we have been keeping you updated on new features for our game Of Carrots And Blood, which we started working on at LD31. Now PewDiePie played our game and we wrote a post on our blog about the impact on our emotions, downloads and sales.
So, seems like the best (music-wise) Ludum Dare game I made music for scored #84 out of 1468 (in Jam). Not bad, glad I focused on just audio this time. Looking forward to beat the record next time!
For LD27, I created a robotic face-matching game, and I have since rebuilt that prototype into a new game with more modes, more polish, and more fun called Roboticon.
It is free for iOS and Android. It gets really fun to play with friends when you get to the upper levels. Oh, and I also added cats (an optional IAP)! Please check it out.
‘BABY BORN’ – A POSTMORTEM FOR YOU CAN SHAVE THE BABY
A CHIKUN GAME BY JOSEF AND RYAN
‘You Can Shave The Baby’ is a minigame experience that harks to the time-honoured Warioware minigames with a special dash of bizarre tasks that require the user to suspend their disbelief – and their sanity. The inspiration of the game draws from a series of weird and wonderful in-jokes Josef and I developed, incorporating elements from previous games we have made (all of which are available on our chikun.net website).
If you haven’t played it yet – check it out! Find it here, or on our site at chikun.net.
THE DESIGN PROCESS FOR ‘YOU CAN SHAVE THE BABY’
‘I want to make a weird game’. So we made one. Originally going down the avenue of wanting a hybrid horror-adventure in the vein of Yume Nikki, the project immediately turned into something else at the start of the jam.
The basic coding for the minigame format was fairly simple and self-contained once it was complete. In the vein of making minigames via Warioware: DIY the logic behind the games was easy: it needed,
(1) a timer, countdown and increasing speed,
(2) a win and lose state,
(3) different modes of user input that triggered success in minigames, and
(4) a life and score system to add progress.
After that, development was smooth sailing and the major focus of the programming was to tailor elements (2) and (3) to the unique specifications of each minigame.
As Josef was doing this it was up to me to ascertain the creative direction we wanted to take to give the minigames their personality, whilst retaining the challenge of the game. We made up a list of potential minigames, incorporating a basic description, and the win/loss states of each minigame.
Despite the bizarre nature of the game, many of the concepts revolved around non-sequitur comments, running jokes or references to previous games:
CHALLENGES AND LIMITATIONS –
HOW DO WE IMPROVE THE BABY?
All in all the game came together relatively efficiently, unlike the tension of previous Dares. My only concern during development was that we would not create enough minigames to sustain the interest of players – using the base 30 minigames in a level of WarioWare, I think there was always room to expand.
We came up with few actual challenges during development, but one large roadblock manifested in the last few hours of the Jam – a major storm hit the coast of NSW, Australia, and caused power outages that ended up lasting for a week from that very night. Fortunately, when the power went out on the morning of the last day, most of the work was complete – it was only a matter of uploading the game via phone and praying for electricity.
So what did we learn from making the game? How could we improve the baby game?
(1) Develop more varied and innovative game mechanics
Due to time constraints, many of the minigames revolved around either using the arrow keys on the keyboard to steer the direction of an object, or hovering or clicking the cursor to highlight a change in a graphic. Making tattoos, shaving babies, and putting on makeup all rely on the same fundamental mechanic. With more time to develop ideas we could have certainly provided the player with a more engaging and challenging experience.
(2) Actually related to the theme
A common criticism of our game was that it had nothing to do with the theme. This is completely correct – Josef asked me, “Ryan, how does this relate to the theme?” I replied to the effect of who cares. At the end I think I implemented some tenuous intro theme about coming across a hacking weapon in the form of a floppy disk, but the plot was certainly a last minute ass-pull. We made the game for the abstract minigames, and that’s about it.
(3) More animation and graphics for seamless game experience
Though the simplicity of the minigames in WarioWare are simple, there’s a lot going on in the animation department. With more time we could have implemented fades and transitions between the opening cinematics, provided more animations to gague success and failure, and actually provided an ending to give an end goal and thus closure to players after the novelty of the minigames wears off.
Regardless, it’s clear from the feedback we got that people feel ‘You Can Shave The Baby’ was unique in style and memorable. That’s all we could ever ask for.
BABY SHAVERS WANTED
Looking for premium, experienced baby-shavers to shave the baby.
Casual hours, $16.95 p/h to shave the baby.
Perks include holding the baby, talking to the baby, and of course the joy of shaving the baby.
Call (02) 9815 4000. Ask for “Randy.”
Phew! My first ever game jam is over, and also my first ever game has been published! I have to be honest – it feels good!
CharnHell is a top-down, local co-op brawler-cum-king of the hill style game, where you are forced to fight another poor soul for the amusement of the devil. You must chase the light in order to win, whilst beating off hordes of enemies – with no less than the body parts of your fallen enemies!
We managed to get the game to a good point by 2am, and spent about 30 minutes packaging it up, uploaded, then hit the hay. Considering I’ve spent the last 2 years developing my other game project, putting a game together in 72 hours sounds completely insane, but we did it! There are definitely some bugs in there (players / enemies sometimes spawn inside walls, sometimes throwing doesn’t work, there are some slight balance issues, and we didn’t have time to test the Mac or Linux builds), but overall we’re really happy with how things turned out.
A massive thanks goes out to my friend Lew, whom I worked very closely with the make this game happen; our good friend Ozy, who has provided the music for the game (though he doesn’t know it yet!) as we didn’t have time to create our own; our stream followers for their ongoing support (you know who you are!); and my lovely wife, who supplied us with a steady supply of tea and bacon butties!
We’ll have a time-lapse of the game development up soon too – until then, please check out our game and vote! I’ll be making sure I spend some time this week playing and rating other people’s games too.
A lot of response from people asking for music, made music for everyone! It was a lot of fun this Ludum Dare and I have practiced some composing along the way. Just finished making music for kill0u, he makes a game where during the day you play as your old mother who tries to visit all the places on the checklist (think market, church etc.), while avoiding annoying youngsters. It’s (almost?) impossible the first day (too many youngsters).
However, during the night you play as her son and you make a game for Ludum Dare and distribute it to these youngsters, so they will keep playing the game at home for the next day.
Fun gameplay design, it was just a breeze to make music for it! Decided to make it so the tempo stays the same and both themes are in the same key (for perfect transition between day and night). Eventually, it became that the night theme is sort of a adaptation of the day one. Anyway, have a listen!
Hello and welcome to the Holiday Sale! In this years sale you can get both High Flyer and Robotz for 80% OFF!
Regular Price: $10.00 USD
Sale Price: $1.99 USD
High Flyer is a game where you fly through many different levels while shooting down torrents and taking down anything that gets in your way!
Robotz is a game where you move around the map while taking down waves of robots and collecting coins and ammo! Survive as long as you can!
So what are you waiting for? Get High Flyer and/or Robotz today!
Both High Flyer and Robotz were Ludum Dare games.
High Flyer: http://gamegrape-studios.itch.io/high-flyer
GameGrape Studios (C)’2014. All rights reserved.
Hello fellow Ludum Darians, we’re extremely excited to tell you we’ve spent the weekend presenting our LD31 game at a games festival in Granada, a beautiful city at the south of Spain, called Granada Gaming.
People waited in line to play it, they’d come back for a rematch, and they even had a little king of the hill thing at a time. We were amazed and immensely happy.
The most amazing thing is that when the visitors had the chance to cast a vote for their favourite game of the show most chose Platform 31. So Platform 31 won the people’s choice award! You can see us in the picture above as happy as tired, as the ceremony was held late at night after a whole day of hard work at the show.
We want to thank everyone who came by (we know for a fact some of them also made a game for LD31, so come forth, people) and Ludum Dare itself, as we never would have made this game without it.
If you want to see what the fuzz it’s all about, you can play and rate the game here: http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-31/?action=preview&uid=29557
No, not the “unfinished game engine” kind, you big silly.
So I made this. It was exhausting and fun, and I hope you dig.
Love ya fellow LDers long time.
Click here to get to the game. Engine. Whatever 😀 I don’t mind that it’s unfinished. If Humanity needs it a whole lot, I have confidence it will get made. Otherwise it’s fine as it is!
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.
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.
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 freesound.org – 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!
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.
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.
Almost a year ago I was posting my “I’m in!” post for the LD #28 (You only get one). That was my sixth Ludum Dare in a row.
I made a game in which you had to play some kind of 1vs1 soccer game and get the ball back when it got out of bounds. It was funny to play with friends, but I just let it sleep on my hard drive. Around February, I decided to give it a chance and started working on the game, changing some (many) mechanics but trying to keep the gameplay. And in the summer I released the game on OUYA ,Gamestick and Amazon’s Fire TV.
Today, I’m posting again to announce that the game is on Steam Greenlight, it’s fully playable and I’m still working on adding more awesoness to it! Like online multiplayer, 4 players, more game modes, etc.
It’d be great if this community could take a look at my game and vote. I’m not asking for a yes, just for your honest opinion.
Here’s the link: Soccertron on Steam Greenlight
Thanks, LD community!
It managed to get through the Apple approval process on the first try (No kidding. The recent deluge of apps must have softened Apple…)
My compo version received amazing comments and really ok ratings too (no worries, I still love you guys!).
The mobile version didn’t change much from the compo one. The changes were,
* Leveling with increasing difficulty
* Retries earned based on level and tweaked scoring
* Emoji characters now display correctly (that was sooooo fun to fix)
* High scores are tracked
* Some UI fixes and improvements
* A new icon from an artist friend (Coming Soon™ to iOS).
Check it out. Try to get a score over 100 and let me know if you do. That is awesome.
* – no DRM where possible (i.e. not Apple).
Trappy Tomb was conceived as a response to the poor score for ‘innovation’ I received from my previous LD entry ‘Midnight Minigun’. Mulling how I could do something innovative I decided that client-server would be a fun way to interact with the LD community, and since I’d have very limited time I’d also attempt to integrate User Generated Content. I didn’t want to overly burden the player with creating things so I figured that playing with or against the recordings of previous plays would be a fun way to generate content and promote interaction. The death messages idea was influenced by the LD28 entry Rude Bear Resurrection and the mega-replay idea was an homage to Super Meat Boy. My own interest in collective insect behaviours also came into the design though my original ideas of collective problem solving ended up on the cutting room floor.
Trappy Tomb is set in an Indiana Jones / Tomb Raider style environment viewed from a top-down perspective. The player can move and jump. Jumping results in flying kicks which kill the bats that populate the tomb. Pretty much everything in there is lethal – spikes (timed, triggered and fixed), boulders (always triggered), pits, lava pits, bats and arrow launchers. There is also optional loot to collect. The game is split into two parts – a sizeable onboarding level in which you cannot die and your replays are not recorded, and the main Trappy arena.
The onboarding area has an important additional function beyond simply teaching controls – it shows what you get if you win, which is a statue personalised with your message and score for all to see. These show the game is beatable as well as providing motivation.
Without further ado here are two composite images of the main tomb complete with the death location of the first 2000 plays (left) and the breadcrumb trails left by those players (right). Click for larger views.
You can clearly see that the vast majority of players die in the first couple of hazards – some static pits. I’ll come back to this below. It’s also perhaps apparent that the climax of the level is a bit lacking- again see below!
You have 2 minutes to complete the level (ample time). If you timeout or die a dialog pops up asking for your “message to eternity” and you can see these being quoted as ghosts die while you play – I can honestly say it has been utterly hilarious seeing what everyone has put and I’m thrilled with this feature. However it was exploited badly at one point by trolls – more below. If you win you enter an inscription for your statue and are returned to the onboarding area where you get a special ending sequence and can see your statue in all it’s glory.
What went right
* The client-server system. I chose FatFractal for the server backend and it worked really well. It doesn’t require much setup at all and there is no server side code needed. You simply log-in a user and push your objects to the server. You can then pull them back with a rich query language. The player position is sampled every 0.2s and frames are interpolated on replay. When a ‘died’ state is encountered the death message is displayed – these are usually hilarious, so thank you for those! I’ve included a few choice quotes below 😉
* Artwork. This LD I decided to leave all the art until day 2 and this decision paid off as I got less bogged down in pixelling than previously and hence have more gameplay in there. The hardest part for me was selecting a colour palette – I needed everything to be readable and to separate sprites from the background and I’m pleased with how this turned out. I borrowed a few colours from other games and built up from there. Tools were Pixen and Zwoptex
* Onboarding and level flow. In my last LD entry I had many people rage-quitting because they died within the first few seconds before they’d even mastered the controls so I was determined to pace the start out and give the player a chance to get into the game. I’m really pleased that I managed to do this in the time and I think it meant people were ready when the real challenges came. I was generally happy with the building series of peaks and troughs of intensity in the level itself though I ran out of time so it ended a little abruptly. The first obstacle was probably a bit too hard as well as it claims about 60% of all attempts 😉
What went wrong
* Controls and physics. Disappointingly I failed to iterate enough on the player controls. I partly put this down to using a new framework (phaser) for the Jam so I had to find out about how the physics system worked as I went along which was not ideal. It turned out that with some really simple tweaks the experience could be much improved but the damage was done and no doubt people’s enjoyment suffered due to the over-large hit-box and slippery movement. Essentially people feel a bit cheated when they don’t think they touched spikes etc but die anyway and I can sympathise with this! The post-compo version (with about 10 characters of code changes) is loads better 😉
* Open to abuse. I really should have seen this coming, I really should, but I figured it was unlikely that the game would make it outside the LD community and so everyone would ‘play nice’ with their comments. Alas it was not to be and on one occasion I was confronted with some extremely offensive language that caused me to take the game offline immediately. It took a few days to work out a solution and thanks go to Gary at FatFractal for his support (t: @gkc). I settled on a system whereby all comments are immediately added to the local game, but will not appear in anyone else’s game until I’ve moderated them via a holding area. This actually has the side benefit that I can read all the comments as they are added
* Ran out of time. I had to ruthlessly cut features, for example I really wanted the ghosts to be more than just eye-candy, I wanted to have collective triggers that required ghosts to coordinate in order to open secret doors or get the ‘big prize’ etc. The idea being a community that self-organises to achieve a collective goal much like a colony of ants might… Was a shame to let that one drop! Similarly I underestimated how long it would take to create the traps and layout the environment. The game stands and falls on its level design and although I’m reasonably happy with it, the ending is weak and it kind of fizzles out a bit. I wanted to have a final large room with all sorts going on and some more timing based flame and spike puzzles but there simply wasn’t time. Still – by the time the make it to the end the few who’ve got that far were probably glad there was no more 😉
This Ludum Dare was easily the most challenging and yet satisfying I’ve so far undertaken. Tapping into the creativity of the community for my content turned out great as I knew it would because YOU ROCK!. The amazing comments I’ve had have lifted me beyond words (especially around the trolling incident) and being featured in a selection of YouTube videos has been a total blast too. Here’s my favourite of those along with the truly final words – courtesy of you, from the selection of 3100 messages…
* jump. Jump. JUST JUMP, YOU FOOL!!!!
* i’m not laaavint
* the lava is not nearly as hot as my rage
* I see dead people
* i love fat eggs
* fat eggs are gross
* DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME
* I SUICIDED FOR THIS: JUST GO LEFT
* DAMN i got nervous… must be close…
* Wonder how many of these are me?
* This particular bat is a win cheat
I could go on all day, but why not just play for yourself and see?!
This guy did and just about kept his cool:
This year in SeishunCon‘s digital gaming room, I was reintroduced to the match-3 game. I’d played Dr. Mario when I was younger, but more competitive games like Magical Drop, Bust-A-Move, and Tokimeki Memorial Taisen Puzzle-Dama were something very different.
Ultimately, I realized just how many more-or-less neutral decisions are involved in making a match-3 game.
During this year’s Ludum Dare, I decided to jump in head-first. I did a bit of a warm-up the week before, trying to build a Tetris-style algorithm that detected and cleared out lines. This tutorial from Unity Plus was a huge help. Of course, the Tetris matching algorithm–a complete row of tiles–is much simpler than an algorithm that picks out irregularly shaped patches of matching tiles.
More limited versions:
Dodge is a minimalist arcade game involving the act of dodging squares. In the eventual Steam version, this would be possible to do infinitely, as in other versions, or it would be possible to complete prepared levels. A level editor is included. The eventual Steam version would be greatly improved over the other versions, shipping with a level editor, 50 levels (they take about 10 seconds each, if done in one try), more customisation for the endless Level Infinity, and a few other things that I don’t care to mention.
Feel free to vote it up. Or down, if you really want to.