Posts Tagged ‘how to’

[NO SPOILERS] Fun with shaders for LD37, part 1!

Posted by (twitter: @avaskoog)
Friday, December 16th, 2016 2:34 pm

Hey! They’re not all too advanced, but I still thought I’d share a little something on the custom shaders that were written for our LD37 entry, LOCK AND RELOAD. c:

Since the posts easily get a bit lengthy, I’ll divide this into a series of more bite-sized posts so that I don’t have to sacrifice all too much clarity for the sake of space. We’ll start with the main shader that gives the game its look and feel!


Some of the effects are connected to slightly fundamental parts of the story, and since the game ended up being really short due to time constraints, I recommend you play the game first to avoid the spoilers and get the most out of the game with it’s little twists! So I’ll be adding a “read more” tag at to some parts to hide some of the stuff from the front page of the blog.

Note: the game was made in Unity and the shaders were written accordingly and so any code will be given as boiled down versions of the shader code written for that, but obviously everything is readily convertible to something like GLSL with minor to no changes.


Post effect filter

This one won’t spoil a thing as it is the very first thing to see upon starting the game: the wonky colour effects and checkerboard overlay. There’s also a dark vignette as well as some increased contrast.

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This effect applies to the whole final rendered image rather than individual objects and is therefore done in one step at the end of each frame, simply applying the shader to each pixel, or fragment.

Let’s go! ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ

The low-fi colour effect

This is achieved by first multiplying the colour values (which are all normalised between 0.0 and 1.0) by some factor, then rounding the numbers so that any resulting decimals disappear, and then dividing the values back down again by the original factor. This effectively decreases the colour variation. The smaller the factor, the greater the effect.

col.rgb *= factor;
col.rgb = round(col.rgb);
col.rgb /= factor;



The contrast effect is fundamentally not so complicated. It can be done in different ways, but for this particular game what I found worked best was to subtract some of the intensity of the colour if the original colour was below some tolerance value, but multiply it by some factor if it were above it.

col.rgb += (col.rgb < tolerance) ? 0.5 : 1.5;



Alternating dark and bright squares are all over the screen. This isn’t some texture; just a little bit of maths. By checking the position of each pixel on the screen and figuring out whether it’s even using the modulo operator (which gives the remainder of a division), we can figure out whether the number is evenly divisible by two and thereby whether it’s odd or even.

If we multiply the coördinates by some factor to pretend that the screen is smaller or bigger than it really is, we can control how big the squares get. We apply the effect by darkening odd squares and leaving even ones untouched or vice versa.

col.rgb -= ((floor(x * s) % 2.0) - (floor(y * s) % 2.0)) * darkness;



In this case, a vignette is a darkening of the corners of the screen. We’re basically applying darkness to the whole screen except an oval in the middle, leaving the corners dark but the middle unaffected. Circles are easy. We can achieve an oval by pretending that our rectangular canvas is in fact square.

fixed ratio = height / width;
fixed2 middle = fixed2(0.5 * ratio, 0.5);

We can then check the distance from the center to the current fragment, adjusted for the rectangle’s ratio, to get its position inside a circle, which will appear as an oval thanks to the ratio.

fixed2 pos = fixed2(x * ratio, y);
fixed factor = length(pos - middle);
col.rgb -= factor * darkness;


You will probably want to adjust some values by multiplying them by various factors to make your vignette look the way you want.

That’s it for this part! In the next one (and I won’t be posting it right away as I don’t want to be spammy), we’ll be talking about the first of the two effects in the game that required extra cameras and render textures!

Stay tooned! ☆

Ludum Dare pro tips: polish up your Unity builds

Posted by (twitter: @rjhelms)
Friday, April 22nd, 2016 12:31 pm

We see a lot of Unity games every Ludum Dare. In the past, I’ve heard some griping about this, but let’s face it: Unity is perfect for game jams. It has its quirks and limitations, but when time is of the essence, you can’t beat a platform that’s easy to work in and lets you forget about the basics, and jump right in to seeing your idea in action.

However, this can be a bit of a mixed blessing: because Unity handles so much for you behind the scenes, there’s a few steps that are easy to forget about when it comes time to package up your game and submit it, but which go a long way to polishing up the impression your game makes on people rating it. Unity’s gotten a lot better at handling these things in a sane manner, especially with version 5.3, but it still benefits your game to give things a once-over.

If you’re not using Unity, feel free to ignore this post, but if you are – read on! I’m mostly going to be focusing on standalone builds, but it’s a good habit to get in the practice of thinking of these things even when you’re intending on making a web game.


How to get Youtubers to play your game?

Sunday, April 17th, 2016 7:50 am

Hello amazing devs and inspired new-comers.

I’m going to tell you how to get Let’s Players interested in your game. This is my personal experience as a Youtuber, therefore you can’t rely on just me, so check the comments section for input from other people. I will keep updating this post as I think of more things that could appeal to the general Youtube gamer community.

  • First off, you have a game. A great game, the greatest game. You made it yourself or with a team. It is important that this game either has SEVERE replayability or has at least 10 minutes worth of gameplay, this is usually the bare minimum. Many Youtubers create videos that are 10 to 20 minutes long, sometimes even more than that. If you make a game shorter than that you have a chance it’ll get stuffed in a compilation video with other small games, which is..not phenomenal.
  • Make it unique. You have the power to change the gaming industry with just one simple idea. Of course this means you have to get this idea and be lucky enough to get noticed. So don’t sweat it too much.
  • Be self-centered. No, really. Make a game about something you’re an expert at or have experienced first-hand. Be informative, or convey your feelings like a pro, this is art — the power to make a personal thing into something that everyone can relate to.
  • Make it have an easily searchable name. No one can find a game called ‘Cat’ on Youtube when there’s ‘Cat Videos’, ‘Cat Games’, ‘Cat Pictures’ and so on that people are looking for every day. SEO is important for Youtubers. The best thing to do is to make a word that doesn’t exist yet and something that Google doesn’t think is a typo of another word.
  • Include humor. This is not always a good selling point so learn from the pros and don’t just resort to toilet humor. Good examples of this are “There’s Poop In My Soup” or “Where’s My Mommy?”, some Youtubers avoid these games like the plague, others welcome them with open arms. Something something target audience. (.. On another note, sassy achievements and pop culture references are always nice if done well.)
  • Be controversial. Get into the topics that ruin friendships. Or don’t. Not recommended, but it’ll definitely have a chance of going viral. So be sure you’re anonymous if you’re gonna try this because you might ruin your life. Wait, DON’T DO THIS ONE. NO. BAD.
  • As a dev, be helpful and approachable. Great devs have great connections, make friends and build up a community, don’t shy away from your ‘competitors’.
  • BE THANKFUL. Even a little of this goes a long way, especially for the smaller Youtubers; you could mention their name somewhere or retweet & like their stuff on Twitter, or list them in your credits forever (Yes. Please.) Some Youtubers spend a lot of time with the devs to help them out, give suggestions and even provide free advertizing. They will remember your kindness. So get on their good side, they might make it to 10 million subscribers.
  • Give EXCLUSIVE keys or access. This might not be possible for a LD game jam, it’s attractive though.
  • Your graphics, story and or gameplay are MAGNIFICENT. Aw yiss graphics.
  • Add kittens. I mean, appeal to a niche. This might be RPG, visual novels, spin-offs, dank memes, sandbox games in space, anything you can think of, there’s a Youtube channel for it. Hopefully they will find you and play your game, or find them and invite them. Their viewers are your audience too.

Some technical stuff: (POLISH IT, haha)

  • Make sure your game has no bugs and doesn’t randomly close or freeze at any point.
  • USE EVERY OUTLET EVER ON THE INTERNET FOR GAMES EVER. A lot of people like web-based apps, others like to download files. There’s your game’s Ludum Dare page, there’s Gamejolt, there’s, and Miotigames is an upcoming similar website. There’s a bunch. Also, remember to make a nice set of accurate & captivating in-game previews.
  • If you made a heavy game, make it known. Some computers can’t handle it without freezing up.
  • MAKE AN ATTRACTIVE THUMBNAIL. The name and the image is the first thing people see. Make it appealing.
  • Make sure there’s checkpoints and that they’re in a good place (if any). Unless you intend on making a rage game. Grr.
  • If you have any experience with recording a game, it’ll be easier for you to put yourself in a Youtuber’s shoes. People with a dual monitor setup love it when they can play on one screen, record on the other. It might be difficult to achieve this, but make it possible if you know how to, or else don’t worry about it. If you have a single monitor, sometimes if you try to exit the game, it crashes and that’s really not cool. Prevent this if you can.
  • Approach big indie media influences (Kotaku, IndieGameReviewer, etc) while you’re working on it and when you’re done. They might be interested, write an article and boom. Success.
  • Be a good person. Spread motivation and positivity. Good energy is contagious.

I hope this helps someone stand out from the crowd and encourage you to come look up some smaller Youtubers to have play your amazing game.

My channel is right hereTwitter for updates & following, this was a video I did for the 34th Ludum Dare, and here‘s where you can request me (Tilde) to play your game for the channel. I hope you will all become very successful and well-known devs, may all the things in your life that you want to accomplish come true.

TL;DR: Make something cool.

Tamamystery behind the scenes

Posted by (twitter: @jezzamonn)
Monday, January 4th, 2016 4:38 pm

(First of all, I was originally concerned about not having enough votes when I started this post, but I’m all good now. That said, you should still play my game because it’s cool, but perhaps consider playing other games too, there’s still time!)

Tamamystery is a cutesy virtual pet game with nothing mysterious or nefarious involved at all. Nope. Why would you suggest that? Also it’s in Flash, so there’s no download or anything, which means you should totes play it!

[Click to play!]

You should totes play this game

You should totes play this game

Now that that’s out of the way, lets get to what this post is about: How I came to using papercraft for my Ludum Dare game!

The first thing you’ll notice is my freakish hands holding some type of paper-craft device. But it wasn’t always going to be this way…

Once I knew I was going to do something Tamagotchi related, I started off by doing the classic Google image search to get ideas.

So many Tamagotchis…

I also watched some Youtube videos to get an idea of how the Tamagotchi gameplay typically works. I also came across this Tamagotchi device with the little cake on the top, which I liked, and is why I added a bow on the top of my toy.

Apparantly if you're into Tamagotchi videos then you also want to know how to make a Crochet Mini Coin Pouch

Apparently if you’re into Tamagotchi videos then you also want to know how to make a Crochet Mini Coin Pouch

So I started creating the graphics of the game. I knew I wanted the game to look like a real device, and so it had to be fairly realistic looking. So I started in GIMP, first by taking photo of an actual Tamagotchi and adjusting the colours a bit. Using that as a basis, I was going to try to essentially redraw it in GIMP, but soon realised that it looked pretty bad, and was going to take a while to do.

(I’m not very good at this way of doing art)

So I ditched that idea. Then I remembered “Hey, I’ve done nice vector stuff in the past, right? I’ll do it in flash!”. I quickly realised that THAT was going nowhere too.

I was hoping the grid would help me make things even, but I couldn’t even get the curves to look right

So I drew this little place holder graphics and moved on. Also, here you can see I had the idea of having a background that’s permanently etched in the game, like some Tamagotchis and small toys do.


The “figuring out graphics is a problem for Future Jez” graphic

Then I tried to figure out what it would look like on paper, and an idea hit me: If I can make it look good on paper, why not just use that as the graphics as is! I have a whole bunch of cardboard in my room (I often use it for craft things for kids), I had everything I needed really.

Even though I wasn’t trying to make it look good, I felt like this sketch was better than my my actual graphics attempts

The actual process of making the toy wasn’t too hard, all I did was draw each piece lightly on the cardboard in pencil and then cut out the outline. I made sure to measure out a piece of cardboard with the same dimensions as the screen so that they lined up.

To put the pieces together, I used Blu-Tack, which is good for two reasons. Firstly, because it’s not permanent so you can move things around. Secondly, it makes the pieces stick out a bit, so you don’t just end up with a flat piece of cardboard, but instead have something with a bit of depth in it. Depending on how much Blu-Tack you use, you can adjust the height of each piece a little bit.

From side on, you can see the layers… kinda. That screen is coming of a little.

To get it into the game, I just took a photo on my phone, put it on the computer, and then skewed it a little bit to compensate for the slight angle I took it at. Then I scaled it to make sure the screen was a nice multiple of the game window size, in pixels, because otherwise you get awkward half-sized pixels or blurry edges due to anti-aliasing, and nobody wants that.

This one is nice in the way that you can clearly see that it’s made of paper, it’s not as obvious in the actual one.

It looked pretty good at this point, but I felt like it needed colour to look more like an actual device. So I added in the colour in GIMP by using layers with the “Multiply” blending mode. If you just transparently overlay a colour, you lose some of the contrast as all your shadows become lighter, whereas with multiplying, you preserve all the blacks as black, and keep the subtle paper texture better. That’s a little tip for ya.

Whee! Timelapses! (click to see the unsquished version)

And to add in the hands, I just took a photo of me holding it with one hand in the different positions, and photoshop’d that in with GIMP (am I allowed to say that?). It would’ve been nice to set up a tripod and take photos of me holding it in the different positions to get the shadows right, but that also would’ve taken a bit longer and would’ve meant I had to skew, scale and colour 4 photos instead of 1.


Whee timelapses again!

And that’s it! I had a lot of fun with using papercraft, I might try to make an all-papercraft game next time. I’ll probably need some better equipment though.

Thanks for reading! See ya later!


How to make crappy art

Posted by
Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 4:48 pm


UPDATE: Experience my poor art in a game, thanks to JonathanW!

I get peeved about things for no good reason a lot. One of those things is crappy art in games. I’m not really a great artist so I don’t know how to make good art, but I do know what I don’t like about bad art, so I decided to complain about it in the form of this exciting tutorial! I figure knowing what to avoid is at least as important as knowing what to do, so here is my guide to making really bad art for your game! (more…)

game makeing tutorial

Posted by
Friday, December 11th, 2009 6:59 pm

oh no LD haha its crappy game season

i hope the theme is snow because i know wher to get some LOL its in my back yard

i made a tutorial to help people I hope you like it

  1. get an idea. like rolling snow balls
  2. make a clear simple goal from it. “make the biggest snowball” isnt clear because you dont know biggest than what? i will use “roll up all the snow”. other good ones are: get to the exit without dieing, eat all the apples, kill the evil boss. if its not simple the game will be confusing
  3. add obstacles to get in the way. if the snowball is too big it will be too hard to push so thats my obstacle (you can only push it downhill). it will be a puzzle game to rollu p all the snow by finding the right way to roll your balls LOL
  4. make sure its not boring. if your game is about shoting enemys and theres no reason not to shoot them then its a crap game because “should I shoot him?” is a boring choice. good decisions make you give up something because fun is when you make risky decisions in your life. so the risk in my game is that rolling a ball makes it too big and then you lose the puzle
  5. test it by makeing a simple version on your paper so you know its fun. delete all your boring ideas, you mihgt have a lot of them so dont fall in love with your turd game haha. look at my game that i made in like 10 seconds while i typed this (my camera string is not part of it tho):prototype
    i also wrote down the rules which i edited until it was fun to play. can you get all the snow??? you move snowballs up down left or right, except against an arrow, unless they rolled into it. balls dont roll downhill automatically, you have to push them down. also its supposed to say “10 or more” snow. i already started that level it was kinda tricky
  6. now you can add powerups very carefully but dont forget to make them intersting tradeofs and dont add them if they make the game boring. i could add a rule to remove one snow by melting it with pee but I havent played the game enough to know if it would be any more fun also its kinda gross

so now you can make your game. but watch out for these highly important tips:

  • design while youre sleepy at night or just got up because thats when your brain is the best at creativity and art
  • write down your ideas so you dont forget them when youre programming
  • if youre not sure about an idea, do not do it. simpler is better.
  • finish the game in 24 hours, because it always takes twice as long as you expect

good luck making your crap game, everybody! (plz vote this 5 stars if you liked it)

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