Tag «Game Jam»

Ludum Dare 25: Tale of Scale – Post Mortem

On December 15th, Ludum Dare 25 started. As usual, this 48h game making compo was an interesting experience, as exciting and awesome as it was soul-crushing. But this might be just me.

Like before, I didn't have the right idea for the theme. This time it was "You are the Villain", which was a better theme than usual, but unfortunately it only triggered gameplay concepts for me which all belong into the "that was already made before" category. So the first thing coming into my mind was "Dungeon Keeper", and as much as I'd like to do a game similar to this awesome piece of gaming history, it just would be a clone without the right amount of innovation (or would it?). Among the other ideas I had were a "Pirates!" roguelike, a game where you control four bandits at once (robbing innocents and wandering around) and a board game creator where you're the dungeon master placing the monsters (think "HeroQuest" or so).


None of these ideas were the incentive for me to actually start developing (although I still like them). In my mind, I combined them, added features and the result got bigger and bigger, and after finally deciding that it would be too much of a hassle, I started at zero again. Then I came back to a thought I had days before, namely the thought that often, good ideas for games (mostly puzzle platformers) are those which are inspired by childrens' fantasies. So I imagined a bit what a child could think, and being able to grab the moon with the fingertips and move it around just like that, well, that seemed like a good candidate. At this point, the theme was still in the back of my head, but I tried to ignore it mostly as it obviously would just hinder me to actually develop anything. I never was good in the "Theme" category, and for that I'm sorry, but I don't think it's the category I want to shine, really.

I tried to create a Unity3D prototype out of that idea with the moon. Of course, prototypes become the real game eventually when doing a game jam, but first I wanted to see if I could actually create something like that. The main problem to begin with was the scale of the object currently grabbed, as it always has to be the same size for the player, no matter how far or near it would be away. I read something about the focal length of a camera before and I thought I had to factor this in in any case. I experimented (using some basecode I already announced in my "I'm in!" post) and searched on the internet, but it just wouldn't work right. The object's subjective size didn't stay constant, and being very frustrated, I stopped after a while.

Thus, I re-evaluated the idea of the four bandits. This one would follow the theme and I'd really like being able to control a group of (evil) adventurers - in first person perspective! In order to make it easier for myself, I started programming the movement (again in Unity3D), which would be along the cardinal directions only and also on a grid. Just like those age old games you might know, "Dungeon Master", "Eye of the Beholder" or "Legend of Grimrock". In the end, the movement worked somehow, and you could add NPCs to your party, and press a button to see all four viewports at once. Probably I could have made a more or less full game out of it, but at this point I didn't see how I could add "fun" easily and I stopped yet again.

prototype 2second prototype, no fun

With the thought of fun being the most important part of it and without really expecting any results for this Ludum Dare anymore, I got back to the first prototype, and suddenly, the old problem was gone. Thinking about the focal length was a dead-end, and just getting rid of it was the way to get it work. The only problem now was the collision detection of an object that would get bigger the further it goes. Using Unity3D's SphereCast() was the wrong direction, because the size of the collision sphere would be always the same. So now CheckSphere() gets called with a gradually increasing size of the radius parameter, and it does that a lot of times every frame - because of the simple nature of the rest of the game, this was possible without any noticable performance hits (at least on my computer). Of course, this means that every object basically has an additional bounding sphere, and that's why most objects sometimes don't behave as expected, especially those which don't have uniform dimensions.

prototype 1first prototype, working

I uploaded the first prototype of the game - just a simple demonstration of the gameplay - late in the night, and those who actually started it and "got it", said it could be awesome. Yay, motivation! Also, I earned myself some sleep. The next day I "only" had to make levels and fix any occuring bug. Also, story. Also, sound. Also, ...

I planned five levels at the beginning, and because of some very sad events before Ludum Dare, I didn't think about it too long when I realized that I wouldn't have time for all of them - as one of the levels would had have a kindergarten setting. So, three levels were made (in 3dsmax), and they describe how the protagonist is a kid with just an overly active imagination, and how this leads to an unfortunate outcome. I didn't have time for more, and the ones I made aren't really balanced/tested, so I am sorry for that. On the other side I am just relieved that the main gameplay works and can maybe be the foundation of a cool game; the Ludum Dare version of the finally named game "Tale of Scale" is mainly a sandbox game which happens to have a subtly communicated goal in each level.

2the end result: Tale of Scale

A short summarization of What-Went-Bad:

  • The start, or rather the theme. Either it is the start of a game for me, or it just stands in my way. Harumph. I squeezed the theme into the final game, but as most people won't play it through, they probably will wonder where it actually is. I got a bit inspired by the movie "Looper".
  • I still can't make music. I tried composing some once or twice before, but I'm always embarrassed by my own efforts, so I don't ever get over a certain point.
  • I don't have a cool base code which actually would free me of the burden to do some stupid and boring stuff again and again. At least that's a learning and can be helped ... some day.

And What-Went-Good?

  • The idea was cool enough to let people ignore the crude levels and graphics, hehe.
  • I actually managed to make three levels, even in the timeframe I wanted to make them. Seems like I finally get the hang on estimating such things, and this is one of the things a game jam really can help with.
  • I made most of the sounds myself with a microphone, and they sound okay enough. Nice.

That's it! Thanks for reading, and don't forget to play the game (here's the entry page) - or at least watch this gameplay video:

Ludum Dare #25: Tale of Scale

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Mini Ludum Dare 37, a not-game jam (part 2)

This is the continuation of my homage to all the games made in the Mini Ludum Dare 37. I made (nearly) all of the screenshots myself! Missed the first part? Click here.

Featheriness Knight Simulator, by derevensky: Swing your sword and kill those skulls ... in SPACE!

Ideas, by bodseay: Hey guys, listen! Hey! Guys! Listen! Guys! I got ideas! I could build a hut! Or dig a hole! Or kill someone!

JoyBringer, by Patacorow: Jump around, collect colors and make people happy. Because 50 shades of grey are dull and colors aren't.

Little Stories, by Falkreon: Be some kind of God and use all your powers: changing the world's variables AND lighting the streetlamps!

Loss of Control, by Jeremias: You can't do anything in this one, but this you can do on a high level.

Mars Miner, by figman123456: Clicking on the Mars until there is no more Mars!

Model of the Solar System, by Phoenix_Incorporated: For this not-game I learned how to make a screenshot on a Mac. And that outer space is pretty big.

The Modeleum, by ratking: Yup, it's my entry. Walk around and have a blast.

Not Boardgame, by ratqueen: Jana's entry! It's some kind of advanced tic-tac-toe or rock-paper-scissors for two players.

Phlowers, by keppinakki: Hate flowers? This is the not-game for you. Be pollution and get rid of the little bastards!

Physics Rules, by Manoloko: A not-game for the physics engine enthusiast. Find out how a sphere with negative gravity and high elasticity behaves in a box!

Roloc, by bentoc: It may be an endless straight hallway, but still try to not get lost, okay?

Unfinished Work, by Rolph: Every life simulator where you can jump from the roof to end it is an accurate simulator. Even when it's not finished.

Waiting 2: Deterioration boogaloo, by limbster: Man, I really waited WEEKS until this game was submitted!

Wire, by Loyalty: Suddenly the world is a TRON-like wireframe. Hint: It's all blue lines.

Ludum Dare Client, by Jorjon: I got this to work with a little bit of help from amodo. The #ludumdare on AfterNET, accurately visualized with retro pixel graphics!

Instant Gratification, by Jezzamon: As long as the buffer doesn't overrun, don't walk to the left.

Jump!, by Sheep: For me, this isn't any different to almost any platformer I know.

Let nothing wear you down, by Ditto: Enchantingly suicidal.

MEMEME, by ThomasRyder: Much better and more memorable than anything the face generators from Oblivion or Skyrim can create.

I'm tired now, but the last part of the series is coming soon!

Mini Ludum Dare 37, a not-game jam (part 1)

Last month, which means 2012's September, it was up to me to host the "Mini Ludum Dare" - the 37th installment of this relaxed little game jam. As I love Ludum Dare and the community it surrounds I signed up as a MiniLD host at least a year in advance. And suddenly, it happened! I chose the theme "Not-Game" (as I also love irony) and wrote a lengthy announcement post, so people would know what not-games even are. The secondary theme "Real Real-Time" was meant as much as an alternative for those who hate not doing games, as it was also another kind of food for thought.

I'm proud to be able to report that a whopping number of 54 (not-)games were submitted, with only two of the entries not being related to the themes in any way, this one and that one. The entries are very diverse - some are sophisticated and clever, some are neat, and only a few are just jokes which mock the theme (which I don't mind).

My own entry is a 3D model viewer. To make it more enjoyable, the 3D models are presented in a very game-similar environment, but ultimately it's just a random-generated museum. I call it "The Modeleum", and you can submit your own OBJ models, if you want. In the beginning I wanted to create some kind of a "internet visualizer" which would present images and links of a website in a gallery-like 3D environment - unfortunately, getting the pictures from a site which is more than just a simple HTML document proved to be quite tricky (and not much fun to do).

Jana submitted a two-player board game named "The Bored Game", and I can honestly tell that it's fun to play despite (or because of) its obvious simplicity. All you need to play it are the rules and some colored cards (or a printer).

Now following is the first batch of games and not-games that were submitted. The order is random-ish, because this is not about quality or popularity!

A Bad Day On The Toilet, by Thurig: You sit on a toilet and all you want is to take a dump. But you have the totally funny Crohn's Disease and now it becomes a live-threatening adventure!

A New World, by plule: The daily work can be very relaxing, if all you have to do is staring at a screen staring at a screen starting at a screen staring at a screen staring at a screen staring at a screen

Adrift - A realtime castaway simulator, by Tyen: Don't get seasick! You stand on a boat and watch the sky. Doesn't really need more!

Alternet, by Jedi: Everyone can participate - a multiplayer sandbox with randomized Wikipedia textures. It's a big world to explore, and can get bigger!

Bus Stop, by Connors: You sit on a bench. You wait for the bus. Minutes later, the bus comes. You get on the bus. I don't know what happens if you don't enter it!

Conway's Game Of Life on Arduino - anachrocomputer: You need a Nokia display for this one - and an Arduino!

Cube Mark, by Arowx: A lot of cubes pop up, until your computer slows down. Then: a number appears!

Dot, by Gallefray: Can you hear it clickin'?

Escape!, by fr-automatik: Wait, this is the wrong Ludum Dare! But, oh well, it fits nicely. A man in a prison, and a lot of opportunities to get out.

Game Developer Life, by Jacic: This thing contains nothing but pure truth: everybody hates your games. (Okay, now and then your mom should appear and say that she loves it even though she doesn't know what it is.)

GTFTSTG - Go the Fuck to Sleep the (not) Game, by aquasheep:  This is a benchmark for how much you're qualified to be a parent.

Hello World, by timgarbos: Please leave a message after the *beep* ... - well, I created the one behind that thing! Search for it! A moving capsule in a cube world - usually the first thing you do in every Unity project, but this time it's actually pure enjoyment.

Math Pet, by dem0: I think I should feed it. But why the hell does it want me to calculate 123*456? I'm not the one sitting in a computer!

A Grid With Some Adventure In, by Norgg: Well, it is a grid, with some adventure in. (But only if you actually type in something adventurous.)

Chameleon, by Tempest: Quick, open your colored pencil box! A new way to use your good old webcam.

That's it for now! Rest comes later!