Posts Tagged ‘imphenzia’

Fan art of LD37

Posted by
Friday, January 13th, 2017 8:21 pm

Today my son who is 6 years old came home from school and he had a drawing with him that he had made today. It was heartwarming to see that he had actually drew my LD37 game from memory =)

aiden-drawing

My 6yo son’s fan art =)

This is the first fan art I have ever received and I think it was a great representation of the two evil astronauts that are doing nothing to help, the air powerups, the piping, the player with his backpack and helmet, the compacted trash boxes, the light beams at the far right, and he has even included an item from the post-LD game that I prototyped a few days following the compo (interactive objects.)

LD37_Screenshot_03

screenshot from the compo entry

My son showed quite a lot of interest during the LD-weekend and it was great to see his reactions when finding bugs and when I showed him the different mechanics. My other two children are younger so the did not show the same interest (yet?) but it was of course great having them around as well. Hope you are all having a good year so far!

SPACE JUNK – post LD plans

Posted by
Monday, December 26th, 2016 5:33 pm

I’ve received a lot of positive comments and feedback from Space Junk which has inspired me to polish the game and aim for release on Android, iOS and probably the desktop computer platforms as well. I need a game to see how the process works of releasing on mobile markets and this could be a good game for that I figure.

So now, post LD, I have started to fix a few things like improving performance (combining real-time shadows with lightmaps) and tightening up controls to remove lag etc. I will also be adding a lot of content to the stream of junk. Not only things to avoid, but also interactive objects:

SpaceJunkPostLD4

Adding content in the junk stream is a really good way to continue to learn Blender modeling and character animation. The more I get to practice that the more I’ll be able to speed up my future LD games and hopefully the repetition will make the skills stick so I don’t have to relearn every 4 months =)

I also have to learn (and test) how to monetize games these days as well (my days of shareware 16 years ago appears not to be viable any more? hmmm… it was outdated even then come to think of it =) But I have figured out a way, I hope, that the game is fully playable from the start, for free, and then play time will gather experience points to unlock characters junk and other stuff – all doable by playing or accelerated through integrated ads or realistic (read super cheap) IAP.

If you haven’t tried Space Junk yet, it’s available here: http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-37/?action=preview&uid=112319

Thanks again for a great LD and I hope you all are having a good Christmas and that your new year will be packed with creative game development!

Stefan / Imphenzia

Space Junk – Postmortem

Posted by
Thursday, December 15th, 2016 12:52 pm

Three months ago I participated in my first Ludum Dare. It was was a very educational experience which I explained in more detail in my LD36 postmortem. One of the key takeaways was that I would either A) ensure that my wife and kids could be on a weekend trip somewhere, or B) limit the time I spend on my game entry so it wouldn’t make me anti-social during the weekend. This time around my family would be home during the weekend so I went for option B which I looked upon as a challenge itself.

PREPARATIONS

For a couple of weeks following LD36 I continued to practice Blender modelling, texturing, rigging, and animation. Blender was my weakest skill during LD36 and much time was spent looking at tutorials and troubleshooting my lack of skills during the competition itself. I box modeled some spaceships and rigged characters. I textured them as fast as I could. I managed to push time down to modelling and texturing a low poly spaceship in about 15 minutes. I wish I would have kept using Blender frequently up until LD37 but I started a new full time consultancy assignment and I also had to dedicate time to the house renovation so after September I did not keep active in Blender, unfortunately. I had to look at tutorials during LD37 too to properly use the Rigify addon and I also had problems with animations.

LD36 also taught me not to underestimate the time it takes to create the UI and game manager to maintain game states. I spent some time in September to touch up on some fundamental game states to have that clear in my mind for the next time around.

Finally, the evening before the event was about to start I verified that the OBS screen recorder and all the applications launched and worked as expected.

EXECUTION

Ludum Dare starts at 3am Swedish time so I went to bed at 10:30pm the night before and set my alarm for 2:50am. I snoozed for 10 minutes so after 4 hours and 30 minutes of sleep I woke up, made a cup of coffee and sat at the computer to find out the theme; One Room.

GAME DEV SESSION 1 (approx 03:20 – 08:00)

This time I started straight away to program the game state framework code and I created a new truetype font. This gave me time to think of ideas for the game while creating content that would be necessary regardless of what game I would make.

I did not have a clear game in mind but I had a vague feeling that I wanted to make something in a space hangar (one room) having a flash back to Space Quest 3 where you wake up in a junk room on a spaceship.

I proceeded to launch Blender and started to model a primitive astronaut. I like the anonymous look of them. Following a short box modelling phase, I debated whether to use the Rigify addon or manually create bones for the rig. I decided to go for Rigify because it makes it easier to animate the character but the downside is that the rig becomes very complex which takes some time to wrap your head around. I wasn’t sure if this would bite me later on in the process.

I continued to drink coffee and animate the character with a cartoonish walk cycle and some basic idle and jumping animations. I created the animation by googling for walk cycle animation references and manually setting the main poses to transition between with key frames. I verified that it would work to import into Unity. So far so good. I was very pleased with the arcade-feel of the walk cycle.

My son woke up around 8am and came in to greet me, excited to see what was going on. We had breakfast together and then the two little girls and my wife woke up.

The first session came to a close at around 8:30am on the Saturday morning.

Status after session 1

Status after session 1

AFK SESSION 1 (approx 08:00 – 20:00)

Since I did not dedicate this weekend entirely to Ludum Dare, I set off to do stuff that I normally do on weekends. First up was to ride motocross which is what I try to do every Saturday with a friend of mine. It takes about 30 minutes to load the bike on the trailer and pack the gear followed by an hour’s drive. It had started to snow and the roads were icy so it took longer than normal. When I drive I tend to be able to focus a lot on thinking about gamedev and it is something about not being able to use a computer that allows the extra mental focus. I spent the hour drive figuring out two game designs to choose from and an endless runner inside a room with a conveyor belt was one of the ideas. Since it was icy I had to start by changing my rear tire to an ice tire and then I rode and hung out until 2 pm before heading back home. More icy roads and then the process of cleaning the bike, and myself for that matter =) In the afternoon I went with my wife and kids to go Christmas shopping, cut my hair, and we ate out. Then the drive back home and tucking the children in for the night.

AFK Session 1

AFK Session 1

GAME DEV SESSION 2 (approx 19:30 – 23:45)

I got back with working on the game and added some of the game-play elements.

Status after session2

Status after session2

AFK SESSION 2 (approx 00:00 – 13:30)

Feeling really tired I went to bed around midnight. I had only managed to get 8-9 hours of game development in and I had doubts that I would be able to make a complete game to the level I had hoped. I woke up at 9 am. My wife had already been up for some hours so she headed to bed to get some rest and I spent the morning playing with the kids and tidying up the house. After lunch when my wife was back in action I got cracking with the final session.

AFK Session 2

AFK Session 2

GAME DEV SESSION 3 (approx 13:30-02:59)

At this point I had most of the game yet to do. The game play was very primitive with a few test blocks and no real idea how to progressively build the flow of blocks to make it interesting. I came up with the idea of adding air for the astronaut and running forward and jumping consumes air. I created some more interesting level content in Blender to add some visuals to the game. I made progress by adding the side pistons, the particle field to prevent escaping the room, and some different death mechanics. I was becoming more and more happy with the progress and by 9 pm I had most of the game completed except music, sound effects, build testing, and some final polish.

I began to make the music and I wasn’t too happy with the direction that the music was taking but I had no time to start over so I salvaged what I could when making the menu and game music. The sound effects are primitive vocal effects into my mic that I warped and twisted a bit.

At 2 am the game was pretty much finished. I attempted to compile for PC (which worked fine) but the WebGL build resulted in the astronaut being black / having no texture. I thought it was a lighting issue after I searched the Internet a bit but in the end I noticed that the astronaut texture was 1024×1024 and all the others were 512×512. When reduced the astronaut texture to 512×512 it worked and the game looked fairly close in the browser to the PC version.

I compiled the PC and WebGL versions, packaged the Unity project, and uploaded everything to my web server. I submitted the game to the Ludum Dare site at 02:59.

I was very pleased to have completed the game within the time frame and under the circumstances. Knowing I had to get up before 7am the next day for my day-job I still made an effort to tweet a few tweets and create a gameplay video and uploading it to YouTube. This is my normal master plan for marketing; A YouTube video and a couple of tweets =)

Status after session 3 (game finished)

Status after session 3 (game finished)

AFK SESSION 3 (03:30 – onwards)

I slept for three and a half hours and drove off to work… business as usual only more tired than usual.

RESULT

I was happy with the game all things considered. The tactile feel of the game could be better and some more variation of junk, and maybe traps, would have been fun to add.

LESSONS LEARNED

  • Don’t aim too high if time is limited.
  • Accept that failure IS an option when attempting to balance LD and normal weekend activities.
  • Start the game state machine and framework of the game while thinking about the theme.
  • When balancing life and LD, prioritize to do time consuming things early on, it gives you time to reflect on the game mechanics when you’re away from the computer (for me, driving for 3 hours on the Saturday gave me plenty of time to mentally explore ideas without the pressure of coding and content creation.)
  • Consider simplifying UI if elements are not needed. I ended up scrapping a main menu with the option to just start playing by pressing a key (the player avatar was introduced in the “menu”/title screen.
  • Prioritize family over gamedev, but focus immensely on gamedev at timeslots I CAN allocate.
  • Prioritize gameplay over music – you can always skip music if necessary (even if music is something I feel strongly about =)

WHAT ABOUT LD38?

Yes – I will attend again. If it will be a dedicated run or another shared weekend like this will yet have to be decided!

SPACE JUNK – Ludum Dare 37 Game Page (Play WebGL + Windows Download)

GAME PLAY VIDEO

TIME-LAPSE VIDEO

FINDING BUGS VIDEO

Finding bugs and my son’s reactions

Posted by
Tuesday, December 13th, 2016 6:59 pm

I stumbled upon some bugs during the LD37 gamedev process. Who doesn’t? =)

Here are some moments that I’ll remember and I thought I’d share them. Having my son finding it just as amusing as I am makes these moments and memories very special to me :)

My final game can be played here (WebGL + Windows)

Time Lapse Video

Posted by
Tuesday, December 13th, 2016 1:03 am

Hey, hope you are all recovering from the weekend :)

I added a time lapse video of the making of my compo entry Space Junk:

You can play the game (Web browser and PC download) here:

SPACE JUNK by Imphenzia

LD37_Screenshot_01

 

Have a continued great week!

 

Space Junk [Room] submitted

Posted by
Sunday, December 11th, 2016 9:40 pm

It’s 3:33 am here now and in 3 hours I will get up for my day-job. Great :)

I am happy to have completed my second Ludum Dare. This time I spent 20 hours (instead of 32 last time) for reasons mentioned in my last postmortem; I didn’t want LD to make me totally anti-social during the weekend. So I managed to ride motocross with a mate of mine like I normally do on Saturdays. Went Christmas shopping and ate out with my wife and 3 kids. Got a haircut. Played with the kids and cleaned the house (normal Sunday stuff.) I had doubts that I would finish a game in time but the last 12 hour session did the trick.

LD37_Screenshot_01

I will be submitting a full postmortem again with time lapse and deeper assessments of the good and bad of my LD37 experience.

You can play SPACE JUNK (WebGL and PC Download) here:

SPACE JUNK by Imphenzia

Have a great week everyone!

Stefan / Imphenzia

 

Ancient Tech To Return – Postmortem

Posted by
Wednesday, August 31st, 2016 1:29 am

Nearly two days have passed since I submitted my entry and I’ve had some time to reflect over the experience.

This was my first Ludum Dare and the first jam I’ve participated in. I have created a few games in the past (http://games.imphenzia.com) but making games have always came after most of the other priorities I have. In addition to working as an IT consultant by day, I have a wife and 3 kids and I have a small company called “Imphenzia” where I mainly create games assets for sale (music, sound effects, and space related graphics.)

Since mid-2016 I’ve wanted to participate in LD but for every event up until now I’ve either been abroad or occupied in other ways (my worst excuse is my mother-in-law coming over from England for a visit – that would have been a perfect time to participate if you ask me, but my wife had other plans =)

So then, finally I was able to participate in LD36, but I didn’t decide until the night before the event. I was somewhat reluctant to enter because normally I try to stay away from the computer room on weekends, at least while the kids are awake, but I figured one weekend would be OK in the end.

Expectations

I expected that I would finish a game in time for the deadline as long as I set a realistic bar for myself. I still had plans for the weekend that I was going ahead with – my nephew’s birthday party, riding motocross, and visiting a friend for a dinner.

Preparations

  • I did a brief check of my environment (Unity, Blender, Photoshop, Cubase, Sound Forge) – all was working as expected.
  • I set up OBS for screen and webcam recording to create a timelapse of the entire event
  • I ensured that the sound card mixer settings and OBS recording captured Desktop Audio, Mic Audio, and ASIO Audio separate should I decide to break out parts of the timelapse
  • I tidied up my computer desktop and folder structure.
  • I started up Blender and realized I have no memory of even the most basic of commands, workflows, or UI (I have more of a 3DSMax background and want to switch over for licensing reasons)
  • I told my wife and kids that I would be focused and probably had to do a lot of “fun work” during the weekend (the kids are 2, 5, 6, so they don’t really grasp what it means =)
  • Refreshed myself on the rules of LD compo
  • I live in Sweden so LD starts at 3AM. I went to bed at 20:00 with the kids and set my alarm for 02:00.
  • I woke up at 01:00 in excitement and couldn’t sleep again so I went to doublecheck my computer etc… Turns out it was running at 100% CPU (Windows Problem Reporting) – I rebooted and the computer came back WITHOUT a mouse cursor. Panicked. Unplugged my Wacom Tablet and Mouse. Restarted. Sorted. Phew.

Breakdown of acts

I sat in 5 sessions

  • Session 1: 6 hours
    • Planning (20 minutes)
    • Outlining project in Unity
    • Creating player character in Blender (Model, Unwrap, Armature/Rig, Skinning, Animations)
    • Relearning Blender + watching tutorials on bones, rigging, animation, etc =)
  • Session 2: 3 hours
    • Importing character and controlling/animating it in Unity
  • Session 3: 7 hours
    • Creating guard character in Blender (Model, Unwrap, Armature/Rig, Skinning, Animations)
    • Importing guard character and controlling/animating it in Unity
    • Modeling technology artifacts, chests in Blender and importing to Unity
    • Implementing game mechanics of the game in Unity
    • Implementing random spawning of level
  • Session 4: 7 hours
    • Created GUI, and menu screens
    • Created GUI graphics in Photoshop
    • Created game state machine to control Menu, Play, Win, Lose, Pause, Resume, states etc.
    • Play testing
    • Created the first sound effects (recorded with mic at desk and modified in Sound Forge
    • Started on the first music track of the game in Cubase
  • Session 5: 9 hours
    • Completed composing the first music track and implemented it in the game.
    • Created the bulk of sound effects (recorded at the desk) – bird tweets, guard responses, chest open/close, UI clicks, etc.
    • Implementing Music/SFX volume controls and storing user configuration
    • More play testing
    • Time left – bonus activities:
      • Updated main title graphics
      • Composed an alternative music track and implemented music toggle in menu
      • Added tree variations and tweaked lighting and colors
    • Build (with multiple tests) packaging the game and Unity project for download – uploading it to my site
    • Submitted everything to LD36
    • Panicked – did I miss anything? Did I submit correctly?
  • Everything was submitted and finalized at 02:30 Swedish time, 30 minutes before the deadline.

All in all I used 32 out of the 48 hours to make the game.

What Went Wrong

  • I should have trained myself in Blender before so I would have been comfortable with what I was doing
  • I ran into a bone rigging/armature problem in Blender, especially using pole target for leg IK which I decided to dump and not use after 2 hours.
  • I ran into another problem in blender when the bones were affecting unweighted vertices which warped the mesh incorrectly. I decided to redo everything again and I started to regret going down the path of a platformer.
  • Quite a few bugs appeared that took time to solve, e.g. coming to an empty chest the player would get an item from a previous chest. Solving bugs took longer than expected.
  • Sitting in a room where I have 3 kids (aged 2,5,6) coming in to play, chat, hug, cry, fight, etc. is in many ways great – but it’s not the way to do it for something like LD. As I had to crunch I grew bored of myself telling them that I can’t do this or can’t do that. I prioritized playing with them for a few hours every day, reading bed time stories, and eating together etc. Still, I felt that I was pushing them away or staying focused “in my zone” a lot of the time to stay on track.
  • Our youngest daughter fell ill with fever and pains on the sunday.
  • I didn’t go ride motocross on the Sunday as I had planned.
  • I didn’t go to the friends dinner party (this was due to the daughter being ill since we were committed to this earlier)
  • I started to feel pressure about 3 hours before the deadline. Not that the game wasn’t complete – but that I’d mess up something during last bits of tweaking to break the game, or that I would lose internet connection for the submisson etc. =)

What Went Well

  • The game was completed as planned
  • I was happy with the visual and overall appearance of the game
  • I felt the game lives up to some of the undocumented design goals I had in mind:
    • The game can be completed in less than 10 minutes
    • One can aim to beat their own best time of the game and it remembers the best time (for replayability)
    • It should be a pleasant and peaceful environment
    • Non-violent (I like violent games too, but I didn’t want this to be one =)
    • The game trains your memory – you need to remember where you placed items in which chests when you need them
    • The game has sound effects and multiple music tracks in it
    • The characters are animated to a reasonable level
  • I did get to spend time with my family despite committing to this for such an intense event
  • I faithfully stuck to all the rules and completing everything from absolute 0.
  • I submitted the game in time (and the submission process was not problematic)

Key Takeaways

  • I need to refresh my skills, especially in Blender, well ahead of time
  • I will avoid having any other commitments during the LD weekend.
  • It was a fun experience while it lasted
  • I don’t want to do it again with my wife and kids home, I want them to have a plan for the weekend for multiple reasons:
    • I want to be able to focus,
    • and more importantly I don’t want to push them away when I’m in my focus zone.
  • My son told me once during the LD “Dad, I don’t like it when you are so focused on something” – and that hit home with me. I also watched the timelapse and realize what they see a lot of the time – me starring at the computer and my mind is really dedicated to solving problems or with creative tasks. This is why I say that it was a fun experience “while it lasted” because then I was so focused on it. Afterwards I had time to reflect. At the same time, it taught me a lot so on the Monday I dedicated a lot of play time with the kids and made myself not look at a phone or a computer during their awake time. I did the same on Tuesday and I will do the same today! =)

Would I do it again?

  • Yes, but only with the key takeaways strongly in mind – especially the social aspects.

The Game

If you’re still reading… thanks =) I should probably show the game as well.

It’s called “Ancient Tech To Return” (can’t say I was thrilled about the theme)  and it’s a top down isometric platform game. You spawn on a patch of land among trees and chests as someone who traveled back in time. Your goal is to get to a time teleport but in your way stands 5 guards on a path from the floating island. The guards each want a ancient technology artifacts that are hidden in the chests. You can only carry one item at a time so when you search a chest it’ll put whatever you had in that chest once you get something else. You have to train your memory to remember where you saw/placed items when the next guard may need it. Try to beat your own time!

I welcome you to play the game:

PLAY ANCIENT TECH TO RETURN (WEB + WINDOWS)

Gameplay Footage:

Screenshots:

Ancient Tech To Return

Ancient Tech To Return

Ancient Tech To Return

Timelaps of the entire making-of with session and act descriptions:

 

 

My first LD – game overview

Posted by
Monday, August 29th, 2016 2:52 pm

I am about to start writing a longer postmortem post. Today I’ve had some time to reflect on the experience and I was extremely focused during the actual 48 hours that little else could occupy my mind.

Over all, I am really happy with how it turned out. I finished my game a I had planned it with about 3 hours to spare which gave me some time to tweak a few things and polish it with a credits screen etc. Being my first competition, and even first game jam, I was not experienced with what the pressure would be like, but I did have an idea how far away from completion you are when the first prototype is up running – basically the whole game remains to be done at that point even if it resembles the end product a fair amount =)

My design goals were:

  • relaxing and peaceful game
  • simplistic game
  • a game that can be completed in < 10 minutes
  • offer the ability to beat your own personal best score
  • provide some fun for all ages
  • provide some exercise for your memory (it’s scary how easy you forget where the items are)

GamePlay Video:

Screenshots:

 

SCREENSHOT1

SCREENSHOT2

SCREENSHOT3

Making-of Timelaps Video:

…postmortem coming up.

The making of Imphenzia Ancient Tech To Return

Posted by
Monday, August 29th, 2016 8:33 am

Today is the day after completing my first Ludum Dare.

I put together a timelapse video of the entire process of making my game, here it is:

I will also write a proper postmortem. This experience was valuable for me in many ways that I want to put down in a detailed post.

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