Join us on Twitter and IRC (#ludumdare on Afternet.org) for the Theme Announcement!
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.
New Server: Welcome to the New (less expensive) Server! Find any problems? Report them here.
Some of you may be aware I’ve been working on a game called Skyway for the past several months. This has been a huge step for me as I’ve finally gotten really close to completing a project! I just announced it on Steam Greenlight,
Here is a post mortem written by Edu ‘@sodap_’ Alonso, the artist half that worked on our Ludum Dare 36 entry, Revenge of Tutankhamun. He writes about the overall experience teaming up for this Ludum Dare, and the right and wrong things learned on the experience. And if you haven’t tried or game yet, well, do it now and provide feedback if you can!
REVENGE OF TUTANKHAMUN, A LUDUM DARE #36 POST MORTEM
Revenge of Tutankhamun is an arcade-puzzle game inspired by Chu-Chu Rocket. It was created in an event hosted in Zaragoza, Spain for Ludum Dare 36. The theme for this Ludum Dare was ‘Ancient Technology’, which inspired us to make a game about traps in ancient tombs and we ended up making something similar to Sega’s Chu-Chu Rocket, a classic for the Dreamcast and GBA.
In this game the player takes the role of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, who needs to design the layout of the chambers in his pyramid in order to keep his treasure safe from any looters. These explorers will always walk forward and turn in a predetermined way unless given directions by a magic arrow placed by the player. The magic arrows wear out each time an explorer steps onto them so the player needs to keep replacing them until all explorers are dead.
The team was formed by a programmer, Rodrigo Díaz (@r2d2rigo on Twitter) and myself, Edu Alonso (@sodap_ on Twitter) as an artist. This was our first game working as a team.
Gameboss Jam Zaragoza
Both of us are members of a small online community of Spanish-speaking indie devs called Indiecalipo in Telegram, where we figured out we should make a real-life gathering for LD36 because it would be cool to meet each other, have fun, and make games. Juan Castillo (@Acrimiens on Twitter), from Zaragoza-based indie developer Mechanical Boss went ahead and started organizing the event.
The event turned out way better than we had pictured initially, as the jam was hosted in a community center for art and technology called Etopia where all the participants could stay for the whole weekend. We had a blast partying and doing gamedev battles on Friday before the theme was announced and then most of us went to bed to come up with an idea in the morning and start working. It was an amazing experience and it’s safe to assume we all are looking forward to repeat as soon as we can, maybe in another place so Juan can concentrate on the fun and the game making while others take the hosting part off his shoulders.
To be fair, the theme ‘Ancient technology’ wasn’t really unexpected, as it had lots of votes in the preliminary rounds, and we had talked about possible directions to take in the jam if that turned out to be the actual theme, for example something like a Ghost ‘n’ Goblins with a caveman having to start a fire and make a spear. However in the morning we deemed that idea too unoriginal and played out so with the help from CremaGames’ Guillermo Andrades (@xyaw on Twitter), Rodrigo and I came up with a new one, a game about traps in a pyramid inspired by Chu-Chu Rocket.
From there, we started working. Rodrigo started implementing the mechanics and used Tiled Map Editor to create the levels, and I started doing some art. I intended to make a concept and then make everything in a pixel art style but people liked the concept so in the end I just made a higher res version of the assets that were present in the concept art. We didn’t have any problems, it was pretty much smooth sailing for the whole process, which was a pleasant surprise for us.
On Sunday we realized we had some problems with UI/UX, it was really hard to control the game and we tried to solve that with UI but in the end that didn’t really help. Sunday night I stayed up until late as I searched for some free to use music and sounds. We still had some time left on Monday so on the train back home Rodrigo made a handful of new levels with a bigger challenge, made a build of the game and uploaded it.
What went well
Both of us have a fair amount of experience at our roles so we didn’t run into unexpected problems or blocks during development.
Making a new take on Chu-chu Rocket was a good idea. It is a great game that needs a more modern version with better presentation and new content.
We don’t have any serious game-breaking bugs that we know of (please do try and prove us wrong and report any issues you may encounter!).
The art turned out pretty decent for game made in under 72 hours.
No nervous breakdowns by any of the members of the team.
We finished the game without too much stress.
What didn’t go that well
We gave too little thought to the game and level design. The gameplay is a bit broken, it’s a weird mix of puzzle and twitch action that isn’t fully working.
Only Rodrigo worked on level design, I wasn’t of much help in that aspect and I think the lack of feedback on my part hindered the final result.
We probably worked too much while thinking too little.
I lost a lot of time on a concept art mockup and in the end I had to change the art style because of it.
We based the game on Chu-Chu Rocket but we didn’t look at any videos or played the game. We played by ear and made some design mistakes that would have been solved by checking our references.
What we learned
A good team of experienced and talented people goes a long way for a successful and stress-free game jam.
We need to think and talk more about game design when making games.
Chu-Chu Rocket is an amazing game that needs a remake.
Concept art should be done fast and with the final style of the game in mind.
Check out your references, don’t rely on your memories.
Real-life events are a blast.
After the great experience in Zaragoza, we are looking forward to working on more projects together and also to attend more real-life events. You should always team up with someon who shares a similar mindset and level of expertise as yourself, that will make things go much smoother. However, you need to strike the perfect balance between thinking and doing.
I did try & paste the full post here, but unfortunately it was too media heavy and my embedded twitch stream clips were not working. If you’d like to read more, you can do so here.
Yes – you read that correctly. We finished our Ludum Dare #36 game and the end result was “Why Am I In The Past? Who Cares! Shoot The Romans.“, affectionately known as #WAIITPWCSTR for short (videos included further below).
Ancient vs. Technology comes to a head in “Why am I in the past? Who cares! Shoot the Romans” (or WAIITPWCSTR for short).
You’re in the past for some reason. How long can you survive against hordes of aggressive ancient Romans?
Pick up your gun and blast your way through history in this endless wave survival first person shooter.
Check out the Ludum Dare link and let us know what you think. The premise is, pretty much, as it is in the title!
We had an absolute blast making this, it really confirmed we had made the right decision in setting up Whitepot Studios, and more importantly, gave us a bit of validation that we actually can throw something together in 72 hours and have it be playable and downloadable.
We made the 2D menu graphics/logo/HUD assets made from scratch, and the sounds & 3D assets were free online – most available in Unity Assets Store or FreeSound, although some texturing was done to them.
Something which we hadn’t done before, which was a bit baptism-of-fire-esque was send the link to some Twitch streamers to see them play it live once we had submitted to the Ludum Dare website. It was really nervewracking, and felt like presenting a university project all over again, except this time to anonymous strangers on the internet with little way to immediately interact with them the second something goes wrong.
Anyway, 10/10 would do again. Yes, there were bugs, and yes, people found exploits – which was great! It meant people were playing it long enough to come across these issues and report them back to us.
So, after begging all our friends to try it out, at my time of writing this, we have 50 downloads! 50! Just kidding, we don’t have 50 friends (haha), but we do have 50 downloads according to itch.io, which we discovered is a really nice way to host downloadable game files and get analytics also.
We are definitely doing a post-compo patch, taking into account the feedback we have received and comments we received on the Ludum Dare entry itself.
One great thing about Ludum Dare is the feedback system, which encourages you to leave feedback on other games so people leave feedback on yours. It doesn’t feel like a chore at all if you genuinely enjoy playing the games, giving constructive feedback, and getting new inspiration.
I really pushed myself to the limit for this Ludum Dare 36 game development competition. Looking back at the length of time for all of my live streams on YouTube, I calculated that I spent over 22 hours of development time over two days for this event. Since there is no voting or rankings this time, I felt more encouraged to do my best work since my game will only be played by those who genuinely want to play the game. The game that I developed is called Ancient Adventure, which has gameplay based on classic adventure style games.
The premise of the game basically came from some of my discussion points on the latest episode of the Knoxville Game Design chat podcast, which I am a frequent contributor. On that podcast, we discussed Anodyne, and I made several points about how they got the classic Zelda formula wrong. The following is a list of some of the points that I made, and how I implemented those in Ancient Adventure.
A “compass” upgrade showing where the key items are located.
I created a compass item, which I call the all seeing eye which displays on the mini-map the location (in red) of all of the collectible artifacts. With the mini-map for this game, I tried to make my map more intuitive, by having all of the rooms grayed out initially, and the rooms that the player has visited in a brighter shade of gray. The player’s current position is highlighted in green.
Keeping with the ancient Egyptian theme, I used the classic eye hieroglyphic. It’s the eye that is a popular tatoo and similar to the mage symbol in World of Warcraft. After some research, I found that this is actually called the “Eye of Horus”, which is a symbol of health and protection. The full myth of Horus can be read on Wikipedia. Ironically, the Eye of Providence, which is depicted on top of a pyramid and on the back of the United States dollar bill, has nothing to do with Egyptian mythology. Using this theme made me wonder why there are relatively few games and movies based on Egyptian mythology, since there are numerous games based on Norse and Greek mythology. The only game that comes to mind is Age of Mythology, which is actually based on a collection of ancient religions. There seems to be a lot of untapped material in Egyptian mythology which could be made into games. In the English language, we named our planets based on Roman gods and the days of the weeks based on Norse gods. The best known reference to Egyptian mythology in our culture is probably the Steve Martin King Tut sketch on Saturday Night Live. I wonder if Egyptian mythology has been written out of our history because the culture was overly oppressive, using slavery to build pyramids to their gods, which was at odds with the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). I will admit that I would have never made a game based on ancient Egyptian culture, if it had not been for the “Ancient Technology” theme for this Ludum Dare.
The point of gathering collectibles.
I used the Egyptian Ankh as the ancient artifact that must be collected to become the supreme being. It is a quick and simple objective and story, but it is at least something that gives a little exposition of the game. I just had in my mind one of the typical gods from Egyptian mythology, who has the head of a dog-like creature and the body of the human. Since there were many Egyptian gods, collecting these artifacts would turn you into the “supreme being”. It’s not a very noble objective, but I think it’s something players can wrap their heads around, since many ancient myths are about gods fighting each other to become the strongest and most powerful. Again, after some research about the ankh, I learned that it is actually a symbol of life. So if I had it to do over again, I probably would have made the ankh the symbol used for the health meter (i.e. “hearts” in Zelda) and made the collectible something different. In this game, the health meter is represented by a bird creature (at least that’s what I intended it to look like) which was used in many Egyptian hieroglyphs. The important thing was to have a symbol which was symmetric, since I intended to split the icon in half to represent a half unit of health remaining. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to represent half health units, so I just doubled the number of full health units. Under the hood, the health value is just an integer anyway.
I tried to ensure that all of the collectibles were spread evenly across all of the rooms. The right side of the map is heavy on ancient artifacts. This is balanced by having the staff upgrade on the left side of the map. It is possible to gather the artifacts without getting the staff upgrade, but having the upgrade makes completing the game much easier. Also the all seeing eye item is in the first room to the left, making it an item that should be picked up early in the game to assist with finding the ancient artifacts, which is the primary goal of the game. I put the all seeing eye in the room to the left, since players of the classic Zelda game are accustomed to starting out left being a dead end.
How to tell if you have collected all of the required items in a level.
Below the health meter, the number of ancient artifacts (ankhs) the player has collected is displayed. The icons are initially displayed as blacked out, which reinforces to the player that there are eight to collect. As the items are collected, they are filled with the purplish color that I decided to use for the ancient artifact item. For the pickup in the game world, I used the same two rotating spotlight effect again, which looked really nice in my game Kitty’s Adventure.
Weapon attack swinging animation.
In classic Zelda fashion, the player starts with no weapon and is defenseless until the player picks up a weapon. In this game, I decided to make the player’s weapon a staff.
In the early stages of development, I spent more time (about 5 hours) than I had desired on getting the staff swinging, collision detection, and animation working. I had to decide if I wanted to animate the staff swing in Blender or the Unity Mecanim interface. I decided to go with Mecanim, and I found that the benefits to be great, because the Mecanim animation also animates the capsule collider and all of the children objects with it. Since I had a light source added to the end of the staff, the light source moves with the swinging staff, which is a really awesome looking effect! The major issue that I had with Mecanim was moving back to the idle state after the swinging animation was completed. I set a Mecanim boolean value to start the swing, but there was no way to set the boolean back to false after the animation completed. The swing animation would just keep repeating. After looking at some Unity Mecanim tips, I learned that a Mecanim trigger (different from a collider trigger) could be used instead of a boolean value, which would set the animation state back to idle after the attack animation completed, which solved my repeating swing animation problem.
By default, the staff had a mass value, which would cause enemies to be deflected when it. It was a nice effect, but it would also push the player back slightly as well. I made a design decision to set the mass of the staff to zero to eliminate the recoil effect on the player. I think it may also reduce the possibility enemies getting pushed into the wall.
In Blender, I modeled a simple staff with a gem on top. There is one upgrade to the staff, which doubles the attack power. The enemies that normally take two hits to defeat are killed with one strike. The upgraded staff is a simple texture swap and a change in the color of the light source. Originally, I had the standard power staff using a green colored gem and green light, and the upgraded staff as a blue gem with blue light. However, I thought the blue color was too close to green and it didn’t show up very well, so I changed the upgraded staff color to red.
One check that I had to add was to not populate an item that has already been picked up in that room. For the ancient artifacts, I had to keep a list of the rooms that had collected artifacts. If the room number is in the collected artifact list, then an artifact item should not be instantiated in that room. The same goes for the staff pickups. If the player’s staff collected boolean is true, then don’t instantiate a staff pickup. If the staff’s power has been upgraded, then don’t instantiate the staff upgrade.
The purpose killing enemies.
In Ancient Adventure, the player is forced to kill all of the enemies in a room to proceed. Once the enemies are defeated, the doors are lowered which allows the player to proceed. The number of enemies remaining is determined by taking the child count of the EnemyGroup Unity GameObject. When the room is setup, enemies are always assigned to the EnemyGroup GameObject by using the SetParent method on the tranform property of the enemy GameObject. If it is equal to zero, then the method which lowers the doors is called. One problem that I came across is that this led to the door lowering method being called on every frame after the enemies are defeated, which caused problems with the door sound effect being started on every frame. To resolve this, I had to create a boolean value which tracked if the door lowering method had been called, so it is only called once when the enemies are defeated. The door sound effect was created by me flipping the pages of a book over my Blue Yeti microphone, and then lowering the pitch in Audacity. I was impressed with how much it sounded like a huge slab of rock being lowered into the ground.
When the door is lowered, the Exit GameObjects are accessible. These are simple GameObjects with cube trigger colliders. When the player triggers it, then all of the child GameObjects under the Room GameObject are destroyed, and then the GameObjects for the next room are instantiated and parented to the Room GameObject. The player is moved to the opposite side of the room, to give the illusion of transferring to the adjacent side of the next room.
One problem the Exits originally presented was that the enemies could go through them (because it is a trigger instead of a standard collider). Since I wanted to keep all of the enemies inside of the room, I added the doors, which had a regular cube collider, which kept the player and enemies inside. I had to move the exits back one unit outside of the room (determined by the exit row or column), because the player could still trigger the exit when touching door.
Another problem with wall colliders in general was enemies getting stuck in walls. In my code, I had it so that when an enemy collided with a wall, it would make a 180 rotation on the Y world axis, and then start moving the other way. However, the enemies were still getting stuck. After some debugging, I realized that after the enemies did the 180 turn, they were still getting a collide event on the next frame. Therefore, I had to wait until the OnCollisionExit event was called for the enemy on the wall, before I would accept another OnCollisionEnter event. There is still a small bug that occurs sometimes, when the enemy collides with a wall, and then immediately turns, placing them in a direction where they can not exit the wall. The enemy turn behavior is defined in a separate Playmaker FSM, which is independent of the wall collision FSM. Usually, after a few turns the enemy will eventually be put in a direction so that it can exit the wall. Again, the chance of an enemy turning during a wall collision at the same time is fairly small to being with, but it is noticeable when it happens, which would lead to players thinking that the game is buggy. Sometimes it seems like gamers put every tiny glitch (whether it be game breaking or not) under a microscope.
While I was developing the game, I had so many ideas that I eventually had to write the down in a text file, and I ranked them from most important to least important. The currency system was a fairly low priority, but I was able to add a gem display value and have the enemies sometimes drop gems when they are defeated. I used the Blender gem generator to make the gem meshes, which turned out a lot better than I expected. The way the light reflects off of the edges looks almost too perfect. There are two classes of gems which add 1 (green) or 5 (blue) gems to your total. The gem dropped is based on the strength of the enemy defeated. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to implement a shop or things to buy with your gems, so it is purely there as a score value. The gems dropping when an enemy is defeated, along with the health drops, also give more of a purpose to killing the enemies.
What could be made better?
There is really no elegant way to do a 2.5D Zelda clone. If you do a completely overhead view, then you are only seeing the top of the player’s head. If you do an angled view, then there are issues with things popping in that should be outside the player’s field of view. There have been many articles written about this, with one solution being an overhead view with all of the items rotated at an angle. I decided to use the angled camera, and I just use a camera fade when the character enters another room. With the angled camera, to keep the realism, all of the rooms would need to be instantiated in the player’s field of vision, which would not be very efficient. Also, it would be presenting the player with more information than they need to see. The player should only be focused on the current room. One possible solution may be to create very tall walls around the room, to keep them from seeing outside of the current room, which would keep the realism. Another option would be some sort of fog around the room, which would prevent the other rooms from being visible.
I defined all of the rooms in text files, which are assigned as text assets. Walls are 1’s, doors are 2’s, enemies are lowercase letters, and item upgrades are uppercase letters. Using text files makes creating the levels fairly simple in a text editor. The file contents are parsed using the string Split function and the resulting strings are looped over and read as character arrays. Ideally, these text files should use a better format such as XML, but that would increase the size of the level files and the bulkiness of using an XML parser would probably not be beneficial for load times. Alternatively, the level definitions could be turned into bit strings, since each cell can only have a limited number of values. However, it would make it much less manageable, since it wouldn’t be editable in a text editor. The bit string level definition approach would be good for an online version of the game, if the level data was variable and had to be passed between client systems.
Since the character model was created in Blender and the staff swing animation was created with Unity Mecanim, the arm and staff don’t always line up properly during the swing animation. I could try to resolve this by recreating the character model swing in Mecanim as well, so that the arm properly aligns with the staff. Trying to animate removable components on a character model has been a problem that I’ve had that I’ve never found a good way to solve.
There really aren’t any Easter eggs in the game, but there were some subtle influences from other media. On the Game Over screen, the maniacal laugh was a reference to the game over screen from Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. On the game completed screen, I tried doing my best Val Kilmer Iceman impersonation of his Top Gun “You are still dangerous” line. Some of the room layouts were obviously influenced by the dungeon designs in the original Legend of Zelda for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System.
Overall, I was satisfied with the game that I developed for the Ludum Dare 36 competition. Since I have a solid core engine and gameplay, I plan to develop this game further and release the game on various platforms.
I wanted this simulator to be as authentic as possible, so I spent a lot of time studying archaeologists in movies and in video games. In Archaeologist Simulator you play an archaeologist exploring some ancient ruins, but other teams of archaeologists from rival museums are finding more treasure and ancient technologies than you are! Luckily you brought your shotgun!
Done for today, I have a level full of archaeologists just waiting to be slaughtered. When they die they drop ancient coins, which you need to operate the ANCIENT TECHNOLOGY.
I’ll save fixing this buggy behavior for tomorrow. My super villain archaeologist with a gun never aims it at you properly, but he still tries shooting it, best of all if you circle around him he ends up shooting himself.
EDIT: What does everyone use to make their animated gifs? Mine doesn’t seem to work…
We are The Barberians Game Studio composed by Jose Barberà and me, Toni Barberà, working together with Pablo Martín as composer and Alfonso Miguel Sánchez into the #GameBossJAM event, located in Zaragoza (Spain). More info at:
Still working on gameplay mechanic, buy I’d like to explain you our game concept. Of course, a lot of things are thought, but only few of them will be finished.
“Ubuq” is a 2D action video game in pseudo-aerial view (side). The music is the main driver for the combat system, similar to Guitar Hero style, and it has few components of Shoot’Em Up and RPG.
The ancient civilization of Ubuq already used advanced technology from 6.000 years ago, and nowadays they evolved until dominate the world. In order to try change that situation, the rebel group Glitch has sent a time traveler to the past. His name is Swap and he uses a timeless music machine, by which he can control the sounds of the future in order to neutralize the ancient technology and so disassemble the Ubuq civilization.
The player moves the main character inside a limited plane map, into which there are some enemies moving and attacking, by melee or/and ranged. The game target is to kill the boss of the map. Along the map exploration, the player neutralizes enemies and collects loot, which can be money, healing or “musical samples”. They are special devices to improve the attack power.
The “attack” consists into play a musical build-up, i.e. music fragment of limited duration, at which the intensity, tone and then number of composition channels are increasing. To do that, the player uses the following gameplay mechanic:
An infinite and cyclic rhythmic base is sounding continuously, without any stop. It is ancient/tribal style.
The player holds down the “trigger” button to show the “playing guide”. This guide shows the correct order and timing for the buttons to be pressed by the player.
If he presses correctly that buttons string the build-up sounds right and a “potential damage accumulator” is increased. That damage is released against the enemy when the player release the trigger button or when he finish correctly the full build-up.
Otherwise, if the player fails only one button timing, the build-up is cancelled and the accumulated potential damage is lost. However, the rhythmic base continues sounding.
The playing guide also shows a circular impact area, centered on the main character position. It means, when the accumulated potential damage is released, all enemies inside the area receive that damage.
Melee standard: attack is melee type; poor damage power and resistance. When they are neutralized, their loot only can be money or health.
Ranged standard: the only difference from melee standard is the attack type.
Badass: they are bigger than standard enemies, and their damage power and resistance are higher. When they are neutralized, their loot can be money, healing and a new “musical sample”. It is a special device that unlocks a new channel for the build-up, unless it already is at maximum level.
Boss: it is the biggest enemy of the map. When it is neutralized, the game is completed.
At the beginning of the gameplay, the build-up is simple and it only has with 1 o 2 channels and poor musical content. The maximum potential damage is low.
The game target is to defeat the boss, but it is too much powerful. For this reason the played must explore the map, look for badass enemies. The special loot they drop will upgrade the build-up.
I’m still hard at work on my latest game Skyway, which you may remember. I’ve just made an IndieDB page which will hold screenshots and updates! The game is a bit behind schedule but it should be officially announced sometime this month, and should release before 2017.
Please check it out! I’m pretty worried about what people will think of it come announcement time, so feedback is appreciated!