Ludum Dare 31
December 5th-8th, 2014

Posts Tagged ‘journal’

Dude Launch Post-mortem (Ludum Dare 30 compo)

Posted by
Saturday, August 30th, 2014 11:40 am

This was my first Ludum Dare and actually first game ever. I had a blast developing and playing my game, so I thought I’d contribute a small write-up of how things went.

DUDE LAUNCH -- launch dudes at the moon! Includes 3 game modes: campaign, endless, and "infinite dudes."

DUDE LAUNCH — launch dudes at the moon! Includes 3 game modes: campaign, endless, and “infinite dudes.”

What I used:

  • Code: Haxe (language, targeted Flash), HaxeFlixel (library), Flashdevelop (IDE)
  • Art: Paint.NET
  • Sounds: bfxr
  • Music: Autotracker-Bu

What went right:

  • Theme/idea — I loved the theme and was inspired to draw from Italian author Italo Calvino’s short story “The Distance of the Moon” (from Cosmicomics) for my game. The premise is that the moon comes extremely close to the surface of the Earth, and all you need to climb onto it is a boat and a ladder. If you aren’t familiar with it, then you may recognize La Luna, a Pixar short that was based on Calvino’s work.

    A still from the Pixar short animation La Luna, based on Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino

    A still from the Pixar short animation La Luna, based on Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino

  • Central mechanic — I wanted something arcade-y, so skill-based and fast. Something fun. While brainstorming, I remembered an old DOS game called Night Raid (maybe Night Raid 2?), where you shoot bullets from a little bunker to stop parachuting dudes from landing and invading. This fit brilliantly with my initial idea: instead of shooting bullets, you launch dudes (hence the game’s name) from the ladder, who have to jump the gulf of space and use gravity to land on the moon)

    An old DOS game called Night Raid

    An old DOS game: Night Raid

  • Programming — I’ve been working on a hobby game in HaxeFlixel (nowhere near done), and I know programming already, so this was not too challenging for me. No bugs were found, as far as I can tell.
  • Music, sounds — the content generation tools recommended by the Ludum Dare community are amazing! They create assets almost instantaneously, which helped my game feel way more polished. Autotracker-Bu is next to magic, and I actually plan to sit down and peruse its source thoroughly.
  • Art — I am not a pixel artist. I decided to embrace my programmer art, and use a simple style (again, reminiscent of Night Raid). I stayed consistent in my style, so I think I pulled it off :) — the best part is of course the dudes themselves.
  • Juice — though I could use more juice, all the extra little things worked well. The pretentiousness of juxtaposing a Calvino quote on a Flash game works well on two levels: it heightens the silliness of “Dude Launch” and serves to set up the setting and theme of the game. Other little things include the particle emitters (explosions), level transitions, and the multiple game modes.

What (almost) went wrong:

  • Controls? — I say with a question because the whole point of the game is the wonky QWOP-like controls. If the ladder was rigid and the boat had pixel-perfect movement, what would be the challenge? Still, some people complained about it, though many more “got it” and loved it. Another person requested key-remapping, which I think is also a little much given this is a Flash game (can you remap QWOP keys?) and a game made in 48 hours.
  • UI / feedback — no one commented on this, but I feel it was a failure. If I had more time and skills at designing UI, I would’ve presented feedback to the user differently than just have “debug”-type info splashed in the upper screen. I think a bar at the bottom tracking dudes left would’ve been better. Also, dudes could’ve changed color to reflect their velocity, so players could better understand why they died or not.
  • Time – simply put, I went up until the last hour working on polishing my game, removing comments from the code, packing it all up, hosting it. Putting things like music (!) in at the last minute was risky but I am so glad I powered through and kept working. Next time I’ll have better pacing.
  • Scope — originally, the idea was to have dudes walk around on the moon then attempt a return. After the first couple hours of day 1, I knew there was no way I could get that to work. Thankfully, having dudes explode when they hit the moon or sea was fun enough by itself, so I had a better-scoped game than I realized! The lesson here is: pare your game down to the lowest level of workable gameplay and make it really good.

Overall, I’d say my game was successful. I set out to make a simple, weird, funny game that people found both amusing and fun. Most of “what went wrong” didn’t really go wrong — it almost did. In fact, it came out way more polished and bug free than I would’ve anticipated. But most important of all: the players. The feedback from players has been positive and most have embraced the ridiculousness of the game and controls. It’s really satisfying putting a game out there and seeing others enjoy it.

Thanks to all players and your input!

Thanks for being a really great community. Looking forward to more Ludum Dare compos/jams in the future!

P.S. – my favorite comment on the game: “Very creative and intuitive control scheme. This could be expanded into a full game with a bit more story, obstacles etc. It’s really fun as it is and there’s something strangely beautiful about seeing a host of little naked dudes caught up between the moon and the sea – Calvino would have approved. :)

Musical Trade Route Post-Mortem

Posted by
Thursday, August 28th, 2014 2:04 pm

First off, this Ludum Dare has been a lot of fun. It is fortunate and unfortunate that so many people have participated. The good side is that you get such a vast array of talents all coming to the same place. The unfortunate side is that you can’t play all of the games. The ones I have seen so far have been awesome. Great job everyone!

CW MTR logo

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-30/?action=preview&uid=34411

So Musical Trade Routes… It was a little crazy putting this thing together. I am sure everyone feels the same way about their own games :) I am actually shocked at the positive feedback I have been receiving. All of the cool stuff that people seem to like were afterthought things that I threw together in the twilight hours of the competition. I wanted to make my game have an abstract approach to the theme – so far most have not noticed it. I wanted to connect the worlds of poetry and music together. As I knew this would be an abstract theme, I placed in a more obvious connecting trade routes between worlds.

Development:

With only a couple of hours to plan on day 1, I could not think of anything to do with this theme. I came up with some views on how to address the theme and posted them around, but that was the extent. I went to bed a little sad that I would not be participating. When I woke up the next morning, I decided to start looking into linking poetry and music and to make a little space game, just so I would have something to submit. The plan was to work on planning each for a few hours and then see which seemed like a better path. As I continued doing both, the idea of a piano ship evolved. I quickly made some piano music and did my best to make a flight simulation. I had never done either one before, so I am extremely happy with how they came out, even though it is not perfect.

CWspacefiring

I then began to create planets. I was going to leave half of them unnamed and just white circles. Before moving on I convinced myself to just finish naming and coloring so I could say something was done. I threw in some lines between the planets and made it so each planet (0-9) would display its own lines to connecting planets. I finished up the day by making a “difficulty” variable that I assigned to each planet.

CWstarmap2

Sunday morning I woke up and just started banging out some poetry. Haikus seemed like the easiest way to go. All I need was 120 syllables and all ten planets were done:

CWpoetry

I started working on enemies, but just quickly made some meteors. I decided to get done the space combat system. Simplest solution was random spawns based on the difficulty variable. I felt this would make it more interesting because it might interrupt whatever song people were playing and create a new song entirely. I got a chance to play test it quite a few times, so difficulty was adjusted here and there. A few of the polish things that I was hoping to add were a hard mode, music playback and a sonnet. Those who have played it might not have realized that the title screen was a sonnet :)

CWTitle

The good:
Music playback – This has been a favorite for most of the people who have played the game. At the end of each level, you get to hear the music that you played while in flight.
The poetry – Not many have commented on the poetry, but I am actually happy with how it came out. Also at the win screen, you get to read the planet’s Haiku while your own music is playing in the background.

The bad:
Enemies – I wanted so bad to have a lot of enemies, space ships, curving asteroids, other music coming in. That would have been so much fun.
Free Piano – I added this in post-comp. I received feedback early on that a more realistic piano would have been better. In the post comp, I added in more key sets for playing and opened the option for multiple key strokes at the same time. I have not taken the time to make a music playback for free-piano mode, though.
Graphics – I am not an artist. I know the graphics were not fantastic. :)

Future of the game:
I totally want to continue this project. I think it would do well in the mobile market. I even tried putting it on the google play store (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ceosol.MTR). Its free to download. If anything, at least you’ll have a little music creator on your phone or tablet :)
I want to add more to the piano, for sure. Maybe you could swipe left or right to go up and down octaves. You could purchase new ships that have different instruments.
A suggestion was also made with the free piano mode that spawn times could be decreased and you would have faster action happening.

Thank you again to everybody who has tried it out. I was so burnt out at the end that I was thinking the game was absolutely horrible. I am delighted by all of the feedback, good and bad. Keep it coming!

Saman – Post Mortem

Posted by
Monday, August 25th, 2014 1:05 pm

It’s finally finished!

Saman is my entry to LD30.

Now that it’s over and done with, I’ll talk about what I think of the process and the finished product.

 

A Summary

The gameplay of Saman involves you controlling a rook (a creature made of rocks) who is defenseless by himself. He does, however, acquire gems from the depths and has learned by throwing them into the ceiling, he generates targeted earthquakes to save him from vile creatures that would do him harm. This aspect of the game involves you avoiding obstacles, (much like a classic arcade game) and feeding gems to the overworld.

On the overworld, a blue man is finding gems scattered outside of his home and invests them in things and buildings which will increase his fortune. This portion of the game is an incremental-style game where you spend the gems you collect on things which grow your fortune/score.

Both of these things happen simultaneously and if the rook dies, the game ends.

 

Theme

hated this theme. Before the competition started I brainstormed some concepts based on what the themes COULD be and I literally left this one blank, thinking this is one out of like 20 possible themes, how likely is it that it gets chosen. It ends up I was in the minority because it seemed A LOT of people picked this. I felt it was not quite as open to interpretation as others on the list, but whatever – I went with it.

After realizing the theme I took a few hours to think about concepts. I threw away things I thought would be over done (platformers with portals, space stuff, etc.) and started thinking about symbiotic relationships or alternate realities. The idea of a spirit world and something taking place in a graveyard appealed to me, but I couldn’t get a strong handle on the direction I wanted to go in. I had a sort of random muppets/fraggle rock inspiration and took that direction with the art style and concept where there are things who dwell underground and above ground, and their worlds interact somehow, but didn’t know much more. I was a fan of old arcade games like donky kong and frogger and somehow wanted to implement those ideas into the game. I also liked incremental games, and some of my other concepts had those as a primary mechanic, so had that in the back of my mind.

 

Time Management

This was my first LD48 so I knew I didn’t want to be TOO ambitious, but I also feel I work/iterate quickly so I wasn’t sure where to draw the line. I just started making SOMETHING and tweaked until it felt ok. The last day I woke up around 9AM I think and didn’t stop working until around 2 or 3PM, to finally get something to eat. My eyes were burning from staring at the screen non-stop and I just wanted to get the stupid thing finished – adding sounds and menus at the last minute. I was really burnt out in the end, despite me not really messing up my schedule too badly.

 

What I’m Proud Of

I don’t consider myself a good animator, but sometimes the animations turn out better than you expect, and some of them for this game fall into that category. I think aesthetically the game is pretty good and the core concept is sound. I’m also proud of the fact that I finished and released something I’m not 100% proud of. I will probably be my harshest critic, and I feel that’s ok and important for moving forward and releasing good content.

 

What I’m Not Proud Of

The sound and music was very much a last minute thing. I found a sound generator at tones.wolfram.com and was pleased after generating/tweaking some weird sounds. The music I’m ok with, despite it being pretty strange. The sound effects, however, are another story. I used bfxr for the sound effects and was in a rushed panic to get them in and didn’t have a plan to implement volume control. After putting them in and doing some final test runs, I found the sfx so annoying I put a mute button in place instead of replacing them (out of laziness and lack of time).

The concept I came up with was ok, I felt. There is a saying that goes something like ‘there is no such thing as a bad idea, only bad execution.’ I find that to be mostly true, and I’m not 100% convinced my execution was where I’d like it to be, even for 48 hours. I blame this partially on me having no real direction, and trying to add depth where it maybe didn’t belong. The end result is a game where you’re basically playing two games at once. this, thematically, is ok, but in practice is a bit weird. Partially I think this is because it’s not something I’ve seen done before, so there’s no real gauge on what it should look like. For example, there is no reason in the game world that the rook dying would cause the incremental portion of the game to stop – but mechanically there needs to be some incentive to work on that portion of the game and keep him alive. I also feel the two halves of the game should be expanded and have more depth, but 48 hours limits your ability to do this quite a bit.

 

The story and instructions are non-existent. I had art and a concept built out where the rook was taught by his mother that the gods absorb the power of the gems, and call down forces to stop their enemies. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to really make that part of the game. In addition, there are basically no instructions, other than the controls which you can access as you’re playing. This game has enough depth to where I feel even rudimentary instructions really are necessary, but it’s not something that often occurs to me, as you’re testing your game over and over (and obviously know how to play it). I opted to put some instructions on the itch.io page.

In the End

All in all, it was a fun test of my creativity, but this experience has left me feeling like I’ve released something unfinished, that I’m not entirely proud of – which is the nature of the beast for LD48 hours, I suppose.

Posted by
Sunday, August 24th, 2014 12:26 pm

More poetry, this time I made my title screen into a sonnet. I am seriously getting loopy here :)

CWTitle

Drempt – Progress #6 Music!

Posted by
Sunday, August 24th, 2014 11:17 am

Music is finished and added into the game.

 

Here is the current title screen for your enjoyment:

Drempt Title

 

Previous progress post

ROFL (*weep*)

Posted by
Sunday, August 24th, 2014 7:36 am

12h of diddling around and this is all i have:
ld30_screenshot
literally, i have no idea how to implement the theme.

Yesterday i did basically only the setup of phaser and loading of spritemaps + animations, hoping that today i’d have an idea what to do.

Then this morning i found out that the physics system i was using was not the right one for the job so i had to switch to another one with no idea how to do that.

Now i am exactly where i was yesterday (well, this morning at 3) and still no idea.

Guess i will just make some j&r proof of concept and just try to squeeze the theme in there :(

This sucks because for me doing something interesting with the theme is always high on the list, but this time…

nothing…

Oh shhh** I overslept!

Posted by
Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 10:47 pm

Noooo… I set the alarm to 4am… aaaand it’s 7am. 3 hours lost! Now quick breakfast and let’s continue in development! Good luck everyone, with finishing your games!

Drempt – Progress #5 Audio and Video!

Posted by
Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 9:33 pm

I have spent all of today getting over my aural creative block! This video is meant to show off the audio in my game. Tell me what you think about it, I’m not quite sold on the sound effects.

Also, try to see if you can start spotting which enemies are dreams and which aren’t! (Hint, some turn faster than others).

Previous Progress Post

End of first 24 hours

Posted by
Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 7:44 pm

The first half of the comp ended a couple hours ago. I’ll probably work a little bit more before going to bed. I have music and some sound effects together. I have the space map pretty much fleshed out with a call for difficulty level. I have 24 routes with 5 difficulty levels. The combat system is coming together.

I still need to translate the difficulty setting into what appears on the screen. I would like to have more than 4 types of “enemies”. I need to figure out how to score things. I need to have some win and/or lose screen.

Hopefully I will get done in time.

CWstarmap3

Flight demo

Posted by
Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 11:28 am

http://www.stencyl.com/game/play/27933

There’s a demo of the space flight. The 1 through = sign are the keys to fire sixteenth note bullets. No enemies or real gameplay yet :(

Update

Posted by
Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 10:11 am

I’m slowly getting stuff together. I want to have so many levels but I probably won’t have time.

CWspace

CWStarmap

Progress after 15 hours – Game “Between”

Posted by
Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 8:56 am

It’s going to be 15 hours from start, and I’m here with another bucket of screenshots and photos of developing the game “Between”.

2014-08-23_08-17-50-ew0l9wL 2014-08-23_17-44-34-lYYaPOh

Before (about 5h of dev) and now

WP_20140823_003 WP_20140823_004

Coffee!!! And a human fuel.

GUIscratch mockup

Working on GUI, scratch on the left and mockup on the other side.

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