I’m actually very proud of Frenzy Inc, the game my team and I made for this jam. It was my first time entering with a team, and my other team members first game jam. I’ve been working with them on games for a while, but the time-limited nature of a jam was new to them. We made a game that we’re all proud of, and thats really the most important thing about the jam. We have also got some excellent comments and useful feedback on our games page, which give us a warm fuzzy feeling and help to make the game better.
What went right
Time and resource management. I was the only one on the team able to dedicate a whole 72 hours to this game. But we were able to plan and work around this to use the team members whenever they were available. And I still managed to get a total of 18 hours of sleep over the weekend, so overall a win.
Visual Style. I’m a programmer, but I ended up doing all the 3d modelling on this one since I was the only one on the team with any experience doing it. I’m happy with how the game looks, even if it is very simplistic.
AI. This was really my first time writing a proper AI for the player to work against. I learned a lot from the process, but I think the key part the the AI for Frenzy Inc is how they behave when not in combat. You can actually just stand around and watch the AI for a while and see how they behave, and I spent a fair amount of dev time doing just that.
Small level. When you limit time, you have to limit some aspect of your game. We decided (reluctantly) that the best thing to cut back on here is size of the level. Having a smaller level enabled us to do a much higher level of detail on the level we did have, and devote more time to other features.
What went wrong
Lack of warm-up. My team is largely used to working within pre-existing frameworks, so we spent a fair amount of the first 12 hours spinning our wheels trying to get back into working in plain Unity. We got there, but if we had spent that time before the jam less time would have been wasted.
Lack of gameplay testing. Because we were all working remotely, putting together all the pieces to make our game feel complete didn’t really happen until the last few hours. This meant we really didn’t know how the game would be played to fix a few things, such as a few strategies which are far too effective, which really isn’t good for a high-score based game.
We’re working on fixing the problems with the game and adding a few features we wished we could have added for the jam for a post-compo version, so if you liked our game stay tuned for that.
You can play Frenzy Inc here: http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-32/?action=preview&uid=22124
Expand-O-Ray is my seventh Ludum Dare entry. It really doesn’t feel like two years have passed since I participated in my first Ludum Dare back in April 2013. After doing some experimentation with Stencyl and Unreal Engine for previous jam entries, I decided to fall back on Unity this time. Along with the Playmaker addon, it makes creating a game much simpler under time constraints.
On the Friday of the theme announcement, I met with other developers at the Knoxville TechCo. We had a good crowd, and all of the regulars were there (Mike, Dylan, Jeffry, Jacob, and Ruth Ann) as well as two new comers (sorry, I’m bad at remembering names unless I see them written down). I was sort of expecting the theme to be “Edge of the World”, “Grow”, or “Unconventional Weapon”. We all waited for the theme announcement by monitoring IRC and Twitter, and had a fairly lengthy discussion about the current state of indie games. After the theme announcement, my first idea was to make a game where all of the characters are anthropomorphic weapons, but I think I’ve turned themes into characters too many times now. The next idea that came to me on the drive home was having a gun that could expand and contract objects. I don’t subscribe to the theory that you are supposed to write down your first five ideas and throw them out. My games are almost always based on my first or second idea, and I think they usually turn out well.
Later that night, I started working on the base engine. I used a similar layout to my warmup game, Power Panda, but I had to create everything over again from scratch of course. However, I am glad that I created that warmup game, as I avoided some pitfalls when creating my real entry under time constraints. One trick that I learned while creating the warmup game is to create an empty bullet spawn location object that is parented to the player object, which just holds the location in front of the player where the bullet should be created. If you spawn a bullet at the same location as the player, then it will instantly collide with the player and bad things will happen.
Originally, I had planned for the player to have two guns or rays. One for expanding objects and another for shrinking objects. The player would press a button to switch between the two. This would probably work for a console game, but on the PC I’ve found that players can become easily confused if the game requires using more than the arrow keys and spacebar, even if the controls are displayed on the screen. Using the control key to shoot is really stretching it, so having another key to switch between weapons was out of the question. Therefore, the one projectile can either enlarge or shrink an object. I color coded the enlargeable objects green and the shrinkable objects cyan.
To enlarge an object, I kept a target scale value which is the current scale value plus one. The current scale value is increased at a constant rate until it reaches the target scale. The target scale is clamped so that it will never grow beyond four times the original size. The shrinkable objects use a similar process, except the scale is decreased. One problem with the shrinkable objects is that even if it is scaled down to zero, the player may still not be able to pass since there is an infinitely small box collider still in its place. To resolve this, I added an additional check so that if the scale is zero, then the object is automatically destroyed which completely removes it from the scene. I also considered having an enlarged object slowly retract to it’s original size, since the player could become stuck if an object was enlarged in such a way that it traps the player.
There are a few things that I focused on improving on this entry over my previous ones. I have done voice work for some of my previous games such as Bomb Squad, but the story was always a virtual wall of text that the user had to sit through before starting the game. This time I made a point to have the story unfold while the player is active in the game world. This is a similar approach taken in games such as Bastion, although my narration isn’t as interactive as that game.
It was easy enough to come up with a simple story in Notepad (did anyone catch the references to my alma mater in the story?), but I wanted to display the text along with the speaking voice. I recorded my voice using my Blue Yeti microphone, and lowered the tone and applied a slight echo using Audacity. I also maxed out the treble modifier twice to make it sound like my voice is being played over an intercom system. The narration for the first level was about a minute long, which I split into ten audio clips with Audacity (one clip for every line displayed on the screen). I created a Playmaker FSM state for each line of text, which played the audio clip and set the corresponding GUIText object at the top of the screen. When the level is completed, the last state transitions to the next level’s state dialogue by responding to the broadcasted level complete event. However, a problem arises when the player completes the level before the narration is complete, so the current level’s monologue continues on into the next level, and the next level’s monologue never starts. Therefore, I created a prefab that contains an object with an FSM for the current level’s monologue. When the player completes the level, that prefab is destroyed, and the prefab for the next level’s monologue is created. It actually works very well, and the voice work is perfectly synchronized with the text on the screen. It seems fairly simple, but only a developer can appreciate the difficulties in implementing something like this. I’m hoping to make this code a little more modular, and then include it in my UnityHelper library.
Playmaker FSM for story monologue for first level
Over the past few weeks, I have been working on my modeling skills by creating a Sculptris a Week on the streak.club site. I started by creating helmet and body for my robot creature which looked pretty good. However, I quickly realized that making cylindrical shapes in Sculptris for the arms and legs was not quite as easy. Therefore, I exported my model to OBJ format and imported it into Blender to add the remanding parts, which were the arms, shaft, and wheels. I think I did my best texture mapping so far for this character. One improvement was learning that I can do a “project from view” in Blender to create the texture map layout, which is imported into Gimp to do the texture drawing. On previous models, I would define seams for the entire model, which is very time consuming and never gives a very good layout anyway. Sure, with the “project from view” technique there is a little stretching on the sides of the model, but I usually don’t put much detail into the sides anyway. Plus, with the extensive time savings, I think it is well worth the trade-off.
For this game, I used my XmlReader script again that I created for my Oiram game and also publicly available in my UnityHelper package that I previously mentioned. It makes creating the level layout very easy by reading the XML level output from a Tiled map. The only catch is that you’ve got to rename your TMX file to TXT and place it in a folder in your Unity project called “Resources”, and then link the text resource to the appropriate TextAsset public object in the Unity inspector. The XmlReader script must be placed on a GameObject (I use an empty one) before it can be called with the “Call Method” action in Playmaker. The XmlReader script defines a GetLevel method, which takes an int as a parameter which is the level number. The script then automatically instantiates the assigned prefab objects in the scene based on the layout defined in the XML generated by Tiled. I also created a LevelManager object, which contains the FSM which handles the loading, clearing, and switching between levels. The level number is kept as an Int variable in the LevelManager FSM.
Moving the character is done by simply storing the Horizontal axis input variable, and then setting the velocity of the player object in the X world direction to the input (-1 to 1) multiplied by a speed constant. Jumping is accomplished in another FSM which waits for input from the “Jump” button (spacebar by default) and then applies a vertical world force to the player object. Another FSM on the player handles playing all of the animations, which were created by modifying the Blender armature using the Dope Sheet and Action Editor. After importing the model into Unity, I used the Legacy setting on the model rig again, since it’s the only way I know how to get animations from Blender to work correctly in Unity. When the absolute value of the player’s horizontal velocity is greater than a specified value, then the running animation is played. Otherwise the standing animation is played. If the absolute value of the player’s vertical velocity is greater than zero, then the jump animation is played. The standing and running animations are looped, but the jumping animation is not. The only problem is that the jump animation played twice, since the vertical velocity is zero at the apex of the jump. Therefore, I had to modify the FSM to only leave the jump animation state once the player has collided with a block. In case anyone didn’t notice, I payed homage to Mega Man and Johnny Number Five in the jump animation. (Yeah, I know nobody under the age of 30 has ever seen the movie Short Circuit). Another rigging issue was that the wheels rotate halfway, but never make a complete rotation. I only set three keyframes in the running animation, which are start (1st frame), mid (15th frame), and end (30th frame), and the start and end frame are the same pose to make looping seamless. When posing the armature, you can only set the rotation of the bone, but it is up to the animation engine to determine the direction to rotate to get to that position. This problem could be resolved in a future update by adding additional keyframes in the animation, which sets the wheel bone at four positions instead of the current two positions, which would force the animation engine to rotate the bone in a complete turn.
Johnny Number Five is Alive!
One problem that I wasn’t able to resolve is that if the player holds down a movement key while jumping, then the player will cling to the wall. That is normal in some games such as the original Ninja Gaiden, but I didn’t intend on having it work that way for this game. It could be resolved by setting the velocity to zero if the player is jumping and collides into a block, and disallow horizontal input until the player has touched the ground.
On the afternoon of the first day, I took my MacBook Pro to the local Chick-Fil-A and composed the music for the game using GarageBand. I set a basic rhythm using some synth instruments and added a beat using the drum kits. The main melody alternates between two instruments. For the title screen theme, I just took the first few measures, dropped the beat, and cut the tempo in about half.
For the sound effects, I used BFXR again using the basic jump and shoot generators. For the expand object sound effect, I used a powerup sound. When I first added the expand sound, the sound finished much sooner than the time that it took for the object to finish the expansion process (one second). Therefore, I imported the expand sound into Audacity to lengthen the sound effect to match the same amount of time that it takes for the object to fully expand. The shrink sound is the same sound effect, just with the “Reverse” modifier applied in Audacity.
The level design was created completely in Tiled, which basically creates a 2D 14×200 array. I liked keeping the player’s movement restricted to the XY plane to give it the feel of a classic platformer. There are four objects which are the ordinary block which make up the bulk of the level, the expanding blocks, the shrinking blocks, and the exit. I created six levels for the game, which take about a minute or less to complete each. When the player touches the exit object, then the LevelManager transitions to the next level by deleting all of the prefabs, resets the player’s location, increments the level number, and then loads the next level from the XML definition for the room. The first level is an introduction to the game, which only requires the player to jump to reach the exit. The next level is the introduction to expanding objects, which requires the player to expand two blocks to reach the exit. The third level introduces shrinking blocks, so the player has to shrink a few blocks to reach the exit. The remaining levels contain a mixture of expanding and shrinking blocks. The level design isn’t perfect, and it’s probably the one thing that I should have spent a little more time developing. The old school platforming NES games like Metroid are an example of great level design, because those games seemed to always know exactly how high to make a platform to keep it out of reach until the player has performed the correct task to proceed.
Level design using Tiled
The one planned task that I wasn’t able to complete was adding the gun model. I actually made a decent looking gun in Blender and texture mapped it. The problem is that the gun mesh was a separate object, so I could not attach it to the arm bone so that it follows the arm when animated. I could have merged the gun mesh with the robot mesh, but then I would have had to texture map the entire model again, which didn’t seem like it was worth the effort. I’ve saved the gun mesh in a separate Blender file, so I’m hoping to eventually learn how to apply more than one mesh object to a Blender armature. If I can figure out how to do that, then I could add multiple guns with different mesh structures, which can be switched by the player by enabling and disabling each of the gun meshes. I also had a shoot animation, but I didn’t get it added in the player animation FSM, as it didn’t transition back to the correct animation after the shoot animation completed.
Left on the cutting room floor
Before the deadline, I added a few special effects to make my game look a little better. The projectile had a tail renderer which looked okay, but I added a green point light to the projectile which really made the projectile stand out against the environment. Originally, the Exit prefab was just a cube, so I made a cylinder in Blender and texture mapped it with a texture that I created in Gimp by adding some random RGB noise and applying the Pixelate blur effect. Then I created a layer mask and added a vertical linear transparent gradient. This makes the cylinder look more transparent at the top and opaque at the bottom. Then in Playmaker I added a simple continuous rotate action, which rotates 180 degrees in a second. I also added a red point light near the top of the exit area. Finally, I added a small particle system which simulates a puff of smoke whenever the player jumps. This was achieved by setting the emission shape to circle, rotating it so that it is flat on the XZ plane, and making sure that prewarm is selected.
Another big time saver was creating shortcuts to my project directory in Blender and Gimp. In past games it seems like I would spend a considerable amount of time just navigating the directory tree just to get to my project folder. I also got in the practice of saving my models, textures, and sound assets directly to the appropriate folder in the project directory. Again, in the past I would waste valuable time saving to a “raw” folder, and then importing the assets by dragging them into Unity. That was a redundant step which definitely got tiresome after doing it for each and every asset. I also wrote a Ruby script which copies my Tiled TMX file to the Resources directory and renames it to TXT, as required by the Unity TextAsset. It is important to keep the original TMX in case changes to the level design need to be made later.
If I decide to develop this game further, there are a few things that I believe I can do to make it into a full retail game. First, I would need to develop more levels. I could add additional obstacles and traps such as spikes, so that the player would have to enlarge objects to make a bridge over them. Shooting would feel better if the player could aim the gun in any direction, instead of just left and right. I would have a variety of objects that could be expanded and shrunk instead of just cubes. I could make some gravity puzzles so that the player has to shrink a block to let objects fall to complete a puzzle. Enemies would also make the game more exciting, but I would want to come up with interesting ways of defeating them, instead of just shrinking them with the shrink ray. I also thought about having the blocks expand and shrink in different directions to make platforms, instead of just expanding on all three planes. It would also be interesting to have moving platforms. New guns could be added to the game with different functions such as freezing time. If I felt really ambitious, I could connect all of the rooms together and turn it into a Metroid-vania style game.
I’ve got to give a big thanks to Splazer Productions and Juipter Hadley for taking the time to do playthrough videos for many of my games. I would definitely recommend subscribing to both of their YouTube channels. Plus, they don’t resort to profanity, cursing, or potty humor in their videos in an attempt to sound cool like other game casters.
I don’t think my game will do very well in the ratings, since it isn’t a 2D platformer using pixel art and pixelated blood splatters. I really don’t care, because I’m proud that I made something that I think is unique and looks cool. My game will never be on a major console, unless the “powers that be” decide to open up their systems for all developers. However, I think developing this game was a better way to spend a weekend than sitting in front of the television playing a rehashed game from one of the so-called “Triple A” monolithic game development companies.
Hey guys and gals! Is anyone up to the challenge of staying alive for 8 hours in our game, Newt Scoot?! I don’t know about you all, but I love the idea of being able to trash my house with a leaf blower just to stay alive during a zombie invasion (with permission from a parent of course).
Also, I won’t believe you managed to stay alive that long…. well, unless you have a Youtube video or screenshot to prove it of course. Test your luck here!
Hi friends! After an intense game jam weekend packed with excitement, we were able to submit Soccer Cows just in time!
MartianGames did all the programming and we collaborated with my 3D-cow-modeling skills to make this Unconventional Weapon-themed experience. I’m glad we teamed up because he’s teaching me to code & I’m still a novice but I’m loving the opportunity to expand my skills and learn from an experienced developer. The community has been really fun to meet & explore and I’ve appreciated the creative encouragement! Looking forward to future jams & getting better all the time.
I just wrote a post-mortem for my LD32 game Beacons (probably the earliest I’ve done a post-mortem and also the first time since I actually wrote one) which you can view on my blog.
Also, for those who haven’t played it yet, click here to have a go. I’m also still looking for more games to play/rate so click here to submit your game and I’ll get round to playing/rating them as soon as possible.
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.
There have been reports that 10 year old Newt Scoot has allegedly destroyed majority of his home in an attempt to blockade and subdue multiple unidentified entities. Surveillance footage from inside the home displays the boy shooting various items through what appears to be a makeshift, leaf blower cannon. For more details, or to watch and “Experience” the action for yourself: Click Here
This is my first time Ludum Dare-ing. I have been putting off doing it because I never have un-interrupted time on weekends but this weekend I decided to go for it anyway. This game was made in the hours after my kids went to bed and any other little bits of time I could get together over the weekend, maybe 16 hours or so in total. I hit on the mechanic and theme I wanted to do pretty quickly on Friday night: my interpretation of an unconventional weapon was a suicide bombers bomb. Because I knew I wouldn’t have time to do sophisticated AI I decided to make the enemies robots which would make their slightly stupid behavior thematically appropriate. The AI could be improved a bit but for now it mostly works. The theme also supported my primitive art style which is made using basic primitives within the Unity editor. The main mechanic is avoiding coming into contact with the red awareness zones of the enemies while trying to get to the end of the level and blow up the enemy server. I leaned heavily on stuff Unity does easily out of the box for this, in this case Navigation. The flying and hovering enemy types each have nav mesh agent components attached and a script randomly assigns waypoints from an array. This causes them to path through the level randomly and adds some un-predictability. I also added some searchlight gun tower type enemies inside the ‘city block’ formations since running through them, where the hovering enemies couldn’t go, seemed to be a dominant strategy.
I created the audio using Logic which is mainly sounds made with Logic’s built in Sculpture synthesizer. I stuck to ominous drone sounds mostly. I wrote a minute long text which adds some additional context and had my girlfriend read it on mic, which I then processed and cut up a bit. I think it adds a lot to the vibe of the game and provides some useful expository narrative framework.
All in all I had a ton of fun doing this! I’m going to aim to continue to jam, even when limited for time, and try to block out a full weekend to get together with a team and attempt something more ambitious.
If you liked the game or just want to say hi I’m @mattmirrorfish on Twitter. Thanks for reading!
I got some great notes from people playing and rating my game which allowed me to make a few small tweaks, hopefully for the better before the cutoff. I found players didn’t know where to go so I made the final objective more visible, and had the players drop in from high up so they get an initial birds eye view of the level. I also moved an enemy that was sort of spawn camping the player in a really unfair way
Also, lot’s of people liked the voice over! I must say having a little bit of recorded audio in your game like that to add some story is a pretty cheap and easy way to add some production value. That is definitely the thing I spent the least time on (maybe 2 hours out of 16 to script, record, mix, edit and implement) but has gotten the most positive feedback. Definitely food for thought! Thanks very much to all the people giving comments on my game (and on everyone elses!) It feels great to be a part of a community of game creators like this.
So yesterday I finished my game for the LD #32 Compo! Everything was done in a little less then 42 hours (37 hours)! This was my first ludum dare but definitely not my last! I really enjoyed participating and I’ll definitely keep competing! Anyways, enough of the small talk! Let’s get to the game!
What’s it about?
Join our hero in protecting the faith of the Earth from evil (derpy looking) space squids! Use one of the four randomly dropped potato weapons to protect the Earth and yourself. How long will you last against hordes and hordes of space squid? Let’s find out!
A, D – movment
Space – jump
F – use special ability
Esc – exit to tittle screen
Mouse click – navigate the menu
Mechanics in detail:
Well, first off, I think we should start from the 4 different potato types in the game.
Each potato effect lasts for 10 seconds!
A new potato is spawned immediately after ones effect runs out!
Cool Down: 0.5 seconds (You can fire 20 of them per 1 pick up);
Best use: Fending off single enemies before they come close to the core. Best used during start of the game. Falls off during late game.
Mechanic: Each bullet insta-kills the first enemy it touches. Be careful though because it’s range is fairly short.
Cool Down: 2.5 seconds (You can spawn up to 4 heals).
Best use: The healing potato is used to heal the core (in game “The Faith of Humanity”) or the player.
Mechanic: Use the healing potato when needed. It spawns the heals at a fair distance from the player and nothing is stopping you from storing them somewhere further away from the core so they can be used when needed, though you could only heal yourself if stored away( It is recommend to save them on the 2nd or 3rd floor because otherwise they will get pushed back to the core by the enemy). If the heal touches the core, it will heal the core for 150 HP. Otherwise, the player can also use it to heal himself for the same amount of HP.
Chillato (Chilli Potato)
Cool Down: 10 seconds (You can only fire it once).
Best use: The Chillato is best used when there is a lot of enemies around, so make sure to make it count since you can only do it once!
Mechanic: The Chillato is a little bit more challenging to use, because you can only use it once. Once you use it, an effect as if you were using fire appears and burns all of the enemies you are facing with quite a bit of range (so it is best to sneak up behind huge hordes of enemies while they are attacking the core and destroy the enemies on both sides of the core). The Chillato only destroys the enemies on the side you are facing, so be careful where you aim it! The heat from the fire will stay for a few more seconds and kill any enemies that enter the radius of it’s fire for a few seconds after it’s activation.
A pic explaining the mechanics behind it:
AOE Potato (Area of effect)
Cool Down: 4.5 seconds (You can fire it twice).
Best use: The AOE Potato is best used when there are enemies on both sides of the player. It’s range is not so large, so try to use it carefully!
Mechanic: The AOE Potato creates a radius around the player killing everything in the radius after a 2 second delay. The radius isn’t really big, so you have to make sure to get as much as enemies as possible with it, because it is not a fast attack.
A pic explaining the mechanics behind it:
Enemy, core and player interaction:
There could be quite a bit of confusion on how the enemies interact with the player and the core, so it’s time I clear that our for everyone!
This pic should explain pretty well on how the enemy damage system works!
A pic explaining the mechanics behind it:
This means that if in time of need and if you have health to spare, you can push out the enemies away from the core to buy some time to potentially get a heal or an AOE attack.
Easy, isn’t it?:
And that’s it! That is pretty much all you need to know to become a real space potato pro! The objective of the game is to protect the Earth or survive as long as possible!
You can find the game on the ludum dare page here: http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-32/?action=preview&uid=50640
(if you get a weird virus warning, ignore it, I got it as well O_O)
Have fun gaming!:
Well, that’s it for me. You know everything there is to know to master this game and understand how it works! Creating it was a blast, and I don’t plan on stopping! Any and all feedback is very highly appreciated because I plan to continue the game after ludum dare is finished.