Ludum Dare 35
The Theme is:
Shapeshift

Judging ends in
Click here to start

PlayRate80Star

Thanks everyone for coming out! For the next 3 weeks, we’ll be Playing and Rating the games you created.
You NEED ratings to get a score at the end. Play and Rate games to help others find your game.
We’ll be announcing Ludum Dare 36’s August date alongside the results.

Posts Tagged ‘post-mortem’

I came to stay

Posted by (twitter: @josemwarrior)
Thursday, April 28th, 2016 11:27 pm

 

This is what I thought on Monday, right after I finished my first Ludumdare and completed an old task. You can read this post in spanish here.

I’ve finished my first game and I’ve named it “Booba Loomba“. It is a name that I already had in mind for previous game which also had small “balls” but finally I decided to use it for this game. It is true that it was a stressful (really stressful) weekend. There were moments when I didn’t know if I was going to be able to finish it or at least to submit something. I had to figure out the whole game in just one morning – Saturday morning. I’ll explain it below in further details. This is my game:

Click in the following link to play the game.

 

PLAY IT HERE

 

 


This is a gameplay by Marta Jones

khkjbl
Another gameplay by Alice “Buttons”, it starts at 1:02:05

 

Booba Loomba
Booba Loomba

 

 
 

THEME.

 
Let’s get started, the theme of the competition that was announced on Friday at 03:00 a.m. (Spain) was “shapeshifting“. At first, I did not like the theme because of the complexity of shifting something’s shape (even though you can do many things including shape shifting, changing something visually is the first thing that comes to your mind). I stayed awake until 03:00 a.m. to see what was it about and then going to sleep in order to be ready for the following day but I couldn’t do it. I was thinking about games that included changing shapes. After thinking about them, I got stuck with two:
 

  • World of goo (PC): You have to make a structure with the characters to reach a certain point of the map. Sometimes you have to switch your shape to reach the goal.

 
world-of-goo-40
 

     

  • Locoroco (PSP): You have to rotate the screen to move your character and absorb “friends” to reach the goal with them. When you absorb any friend, you will grow physically and sometimes you have to split yourself to get through different parts of the stage.

 
maxresdefault
 
 

I really liked Locoroco as a source of inspiration! Now that I finally sorted out some things, I went to sleep. I organized my timeline as it follows:

SQUEME1

 

CONCEPT.

 
All right, as planned, on Satudary morning I invented the game’s mechanics:

  • “You are a ball and to move yourself through the stage you have to rotate the screen and play with gravity. You do not move the character neither the stage; you can only control gravity.

afdadfa

  • “To clear every level, you have to reach the goal

afdadfasfd

  • “To achieve it you have to find all your “friends”. There are two kinds of friends, fruit (they can’t move) and other balls (they can move). Any time you roll over a fruit it turns into a friend, to catch friends you have to press the A button.

asgsag

  • “You have to reach the goal as big as you can. To achieve it you have to divide yourself to go through narrow spaces and then absorb your friends again. To split yourself you have to press the spacebar.

adfasdfdsaf

  • “You cannot lose in the game. There is no “game over”. The only thing you can lose is time.”

 

DEVELOPMENT.

 
I chose Game Maker because it is really fast to start a game with it. However, it was a long time since I last used Game Maker, return to global variables, the style of working with arrays, it seemed a little complicated because I had been working with Libgdx months ago. But don’t misunderstand me, I highly recommend Game Maker to make games.
 
I started with the default collide system of the software.
 
asdfasda
It worked, kind of, but it was not what I was looking for. I observed how the ball got stuck sometimes and did not drop as I wanted.
Then I discovered that Game Maker uses a physics engine based on Box2d and “Liquid Fun open source” that I had never worked with.

 

ballz

 

I hadn’t time enough to learn how to use it but it gave me pretty neat results.

 

afdafdasd

 

Then I prepared the script that made the ball join other balls and split itself.

 

asdfasdf
 

The next thing was to include the items, “fruit” and the “goal”.

 
afdadfasfasf

 

The “Friends” parameter was named greatness before. I thought that it was a good idea since “You are greater with more friends”. I finished the prototype on Saturday night but…

 

It isn’t a bug, it is a feature.

 
… Nothing turned out as I expected. Game maker gave me more than one problem. On Sunday morning I discovered a bug that made me waste all the day trying to solve it. Because of this, I had to upload my game to the jam (72 hours) instead of to the compo (48 hours). This was the bug:

 

hfuHVph

 

If you grew in narrow spaces you got yourself stuck. I stayed all Sunday trying to find an efficient way of pre-calculating if the space was enough before growing and if it wasn’t enough it won’t let you do it.

 
need more space to grow
 

I was trying a lot of possibilities but when I thought I had found it, it completely broke the game (especially in the HTML5 version 😀 ). Sometimes I thought that I couldn’t solve it because this bug had destroyed the gameplay. Later on Sunday, I thought about the same thing applied to an imaginary machine. If it had more gears, it is easier to break it, so I got stuck with the KISS principle and to the “it is not a bug, it is a feature” principle. To solve it I showed a message telling the player that “It is impossible to continue, you have to split yourself.”:

 
YOU NEED SPLIT
 

This lead to some changes in my timeline, that resulted into this:

 
SQUEME 2
 

FINAL STAGE.

 
This is what Ludumdare is about. It makes you change and remove things to the maximum; it makes you release a game that in other way you wouldn’t.
On the third day, I made the level design, graphics and music without any major problem. I work hard on the tutorial. I wanted it to explain the game itself and to get the player hooked to the game from the very first moment. People told me that those things were perfect so I felt relieved. The third day was the toughest because I was holding enough stress and I was really tired.
 
I am very thankful to Erik Sanchez G., who translate this awesome post into English.
 
Now I would actually like you to play the game and give me an honest opinion 😀
 
 

PLAY IT HERE IF YOU DIDN’T

 
 

Shape Quest Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @GaTechGrad)
Thursday, April 28th, 2016 9:43 pm

Originally posted at http://levidsmith.com/shape-quest/

Shape Quest title

Ludum Dare 35 was my tenth time participating in the full Ludum Dare 48 hour game development competition. The theme this time was “shapeshift”. I knew fairly early that I wanted to make a game with controllable shape characters. My original idea was to have three shapes that you could switch between, and each shape would have a unique ability or power. I had envisioned having three playable shapes, which were the square, triangle, and circle. The gameplay was going to be similar to Trine, where the player would need to switch between the three to solve puzzles.

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SHAPE☆SHIFT: What I learned from Ludum Dare 35 is…

Posted by (twitter: @KaiClavier)
Thursday, April 28th, 2016 4:52 pm

Play SHAPE☆SHIFT here!

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 8.07.12 PM

Ludum Dare 35 was a huge learning experience for me, so I thought I’d write up a postmortem or whatever!

 

1. Making a puzzle-platformer for a game jam, and you

The first thing I did was write down a bunch of ideas that came to mind with the theme, and settled on this one. I immediately came up with a few good ideas for puzzles I could do with the gimmick, but I wish I came up with more as the last puzzle in the game is embarrassingly easy! I had this big puzzle involving moving from the one side of the screen to the other planned out, but ran out of time and submitted it as-is.

Using polymorphism for the blocks saved me a TON of time. The player and the blocks all inherit from the same class, and the “floaty thing” object has a variable for which one it’s currently controlling. I’m very glad I happened to brush up on this before the jam.

By the last day of the jam, I more or less had everything implemented coding-wise, and ran into a level design panic. Many things that I wrote down on paper didn’t get put in the game, despite the code being there. One puzzle desperately needed a ceiling, another needed a door that closes behind you, a conveyer belt needed to be just a bit longer, a certain flagpole didn’t have to be there. The “unpossessable” enemies also needed some kind of indicator on the overworld that they couldn’t be possessed, besides not having a “core” when you try to take control. All of these things I actually had written down, but just never got around to doing them!

At first I thought that the solution to this would be coming up with 100% of the game within the first 8 hours and spending the rest of the jam making that game. I soon realized that this would make the game just feel… stale, and drew connections between this and the lesson on keyframing in “The Animator’s Survival Kit”. What I just described is similar to the “pose-to-pose” method of animating, drawing out each keyframe, and then adding inbetweens until it’s smooth enough. This gets an animation done on time, but where’s the fun in it? Another method of animating is the “straight-ahead” method, which is the way that you would animate in a flipbook. The problem with this animation method is that it might not stay consistent throughout, so you might not end up with something nice at the end. Finally, the “combination of pose-to-pose and straight ahead” method is usually the best way to animate. You draw out your keyframes, then animate straight-ahead between them. You know what needs to go between these keyframes, but have the freedom to do them however you want.

The same lesson can be applied to making jam games, just replace “keyframes” with “game systems”! That said, any method is fine for doing a game jam, just know what you’re getting into with each one. I mostly planned out my systems, but just wasn’t very good at coming up with additional puzzles under pressure, tbh.

 

2. Take 5 minutes to give yourself cheat codes

Honestly I must have lost hours to this. Every time I wanted to test out a later puzzle, I’d have to manually drag the player character there, collecting the “floaty thing” along the way. It would have taken me 5 minutes to write code that disables collision, lets me fly, and increases my speed by 10. So… do this, especially if you’re making a puzzle game where everything is in one scene!

On this note, I soon after found a plugin for unity that keeps objects locked to the grid, without holding down command. This would have saved me a lot of time if I had it. Editor cheat codes!

 

3. Polish is important, but playability is more important.

Some polish can be needed to make a game playable, as I cover below when I talk about floaty controls. What I’m talking about here is that if you’re running out of time and you still need levels designed and tested, mayyybe you shouldn’t spend 2 hours trying to get particles working?

I desperately wanted the player to have dust particles when they walked and landed, but ran into some problems with shuriken, Unity’s particle system, that I’ve never had before. I’m not sure what caused it, but hopefully I can get that working in a post-jam version.

This was my first time using Unity’s surface effectors, and they’re really weird! I lost an hour or two trying to get those conveyor belts feeling good, and discovered it’s /kinda/ impossible.

 

4. What makes controls, “floaty”?

This was something I spent a lot of time after the jam thinking about, and asked some friends for their opinions on this. (Thanks, Managore!) It’s sort of a weird topic, since even in the post-jam build I’m working on right now, I /still/ haven’t gotten the player feeling exactly like I want, but the problem seems to be more about horizontal movement, rather than vertical.

Increasing the gravity actually didn’t do too much, just shortened the amount of time the player stays in the air. Having a jump last from 0.3s to 1s seems to be a good range, but in my game, the jump already lasted 0.8s!

Faster acceleration and higher max speed so far seem to be the biggest contribution factor to removing that “floaty” feeling. Acceleration especially helped, making the player come to a quick stop after walking made it feel much snappier. That said, I think giving the player /less/ control of their velocity midair might also help! In Super Mario Bros, if you make a jump at full speed, then try to reverse that mid-air, it’s possible but takes a lot to do it! In my game you could just glide wherever, and it feels bad.

Another big contributor are things that one might consider polish, but turned out to be essential for making a jump be more satisfying:

Jump cancelling. At first, I had this implemented, but removed it due to a bug with the “jump on enemy multiple times” puzzle. After the jam, I was able to fix this in about 10 minutes, and it made the jumping feel much snappier.

Dust upon landing. As I mentioned above, I just couldn’t get shuriken working in time for the jam. But adding a small effect like this to a jump can make it feel way better! You want it to feel like the player slammed into the ground, not like they decided to stop falling for some reason.

Audio! Adding walking sounds would have made the character feel more like they were really there, and absolutely not gliding. The player also had a jump sound, but no landing sound. This stacks with what I said with dust upon landing.

Different jump sprite for going up & coming down. This could have been as little as moving the character’s pupils, but it would have “sold” the jump more if the player looked up while jumping up, and looked down only when falling.

Toss in some cheap sprite scaling. I could go on even more about animation, but pretty much just look up “squash & stretch” and “anticipation”. (Those are just the first two principles of animation, but brushing up on all of them will be helpful!) You can mess around with sprite scaling during jump animations, which can usually get the job done in selling a jump.

 

5. Be nice to your artists

Without Rev, my game wouldn’t look anything like it currently does, and I would have surely ran out of time. My main character was still just a hexagon at the start of day 3! I’d like to take this time to promo him:

https://twitter.com/IMPLODINGORACLE

https://twitter.com/IMPLODINGORACLE

https://twitter.com/IMPLODINGORACLE

When you’re getting assets from an artist, come up with a list of exactly what you need to be done, and what kind of feeling you’re going for. And let them know early! And be nice to them!! Jeez!!! Also, the conveyor belt graphic in the game was still my temp-art, and we ran out of time to swap it out with something better.

 

Conclusion

Making games is cool, you learn a lot!! Make sure to write down what you learn, so you can… learn from it.

The game needed more ways to explore the main mechanic, and better ways to introduce it to the player.

I’ll probably post an updated version of the game after judging. I’ve already done some control tweaks, mechanics tweaks, fixed problems with puzzles, and worked on fixing the floatiness mentioned above. Updating that right now wouldn’t be fair, so I’ll be waiting til after to consider posting that.

Thanks for reading!

 

Play SHAPE☆SHIFT here!

Wood for the Trees – Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @RatKingsLair)
Thursday, April 28th, 2016 12:15 pm

Disclaimer: This article was written for the blog of Rat King.

Wood for the Trees is my entry for the 35th Ludum Dare game jam which took place in April 2016. For now I don’t know how the other participants will rate the game, as the voting is still going on. Yet it’s maybe time for a small post-mortem, especially as my last few entries were not really worthy for one of those.

ld35_20160418_204744_379

The theme of this Ludum Dare was “Shapeshifting”, which was a good theme, or at least I heard far less complaints about it than usual. For my part I didn’t have an idea from the beginning – or rather I prepared several in advance, but none of them actually motivated me when the weekend began. For some time I just ignored the theme anyway and did some physics-based experiments, but everything of that was scrapped in the end. Semi-inspired by the theme I then went on with an environmental experiment, which would be about looping and changing level tiles. A bit like our 7DRL Me against the Mutants, but this time in 3D. As usual I did all this in Unity.

My base idea was to have tiles as parts for the level map, and each tile would be 10x10m (conveniently the size of Unity’s standard plane), and instead of connecting the tiles in a linear fashion or even in a grid, I would define the connections manually so they can loop or have “impossible” connections. This way, a tile could be connected to itself (this actually happens in the game)! A lot of time went into developing the system of instantiating and destroying the needed game assets on the fly.

ld35_20160416_222626_207

With this representation of the game world it’s possible for the player to see things that won’t be there when they move. Thus I added smooth scaling to all objects when they get spawned or removed, just to make it more appealing and let people accept this strange environment. This system also imposed some limitations which actually turned out to make the game tighter and more focused:

WoodForTheTrees_MakingOfMovement

1) The player is allowed to move only from a tile’s center to the next, in cardinal directions. At first I had free movement, but this imposed problems with the tiles that lie diagonal to the current one. It would just feel alien. Restricting the movement was the only solution, and it also made the gameplay (adventure game) much more clear.

WoodForTheTrees_MakingOfFog

2) With my system it only made sense to display 3×3 tiles at once, thus I had to limit the view distance to 10 meters. This made me a bit depressed in the beginning, because it meant a pretty big, boring wall of fog in front of the player. But then I invented the “fog trees” – trees that would exist only in the fog, vanishing when the player comes near. In the end, they really helped making the distance fog less boring and even gave the game its name.

As usual I experimented only regarding gameplay mechanics, but as soon as I added the fog I naturally began to design the game’s appearance. The fog had to have a colour, so I chose one I actually liked. Everything else had to look (more or less) good from now on, which helped tons with not having to do that later. If I remember correctly the pixelation post-effect shader was added at the same time, and I just liked it – I don’t really have a justification for it. But it also helps to hide the fact that my 3D models are all very low-poly and have no textures.

WoodForTheTrees_MakingOfModels

By the way, this is the first time that I used Blender for a game jam; I like it more and more. It fits my style quite well I guess. For the trees I utilized a tool called HappyTree by Sol_HSA, which made it easy for me to generate four different trees and reuse them all the time. I only changed the materials.

The narrative structure of the game also developed more or less naturally: due to the fact I played some “walking simulators” beforehand I was okay with incorporating a personal story. So all content grew out of certain relationships that occupy my mind often enough. As a result it didn’t become a straight story really, but more like a set of emotions I wanted to share.

WoodForTheTrees_MakingOfAdventure

I didn’t plan to do a full puzzle game, but somehow I actually added enough elements like finding typical items and having to combine them, so I can now call it an adventure game without shame. Overall it’s a simple game in the sense that I didn’t even add a visible inventory (as it wasn’t needed), but thanks to the shifting environment and the somewhat allegorical hints the game should be longer than just a few minutes.

You could say the background story and the adventure game mechanics are somewhat contradicting or at least exist in parallel only. But whenever I think of my childhood (which the story is touching), I have certain games in my mind which I played back then, and Wood in the Trees actually recreates them in an abstract way. Furthermore, the seemingly mundane tasks represent the protagonists quest for absolution somehow. The mechanics and plot combined with the fog trees, the game’s name, the colors and some of the objects in the game, it all is symbolic and it’s okay that only a small percent of players understand them fully.

WoodForTheTrees_MakingOfAllSketches

WoodForTheTrees_MakingOfTiles2

Right next to creating the world system in Unity the hardest part of the game was actually planning it. I’m never big with story (something I really have to train), so I just wrote down a lot of things I’d like to say. Not everything made it into the game. And I laid out the puzzle progress on paper as soon as I decided that I would actually have puzzles. But only by actually implementing them I’d see if an item would make sense or not and from time to time a whole path was changed – thankfully always for the better.

Unfortunately I was not able to follow my initial plan to make the game within 48 hours (“Compo”) and had to extend to 72 hours (“Jam”). I never felt that I would actually be able to finish it, which send me to a rollercoaster of emotions during the game jam – either I was relaxed and had a “it’s okay, I don’t care” attitude, or I was angry at myself that I would fail at Ludum Dare yet again. I’m still surprised I actually finished – and it sure helped that for the Jam I didn’t have to create my own music. I suck at this still, and don’t stop hoping this will change some day. Instead I used a track by my brothers, which they composed many years ago for a game prototype Jana and I made in university. It fits the game well enough and actually adds to the symbolism of Wood for the Trees.

A monster?

After several days between me and the development I can now think about the game again. In hindsight I would change a few things, especially as players rightfully complained about those. Being able to re-read the notes and texts would be a great addition, and probably easy to do. Not removing the notes in the game would be a good start for that. Moreover, the hit boxes for the clickable objects are sometimes to small, and generally it’s not clear enough if you can interact with something or not. I would add a few more descriptions to some elements in the game, and also tweak the controls so they would be easier to understand. And I would take extra-care that players find the solution to the first puzzle easily. Last but not least I’m disappointed I couldn’t add any sound effects – not even some step sounds!

If I find time and motivation, I might do these changes and upload a post-jam version.

In any case I’m happy that Wood for the Trees already got some media attention – AlphaBetaGamer made the start (with a title optimized for SEO a bit too much), followed by WarpDoor, PC Gamer and Killscreen. Wow! It shows once more that pixel games – even fake ones – are the way to go I guess. And I visited the A MAZE (a festival for indie games in Berlin) a few days after Ludum Dare, so I even made an Android build of my game. It ran very laggy and the controls weren’t working correctly, but it was cool to actually being able to show something when talking about it. Even though I didn’t show it around that much I had a lot of fun – the fruits of productivity.

ld35_20160418_144327_513

If you’re a participant of Ludum Dare 35, you can rate Wood for the Trees here. In any case, the downloads can be found on itch.io – have fun!

And here’s a video – be aware, it’s the full walkthrough, so of course it contains spoilers:

Robot Escape – Post-Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @rjhelms)
Wednesday, April 27th, 2016 4:47 pm

We did it again, folks! I’m buried in a mountain of great games, and figured I’d take a few minutes from trying to dig my way out to write up a post-mortem for my Ludum Dare 35 entry, Robot Escape.

title screen fullsize

This was my 5th Ludum Dare, and all-in-all I think things went pretty well. After finishing in time for the compo in LD34, I really wanted to do so again, but circumstances conspired against me this time around – oh well. I’ll explain in the “What went poorly” section.

What went well

  • First and foremost, I had fun, and made something I’m pretty proud of.
  • The core mechanics of the game – restricted lines of sight, and reconfiguring yourself to get around different obstacles – worked out really well, both on their own and together.
  • I’m getting really comfortable with my Ludum Dare tool-chain. In the past I’ve always lost some time farting about with Unity’s quirks, but this time everything went pretty darn smoothly.
  • In the same vein, a lot of what I spent time on in LD34 served me well as techniques I was able to reuse this time – in particular, I was able to just drop in the two-camera setup for an “authentic” retro feel I developed that time, and (as predicted) my level loader from that time around was clean enough to reuse – although my level-loading needs were a lot simpler this time around.
  • I experimented with keeping my code a bit cleaner by having a lot of my entities be pure C#, with only a handful of MonoBehaviours responsible for interacting with Unity. I’m not sure I did it well enough to be a reusable approach, but for a game like this it worked really well.

What went poorly

  • I started really late. I have the nasty flaw of being a gigging musician, and the band always seems to find ways to need my time during Ludum Dare. This time around, we were playing a gig out of town on Friday, so I completely missed the theme reveal and didn’t make it home until about 4am. I took a look at the theme as soon as I got home, but didn’t seriously start the clock, so to speak, until around 11am on Saturday. (The gig went really well – it’s only a “went poorly” item from a Ludum Dare perspective.)
  • I lost another two hours to a power outage on Saturday evening. Thankfully, I didn’t lose any work as I’ve got a UPS for my computer. It wasn’t a total loss, however, as I took some time to do a bit of planning on pen and paper by candlelight.
  • I didn’t get the controls right. This seems to be the biggest pain point people raise in the comments on the game, and I agree – I had planned to take some time to tweak them, at minimum, and ideally make them configurable, but I didn’t make it there before the deadline.
  • I wanted more/tougher enemy types, but only had time for two. Similarly, it would have been nice to have a bit clearer feedback about when the enemies were firing on/hit the player.
  • It took a concerning about of time for this game to actually be fun – any beginner’s guide to Ludum Dare tells you to make sure your core idea is fun as quickly as possible, but mine didn’t really get there until pretty late on Sunday.

A more detailed run down of the jam follows below the break – but if you don’t want to read that, why, you could always give the game a try and let me know what you think!

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Soulshifter Post-Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @ToastedGames)
Tuesday, April 26th, 2016 11:44 am

(I had to look up what “Post-Mortem” meant because I was so confused at all the blog posts with it in the title. You better be grateful!)

Soulshifter is a game about killing enemies and stealing their forms (sounds morbid, I know). The enemies come in waves out of portals, and you must survive a set amount of waves (based on difficulty) to win. But that’s not all Soulshifter is. Soulshifter is a game about competition, about teamwork, about challenges, and about new experiences.

Me, Erik and Justin worked harder on Soulshifter than on any other game we’ve ever made. I programmed things that I had no clue how to program before we started. Justin made fantastic art in a style he had never tried before we started. Erik learned he was a way better musician than he ever thought he was before we started. We learned that we were a better team than we thought we would be before we started. Soulshifter, and by extension, Ludum Dare did and meant so much more to us than we ever thought it would.

Of course, we didn’t get everything we wanted into the game, but when has anyone ever began a Ludum Dare and finished with everything he wanted originally plus all the things he thought up along the way? We got a game we were happy with in the end, a solid base that could, and will be easily expanded in the future. We got a game that we were proud of, too.

The feedback we’ve gotten has been so wonderful, and everyone  has been so nice. We honestly can’t thank you all enough. Even if you left us a bad score, you will have shown us what we need to improve on next time, and we’re just as grateful to you too. We’ve had so much fun playing other people’s games, also, and it’s just made us feel even stronger that Ludum Dare is a great community of people that we want to meet and compete with every single time it runs.

TL;DR: (What a nasty word, how about this:) To summarize, our time last weekend and the following days after was amazing, we all enjoyed the competition, and all of you, the community. We’re happy with what our game became, and you’ll definitely see us next year. Happy game design,

– Ben, and everyone else at Toasted Games.

Spirits of the Forest – Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @DivitosGD)
Monday, April 25th, 2016 1:12 pm

Over last weekend I worked with Wesley Devore and Hisan Iwo to create Spirits of The Forest, a precision platforming game where you must deliver an urgent message for the spirits, and in return they grant you the ability to shape-shift into different animal forms giving you different abilities to conquer the 25+ levels.

Play and Rate The Game Here

Post Mortem

I knew since last December that I was going to be making a game for Ludum Dare 35, but up until a few days before the start, I thought I was going to be doing it alone. I was approached by Wesley Devore asking if I needed music and sound for Ludum Dare. Always eager to gain new friends and have new experiences, I said yes. We both decided that since we had to do the jam anyways, we might as well find an artist. After a bit of searching, we ended up finding Hisan Iwo (couldn’t of found anyone better suited in my opinion), and just like that I had gone from believing I was going to do it alone to working in a three person team.
We started off the weekend without any real idea of what kind of game we were going to be making, other than we knew it was going to be 2D.  After a fairly short brainstorming session we decided on making a platformer (although originally we had planned on making it a puzzle platformer instead of a precision platformer). Without all of the particulars in place we began working. While Hisan worked on the character art and Wesley worked on the music, I programmed the base platforming system and worked out the rest of the design and story for the game.

Early Mockup

While day one didn’t yield much material progress, day two saw the game shift from an idea to a tangible, although rough, game. By the end of it all of the character and world art was done, the music was finished and ready to be implemented, and all of the levels, tiling, and dialogue was done (although dialogue would later have to be rewritten the next day). At the end of the day I could tell the game was going to be brutally hard and tried all I could to lessen the cruelty, but I couldn’t afford the time to redesign the entire world again (especially since I already had to once). I could also tell that the game was going to have an amazing atmosphere to it and that this was going to be the strongest point of the game.

Day three was spent finishing and adding in sound, music, and the remaining art to complete the feel of the game. I didn’t get all of my goals I had written from the previous day done because while I had intended to spend the majority of day three polishing the game, implementing the remaining assets ended up taking the vast majority of the day leaving me little time to polish. This definitely took a lot away from the game since it left rough hitboxes and some parts that could be considered brutal in an already brutal game world, but overall I was still happy with the game.

Screenshot of Finished Game

I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure how working with a new team was going to be, but they both did amazing and it was a fun experience. The only areas that I felt were lacking in the game were things I was responsible for. It’s apparent I’m still not the best at level design, for instance, but if you compare this game to my previous game, you can tell instantly it’s a big step up. The game in its current state is somewhat incomplete, which is why I’m working on a post-compo version that fixes many of the glaring issues before uploading it to Gamejolt and Itch.io.

The Good

  • The art of the game turned out amazing. Individually the assets looked a little bit odd, but they came together to form a really charming look. Combine that with the amazing music and sound design, and you get what I think is by far the best game I’ve ever worked on in terms of atmosphere.
  • I ended up spending about half of the time on level design, so the game ended up pretty long (25-30+ levels depending on how you count them).
  • I learned a LOT about level design. I consider the levels of Akashic Records (a platforming game I did for a game jam last month) to be absolutely horrendous. While they were still really hard here, they’re definitely a big step up.
  • I liked the story we came up with, and considering this was my first time trying to implement dialogue into a platformer, I think it went well.
  • As always I learned a lot more about the engine I was working with, particularly I discovered the cause of a lag that has plagued most of my previous games with a scrolling view (though it was never nearly as bad as it got here, I simply had no choice but to pinpoint the cause of the lag and fix it, and my future games are going to be much better for it).
  • This marks 4 months down so far for 1 Game A Month! 😀

The Bad

  • It ended up being HARD. It wasn’t just casual occasional road bump hard, it was teeth grinding fight for every inch you advanced hard. This isn’t always a bad thing if you apply it right in the game, but I was going for a bit more casual feeling platformer and had to rush through meaning I didn’t have time to conceptualize all the easier challenges I could have done with the mechanics. This makes the game feel a bit disjointed at times (particularly in the not so tight controls that would work fine in a casual platformer, but leaves you a bit frustrated at times here).
  • I didn’t have time left to do as much polish as I would have liked to, so some things (the hitboxes being the most obvious and unfortunate example) are left rough. I also would have liked to get some particles and other VFX in there to really complete the feel of the game.
  • There was a few strange bugs left in the game that I had absolutely no idea why they were happening and didn’t have the time left to look investigate them. These bugs and the lack of polish and VFX are the biggest drawback by far, which is why I’m fixing them all and adding in the polish I wanted to from the start in a post-compo version for Gamejolt and Itch.io.
  • There was still a few times when you’d experience an abrupt lag spike, but it never seemed to last for more than a split second.
  • The ending was a bit dissatisfying, but it did end on a good cliff-hanger that allows us room to expand it into a full confrontation, or possibly even make a sequel (of sorts) so we can do the story the justice it deserves.

Final Thoughts

Though I could have done my part quite a bit better, I learned a lot and came out with a game to show for it. Like every other game you do (especially games that are made for game jams), it’s not always the final game, but rather the experience you gain from it that really matters. While you and everyone else are likely to forget about your game jam game, the experience you have and the lessons you learn ripple throughout time and creep into every one of your future endeavors, and that’s what truly matters.

SHAPE.SHIFT() Post-Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @xanjos)
Monday, April 25th, 2016 10:05 am

I’ve just written up the post-mortem for my LD35 game SHAPE.SHIFT() which you can view by heading straight to my blog.

ld35gameplay

To see my previous post on how to get a good score in my game (because apparently it’s ridiculously hard), click here and if you haven’t tried the game yet, give it a play/rate by clicking here.

Also, I’m looking for more games to play/rate so click here to submit your entry and I’ll get to it as soon as possible.

Devil’s Hand – Post Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @kuupudev)
Sunday, April 24th, 2016 3:51 pm

thumb

I’m gonna list here the same categories as in the Ludum Dare rating system.

0 – Overall
It was my first attempt at going solo on a jam (and first post-mortem as well).
First of all, I didn’t go for what I had planned.
I intended to submit it at the jam category, so I made everything on my own, including music which is something I never tried before.

But due to complications with performance and level design I decided to spend one more day (actually half of a day) to solve some of its issues.

On this extra time I remade the logo, made a end game screen, solved some performance issues (split the 3 levels in 5 to reduce the amount of objects in the scene and attached some wall and floor pieces) and redone some of the level design, fortunately I think the best parts of the levels were done in this extra time.

logo   Old Logo

devillogo  Rework

 

for a while I was willing to make a fast paced FPS/ Doom like game, my idea was something with a Quake or Hexen graphics, something about demons/devils/aliens/sci-fi, really fast, focused on shooting and dodging.
Some time ago I discovered Devil’s Dagger and I thought: “well, this kind of graphics and pace still works nowadays” :)

A few days before the jam I asked Kaol (who usually participate on ludum dare with me) and she said she had a lot of work to do and could not participate this time, so I decided to make this little game I was willing to make, but I didn’t had any idea of what to do next.

jh5s6b2gzopmr7jzvve8

 

This game was made using:

  • Unity 3D (C#)
    • The enemies move around using NavMesh
    • Shuriken for particles
    • Custom FPS controller (Made during the jam)
    • Character collision with CharacterController
  • Aseprite
    • For 3D model textures and for enemy sprites
  • Blender
    • All the models and animations
    • The “shatter” effect of the enemy’s death is actually a mesh made in blender
  • AudioSauna
    • It was the best audio web application I found and it’s free for now

1 – Innovation
Well, while brainstorming for the game none of my ideas included innovation. It’s not like I don’t think it’s a necessary or important thing in games, just this was not the case, not with this game.
Here I really tried to “emulate” an old experience, some kind of nostalgic trip.

I think the only “innovation” was in the matter of HUD, I condensed everything around the hand, which in the end was kind of bad, I saw a lot of people only noticing the health and ammo bars at level 3 (of 5), even though this information appeared in the instruction Screen.

Capture   Instruction Screen

destto´p   In-game HUD

2 – Fun

Even fun being a subjective matter, I believe I get the half of the way of delivering a really fun experience.

The reason are mainly the level design and enemy AI.
– Fror the level design’s perspective the levels did not explore all the possibilities that it should. Considering weapons, movement and enemies.

-Now for the AI, even though there are 4 types of enemies(with distinct behaviours), in the end they all looked the same(probably due to a Level Design + AI flaw): the enemies almost always ended up trapped in a corridor type area forming a queue. Not cool.

ENIS1   Enemies

3 – Theme
Gosh…
the Idea I get in the brainstorm was, “this person will have a demon hand and it’ll change its shape accordingly with the kind of shots”, something like Resident Evil Birk kind of thing…
It turned out I could not animate a convincing transition between the hands and ended adding the “rune” kind of weapon indicator :(
I don’t think that this was the best way to approach a theme and there are a thousand ways to include shapeshifting as an actual gameplay feature. I should have spent more time on this matter.

re2-g3

4 – Graphic

  • Enemies
    I’m really happy with the enemies graphics, they look just in the way I intended, kind of gross, alien and demon. It was a really fast and straightforward process, I had the behaviours and I drew a sprite for each of them.
  • Level
    Some stuff worked well, some did not.
    I took too long to achieve something nice for the wall, but in the end it’s awfully repetitive.
    Even without much time left to spend on more level assets I still managed to make the “green tubes”, If it wasn’t for it the level would have been even blander.
    tube
  • Light
    on my first attempt each wall piece had 2 independent lights, the lights could be powered, blinking or off. Of course it screwed the performance ‘-‘
    I made the ambient base light a little brighter and distributed some random light points along the levels.
    I’m not happy with the results and with more time I would bake a carefully planned set of lights.
  • The Hand
    As it is the main feature of the game, I spent something around 3 hours testing around the hand, size, shape, colors.
    Some of the inspirations for the hand came from Hellboy and Devil May Cry.
    I’m happy with the results except for 2 issues.

    • 1 – I wanted it to look more gross almost disgusting and a little more slender.
    • 2 – I spent a lot of time making the “veins” to fit to the symbol on the palm and it’s not even visible in the game.

1 2 3 4

5 – Audio

I’m really proud of it, not because I think it’s good, but because it was my first attempt at making music.
Some people hated it, some people think it’s repetitive, but I really liked and I saw a guy on youtube really getting into the beat, so I’m happy :)

I just would add a little darker tone to the main phrase if I had more time.

GameJolt

I had the luck to be featured by GameJolt, in 3 days the game jumped from 20 to 2.2k plays.

13083278_640257686115350_5323931969119232398_n

A lot of people is giving very useful feedbacks there and some people are making youtube videos of the game, it’s awesome because I can find exactly where each person is getting stuck, how many time it took to discover the game mechanics, which room is overpowered, etc.

For this reason I recommend everyone to put your games on GameJolt :)

g3

 

 

 

Thanks everyone for the support, I hope this will help in any way and if you want to know or want to suggest ANYTHING, just say it :)

—————————————————————————

PLAY AND RATE HERE!

The Golden Sphere – Post Mortem

Posted by
Sunday, April 24th, 2016 10:23 am

The Golden Sphere is the result of 72 hours of work by a three man team. It’s a jump’n’run game featuring a narrator including voice acting.

 

GoldenSphere001

 

Let’s look back at how the game was created, what went well and what didn’t work as planned.

 

Making of

 

Our Weekend started on Saturday at 8 o’clock in the morning (Ludum Dare was already running since 3:00 am in our time zone) with the discussion of game ideas. We first weren’t really happy with the theme but after a few minutes we came up with the idea we now implemented. As we knew that the first idea often isn’t the best one we looked for more. The best we could come up with was that you are a frog and can shapeshift into a prince. You would then have to infiltrate a castle without getting noticed. Obviously the first idea was better so we took it: you can shapeshift into a human, a wolf and a turtle, each of the forms has unique abilities. Those allow you to solve different kinds of puzzles / platformer elements.

 

GoldenSphere004

 

The rest of Saturday was spent implementing the engine, doing artwork, level design and narration writing. On Sunday we recorded all the narration which took several hours. So much monologue… In the evening we tried to create some music but failed horribly. It was Sunday midnight and we didn’t have any levels implemented in the game and only about three existed on paper. The engine also still needed a lot of work to be done. Our goal was to be done by this time, instead we had virtually nothing playable. Oh well, we would need to spend the Monday as well on the game. The lectures at the university had to wait…

The Monday was mostly spent with implementing the levels in the engine (writing tons of xml, so much fun…) and teaching the narrator when to say what. In the end the narrator took about 1000 lines of code, one fourth of the whole engine. The last level was done at one o’clock in the morning, two hours left until the deadline. By the way we still hadn’t come up with a name for our game yet. Unfortunately we didn’t have time for a proper play through as we still had to fix some bugs. And yeah, we still didn’t have any music. We had a few sound effects but no music. So we gave up with trying to create it ourselves and let the computer take over. Thanks to Abundant Music we were able to add music in the last minute. It was somehow depressing that the computer created better music than we were able to but this just means that we have to practice more ;-). We opted to let the users vote on audio even though we didn’t create the music ourselves as we spent a lot of time doing the narration which is also part of audio.

After we uploaded our game and the deadline was over we were able to play the whole game for the first time. And as you can imagine a few small bug fixes followed shortly after. At four o’clock on Tuesday morning we were done, but luckily, so was our game.

 

GoldenSphere002

 

What we want to do better next time

 

  • Create our own music. The music we now have is good but our own would “feel” better.
  • We didn’t have any playable levels until Monday morning. Plays into the next point.
  • Have the game almost finished way earlier so more time can be spent hunting bugs and improving the game experience.
  • Include the bear in the game.

 

What went well

 

  • Idea turned out to be better than expected.
  • We have about 20 minutes of game play. Or much more if you haven’t already played each level a thousand times.
  • Our goal before the jam started was to made a game with a narrator. It worked out pretty good.
  • The visuals of the game are – at least in my eyes as a developer – pretty nice. And we have a nice shader for the mountain lake.
  • We were able to turn the missing bear (cut due to the limited time budget) into an ongoing joke.
  • We finished the game on time (later than planned but still within the deadline).

 

GoldenSphere003

 

Conclusion

 

Although we first didn’t really like the theme I think the game we made this time is my best Ludum Dare game so far. Most things went well but took more time to complete than we first thought. But that’s always the case. We were able to adjust the scope of our game early enough to be able to still finish it. The feedback so far is great and we already thought about making the game bigger and better. Coming Summer 2017?

If you got curious and want to play the game: there you go!

Keysmith’s in a hurry! – Post-Mortem

Posted by
Sunday, April 24th, 2016 10:17 am

A musician, a business administrator, an architect and a programmer. Not really a gamedev team; just a group of close friends looking for fun! And now we here to share the experience we had on the creation of Keysmith’s in a hurry!

We’ve met online at talk.gg just a few minutes before the theme announcement. At that moment we had already set a roadmap for the game development, as the following:

  1. Theme brainstorming
  2. Mockups and game name choosing
  3. SGDD writing
  4. Game assets and scenes creation
  5. Game programming
  6. Game sounds and musics inclusion
  7. Game publishing
  8. Post-Mortem writing

As soon as they announced the theme, we’ve started the brainstorm. Monsters, food, spaceships, rogue-like, quiz, game board, popcorn and a lot of crazy ideas… Until we finally got to the key-idea: to shapeshift keys for npcs that would tell a single-line story about why they needed a key. So this was the first mockup, made on flockdraw:

mockup1

1º Mockup for Keysmith’s in a hurry!

We’ve spent a lot of time discussing the game features and drawing the interface. Later we moved to draw.io for a better mockup:

mockup2

3º Mockup for Keysmith’s in a hurry!

With the mechanics and interface defined we could start thinking about the name. We’ve came across a lot of ideas. From the ok ones (Keymaker; Keymaster Legacy; Keystorm) to the awful ones (The Insane Adventure of the All-Keys Maker; Lord of the Keys; Keymberly!). In the end, we’ve picked the name “Keysmith’s in a hurry!” mainly because how it sounds. Also, no game has ever been made with that name.

Next step: writing the SGDD. [SGDD stands for Short Game Design Document, a development documentation method for small-size games. Original article, in brazilian portuguese: https://goo.gl/wNf46h]

We did it collaboratively using Google Docs:

For demonstration purposes we’ve reviewed and prettified it before posting here. During the jam it was a little messy due the lack of time. [PDF Version: https://goo.gl/KoKu2U]

For demonstration purposes we’ve reviewed and prettified it before posting here. During the jam it was a little messy due the lack of time. [PDF version is available at https://goo.gl/KoKu2U]

Having the development guide, it was time to start creating the assets on Photoshop and the scenes on Unity3D. Here you have some records of this moment:

kiah_dev

Assets & Game Scene.

With the assets and scenes in hand, it was time to make a game of it. Make the static become dynamic. At the moment we started programming, we remembered to turn Chronolapse on: https://goo.gl/S89bY3

The game was all scripted using MonoDevelop. Meanwhile the soundtracks were being created with Cubase. Also we’ve included sounds on buttons and made some improvements on the UI:

Keysmith's in a hurry! on Unity3D

Our game on Unity3D.

Finally, a few minutes before the deadline we’ve published it!

Playable!

Click this image to play our game!

Time for a well deserved rest before start writing the post-mortem!

 

Game Specifications, Experience and Feedback

Mechanics

It’s a game about resources management. In summary, each round the player needs to read a order description (to know what kind of key he needs to create), choose the material he wants to use for each part of the key and then click on the shape of the key they want to add to the key table (where the key is assembled). After the key is delivered, the next customer comes in and the next round starts. There’s a time system, but not so useful as we couldn’t implement it further; it only resets the current day startistcs every day. The statistics are currently the only feedback the player has for the customer’s opinions about the keys created.

The game targets computer web browsers, and all the interaction is made through mouse clicks on several buttons from the gameplay screen. It’s a simple and functional game, but due to it’s linear gameplay, it gets boring after five minutes.

Aesthetics

We’ve focused the aesthetics on something reminding middle ages. All assets were based on this premise. So you see medieval keys, hear medieval coins and listen medieval songs among the game. The game is all in one screen because we had not much information beside numbers.

Story

We’ve setup a short background story just to let the player understanding why was he clicking all those buttons. As you can read in-game, the backstory is:

“Descendant from keysmith masters, you are currently the best keysmith of the region. Besides being recognized for your excellence and tradition in the manufacture of keys, you were recently knighted by the king, for creating the key that saved his kidnapped daughter. Now you need to race against time to meet the demands from your old customers in addition to those who are curious about your work and sudden fame.”

Technology

We’ve developed the game on Unity3D, but decided to export only to WebGL (HTML5), so our game is basically a web browser game. The best thing about HTML5 is that anyone with a uptodate web browser can play it. Besides the game engine, we’ve used a lot of great and modern tools to make this game exist, as you’ve read above.

What we’ve learned

One of the first things we’ve noticed is that not everyone is prepared for the Pomodoro Technique. We used it on the first day, but not everyone could stop their work on the intervals. So we didn’t use it on the following days. But we’ll definitely try it again on the next jam.

Having an SGDD as a development guide helps a lot. Once the game tasks are defined, we just need to follow the list!

Our strategy of using controllers+events on the programming was not perfect; we still had some scripts referencing others directly. We’re already studying new techniques for that.

The Bad

We all agree that it took us too long discussing the game ideia. Besides that, we needed to change tools (for conference and drawing mainly) several times, due to the lack of functionalities or for not working on some members computers. We should have tested the tools in group before starting.

At the end of the jam we didn’t complete the programming task list from the SGDD: there should be a feedback message for the player to know what the client thought about the key. We’d do it through a message box that would slide down from the top of the window (you can see it being implemented on the timelapse video). But it was cancelled due to the deadline. We also missed the game over conditions, that was already defined on the SGDD. And also a few fixes, like disable the Deliver button if the key had only one or two of the three parts and disable the Discard button if the key table was already empty.

We’ve spent some time to share assets. Using a shared folder on Dropbox would accelerate our work.

The Good

The best part was the laughs! We laugh a lot! That was enough to make that time count! But we also liked alot our teamwork. So much effort put on it!

We’re all proud we could make the random customers orders work; to see the different combinations of keys with only a few assets; to try out those techniques (Pomodoro and SGDD) and know it works; to see our UI design being so much appreciated when we had no one to focus on the art.

All this gave us a very pleasant experience overall.

 

Hi Ludum Darers,

We are Imperial Unit, a 2 man indie developer based in Australia. Ludum Dare 35 was the first game jam we have ever participated in – and we scraped through just in time to submit our game – Roamin’ Hordes.

PROTECT THE EMPEROR – PLAY ROAMIN’ HORDES!

Roamin' Hordes - Praetorian Guard Under Attack

About the Game

Roamin’ Hordes is a hybrid between a tabletop wargame and a tower defence. We tried to think of something different when it came to the ‘shapeshift’ theme and we were inspired by the geometric nature of historical warfare, with ranks of troops arranged in formations, and having to change their shape to manoeuvre and hold the battle line.

Below is a time-lapse video of the game development, and a play through showing the real time large scale combat in action.

The Good

  • One of the goals was to show off huge battles with thousands of troops – which we accomplished by handling unit movement, animation etc. with the particle system in Unity. At the peak of the battle there are around 4000 soldiers displayed and performance remains fluid.
  • We tried a new approach with art, by first creating 3D voxel models, and then turning them into pixelated 2D sprites. We were aiming for the retro style that existed between hand drawn pixel art and modern 3D realism. In the end there was enough detail and animation that you could zoom from the map wide view into individual combat between formations.
  • We wanted immersive sounds to add to the atmosphere of being in a big battle, and spent some time to implement positional sound effects so you could hear the direction of marching barbarians, flying arrows etc.
  • The game only includes one scenario, and we didn’t have a lot of time to test the balance, but it seems to have turned out well – the scenario is definitely winnable, but it usually takes people a few attempts to understand the attack patterns and develop a counter strategy.

The Bad

  • We were a bit slow paced in the first days, and found ourselves rushing and sleepless at the end, which meant several planned features had to be dropped to finish a playable game in time. The main ones were not having unit icons to make them easier to identify when zoomed out, a lack of variety in the barbarian units (we wanted calvary, chariots etc.), and only having one scenario.
  • The pacing of the scenario is not ideal, mostly as a consequence of only having one scenario, so it had to function as a tutorial as well as a challenging scenario. This means the first few waves feel too slow and easy, while things ramp up in difficulty in the later waves – having to go through the early waves again on replays can be tiresome.
  • There were several limitations with the particle system within Unity (for our unconventional use), which meant that parts of the code had to be re-written, and sprite atlases has to be changed and arranged in a specific way to work properly.
  • Too much time was spent background art (about 1.5 days) which would have been time better spent on creating enemy units and developing other scenarios.

Thanks to those who have tried out the game – all the feedback has been constructive and really helpful for us. For those who haven’t played it you can give it a try here.

FOR THE GLORY OF ROME – PLAY ROAMIN’ HORDES!

IU_RH_Units

Imperial Unit

http://www.imperialunit.com

http://www.twitter.com/imperialunit

http://www.facebook.com/imperialunit

Post-mortem ultra combo!

Posted by
Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 2:29 am

I’ve not done a postmortem since #27, Deadline so I thought I’d include my streak of failures from 28 to 34 as I finally broke the streak!

28 – You only get one: I had decided on a turn based battle game, and got a day or so into it and ended up getting sick. This was the first LD I had made that used the pathing system I wrote.

29 – Beneath the Surface: My usual libraries were in a big state of disarray as I ported everything from XNA to SharpDX11. I think I made a character walk around and that was about it. The idea I had was to lead an earth cult where you dig deeper to gain power, but I had no idea how I was going to do the digging part.

30 – Connected Worlds: I went through several ideas and never got anything playable. Full details.

31 – Entire Game on One Screen: Kind of a tricksy theme for us 3D folk. I’m fairly sure I worked a bit on a game called DeathBall where a ball bounced around a level and you had to avoid it. I was very rusty and didn’t get very far as I hadn’t been coding day to day for awhile.

32 – An Unconventional Weapon: Was very prepared for this one and had my libs beaten into good shape. I had this really serious story about an ultimate weapon shattered into pieces by a Goddess that you had to recover to help an overthrown king. I had planned on the final confrontation making the weapon do something silly like turn enemies into chickens.

I had just written a new physics system and it was a bit dodgy and difficult to use. That plus making my first map outdoor – an approach to a barbarian village – means I quickly burned up all my time just getting something running. BSP maps are notoriously difficult to make for outdoor areas, and I had all the usual problems.

33 – You are the Monster: Was in the middle of adding terrain to my libs so they really weren’t in any shape to make anything with. I grabbed Unreal and started trying to use it and got very very confused. Trying to make something over a weekend with middleware you’ve never used is pure madness, but I learned a lot. I don’t even think I got as far as trying to do something for the theme, I think it was just “how do I make draw something derp”.

One huge issue I had that weekend was every now and then Unreal would flip out and do a full build. That took 2.5 hours on my old machine (I have it down to 25 min with my new one).

34 – Growing: For this I started in Unreal, and was a bit more familiar with it this time. I settled on a top down slasher game with loot that “grows” as you gain XP. I had basic move and attack going but hit a wall with unreal’s UI system. I was determined to use C++ for it and it led me down a bad bad rabbit hole. In another spot I forgot to call the base class on a virtual and it led to some really really strange behaviour that took hours to figure out.

35 – Shapeshift: This is the first LD that I’ve ever thought about themes ahead of time. In the past I had always heard Yoda in my head saying “Clear your mind must be!”, but this time I told Yoda to bugger off and thought up a few ideas for each of the top themes.

For Shapeshift I had the dead obvious idea of an RPG involving Lycanthropy. A simple quest to retrieve the “Chalice of Life” would lead to an accursed monastery with doors that would only open for one with the curse of a were-something.

Things that went well:

Unity was a good choice. It flipped out on me a few times but was solid overall.

Code! I’ve been programming full time again so code flew from my fingers.

RPG stuff I’ve been really into lately so the stat/item/buff/combat code was quick.

Music: I made 3 pieces of music with Bosca Ceoil, only one of which I ended up using but I couldn’t stop playing with it. Really fun to make stuff with.

WebGL! My first ever web playable game! I know many LD folk hate running exes.

Fun! I had a blast making the game and I’ve pined all week to work on it more while doing my regular job.

Things that went not-so-well:

A storm knocking the power out.

Click-to-move: When I got fighting working, I remembered why I don’t really like top down click-to-attack games. They kind of all suffer from missclicks, where you miss what you were trying to attack and end up moving instead. The movement makes you miss again and again and you just end up walking stupidly around the enemy while they are shiving you in the kidneys.

I spent a bit of time looking at Torchlight 2 (omg what awesome music), and totally ripped off how they handle clicks and click holds and their shift to hold position thing. It makes it a bit better but I still think click-to-move is rather flawed.

UI: Just getting a health bar going was difficult. I ended up watching one of the Unity training videos to puzzle out the UI system. It was really confusing and I hate watching videos to learn stuff, and much prefer a blog post I can skim through.

Ultimately I didn’t get an inventory gump in, which is really vital for a slay & loot festival like this. Especially frustrating when you can see you are picking up tasty treasure and you can’t use any of it.

Comas: The main problem I’ve had in this jam and all the past failures has been tiredness. Even a frugal meal can often send me spiraling down into a food coma. After it kind of wrecked my weekend efforts I decided to try a ketogenic diet. Hopefully I’ve stuck with it and the next time I’ll be in better shape for long sessions.

Super Shapeshift Bros – Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @comanche_ak)
Friday, April 22nd, 2016 5:24 pm

I’m thinking about adding the game to the Steam Greenlight program. So that’s the features that will be in final version:
1) Changing the engine (It will be Godot Engine);
2) AI for single player campaign;
3) Network Multiplayer;
4) More customizeable stuff (Faces, hats, textures, etc);
5) Add other figures;
6) Level editor for community;
7) 4-8 player mode;
8) Dynamic camera;
9) Larger arenas;
10) Add jump button;
11) More arenas;
12) You will contol your figure while flying.

Ok, 72 hours were hard for me but I’ve finished my game. It’s not exactly what I wanted to do, the first idea was to make a platformer with controls like in Super Shapeshift Bros. The plot was about 3 different types of tribes: right -angled triangles, squares, and pentagon people; The new type of shapeshifting virus attacked these tribes and they have started to lose their shapes and angles. The main concept was like The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask – the player can transform from one type to another (from triangle to square, for example), so the main character (The Triangle) like Link – the chosen one, who can fix the problem by finding the Mighty Circle.


Prototype

When I’ve started makimg a prototype I added the second triangle and tried to play with it. Few weeks ago my wife gave me a present for my birthday: it was Nintendo WiiU with two games – Super Smash Bros and Splatoon. I’ve played Splatoon a lot, but SSB was only for parties. So I thought that it would be cool to make this type of video game. Competitive game for parties.

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Running on TV

I thought about differences between a triangle and a square. The mass was the first. Triangle can simply rotate at high speed and it can be rotated by player. Square can be rotated only by a physical impulse. That was great to use this feature because you can use shapeshifting to stop at any horizontal point you need. Square can also push the triangle, and after that, the other player can lose the match.

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Two players one one gamepad

The big problem was Unity Engine and its Input System. All three modes for two players should not be a part of one mode but Unity Input System is awful so when I’ve added new mode, the old one didn’t work. I’ve decided to make all-in-one. I’ve also cut 4 player mode because of time.


Standard GIF

The art style was chosen to be cute and funny, the primitives do the job very well. Faces and most of art were made by hope42morrow for the first concept but his work fits well for now. Music was written by me on Nintendo 3ds system. Levels are not really good for now. But people liked TRIANGLE OF DEATH arena which is not quite triangle.

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Thank you for playing the game! It’s great that one of my dreams come true!

Here is the video showing how to play the game. It’s in Russian, but you can understand the basics without words.

You can play and rate the game here.

Neon Level Switcher – Post Mortem – What went well

Posted by
Thursday, April 21st, 2016 5:26 pm

Ludum Dare 35 was the second one for me, as a ludum and as a game jam. The last time I joined forces as a part of DarkLight Team, but this time half of the team had a real-life problem and we were only two coders on the team. Then we decide to join the compo and try what can we do all alone. Neon Level Switcher was child.

What went well

 

The game is finished

From the first hour I decided to go to a simpler project that I could potentially finish in time. And it was a good idea, because I needed to switch to the jam competition to have 24 hours more to have a nicer game. But in the end, the game was completed, maybe not the best gameplay (see more later), but is playable, graphics and sound complete. I had a lot of ideas, lets take a look:

  • Rhythm game with shape change mechanic
  • Local Multiplayer game with shape change mechanic (rock, paper scissors maybe?)
  • Plattformer with a “shape” protagonist that needs to change to beat situations
  • Pong like game where you can change your shape to change the ball direction
  • Turn based game, every turn you can change your shape to define speed, like Formula D, the more sides, the more speed
  • The enemies change shape every time you shoot them
  • The side count matters
  • Physics based mechanics, playing with the shape you “shoot”
  • You can change your shape to hide from enemies
  • Worms like game where the player can “paint” their bullet to adapt to the terrain
  • Wall of death game, you need to change your shape to fit in the wall that’s coming
  • The shape of the scenario changes, move wisely to not die
  • Finding the most relaxing “shape” in the sofa

I wrote down every idea I had, no matter how hard or crazy it seemed to me, because some times an impossible idea leads to another one and luckily, it could be THE IDEA. I would love to do a rhythm game (I was very involved in the machine dance scene in Spain), but it will be very hard to do when you don’t have any idea of sound programming. Others involved too many mechanics to code them all alone and in the end, the winner was due to the fact the last game in the ludum dare used Tiled levels and it would be easier to me to develop something. I loved to see some of the ideas appeared as submissions :D.

I did the graphics

I love to draw, but loving something does not means that you will be able to do it correctly. The major fear I had when we decided to go solo were the graphics. They may seem simple, but it was a nightmare for me to generate such a simple tileset. In the end, going simple was the best option, sacrificing a “theme” behind the game and hoping you will not need to know why you are a rotating rhombus that moves through blue levels.

My main inspiration was Hexagon, I think it’s a great title graphic wise. But something I learned is that making something look simple implies a lot of work.

It was relaxing

Too many people tie a game jam to an stressful situation. I think is a great error. You are here to learn, to have fun, to go creating with boundaries. But you don’t really need to crunch in a game jam. I want to highlight the “need” verb I’ve used, it’s OK to stress yourself if you want, maybe you want to test how much you can do in 48/72h. In my case, I wanted to finish without wasting resting time, and it was a success. Saturday night I decided to go to play the Doom beta and leaving the Compo even when I had 3 more hours to finish the game. As a result, it was very fun to me, even when the engine failed to deploy the game with 1 hour left to do it.

Nightshift – Post-mortem

Posted by (twitter: @AurelDev)
Thursday, April 21st, 2016 1:04 pm

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 03.13.01

PLAY NIGHTSHIFT NOW

(this is a mirror of this blog post on thenet.sk)

As is tradition, I participated in another Ludum Dare, with the theme ‘Shapeshifting’. Though the game is rather simple and certainly not revolutionary, it might be one of my best LD entries to date.

For a change, the important life-changing exam week was not right after the LD, but just before. So I didn’t really have time to make sure all my libraries are ready, nor to make a wallpaper for this LD (I used the one from last LD, terrible, I know!) … But it felt like a relaxing weekend after the weeks of studying. For the second time, I was at my girlfriend’s, not at home. So, once again:

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And so on with the yumm.

The theme

I didn’t really go through the themes the day before, didn’t try to calculate the most likely one. Mostly because I wasn’t truly happy with any of the themes. So on Saturday morning, seeing the theme was ‘Shapeshifting’, and inspired by Elvie:

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And also this derp that goes by the name of Ninja:

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I thought, shapeshifting into a cat could work as the basic plotline. My initial idea was that the player was a werecat, turning into a cat every full moon. The intro could be somewhat fun, making the player think he was going to turn into a classic werewolf, and in the very end revealing the truth with a dramatic meow.

A roguelike approach

As far as the game itself goes, I first thought I’d make a simple topdown roguelike – the player / cat would go through ‘dungeons’ that would turn out to just be the rooms of the player’s house looking extremely exciting and dangerous to a cat. There could be some basic RPG levelling, gaining experience, etc. To go with the theme a bit more than just the intro, I wanted the player to learn new ‘shapes’ along the way, by scratching scratchposts.

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Each shape would have slightly different abilities, advantages and disadvantages. For example, most basic cat shapes would be ‘jumpy’ – automatically jumping / teleporting to nearby sources of noise, with a QTE overlay to scratch up whatever the source was, otherwise continuing in regular combat. The catloaf shape would reduce this radius of jumpiness, or completely eliminating it. The player would not be able to move as a catloaf, however, so it would be a purely defensive shape.

Another idea was the idea of some meta-game progression. Every night, the player would turn into a cat, but during the days, they would wonder what happened, clean up the mess, etc. Or maybe they have just moved in to a new place, so everything is packed in boxes, and every day the player can unbox the furniture of another room, thereby allowing the player to add elements into the nightly ‘dungeons’ one by one.

Shmup time

I was somewhat committed to this idea already, and yet, it didn’t feel extremely exciting. I realised that I was not really using the theme, that a roguelike game is quite a lot of work to make, that I wasn’t exactly sure how the game would play, I just knew the intro was okay. Luckily, it was still morning, and I changed my mind while talking about my ideas with my girlfriend. I thought a shmup, while not an uncommon or new genre, would be interesting to try out – I could focus more on proper polish of the game, instead of getting overwhelmed by implementing difficult game mechanics.

And the introductory shapeshift would just be slightly more goofy – as a werecat, you decide to put on your space helmet and fight the evil space mice (for no real reason).

I have decided to keep the idea of different cat ‘shapes’, however, as an analogue to weapon selection in classical shmups. Destroying scratchposts stations would produce a power-up for one of the player’s shapes.

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Then it was quite easy to make progress. With the idea being a bit silly, I didn’t have to worry about consistency, or a horror mood like I did with my previous point ‘n click entries. So – space mice, guard dog, flies and bees, scratch stations, yarnball magnets. The graphics were old schoolesque and, as usual, I limited myself to a small palette – 11 colours in this case.

Music

At some point, I thought about a boss fight. A guard dog seemed appropriate, it could attack by barking, jumping, scratching, et cetera – a lot of room to make various boss attacks. Before I got to making any of that, I thought of the music for this boss fight. Surf rock seemed fitting at the time. Misirlou (covered by Dick Dale) is a good example of this genre:

So I attempted to make some music. Using my own music library, coding the notes like this:

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While the library certainly has some errors, it works. But writing down notes like this is most definitely not a good method of making music. I need to get around to making a GUI for it one day, enable MIDI input maybe – then release it for fellow Ludum Darians. So, the end result was that the music I made was not exactly stellar. It fills the silence, but it’s by no means good.

Accepting my defeat after about two hours or so of messing around with it, I just left it as it was and moved on.

Level design

Then it was high time to make actual content. I had some cat shapes, some enemies, some power-ups, but nothing to hold it all together. I thought no levels could be complete without walls! They worked somewhat … But as someone pointed out in the comments, they were mostly frustrating, with the hitbox being too large and the walls dealing too much damage.

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I made my job somewhat easier by typing up the levels as text, then using a PHP script to convert it into a Haxe array and paste the result directly into my source code.

My time was running out, however, and I decided that three levels + a boss should be the bare minimum. The result is that the levels I had were somewhat rushed and, unfortunately, they introduced a lot of artificial difficulty by swarming the player with lots of enemies or difficult mazes. Nonetheless, I was extremely happy to submit something resembling a finished game at 3 in the morning.

Post-jam

The reception was very positive, mostly complaining about the difficulty, which motivated me to make the casual easier version so that people may get to the boss and enjoy the full game.
In fact, this is the very first LD game I will remake and try to get greenlit on Steam, with the help of my friend for the music. Here’s a trailer:

The Deluxe version will include different areas, many more levels and bosses, additional shapes, good music, and so on. Here’s to hoping. :)

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