say having a little bit of recorded audio in your game like that to add some story is a pretty cheap and easy way to add some production value. That is definitely the thing I spent the least time on (maybe 2 hours out of 16 to script, record, mix, edit and implement) but has gotten the most positive feedback. Definitely food for thought! Thanks very much to all the people giving comments on my game (and on everyone elses!)  It feels great to be a part of a community of game creators like this.

Gods Gonna Cut Em Down: Post Mortem

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 10:21 pm

Ludum Dare 32 or the story of how I inadvertently completely ignored the theme.

The first day of the jam was spent entirely on looking at visual references. The second was spent on making those visuals. The third was spent on making the story. This is the hardest I’ve ever worked on a game jam — and the game is maybe five minutes long.

smoking

God’s Gonna Cut Em Down (GGCED) is my first foray into the visual novel, using an engine called Tyranobuilder. All of the art is done by me, through an over reliance on the Photoshop Blur tools.

The game is a short vignette — think of it as the first chapter of a larger work. It is, in essence, that. After working all weekend on the art and design for this game, I’m looking towards continuing to work on it.
(more…)

Post Mortem: Two Must Become One

Posted by
Monday, August 25th, 2014 7:05 am

Play the game here – comments and ratings appreciated!

 

This was a firstie in many ways. It was my first ludum dare, my first game jam, my first finished game, and the first game I ever created without the intention to recreate/immitate an existing game mechanic. About a year ago, I would never have expected to even participate in a game jam like Ludum Dare anytime soon, and here I am with a (more or less) finished entry.

TMBO_title TMBO_title2
The original idea was to create two worlds, nature and human civilization, coexisting in a subtle balance that could be disturbed by gathering too much natural resources (trees/plants/animals) and other things. I planned to do this visually as well but that turned out to be pretty time consuming, and knowing the mechanics I wanted to implement, I decided to finish these instead. I also wanted to add disasters but I couldn’t add them for the lack of time. The game’s design was inspired by dwarf fortress.

I worked so quickly as I’ve never did before. I cut out a lot of features for the sake of getting some gameplay finished. The menu and credits were extremely rushed and created during the  last hour or two. It turned out to be a very interesting game that can be extended for more in-depth gameplay. Possibly you cannot even win it…

It also has been quite a learning experience. I’ve learned some lessons in AI creation making the commands for the workers. A lot of fun I had making these small sprites (I really loved doing them) and got in touch with a new approach and method to make games. I’ve worked with alot of static variables to design the map and map objects and applied some of my knowledge in memory effective 2D rendering. It was an interesting jam to say the least.

I am looking forward to play all other Ludum Dare entries to check out what others have made during 48 hours. And of course, this will not  be the last time I participate in a game jam too!

What’s to get, anyway?

Posted by (twitter: @SteamburgerStud)
Monday, January 6th, 2014 12:16 pm

So the Ludum Dare compo I created was less of a game, and more like an experiment in existentialism.

The setup is simple: It’s starting to rain, and you have a single-use umbrella (you have to hold a key to keep it open). There’s a pedestal with a single red rose off to the side, and then after some walking, a lone grave. The “object” of the game is simple, collect the rose, and place it at the grave. If you get too wet, the game ends… and that’s it!

Half the comments praised my art direction, and questioned the core gameplay (and they’re right, there’s not much to ‘do’). The other half spoke about how hard I hit the theme and mood, inviting them to actually think/feel inwardly. I find it interesting how evenly split the group was, truly a case of you get it, or not.

And in all honesty, I didn’t set out to make this kind of game at first. My initial design was going to be a 2D side-runner where you age over time, ending at your own gravestone (You only get one life to live). I built the final scene first, and somewhere along the way I realized I didn’t have time to art all of that and do it right. Then I turned on collision for the rain I had made, and became quite inspired when I discovered I could have the player interact with it. It all kind of sprang out from there, and A Rose in the Rain was born.

Whether you ‘get it’ or wonder ‘what’s to get, anyway?’ thanks for taking a look and sharing your thoughts! My personal highlight was when GeorgeBroussard commented on my entry; Duke Nukem 3D was singularly responsible for getting me interested in video game development back in middle/high school (so lets have us a NERDFREAKOUT!!1). This was my very first Ludum Dare, and it went infinitely better than I could have ever dreamed. Thanks for playing, and most of all, thanks for creating!

Save One For the Kids – a post ’em mortem ’em

Posted by (twitter: @Phantom_Green)
Monday, January 6th, 2014 1:41 am

Ah, the ol’ post-mortem… where you retrace your steps and try to figure out what went wrong and what went right. But what if nothing went ‘wrong’? What if I’m totally satisfied with what I ended up with? Well, that’s the case… and not because my game is amazing or ground-breaking or technically flawless… but because I finally ‘beat’ Ludum Dare. Let me explain.

This was my 10th LD, and since I first started, I’ve learned so much about myself, my limitations, my weaknesses, my strengths, how to work under pressure, etc, etc etc. What I also learned during all of those compos is that Ludum Dare is not about what you didn’t accomplish in the time limit. So often we are bombarded with comments about where our games could be improved and we write post-mortems about what didn’t go as planned, but I just simply want to see more celebration about what is actually being accomplished. To me, Ludum Dare is about what you WANTED to do versus what you were ABLE to do. And in the case of LD28, I did 100 percent of what I wanted to do. Sure, I can point out flaws in my game and there are infinite ways in which I can expand on my idea, refine it, and make it better. It was the first time that I made a list of what I wanted to accomplish and was able to check every one of them off before hitting the ‘submit’ button. Yes, Ludum Dare is about learning… it’s about pushing yourself… it’s about improving… but when I say that I finally ‘beat’ Ludum Dare… I mean that I finally reached a point where I can grab the theme, stay on target, and limit myself to the core essentials. This was always my biggest weakness, and with LD28, I was triumphant. Just like my first Ludum Dare when I didn’t save time for audio. I was unsure of my ability to make quality audio in the time limit, so I pushed it further and further back until it was too late. I was very disappointed in myself, so I made a strong effort to practice audio and I made it a larger focus. I then went on to capture two gold medals in the audio category, something I never would’ve imagined after my first LD. So now with LD28, I feel like I turned another corner in actually being able to stop myself from attempting such a hugely impossible list of features in such a short amount of time. Instead of being stressed about finishing, I was able to relax and do experiments. I was able to try new methods, use new tools, and learn new things without having to deal too much with the clock ticking away. And that brings it all back to the original purpose of Ludum Dare: to learn and grow by challenging yourself.

So what was the end result of my LD28?
A pattern and timing-based score attack game where you have one bullet to shoot zombie kids in the face.


Save One For The Kids by SonnyBone

The Idea
The concept is nothing special. There is no story or no explanation for what’s happening. There doesn’t need to be. I wanted to make a game that could be ‘perfected’ with enough practice and memorization. There is literally a max score that can be earned if you play every stage perfectly. But good luck doing that… it’s not easy, and you can’t immediately replay stages to find the perfect solution. It’s kind of like Kirby’s Dream Course in that regard… one of my favorite games. You can get a hole in one on the first 3 holes, but then if hole 4 throws you for a loop, you have to replay the first 3 holes to try number 4 again. What you end up with is a situation where things that were once difficult become very simple, but if you get too frustrated, things that were once simple start becoming difficult. It’s one of the most common phenomenas in gaming. My friends and I once created the term “gamer’s hand” while playing Tony Hawk 2. It’s when your mind shuts off and your eyes go still but your hands move on their own as you attempt the perfect run and keep hitting ‘restart’ in the pause menu. That pattern of memorization, reflexes, and reactions mixed with your brain’s stupid desire to see bigger numbers at the end of the run. That’s what I wanted to create… a very simple puzzle game that a very specific type of gamer would want to play over and over in order to get the best score.

The Art
I wanted to try something new with art. I wanted to go for a hand-drawn look while testing out some new animation methods.

PlayerArtAnim

The main player has no animation. I messed around with the idea of clothes blowing in the wind, recoil from the gun, or starting the stage with the player actually going from standing to crouched and then aiming the gun. I immediately realized that it would simply take too long, and that the focus should be on the moving enemies, not the player. I also decided early on that player aiming or player movement would make the number of shot possibilities go up exponentially, making the game infinitely more difficult and unpredictable. That would’ve gone against my idea of a ‘perfect’ solution that’s not too impossible to figure out (both for myself, and for the player… because I had to design the stages to be beatable and be able to calculate the lowest and highest possible scores).

The main enemy is where all the animation went.

EnemyArtAnim1

I was watching Home Improvement while waiting for the theme announcement, so I think my enemy ended up being Mark Taylor by accident.
marktaylorinfluence

I’m not sure why I decided to make a game about killing zombie kids, but I think I remember having an idea about them being crazy Minecraft fans that desperately wanted more Minecraft clones and were going around killing anyone not currently developing one.

EnemyAnim1

The enemy consists of several different parts that were tweened and occasionally swapped out with other sprites:
EnemyArtParts1

If I had another 2 hours to work on the game, I probably would’ve spent the time redrawing the feet and making some palette swaps for variety.

The Gameplay

KidsAnimHeadShot

That’s pretty much it right there. You hit spacebar at the right time, everything freezes, and your bullet rips through a line of enemies. Your goal is to kill everything on the screen with one shot, but it’s best to get the same kind of shot in a row to get extra points. Killing everything on the screen gives you a MURDERTALITY BONUS that dramatically increases your score based on how many enemies you killed. You get 250 pts for leg shots, 500 for torso shots, and 1000 for headshots. If you land three headshots in a row, for example, the first is worth 1000, the second is 2000, and the third is 3000. If you killed everything on the screen, then that total gets multiplied by an amount that I can’t remember… lol.

At the end of the stage, you are presented with a medal for your performance. Yes, it is possible to clear every enemy in the game and get a gold medal on every stage. I have only done it once, but I kind of cheated to do it. The closest I’ve been able to get without cheating is 8 perfect stages and 2 silver stages.

The Audio

I went with a very subdued soundtrack. The Wintry setting, the jumping kiddies, the holiday cheer… I kind of wanted something that would be relaxing to help you focus. I spent more time on the ‘slo mo’ bullet sound effect, the head splatters, and the dumb-ass voice samples for earning medals. I created some really goofy little voice that is almost out of place but somehow… works. I love it… especially when I get a “silllvah” medal. And then the voice at the end telling you how much you suck. There are 3 possible ‘endings’ with your overall rank/score.

Conclusion
I had a crapload of fun. I made what I wanted to make. I learned a lot. I’m happy. SUCCESS!
And this will be my last LD for a while as I keep working on my first commercial game. I haven’t officially announced it yet, but I will someday. I think 10 LDs is enough for now. I’ll come back after my first ‘real’ game is a huge flop. If you wanna stay in the loop, my site is HERE and my Twitter.

SaveOneForTheKidsPoster

GO PLAY AND RATE MY GAME!

ALSO, I did a Rad Game Roundup of my favorite 20 LD28 games. Check it out HERE
And check out my LD soundtracks HERE

Yogo’s Adventure Post Mortem!

Posted by
Saturday, December 21st, 2013 5:14 pm

Now that my first Ludum Dare entry has recieved some feedback, I thought I should do a post mortem post. 😀
It’s here to try if you wish: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-28/?action=preview&uid=28661

MY EXPECTATIONS:
Well this was my first LD so they were basically null. Haha. Seriously, I didn’t even think I would finish a playable prototype.
My original goal was just to try and finish something, other than that, no real goal as far as rankings go.

DURING THE COMPO:
I’m not going to lie, I made some rookie mistakes.
Well first of all, I have the advantage that the compo started at 1 P.M for me, so that was a nice time in the middle of the day for me.
The rookie mistake was that I was incredibly hung over. Haha.
Rookie mistake number 2, I invited friends over to get drunk on the second night. (Although I ended up letting them game and drink while I programmed and desgined levels. 😛 )

The largest problem I ran into, and what some people picked up on in the feedback, is that I had no way to produce sound.
I had no software for it, so I did dedicate a few hours to searching the internet for free one’s and trialling them, but nothing that was what I wanted. (I just want GarageBand to be honest )
So in the end due to time constraints and the lack of software, I opted out of adding sounds. :(

AFTER THE COMPO:
Wow!
So much positive feedback.
Seriously, I was absolutely blown away by all the nice comments about how funny it is etc.  I didn’t expect anything like it.
Next LD (Which I am 100% participating in.) I need to add sounds. That is my number one goal.
I would also like to figure out how to do animations. I feel like they add a lot of polish to a game.

CONCLUSION:
Thank you everyone who played my game and to the entire LD community to being incredibly nice and helpful through the entire process!
Bring on the next one! Woo!
Now, a message from Yogo bear!
thankYoumessage

An Experimental game about Decisions and Life! SHE *Post Mortem*

Posted by (twitter: @Hyde_WS)
Monday, December 16th, 2013 3:33 pm

 

♠Play It Here ;D ♣

 

♠Rate and View Jam Entry \o/♣

———————————————————————————————————————————————————–

After a few hours of doubting whether if I would participate or not (I had a huge Christmas party on Sunday and HELL NOTHING would stop me from going XD)  I decided that I would give it a try to my own 24 hours game jam, so I began creating some magic! XD

IconYou Only Got One…What Should I do with That ¿? 

You only got one? One bullet, one life, one minute…there are many ways to understand this concept and I wanted to have a take on it in a kind of  different way. I started to think in which occasions we really only got one and after some minutes of forcing a bit of hardcore mental processing, I thought of Decisions! Either they’re large or simple, once you have chosen and performed it you can’t go back. Even the smaller decisions in life like choosing to wake up when the alarm rings or having five minutes more of sleep, can make the difference in the way our future develops. Having this on mind I began with the concept behind She, a game in which every decision counts.

Building a 20’s Silent Film themed entry

My tools: Game Maker Studio, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and Audition CS6.

I got the inspiration for the aesthetics :) from the old silent films from the last century, I loved the style of the dialogue cards and the influence of art nouveau in every aspect of them. Of course since I had only one day for everything I combined it with a simple vectorized cute style. The final result grew on me and I love how it all came along! ^^

I spent the first 6 hours designing the characters, drawing and painting along with the backgrounds, scenery special effects..etc. My heart was racing and a shoot of adrenaline fuelled me during the whole process XD I even dropped a cup of hot cocoa over my keyboard and damn how I regret that now :( Whatever….When it comes to programming it was pretty simple I must admit that the part I liked the most was designing the enemy waves for chapter 2. If you’ve already played the game you must have noticed that the second part contains most of the action and fun. The literary aspect was really important since it was the core of the whole game. I spent about half ‘n hour writing the suicide letter. I took a look at many sad suicide letters from real life for inspiration, that was a really intense and aerie experience that in a strange way I enjoyed. I wanted the card to be as realistic as possible.

For the audio and music I opted for the always successful 8bit! In my entries I always do every single asset from scratch with exception of the music. Other than a few I created, most of the tracks and effects come from my royalty free library. That’s why I don’t participate in the real deal! I hope one day I can produce my own SFXs. The main theme is an 8bited version of Music For The Funeral of Queen Mary  and obviously I got the inspiration from one of my favourite movies…A Clockwork Orange!

Wyvern Cinema

 

#LD48 Conclusion…

I really enjoyed this Ludum Dare, I learnt a lot and achieved all my goals. I’m really happy with my entry it came along exactly how I had imagined it, and I think that’s part of what makes Ludum Dare an unique experience…..no sleeping and extreme efforts are worthy when you finally upload your game, see the comments and a sudden rush of self-confidence and feeling of success fills you from head to toes! 😀

Please play my game and replay to see all the endings and drive trough the different roads, snooze and don’t snooze, it’s interesting how the decisions affect the result and difficulty of the game. Enjoy and thanks!! 😀 

1

 

Perfect Match game post-mortem

Posted by
Sunday, December 15th, 2013 6:19 pm

Final game looks like this:

day2_03 day2_04 day2_05

It is an asymmetrical 2 player (one with a mouse and keyboard, the other with an Xbox 360 gamepad) 3D fire sim toy thing. You only get one match’s life (if you’re player 1). Water and fire interact in the usual way. Strike the match on the rough rock to start. Points are awarded for tree/ house voxels burnt to the ground. There’s no sound.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/32538545/LudumDareFire/WebBuilt/WebBuilt.unity3d

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/32538545/LudumDareFire/LinuxBuild.zip

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/32538545/LudumDareFire/WinBuild.zip

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/32538545/LudumDareFire/FireLudumDareSource.zip

This was my second ever game jam and I learned lots from this project – obviously fire simulation, but also the particulars of Unity’s particle systems and I’m sure lots of other things I can’t remember now.

Obvious bugs include the match floating up at certain times, due to unity’s physics collider. The match probably shouldn’t float on the water either…

I started lots of things that didn’t go into the final game – independent voxel fire grids that could interact, procedural generation of terrain. I guess the maths was a bit too difficult after nearly 28 hours of programming for my brain! I really shouldn’t have eaten so much sugar. Maybe next game jam I’ll remember!

Late Post Mortem — TGWSDI10S

Posted by (twitter: @ChronusZ)
Wednesday, August 28th, 2013 5:52 pm

I’ve finally decided to collect my thoughts about the game I made for the Ludum Dare 27 Compo: This Game Will Self Destruct in 10 Seconds.

The day before the competition started, I was incredibly ill and pretty much certain I wouldn’t be able to do anything. When I woke up the morning of, I was still sick, but I decided to participate anyways. So for the next eight hours I sat on my couch with my trusty laptop and learned the syntax of ActionScript3, how to use Flixel, the and basics of music theory and foley sound effect making, none of which I had any experience with before. By the end of those eight hours, I was feeling pretty good, and had learned basically as much as I needed to know.

When the competition first was about to start and I saw the theme candidates, I was desperately hoping for “Death is Useful”. I didn’t know what I would do with it, but it sounded like something I could get behind and make some puzzle game with a neat mechanic, or maybe an action game with special techniques. I most certainly did NOT want “10 seconds” to win.

And then it did. And I was sad, because I thought I was going to have to do some lame minigame style game that would bring nothing new to the table. But within about a half-hour, I had the trolly and brilliant idea that spawned TGWSDI10S. I was playing Skyrim to try to spawn creative thoughts (The best way to spawn creative thoughts), when the game crashed. This wasn’t exactly unexpected, and I’m used to it by now because I have about 70 mods installed that don’t mesh perfectly with eachother. But it got my thinking: “What if a game actually INTENTIONALLY crashed?” And so spawned the idea. I would make a game that crashes after 10 seconds.

Now, originally, I was just going to make it a completely generic game that you can’t beat because it crashes after 10 seconds. It was just going to be a joke game to troll people. But I quickly scratched that idea as not great, and decided that I would make the game save your progress every time it crashed, so that you could continue the story if you hit refresh.

So I started work on making the platforming engine, and very early on decided to make you be able to move super fast. At first this was just to make debugging the map easier, but it felt very much right to be able to move that fast in a game that ends so fast. So from there came the major design choice that every aspect of the game was based on: This game needs to be fast. When I got the combat working, I made it insanely fast. I added a very slight delay to the damage so that the timing is just awkward enough to make the game very difficult without making it impossible to time. I then made it so that once you punch, you can’t punch again for 1.5 seconds. I feel that this makes the combat very stressful because if you miss, you’re basically screwed. So button-mashing is about as effective as trying to kill your enemies Mario-style. Next I worked on the enemy AI and made the enemies follow a simple but very fast-paced movement pattern. Basically, they run towards you, attempt to punch you, and if they miss, run away until the can punch you again, at which point they run back towards you. From the very first time I succeeded in killing an enemy, I felt giddy with excitement and couldn’t stop giggling at how great the combat felt.

From there I implemented the saving, the timer, and some other minor mechanics to flesh out the gameplay before I delved into level design. I added some small tutorial texts and followed the course of my dominant design choice by making the text stunted and feel like it’s supposed to be read really quickly, like in FEZ. I carefully looked over every piece of text I added and removed every unnecessary syllable.

I finally got to level design at the very end of the first day. I was planning on making it a very short game that ended in the generic “Your princess is in another castle!”, but I decided to keep adding levels until I ran out of ideas to make them feel variated enough from eachother. I ended with three, and decided to change the ending to slightly less used used satirical joke (Play to find out what it is 😉 ). I made every level just in text form editing the tile array directly and then testing it out in game, and it worked well enough. I got the levels done fairly quickly.

I went to sleep after finishing the levels and woke up with the idea to add the ray-traced shadows. The fact that you could see the enemies through walls ruined the suspense a bit. After fighting the evil forces of frame-rate drops for a few hours, I ended up with a result that worked, but was a bit ugly and I wasn’t entirely happy with.

After doing that, I realized belatedly that I had no sounds or music whatsoever, and the competition was going to end in less than 4 hours. I hurriedly put together some foley sound effects and then jumped into FL Studio to try to make an 8 bit theme that felt fast-paced.

That failed miserably.

I wasted an hour and a half trying to make the 8 bit theme sound good before I switched off to working with a drum loop and within half an hour it sounded pretty dang good, in my egotistical opinion. I added the beam last based on a dream I had whilst sleeping the night previous, and got that as well as the church organ piece (Just major 3rds and a Dracula-esque down-step) in about twenty minutes. Last thing I needed to was set up the HTML page and embed the flash element within. Two problems were realized at this stage when I had only 45 or so minutes ’till deadline: I completely forgot how HTML works, and I had no website to host it on.

The first problem was quickly solved through the might of Google, and I made a simple HTML page that embedded the .swf in record time. The second problem was a bit more of a challenge, but I called up a friend and he was nice enough to give me access to his ftp server for his website (It’s a fantastic website, check it out: jimmymack.org/world.html), and I solved issue number two in time to meet the deadline. Looking up at the clock I realized that I had made the deadline with less than 5 minutes left.

And so, after the stress that had enveloped me for the past two days, I did the only thing a man can do when faced with so much relief.

No, you pervert, not that.

I ate a bunch of fudgesicles. Seven of them, to be precise.

And that’s the story of This Game Will Self Destruct in 10 Seconds. Big thanks to Skyrim for the idea and Jimmy for allowing my game to be uploaded to his site. I’m gonna go take a shower.

evolution escape – post mortem

Posted by
Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 3:47 am

This time we were not able to finish the game, but we do learn some important lessons :

1. make agreements with the team, believe on me : personal events during the ludum dare can ruin your tighty schedule, so before start make sure everybody involved is in the same pace, and with the calendar free.

2. practice the basics of the technology some days before, even knowing Unity3D, as it’s not my daily basis tool some basic activities took more than expected.

3. react fast, as we had some changes in the people involved in the project, instead of creating useless code while waiting for the artist, I should change the game plan and go with something that could be done with my own artistic resources.

4. share results on facebook is not that hard :) check on this https://developers.facebook.com/docs/guides/games/getting-started/

5. define as a team what will be the folder names for the game assets in unity, so when the export package all over the place madness start, you don’t loose precious time reorganizing files, materials all over the project.

6. don’t make reusable code for ludumdare :) make straight forward code, and then after the ludum dare, find some time to refactor and reuse wherever you like.

cheers.

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