Posts Tagged ‘LD20’

TRI Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @RatKingsLair)
Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 1:53 pm

TRI is a game with a long story, so I won’t even attempt to remember every detail. Instead, I will write down what comes into my mind. This way the following article might be a bit inconsistent; I hope it’s still an interesting read.


The story begins in April 2011, when I participate for the first time in a big Ludum Dare event. It was the 20th Ludum Dare, with the theme “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this!” (a quote from Zelda) – but the theme didn’t really matter, as I got the idea for my entry the evening before. I was inspired by working with 3D modeling software, where you create and manipulate polygons, and I thought: how could I use that for a game? Good thing the eventual Ludum Dare theme kinda fit – I just equipped the player with a “Tri Force Field Gun” (the “this” for the theme), and TRI was born, where all you do is creating triangles to walk and jump on them, and solve a few puzzles.


My entry was kinda successful: I submitted it to the Compo, but eventually switched to Jam, because I copied a character controller from the Unify wiki (as Unity’s inbuilt one was too wonky). The Jam worked a bit differently back then, so my entry didn’t receive any ratings. But PoV featured TRI in the results announcement post, and people who played the game (the community of Ludum Dare, and players on Kongregate) liked it well and some even asked for more levels.
A few months later, in October 2011, we were searching for a cool new project. Somehow we convinced ourselves that we could create a full version of TRI within a few months, which of course was very naive. We actually already made two commercial games back then, but as those were done in a much shorter timeframe and were for mobile only we still underestimated how hard it is to make a full-blown game with individually designed levels, somewhat complex gameplay, physics and a story-line. Also – and this was the worst part – a lack of clear direction (due to missing experience) hindered a straight development, and so we changed the design several times before TRI became the game you can see and play nowadays. Of course, we learned a lot during these three years, but I often wish we would have learned this stuff faster.


TRI was made by Jana and me, Friedrich. Jana created the visuals and most 3D models, while I programmed in Unity/C# and also made the GUI. We both created the levels and searched for and worked on the sounds. The music was composed by my brother Ludwig.

It is still funny for me how each department is received extremely differently by different people: some love the graphics, some find them bland. Some adore the gameplay, some think it’s clunky or just headache-inducing. Some bought the soundtrack, some just found it repetitive. I know that tastes differ, but as most feedback nowadays comes from official reviews, it’s just silly how one piece of opinion claims that our levels are “not convincing” while the other describes them as highly genius.


But yeah. A lot of reviews miss the “polish of Portal” in TRI, and I can’t do anything else than concur. We are a two-man team, still learning, with a fraction of the budget of Portal. I guess the secret of success is to hide such facts as well as possible, but I don’t know how. So the biggest learning for us: we won’t do anything this big again soon. At least we shouldn’t.

We even had to take breaks during the years, because of interfering contract work, or just because we had to take some time off. Both didn’t make development any shorter, and if Rising Star wouldn’t have approached us to give us some funding and a deadline to kick our asses, we probably would still work on TRI (or having a break from it).

In reality, TRI was a good project for a small team, as the game has a narrow scope: the main gameplay is about creating triangles, and almost all of the other mechanics somehow work with this mechanic. For example, there are light rays, and you can reflect them – with the triangles. And you can walk on the walls and the ceilings – thanks to the triangles. There are also some basic physics puzzles (dropping crates on platforms and so on), but the physics are built into Unity. So how did TRI become a “too big game”?

By not being absolutely clear about the game’s direction.

More triangles!

One indication for this is the game’s story. We wanted a background story from the beginning; the original TRI has one, although fairly simple and only communicated via texts on walls. And yet it added a big portion to the package – so we still think some kind of narrative is necessary as a hook. Just think of how showing triangles would be boring for reviewers and YouTubers. This is why we needed some characters in the game. Unfortunately our story changed a lot during the development, or rather: the whole design and with it the story. From a sci-fi setting with a mad professor and a fantasy story with an alchemist, to the now present fable about a Monk and a Fox. This last iteration of TRI’s plot feels a bit tackled on sometimes, and really you can still complete the game (hopefully) even when you skip all story bits (hopefully not). So it’s there to entertain, but the narrative sadly isn’t an integral part of TRI.

Reading a scroll.

The most problematic thing was that Jana and I never fought over what TRI actually should be – at least there never was a clear winner. Jana was all for making a game about atmosphere and looking at nice architecture. I on the other side was totally focused on the gameplay, and how there should be a lot of puzzles, because I feared people would be bored otherwise.
This way TRI became a game with two souls – there are parts that are mostly about the design, and parts that contain a lot of riddles and obstacles. Thankfully it doesn’t feel too much like a game with multiple personalities because Jana added her personal touch to each level after they were done by adding the textures and decorations. And fortunately the Monk and Fox also help to string them together, at least in my opinion.


Nobody ever complained about the sound design – apart from our very own voices for the climbing. Still, this fact is kinda great because although we actually tried to hire someone to make sound effects, the deal didn’t come to place and we found our best partner in – really a great resource for indie developers. Most of the sounds actually were done within a few days. Sound design may be something that we still neglect, but TRI didn’t focus on sounds anyway, even though we wish we had time to create atmospheric “sound carpets” for each level, because sometimes everything is silent and nothing happens, and it then feels a bit too lifeless.


Although we normally tell everyone that the game was released on 9th October 2014, we actually put TRI online for the first time in June 2012, as a “pre-alpha”, which was a stupid description. We renamed it quickly to “alpha”, and a bit later I also tried to get rid off the version numbers (like 0.3.0) which always were low and unattractive, by replacing them with something cooler: code names! The next version was then “MagicalMonk”, which sounds much more confident.
These early-access versions (purchasable via our website and Desura) were not very successful in terms of sales, but we actually never did much marketing for them. We rather tried to get feedback from people interested in the concept and art style, by pre-selling the game for a low price and adding a survey at the end of the game. The later versions even included the possibility to give direct feedback via an inbuilt form. (Thanks to Jedi for the idea!) This was great, because people could send us bug reports or suggestions together with a game save. And it was a solution for our QA problem – every game needs testers, and this way everybody can be one!

The Grid

In October 2013 we submitted TRI to Steam Greenlight, and some months later it was finally approved by Valve. It also made a lot more people aware of our game. But unfortunately Greenlight was a better marketing tool when it started in 2012. While the first batches of greenlit games were celebrated by the press, this effect became non-existent, thanks to the countless, bi-monthly batches with 100 titles approved at once – and TRI was part of one of these, in February 2014.

It was like winning $20 – nice, but absolutely underwhelming. On the other hand we’re a bit proud of being greenlit before TRI even reached the Top 100, although I am not sure what exactly that means.


Anyway, at least we’re on Steam – and as the saying goes: “be on Steam, or don’t be”. A little anecdote: to be visible to curators (the new thing on Steam) we had to rename TRI, as the name was too common (think “Counterstrike”) for the search form to work, as it relied on auto-completion only. This is why TRI is now called “TRI: Of Friendship and Madness” (Jana’s idea) almost everywhere.

Thanks to Rising Star Games we’re also on GOG. GOG was great regarding the release, as they wrote a very cool release article. And you can also get our game directly on the HumbleStore, too!

Overall we are happy with the reception of TRI: more reviewers than I would have expected like or even love the game, and our Steam user score is pretty high – as of writing we have 30 positive and only 2 negative reviews, resulting in 93%. Yet, the game is still missing visibility – Steam, Greenlight and reviews alone don’t do that for you (anymore). We need more YouTubers with a high amount of subscribers, playing the game on their channels. And probably some sensible discounts, as it seems a lot of potential buyers are just waiting for the inevitable XY% off sale. I can’t even blame them: with so many games on my backlog, I do the same with most new titles.


What can TRI offer you? It has 16 levels created by our hands, 5 different “worlds” each with a different background music and a new look, two animated NPCs, all degrees of freedom, and unlimited triangles. You conjure these to overcome abysses, to block and reflect light rays and lasers, and to walk on the walls and the ceilings. A lot of areas can be approached differently, depending on your own play style. Even some of the puzzles have more than one solution, and I sometimes see people solving them in a new, unique way. There are very open levels where you can fall into the void, and levels with a lot of narrow hallways. You can jump, crouch, climb, run, carry crates around and use levers.

TRI is a bit about celebrating freedom and possibilities, and we hoped that a lot of people would love that. For now, we still have to find out how to reach them.


If you enjoyed reading this, you might want to have a look at our Making-of video series, our our blog.


The new TRI, pre-alpha

Posted by (twitter: @RatKingsLair)
Tuesday, July 10th, 2012 3:44 am


Some of you may remember “TRI“, the game I made for Ludum Dare #20 with Unity. The theme was “It’s dangerous to go alone, take this!”, which was good luck, as it fitted the idea I had the night before. 😛 It also was my first real Ludum Dare back then.

 The original TRI

The game was about triangles; you created them by shooting three little spheres onto gray surfaces. These triangles could then be used as platforms and reflectors. That’s about it. TRI didn’t feature any story, but some texts on walls here and there, for hints and to somewhat simulate the voice from some god-like entity, like GlaDOS. Overall it worked pretty well and there were some people who liked the game although the controls were pretty flawed.

A year later, we (my partner and me) decided to make TRI into a full commercial game. Only the idea of the triangles was adopted, so the setting, the “tri gun”, the maincharacter, the story and the everything changed, or are due to change. (We still use Unity, though.) This basically means the new TRI isn’t a sequel to the LD game.

 The new TRI – WIP

We added some gameplay elements, most prominently the wall walking. Yes, the triangles can now not only be used as platforms to walk on, they also temporarily change  the personal gravity of the player. This way, she or he is even able to jump into a hole in the ceiling – this needs a little bit of exercise though.

Walking on walls

Also, instead of deadly lasers only there are also non-fatal light rays now, with which you activate crystals in order to open doors and do other things. And then there are those little flying ghosts (the Kami), which lead the way and later can be reflected, too. They will be more important later in the game.

 Reflecting light rays

The new TRI is still named TRI, as most of the names we came up with were just too silly or too complicated (Some examples: “Trinsane”, “Trizarre” (thanks Cell), “Tri and Error”, “The Third Eye”, “Connect the dots”, “Konstrukt”, “Trigonomancer”, “Trimancy”, “Triception”, “Triplex”, “The Right Angle”, “180 degrees”, “From Point To Point”, “neuTrino”, …).

TRI can now be pre-ordered for $5, which guarantees access to the pre-alpha. The current  build has one big level (with three sub-levels) which basically serves as a tutorial. There’s also a demo, showcasing the first sub-level. Oh, and here’s a trailer:

The final version hopefully will come out end of the year, and have a price tag of $10. There are far more informations on the official website,, so you might want to give it a look. :)

Thanks for reading!
– ratking

Lightning Trailer

Posted by
Friday, September 9th, 2011 2:27 pm

New Trailer for HMS Lightning

Posted by
Thursday, September 8th, 2011 7:23 am

Timelapse: Protocol Droids get no Respect

Posted by (twitter: @recursor)
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 6:08 pm

LD20 was lots of fun for me as I got to learn a bit of Blender modeling/animation,have fun making a game, and reading all the status updates from everybody. Here is the timelapse  video for my LD20 entry.  I hosted a dinner party on Saturday evening so if you watch long enough, you’ll see some of the kids come down and sit at the desk to color.  I never thought to tell them that I was doing a video. The song I used is called Love Found Me by December radio as covered by my church band.  Check out the game here

LD20 Timelapse

Posted by (twitter: @FionaSarah)
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 12:55 pm

Here’s the timelapse for my entry this past weekend.

I haven’t embedded it because I’ve just realised my desktop wallpaper has a huge Portal 2 spoiler. (I’M SORRY, SOPHIE!)


Posted by (twitter: @Phantom_Green)
Sunday, May 1st, 2011 11:31 pm

This LD48 took me to my limit, everybody to the limit, I said come on Fhqwhgads!


So yeah my ‘game’ is ‘done’ and ready to be ‘played’. You can check out the official LD entry page HERE and check out my personal site with game info, controls, and downloads HERE.

It’s a 2D beat ’em up with a twisted theme interpretation. The majority of your entertainment is gonna come from the audio and basic mechanics, as there is not challenge at all… since you CAN’T DIE. Or win. You just go through the rooms and then the game resets after the last room because I didn’t have time to make a ‘win’ screen or whatever. I prefer to play in full-screen… which you can do with F4, or you can manually change the game window size.

GAH I’m tired. Going to sleep now.
I can’t wait to dig into these games!

Cave Of Cursors Update

Posted by (twitter: @Erifdex)
Sunday, May 1st, 2011 9:25 am

Almost There! All I need to do now is make the music!

Here are a few screen shots:

Looks Like Another Unfinished Game On My Hands

Posted by (twitter: @Phantom_Green)
Sunday, May 1st, 2011 3:28 am

I had a few crazy setbacks today and it looks like I’ll be falling short once again.

I’ll get a few hours of rest and then wake up and work like a dirty rotten sumbitch.

Ran a few art style rendering tests and I’m still not sure what to go with. Performance takes a huge hit, but I have a monster rig so it doesn’t reflect well on my end. I’ll have to turn the knobs down a bit before releasing it for the compo so more people can play at a steady frame rate.

See you suckaz tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll be there… at the deadline… with an unfinished game.


I screwed myself and wasted a ton of time…

Posted by (twitter: @Phantom_Green)
Saturday, April 30th, 2011 9:06 pm

Instead of just saying SCREW IT, IT WON’T WORK, I decided to mess around for nearly 3 hours trying to create a specific death animation/scenario for the enemies.

What a waste. Now I’m behind schedule AND I can’t make it the way I wanted to.

PRO TIP: If it can’t be figured out in 30 minutes, simplify it and move on! NO TIME TO WASTE!



Posted by (twitter: @Phantom_Green)
Saturday, April 30th, 2011 5:55 pm

And all I could think about was my game…


SO YEAH. Back to work! My plan is to get the core gameplay down TONIGHT and use tomorrow for SFX / MUSIC / POLISH.

Someone please help

Posted by
Saturday, April 30th, 2011 11:02 am

Does anyone know whether making a(n almost exact) Zelda clone would be a copyright infringement? Also how about the rules of LD and using the same graphics as Zelda?

PS despite the fact that I am planning an almost exact copy, the difference should be worth it, so yes, I know that just copying Zelda defeats the purpose, but I do have a reason for wanting to make it as reminiscent of Zelda as possible.

Mikhail Rudoy

My chaotic little workspace

Posted by (twitter: @chaotikZA)
Friday, April 29th, 2011 11:24 pm

The competition started 04:00 local time and it’s now 08:15 – I’m still half asleep and I have no idea what kind of game to make out of this theme… going to go have breakfast somewhere and stock up on supplies while I try to come up with an idea…

In the meanwhile here’s picture of my chaotic little workspace:

Matt's Chaotic little workspace...

And he’s out the gate!

Posted by (twitter: @chainedlupine)
Friday, April 29th, 2011 8:10 pm

Well, nothing much for now.  Just look at this guy and go, hmm, now what could he be?  Besides a penis-headed robot.

I’m kinda in! Perhaps.

Posted by (twitter: @chainedlupine)
Friday, April 29th, 2011 3:47 pm

Go ahead and consider me in.  What will I be using?

  • Flash as my platform.  Flixel as a graphics helper library.  Custom Flixel that I will be using is available: FenFlixel
  • My GWSlib for some common gameplay functions, such as A* and geometry manipulations and so on.
  • Graphics:  Either Cosmigo’s ProMotion or Photoshop.
  • Sound: Probably Flexi MusicGenerator or something like BXFR.
  • Music: Unknown as of yet!

I’m out. I mean IN!

Posted by (twitter: @frimkron)
Thursday, April 28th, 2011 2:18 pm

I have a good feeling about this LD. I missed the last one so I’m going to make up for it this time with extra awesomeness. It’s a 4-day weekend here in the UK, thanks to some guy getting married or something, so I’ll have extra time to get my environment, tools and libraries ready beforehand, maybe get some food in the fridge in preparation, etc. And on the Monday I’ll be able to do that jam thing that all the cool kids are doing these days. It’ll be fun to see how far the momentum takes me, post-deadline.

My toolset:

  • nano – yeah I code in nano. Shut up.
  • Myrmidon – a PyOpenGL-based 2D framework by Fiona
  • pythonutils – a small collection of miscellaneous util functions I wrote
  • py2exe – creates standalone Windows exe from a python program.
  • Graphics Gale – still my favourite pixel editor for animation. Luckily it works reasonably in Wine
  • The GIMP – open-source paint program
  • Rosegarden – an open-source sequencer I’m still getting to grips with
  • sfxr – MSPaint for sound
  • Audacity – sound editor for cleaning up stuff
  • PyCatcher – for making a timelapse. Fiona fixed it!
  • Lots of paper – for brainstorming

And some rules I’m laying down for myself, to help avoid the mistakes of previous attempts at this:

  • Prepare – I’m going to make sure I get enough sleep beforehand
  • Keep it simple – I’m going to pick an idea that I believe I could make in half a day, and if I really have it done by then, I’ll give it some serious polish
  • Don’t be clever – I’m not going to try too hard to be clever with the theme or to invent a whole new genre
  • Suppress desire for clean code – I decided after the last competition that I would put less focus on code quality
  • Make it fun – I’m going to put more focus on tweaking my gameplay until it plays well
  • Make time for audio – I never get any sounds or music done. But this time will be different!

[cache: storing page]