Ludum Dare and Steam Greenlight

This last week of April is going to be a busy week, and May will be even busier, so I’d figure it’s best to write this out now. Last week I took part in Ludum Dare 35, with 48 hours on a surprisingly rare free-weekend (my weekends are usually filled by going out and hanging out with people or going to events, such is life). The theme was shapeshift, so obviously a lot of games involve changing shapes with a few that either use shapeshifting in either the levels, the monsters or even in the mechanics.

While the theme voting was going on, one of the suggested themes was “Two Colours”, and so all my ideas were pretty much blurred out by one of my favourite games of all time: Ikaruga. So I decided to combine shapeshifting ships with colour shifting bullet absorbing, this is where Spinstar comes from.

 

This was quite fun to make, particularly with the animation and the bullet patterns, you can go vote on the game here or play the game directly on itch.io here. I’ll be voting on games still, hopefully I’ll get a good score like my past entries.

On other pressing matters, I plan to take Gemstone Keeper to Steam Greenlight. I have already been working on the Steam page itself, but I’m giving myself three weeks to fine-tune the page, get the trailer finished and let as many people know about it as possible.

Steam Greenlight Anouncement

I’ve been working on the trailer, I’ve had difficulties getting game footage until recently, I might write about it once the Steam Greenlight page goes online but it all comes down to trying to find a method that outputs videos with the least washed out colours and as little blurring as possible.

I’ll also keep progress of the game where I can, I’ve been working on bosses and I want to get started on items.

 

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Grow Trees… Or Something – Ludum Dare

So this is something I didn’t expect to happen, around two weeks ago was Ludum Dare, where we all had only 48 hours (or 72 for jams) to develop a game, however because I had plans to go to a party that was some distance from home, I had much less time. Despite that I still managed to finish something, although honestly was disappointed I didn’t have much to show, so I could go and vote on other entries.

You can play my entry for Ludum Dare 34 here, but here’s my post mortem as written on the Ludum Dare website.

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Feeling Superstitious?

I would make this my obligatory “I’m in” post, but I thought I’d make this a bit fun and tell you some weird or crazy fact when it comes to me and game jams, and in particular Ludum Dare: I’m cursed.

Now here me out, I am aware this sounds weird and possibly crazy (because it is), but even if it’s just a sheer coincidence or just bad luck, there is an unusual pattern that has occurred whenever I take part in game jams, and this has been happening through most of the game jams I’ve taken part in since 2013.

The “curse” goes as follows: Every game jam with an even number will either lead to no completion or failure.

That’s not to say that the jams with odd numbers have lead to roaring successes but the majority of my game jam participations which lead to finished and submitted games and some have had much more positive reception than I’ve hoped for, which is saying something for someone who hasn’t (yet) reached the top 100 in any Ludum Dare category. Heck, on my own Ludum Dare author page there are only entries from odd numbered LDs.

So if you are interested, I will show you my evidence and also add in some lessons that were taken from them.

Ludum Dare 28:

Most of why this jam went wrong for me can be summed up in the post mortem I wrote. The short version was that I was collaborating with another person, and we left pretty much everything from what tools we would use, to our game jam idea to the last minute, and as a result we made an unfinished game that we felt embarrassed to keep online so I reached out to Ludum Dare to have that game removed. I don’t have any criticism to give Code_Assassin, but we pretty much agreed that if we were to collaborate again, we’d definitely need a week or so to prepare what games we could make and what tools we would use.

Lesson: Prepare well in advance.

Ludum Dare 30:

So this one I did announce I would participate, and I was joined into a team this time. So how come I didn’t submit a game at this one? Well the answer was that a game was made, and submitted by the other programmer, LiquidBrewing, the game being Cardboard Giuseppe. However as you can see, no one voted for it, and only two comments, reasons why I’m not so sure. During development there were some issues, namely that one of the artists dropped out (meaning I ended up doing some artwork in order to finish the game up) and it didn’t help that I was away on Friday and Saturday. I guess it wasn’t a surprise that the majority of the code that I wrote never got used in the game.

Lesson: Leave some days free to work (especially in teams)

Ludum Dare 32:

I couldn’t participate in this one, although I cannot find a reason why. I can recall telling people I could not take part because I was going to be away somewhere, but I cannot recall what event prevented me from taking part.

Global Games Jam 2014:

Just to show this doesn’t just occur at Ludum Dare, here’s Global Games Jam. I’ve participated at GGJ for three years running and 2014 was the only year that had an incomplete entry. This one had a much larger team of seven people, and yet the reason we never finished was once again, down to tools. We all agreed to use Unity, a great choice if it wasn’t for the fact that most of us never used Unity before, and our venue actually had rooms with didn’t permit the use of Unity (although Unreal Engine was accepted). It was a shame, since we had an idea of an RTS where the visuals and language of the game would depend on what side of a revolution you chose (kinda like Command and Conquer, now that I think about it). On the plus side, I managed to write a sophisticated and fully designed graphical user interface, just a shame the gameplay never became fully realised. I later wrote a post mortem of the jam so you can see the full details of what happened near the time it occurred.

Lesson: Use and prepare tools you know how to use.

So whatever reasons of this, I’m still taking part in this LD, even if it’s number 34. Whether or not the incidents above are the cause of an actual curse, and these aren’t the only ones, I still enjoy the learning process and hard work I put into making small and quick games every year. I look forward to seeing what cool stuff gets created and I hope, despite already having a planned trip to London…Ah well, going to London to see friends during a Ludum Dare didn’t stop me at LD31!

Ludum Dare 33

Ludum Dare, one of the largest online game jams, has posted the results of every competition and jam entry made, a staggering 2727 games! You can check out my entry below if you haven’t seen it yet, for which I have included my results:

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So if I compare with my last entries to Ludum Dare, the average of scores have shown their gradual increase (2.47 – 2.86 – 3.17 – 3.31), and I must praise Lyserdigi for the music to get a such good audio score.

I’ve had a load of fun developing this entry, which I’ve gone into detail in a post mortem. So during the three weeks after submissions had reached the deadline and tried out and voted on as many games as I can, which isn’t easy since I started a new job last month, and I have no idea how any person could vote on over 2700 games in three weeks. Regardless, I’ve managed to find my favourites, found through recommendations, some friends or by random. So to end things off, here are my favourites:

Escape from Twump Tower

Honorary award for catchiest music track in a LD game, this is a very colourful game for such a topical storyline. Music is really catchy and I love the Megaman approach.

Intergalactic Love Machine

I love the dialogue and the text options, this is a really neat idea to base the theme on and the design of the monsters are really well made, fitting with the individual characters.

R-ADIUS

Very well made, I like the strategy involved in planning how to overwhelm the player ship to make it lose all its lives. I hope MrTwister expands this to give some more level and boss varieties, since I managed to beat the player after three rounds and the game just looped around.

Unsolicited

Brilliantly simple and novel concept, definitely liked the level of micromanagement you have to pull off in the later levels.

A Shadow In The Night

A very well polished puzzle platformer, with a unique jumping mechanic. Really good take on classic movie vampires with a great art style!

Ludum Dare Results Comparison

So the results are in! So awesome to see the final scores and see what games got in overall, and see where everyone else’s results are on the rankings. Since this is my third successful Ludum Dare, I thought I’d try a little comparing to see how much I did better (or worse) at this point. Then for future Ludum Dare entries I can then add in those results and probably build a chart to see my progress.

The Results

Ludum Dare 27 (Ten Seconds) – 10 Second Paper Flight

Ludum Dare 29 (Beneath the Surface) – Under Maintenance

Ludum Dare 31 (Entire Game on One Screen) – Glow Drop

My Comments

So while the ranking don’t appear to have changed, the average score for most categories has improved. The only category to have gone down considerably over the three LDs was Humor, although in fairness since my game wasn’t intended to have humour so I could’ve omitted the category. I’m also one of the people that got 100% coolness which is an awesome surprise, it means I’m (technically) listed on the results page. At the moment I’m balancing University work and turning Glow Drop into an Android and Windows Phone release as Glow Drop DX. So hopefully you might see more from me in the future?

Ludum Dare 31 Favourites So Far!

So after rating 100 games for Ludum Dare, I thought I’d talk a bit about a few of my favourites from the jam. They may not be the best out of the competition, but these were the ones that I find have an aspect of good entries that each of these succeed at.

Tightrope Theatre

This is the entry done by brilliant flash game developer Jussi Simpanen, aka AdventureIslands. He always does games for jams big and small and his entries usually bring a quirky design and incredible polish to them, and this one is no exception. In Tightrope Theatre you must travel from A to B, all while riding a unicycle avoiding fire, spikes and the ground below. The entire game is 24 levels long, and feels very complete for a game done in two days, although you kind of wish there was more. Knowing that Jussi tends to add new stuff to his entries every now and then, maybe there will be more to this entry.

Jumping ‘n Jumping

This is an example of how you should achieve an innovative game in 48 hours, you use one mechanic with a unique spin and give it as much potential as you can. In this case, the mechanic of the game is jumping, and the unique spin is that your jumps are limited, but will increase depending on how you play. Eduardo uses the mechanic in a room where you have to jump to survive and you get this gem.

Screen Mover

Most game jams have a theme, and as a developer you are free to interpret that theme to whatever for your game: you can use a literal route (in LD31, that would mean literally running the entire game on one screen), the metaphorical route or the technical route. With Screen Mover, Sh1rogane decided to go beyond literal and technical with the theme to produce something that may look like a simple platform prototype, until you quickly realise you have to move the game window to progress. The only issue with this idea is that keyboard input it locked while the window moves, but the post jam version does fix this.

The Hyperbeam

Sometimes you don’t have to make a game that’s fun to make it a good entry, you can tell a story, show off some great music or in this case, make some really beautiful graphics. The puzzle game elements are clever, but this game is really good at showing off bloom and neon. It just makes it look wonderful, and the music is really soothing as well. As you may tell from my entry, I love neon glow, and this game does a great job at showing it off.

Swotch

If all else fails, just make a game that is fun to play, and make it addictive for an added bonus. This game’s style reminds me a lot of Terry Cavanagh’s Super Hexagon, and since the developer is planning an Android/iOS release, I recommend him get Chipzel to do music for the game.

Don’t forget to play my entry Glow Drop if you haven’t already.

Ralph Baer & Ludum Dare 31

https://i1.wp.com/www.vintagecomputing.com/wp-content/images/interviews/baer_harrison_pong_3_large.jpgI would first like to start this post by talking about Ralph Baer, wildly known as the father of video games who passed away on December 6th. Since 1966 he always had the idea of games that can be displayed on television screens, and developed what he calls “the brown box” which had rotary controls and played a simple tennis game with two panels and a square ball. This patented idea eventually got picked up by TV manufacturer Magnavox and became the Odyssey, wildly considered the first video games console. Along with essentially founding computer and video games as we know it today, he also invented the classic electronic game Simon (and its sequel Super Simon) and carried on developing and tinkering with electronic prototypes, giving him 150 patents to his name.

He lived a full life and his work has lead to the creation of the largest entertainment history, and lot of gamers and game developers are where they are today because of his work.

So last weekend was Ludum Dare, the 31st bi-annual 48-hour games jam. The theme for this one was “Entire Game on One Screen”, a bit basic for a theme but it’s much better than the joke theme that got a lot hype in the voting stages (no snowmen please!).

You can play my entry right now, it’s called Glow Drop and it’s a physics based puzzle game, just click the image below to go to the Ludum Dare page!

I initially wanted to develop my entry using HaxeFlixel, but software issues struck and I was unable to use it, and since on the Saturday I spent most of my time developing on a train to London with no wi-fi, I decided to switch to using Construct2.

While I didn’t really feel motivated to using Construct2 again after spending over a year developing a certain award nominated stealth game using it, turns out for the game I ended up making it was worthwhile. Construct2 has one of the most easiest physics set up out of any engine I’ve used, and since the entire game has to be on a single screen, it’s much easier to manage a visual layout than a coded game state

Since I was out with friends and family for most of Saturday, I was hoping to release for the 72-hour jam. However, when I noticed that most of the game and the graphics were finished with four hours remaining, I felt like I could pull it off and upload for the compo, and I succeeded!

I’m already getting positive comments so far, so I might use a day or two from my Christmas break to polish the game more and release it as a mobile game! If you guys like the idea let me know if there is anything I could add/change to make it work!

https://i2.wp.com/ludumdare.com/compo/wp-content/compo2/407933/21252-shot2.PNG https://i0.wp.com/ludumdare.com/compo/wp-content/compo2/407933/21252-shot3.png