August 27, 2015


Time Clickers

from Jay Is Games

Platform: iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Linux, Unity — Time Clickers Proton Studios serves up a simple but addictive mash-up of shooter and incremental idle game, as you take up your pistol and purchase automated, upgradeable weaponry to shoot your way through stationary red cubes in levels packed with achievements, power-ups and more. Also free for iOS and Android, as well as Steam! Tagged as: action, android, browser, download, free, game, idle, incremental, indie, ios, ipad, iphone, ipodtouch, linux, mac, mobile, playthis, protonstudio, rating-y, scifi, shooter, steam, unity, windows




Development Strategies for Game Jams #LDJam

from GBGames

As I play and rate Ludum Dare games, I see that games fall into a few groups:

  • Highly polished games that feel complete
  • Highly polished games that feel incomplete
  • Unpolished games that feel complete
  • Unpolished games that feel incomplete

By complete, I mean they have all the elements of a game: an objective, conflict, rules, unpredictable outcomes, endings, etc.

By polish, I am referring to the production quality. There’s few bugs, the aesthetics are cohesive, and everything feels balanced when you play it.

So how do you make a highly polished and complete game in 48 hours? What tips and tricks are developers using?

Make It Playable as Fast as Possible

Games are complex systems in action. You can’t design a game well unless you playtest it because it isn’t always obvious how the rules of a game interact. Making something playable early means you have more time to test it as you add, remove, or change mechanics. You also have time to make decisions, such as whether to kill planned features or spend time on making the controls feel better.

I’ve found that when I fail to submit a game to a Ludum Dare, it usually coincides with a game that either has no game play or gets the bare minimum of game play added at the very end. I have no time to play and see how the game feels, which means that even if I get it done on time, it’s more likely to be an unpolished and incomplete tech demo.

On the other hand, when I focus on getting something playable early, such as during Ludum Dare #24, it’s a game from the beginning. It might start out unpolished and incomplete, but by the deadline, even if I don’t get all the features I wanted in there and I can identify glaring problems, I have something to submit. For my entry for the theme Evolution, I didn’t get to add the features that take advantage of the theme, but I recall how sluggish the tank felt to move and I spent a little time tweaking it until it felt better to play. When you killed the enemies, I had points float up above their heads. I’m not saying it was a beautiful game, but it was more polished than most of my entries have been. And it didn’t have everything I wanted in it, but what was in it felt complete.

Ideally, your work in progress will be easy to deploy to other people so they can play test it and give you feedback. You might think the game is fine, but you’ve been immersed in it for hours and might miss how difficult it is for someone who hasn’t seen it before. Your game is ultimately for other people to play, so their feedback is very important.

Know Your Tools

If someone gave you a complex tool you’ve never seen before, you’d probably muddle through how to use it, but it would be slow and painful.

On the other hand, if you were given a tool you’re familiar with, you no longer need to worry about how to use it as it is almost second-nature. You can focus on the task in front of you instead of focusing on how to use the tool.

Years ago, I struggled with making programmer art in GIMP. I wrote code. I didn’t art.

Partly from learning during previous Ludum Dare compos, partly from talking with artists about their workflow, and partly from practicing outside of compos for my own projects, I learned how to do things I normally need to do during a game jam. For instance, I use layers, preferably named ones, to make it easier to create a complex image. I know how to scale images and layers with fewer artifacts. I know how to use an alpha selection to get an online of an image, and I can grow and shrink selections so I can create a silhouette or a border. I even learned common shortcut keys so I can quickly switch from the Pencil tool, the Bucket Fill tool, the Rectangle Selection tool, and the Ellipse Selection Tool, which saves me time.

I remember reading the manual for Applesoft BASIC and learning that instead of typing out:

PRINT “HELLO, WORLD!”

you could type out:

? “HELLO, WORLD!”

And that question mark would automatically get turned into the PRINT command. The manual mentioned that it saved four keystrokes and time. At the time I wondered how much time it could possibly save, but since I was typing PRINT almost all the time, I realized that it added up.

Today, knowing your IDE’s shortcuts similarly helps. As my friend Chris Freeman said in his presentation on refactoring, tools reduce cognitive load. Instead of using the mouse to hunt and click on everything in menus, you ideally should be able to unconsciously move your fingers to the right key combinations to make things happen. It’s like learning how to ride a bike or drive a car. Once you get the hang of it, you no longer focus on where your feet are. When you want to move forward, your feet automatically know what to do.

During a game jam, you don’t want to spend time reading a manual or searching online for help. You want to just DO things that move the game forward.

For my first Ludum Dare, I was learning how to use libSDL, and luckily I kept the scope of the game down because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do very much. I spent a lot of my time figuring out what SDL provided and how to write code to take advantage of it.

For the latest Ludum Dare, I was often very pleased with how even major code changes compiled on the first try. I was much more familiar with the language and with the interface of my tools such as Vim and Gimp.

Come up with a Plan

You’re two hours into a 48 hour compo. What are you working on now?

With only two days of development, it might feel like you don’t have time to plan. Every moment not working on game development is a lost opportunity.

But planning saves time, and it doesn’t even have to be very complicated to be effective. There’s no need to create a Gantt chart for your project.

Some game developers create entire detailed design documents to keep their thoughts organized, and other developers use nothing more than a list of planned features that they cross off as they get implemented.

But what about time?

You could work on one thing at a time until it is all done, but the risk is that the later items don’t get done at all. What you don’t want is to find yourself with an hour left and realizing that you forgot to implement a way to end the game or that your game is completely silent.

Some people try to get a good chunk of the game done early so that the rest of the compo is spent on balancing and adding polish. Some developers set aside blocks of time, such as a couple of hours, to creating sound effects.

Other people understand that their energy levels are going to be different throughout the day, and when they are too exhausted from programming, they can switch hats to creating graphics or music. Einstein actively relaxed by playing the violin, and you could do worse than emulate him.

No matter how you plan your two days, having that plan gives you more insight into what to do at any given moment so that you have the best chance of submitting a finished game.

Your Tips?

I’m not saying I’m an expert, and I still feel like I’m learning how to pace myself and put together something. But after participating in 10+ Ludum Dare game compos and a handful of other game jams, I think I’ve gotten some worthwhile experience to share.

I should probably invest in The Game Jam Survival Guide by Christer “McFunkypants” Kaitila.

What are your strategies when participating in a game jam? How do you ensure your game is complete and polished before the submission deadline?



August 26, 2015


LD33: Free Me, You Idiots! Ported to Android! #LDJam

from GBGames

Shortly after I ported my Ludum Dare game to Windows, I ported it to Android! You can download and install the .apk now and play on your phone or tablet. I’ve updated my LD#33 compo entry.

Here’s a handy link to explain how to install an app outside of the Google Play store.

LD#33 Game Play

Warning: it’s not really optimized for mobile yet. It pauses when idle, but it doesn’t pay attention to the back button, so you’ll have to long-press the Home button then swipe it away to close it.




5 Challenging But Fun Solitaire Games

from A Shareware Life

 

1) Interchange

One of the most played games on my new online solitaire site is the game Interchange.  Interchange is a 2 deck Forty Thieves type game (learn more about it here).  It has been the subject of much study, with an article written about its strategy.

Interchange

Interchange is a very hard game to win - it is very hard to win it even 1% of the time.  Often you don't even come close.  Therefore, several other games have been invented to make it easier to win.

Play Interchange Online

 

2) Unlimited

Unlimited

The first easier Interchange variation is Unlimited.  Unlimited is the same as Interchange except it allows unlimited redeals.  Interchange has no redeals at all.

Interchange is such a hard game that even adding unlimited redeals doesn't make it particularly easy, but at least it gives you a fighting chance in most games.

Play Unlimited Online

 

3) Give and Take

Playgiveandtake

Give and Take is a brand new game in Pretty Good Solitaire v15.20.  It is like Interchange, but also with redeals.  In this case, the first time through the deck cards are dealt 3 at a time from the stock to the waste pile, then there is a redeal, then cards are dealt 2 at a time, then another redeal, then cards are dealt one at a time until done.

Give and Take is a much easier game than Interchange, but much harder than Unlimited.

Play Give and Take Online

 

4) Breakwater

Breakwater

Breakwater is exactly like Interchange except that building in the tableau is down regardless of suit instead of by suit.  This makes the game considerably easier as there are many more possible plays.

Play Breakwater Online

 

5) Forty-Nine

Fortynine

Forty-Nine changes the tableau building method, just as Breakwater does.  In Forty-Nine, building in the tableau is by alternate color.  This makes Forty-Nine harder than Breakwater (which is regardless of suit), but easier than Interchange (by suit).  Even so, Forty-Nine is still not an easy game.

--

All of the 5 games above are in Pretty Good Solitaire, available for Windows/Mac/iPad.

 

 

PREVIOUSLY: 7 Interesting Yukon Type Solitaire Games




Oni Yu Can Scare Them

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Oni Yu Can Scare Them Oni Yu is on a mission in this cute retro puzzle platformer made in just three days. He's got to terrify the locals to make everything ready for his (long forgotten) dark lord. He can possess objects to scare people, but some characters have special abilities, and Oni Yu isn't invincible! Tagged as: browser, flash, free, game, ludumdare, platform, playthis, puzzle, rating-g, retro, teamoni




Weekday Escape N°90

from Jay Is Games

Weekday Escape N°90 Games featured this week: The Senses Escape; Five Flowers; Find the Escape-Men 161: Hyperbaric Chamber — This week on your one and only Weekday Escape! Primera picks a pack of pretty pansies, and then locks you up with them. no1games goes all high-tech with a hyperbaric chamber. And Esklavos? Pretty as a picture... as usual! Tagged as: browser, escape, esklavos, free, game, no1game, primera, weekday-escape



August 25, 2015


LD33: Free Me, You Idiots! Ported to Windows #LDJam

from GBGames

I’ve updated my Ludum Dare #33 compo entry with the Windows version of Free Me, You Idiots!. Now most of the world can play it!

LD#33 Game Play

Next up: fixing my Linux-based entry so that it uses a non-custom install of SDL2.




Jack MacQwerty

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Jack MacQwerty A fast-paced reflex game-meets-typing tutor that has you playing as the fastest typist in the west. Simply type the name of each bandit as they come charging towards you to blast them away. Fast fingers are a must in the old west. Don't forget to reload! Tagged as: action, arcade, browser, flash, free, game, khromatique, minimalist, rating-y, reflex, retro, shooter, typing




Play Trigon Solitaire Online!

from A Shareware Life

Playtrigon

Play Trigon Solitaire Online, Trigon is a hard version of Klondike, the standard solitaire game.




Through

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Through A mind-bending puzzle platform game where you can pass through walls, causing the level to tilt on its side and reshuffle. Use the arrow keys to move and jump. If you get stuck, simply ram your face into a convenient wall and watch new opportunities appear. Tagged as: browser, flash, free, game, goshki, minimalist, platform, puzzle, rating-g, retro




Take Seriously the Responsibility of Game Creation #LDJam

from GBGames

After a marathon game development weekend in which I finished my Ludum Dare compo entry on time, I found myself looking forward to playing everyone else’s games. I pulled up the random list of games it provides for me to rate, and the very first game on the list?

A game about being a rapist.

Seriously? Ugh.

I know. I know the theme for Ludum Dare #33 was “You Are the Monster.” I know the very first thought most people will have with the word “monster” is some kind of creature, whether evil or good, and the second thought is, “Ah, but people can be metaphorical monsters, too!”

And there have been some amazing games taken in both directions. In just a handful of games, I played the role of a politician in two of them. One was humorous, and one was chillingly dark. Both were done well.

But I can’t comprehend how someone could think playing as a rapist would make for a good game concept, no matter how much it might fit the theme.

I’m having trouble articulating what bothers me so much about a game about being a rapist. We have lots of games that put you in terribly violent roles, and I would be one of the last people to argue that they shouldn’t be made.

But this game has you treat women as objects to overpower as a core game play mechanic. That’s horrific.

When I brought this up in the Ludum Dare IRC channel, I was told something to the effect of “If you don’t like it, then just don’t play it.”

I think that attitude works fine for matters of taste. If I am not a sports fan, I could just not play the next incarnation of Madden instead of whining about the existence of another game I don’t care for.

But this is a game about subjugating and raping women, of treating them as Less Than. I would not think it’s a matter of taste. I would like to think that it’s not a matter of some people being offended and some people not. I think it is perfectly valid to call out a bad creation. I mean, there are bad games, and then there are bad games.

It’s not “just a game”. I hate that phrase because it makes it sound like games are not important.

Games matter. And I know this is a 48 hour game made by an amateur and not a professionally produced controversial product. But games matter.

We live in a world where the tools of creation have been democratized, and as I wrote last month, anyone can create, and they do:

You could simulate complex interpersonal relationships, or you could go the easy route of hypersexualization, stereotypes, and power fantasy.

It’s a choice.

And with the increased availability of tools and publishing platforms, anyone can make these kinds of choices.

And many do. Sometimes without realizing that they are making important choices.

And some of these choices get front-page status, which means a lot of people get the subtle message that these choices are normal.

Being careless about this topic bothers me a lot. Rape is serious. It is dehumanizing to its victims. It is horrific. It should not be treated casually, because then you risk making rape sound as almost normal, maybe even funny. When rape is treated in an unserious way, it’s telling the world that it is no big deal.

I’m not saying that certain topics are taboo and should not be the subject of games. Other media have tackled it, and some have done better than others in not treating it as merely a plot development, and I believe games could as well. I think it may be possible to create a game about violent misogyny and rape that seriously deals with the issue.

I am saying that if rape is going to be addressed in a game, it needs more careful thought behind it. Making a game about rape is not something you just do.

A note to people who don’t play games: Games don’t have to be fun to be games. They don’t have to be for kids to be games. They can deal with adult themes. They can inform.

Games mean something and they say something to the world. Even if you think they don’t say anything, THAT says something. Playing a game featuring casual misogyny such as the Batman:Arkham series of games says something to us about the views of the creators, views that potentially get absorbed by the players. These games aren’t going to turn every fan into a raging women-hating fiend, but it sure doesn’t help to be exposed to hours of game play normalizing certain attitudes toward women.

A game about being a violent rapist says something about the creator’s views, views that can get absorbed by it’s players. People might see this game and think, whether consciously or not, “Huh, someone made a game about being a rapist. I guess that’s a thing now.” And rape gets even more normalized in more minds.

I don’t know what to call for in terms of this specific game. I’m not asking for it to be banned or removed from Ludum Dare, but that’s more because I don’t know if it should be. I’m still a bit shocked that someone thought to make it in the first place.

But in general, I am asking that game developers take the responsibility for what they put out into the world more seriously. You’re creating culture. Act like it.



August 24, 2015


Frozen Islands: New Horizons

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Frozen Islands: New Horizons The vikings have all been rescued, but that doesn't mean they're going to laze around. In this sequel to Deqaf Studios' popular action/strategy game, sail around the ocean conquering islands and hunting for treasure, though the way enemies are depicted may raise an eyebrow. Tagged as: action, browser, deqafstudio, flash, free, game, playthis, rating-y, strategy




Katja's Escape: The Pharaoh's Tomb

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Katja's Escape: The Pharaoh's Tomb Got a few minutes to spare? Take the time to help Katja escape! She ignored every piece of pop culture history ever, and now she's trapped in the very ancient tomb she wanted to explore in this short game from Carmel Games! Tagged as: browser, carmelgames, escape, flash, free, game, playthis, pointandclick, puzzle, rating-g




How to be a Gent

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — How to be a Gent Henryetta's got goals, and Henry is going to help her reach them in this short, cute puzzle platformer. Henry can turn himself into a step or explode to help Henryetta fly to where she needs to, though some fiddly, slippery controls make things a little awkward in places. Tagged as: browser, flash, free, game, mglockling, platform, playthis, puzzle, rating-g




Catch of the Week: Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink Only $2.99!

from Casual Game Guides

This week's Big Fish Games Catch of the Week is the hidden object adventure game Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink! That means for this week only, you can get this game for only $2.99!
 



» Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink Walkthrough & Forum

» Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink Free Trial & Related Games




LD33: Free Me, You Idiots! Development Time Lapse #LDJam

from GBGames

Want to see the last 48 hours compressed down to a little over 3 minutes?

I uploaded the time lapse video of my development of Free Me, You Idiots!:

You can find the final submission at http://ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-33/?action=preview&uid=251. Thanks for playing!




LD33: SUBMITTED! #LDJam

from GBGames

I did it!

With 15 minutes to spare, I submitted my entry for LD#33, Free Me, You Idiots!

LD#33 Title Screen

It has no sound, and there is a lack of challenge which makes it hard to call it a real game, and the UI feedback is lacking to let the player know what is going on, but it’s complete and playable.

LD#33 Game Play

It’s also quite complicated! I created a simple yet effective goal-based artificial intelligence, a little economy, and upgrades. The thing I wish I had was direct conflict between the good and evil villagers.

But I’ll have more to say when I write the post-mortem.

For now, check out my entry at Ludum Dare, and if you submitted your own entry, please rate my game.

I’ll create a Windows port, soon. You can download the game for:
GNU/Linux (459K)
Windows (2.8MB)
Android .apk (3.6MB)

Congratulations to everyone who submitted a game! It’s been a fun weekend, and I look forward to playing your games!



August 23, 2015


Specter Knight

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Specter Knight Your old bones aren't just going to lie there forever, even if you DID die trying to defeat a wicked sorceror. In Iconic Games' action-RPG dungeon crawler, you're a reanimated hero trying to rid the land of evil one last time, with randomly generated dungeons, tons of loot, upgrades, spells, and bosses. Tagged as: action, adventure, browser, dungeoncrawler, fantasy, flash, free, game, iconicgames, rating-y, rpg




Play Acey and Kingsley Online!

from A Shareware Life

Playaceyandkingsley

Play Acey and Kingsley solitaire online, an easier version of Aces and Kings.




Kill the Plumber 2

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Kill the Plumber 2 You can't keep a good plumber down... which is bad for you when you're the villain of this fast-paced puzzle platformer! Figure out how to use the abilities of each enemy to take out the hero before he reaches the exit and saves the princess! Tagged as: action, browser, flash, free, game, iaminov, keybol, parody, platform, playthis, puzzle, rating-y




LD33: We’re Getting Tired, but We’re Gonna Make It! #LDJam

from GBGames

I wasted precious time last night trying to create an animated GIF of the game so far, but it was either terrible quality or took up hundreds of MBs, and so I gave up and went to bed.

LD33 2nd Breakfast

This morning I had peanut butter, raisin, and banana sprinkled with cinnamon on toast for breakfast with my trademark orange juice. Starting the day off right!

By my calculations, I’ve put in almost 15 hours of development towards this project, 12 of which came from yesterday.

We’re in the last 12 hours of Ludum Dare, and we’re starting to get tired.

LD33 We're getting tired

And while I have interactivity and have been toying around with it to ensure that things are working correctly, I don’t have a game yet. The player can’t do anything to meaningfully impact the game world, but the AI is having fun, I’m sure.

The AI needs to be there for this approach to the game. If the villagers don’t have their own goals and activities, then the entire premise of the game is thrown out the window because you are trying to influence their activities towards benefiting your own ends. But I can’t build an entire self-running simulation no matter how much fun it is take on that challenge because then there won’t be any time left left to allow the player to do anything but watch.

So my focus today will be on adding meaningful play. What can the player do that makes sense and gives good feedback? I’ve been thinking about and designing this aspect throughout the compo, and now I need to manifest it.

I will add that I do have another concern. This game is about being the personification of Evil and convincing the followers of a good deity to follow and worship you instead, allowing you to break free of your prison.

What it isn’t about is blasphemy, but in my attempts to add humor by poking fun at how moronic the villagers are, I worry that the game comes across as my indictment against organized religion. It’s not, but my intent isn’t necessary for it to be offensive or to act as a model for how people should act, so I need to make sure that I’m super aware of how the game could be received. I’m not the kind of person who throws his hands in the air and says, “It’s not my fault you interpreted this quickly-thrown-together game in this way.”

Games matter, even 48-hour ones.




Los Angeles Shark

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Los Angeles Shark How much destruction can you cause as you pilot a massive shark down through Los Angeles? Leap out of water to chomp swimmers, boats, hang-gliders and much more, while racking up combos and achievements in this short and simple but chaotic arcade game. Tagged as: achievements, action, arcade, browser, flash, free, game, mausland, playthis, rating-o




LD33: Ok, This Might Work Out After All #LDJam

from GBGames

LD#33 Praying Villagers

Last time, I said I probably couldn’t do a goal-based AI and so I was settling for a simpler state-based AI.

Well, I did a quick look at my last LD project, and I realized I had implemented a really simple goal-based AI. It’s kind of clever, and I implemented my own version of it for this project.

So now I have villagers who walk to the deity of their choice and pray, or go off exploring the world. I eventually want more behaviors, such as fleeing and bringing objects somewhere, but we’ll see if I need to.

I want to go to bed, but not before I ensure that the timelapse picks up something more interesting than a static screen.

LD#33 Visibly Worshipping Villagers

I put together a quick particle effect for when the villagers are praying to make it clear what they are doing. White particles are for good prayers, and black (not pictured) are for evil prayers.

20 hours left. Assuming my power doesn’t go out due to the storm, I think I have a good chance of getting something submitted in time.

For now, good night!




LD33: This Is the Point Where It Can All Go So Horribly Wrong #LDJam

from GBGames

We’re coming down to the end of the first 24 hours, and I can move around the world and select entities.

LD#33 Selection and HUD

Unfortunately, I’ve been struggling with getting them to do anything interesting. The villagers stand still because I haven’t given them a means of doing anything, nor do they have a reason to do anything yet.

That is, it’s coming down to how complex of an AI I want to create.

As is my pattern, I wrote down everything I could think of that I might want them to have as goals, with the idea that I would streamline it later. I want the villagers to think, “I want to explore, but I also have chores to do, which is a higher priority. I’ll go tend the farm, then explore. Tending the farm means I need to get myself to the farm, then work the farm.”

But then I realized that a hierarchical goal-based AI might be a bit too much for me to chew off. I mean, I could do it, but oof. How much time would that take to debug, amirite?

So I think I’ll go with a simpler state-based AI. While the full version of Stop That Hero! uses a goal-based AI to great effect, the Ludum Dare #18 (Enemies as Weapons) version did decently well with a state-based AI. The entire game worked with only three states, and one of them was AI_DEAD. So it’s doable and simple, which means it is faster and I can focus on the rest of the game sooner.

Hold on to your butts. It’s gonna get hacky.



August 22, 2015


LD33: Lunch Break and Progress Shots #LDJam

from GBGames

I came up with a name for the game. Originally, I wanted Imprisoned, but a quick search online found it was a somewhat popular name for a game.

So the name is now Free Me, You Idiots!, in the hopes that the game will actually feature some humorous personification-of-evil-interacting-with-morons action when I finally submit it.

In order to save time on art, I made simple solid colors with minor touches to indicate grass and water (water not pictured). I would have gone with solid colors, but now I can tell the camera is moving around the world.

To make a villager, I am just going to have a single sprite represent it. If I have time to create four or eight sprites to represent the different directions it could face, I’ll do it later.

So I took one of my wooden Mans:

A Soon-to-be Villager

pulled it into Gimp, adjusted the brightness and contrast, and added some eyes and an outline for a cape, and scaled it to 32×32 to create the little guy you see in the middle of this field:

The Villager in-game

As for the tree that imprisons you, I tried to make one, only to realize that the one I created in the mock-up looked a bit better, so I just took it and scaled it:

The villager next to your prison

Then I rewarded myself with lunch:
Peanut Butter, Raisin, and Pickle Sandwich

That’s my trademark peanut-butter, raisin, and pickle sandwich with cinnamon sprinkled in it.

No, I’m not pregnant. Why does everyone ask that?

What you can’t see pictured above in the screenshots is that the camera pans to wherever you click in the world. It’s a bit jarring, so I should probably worry about slowing down the interpolation at the end, but that will wait for polish time later.

But at least now you can navigate the fairly boring world.

Next up: I want to interact with the natives. The player should be able to select objects/entities by clicking on them, which opens up a menu and provides relevant stats in the HUD.




LD33: Breakfast, a Nap, and Some Ideas #LDJam

from GBGames

After getting up way earlier than I expected and doing some work, I took a break for breakfast.

Breakfast

Scrambled eggs with freshly ground black pepper, buttered wheat toast, and of course a glass of orange juice.

I then felt that I needed a nap, and so did my cats. Here’s my angel food cat leaving his white fur all over my black Ludum Dare shirt.

Napping with cat

At various points, one cat would jump on me after the other jumped off, and I thought, “Ok, it’s time to shower and get the rest of the day started.”

Here are some ambitious ideas I doubt I will have time to implement:

Your followers can sacrifice something to you. It gains you energy, but sometimes they bring embarrassing things to sacrifice, like a mushroom or an old shoe. You can accept the sacrifice, but what will people think? I’d like some flavor text to make this kind of event more humorous.

Where are your enemies? Maybe your followers have to avoid getting caught by high priests and acolytes. If they find out what’s happening, they’ll triple bind your bonds, and you’ll never get out of that tree. But if you manage to convert an acolyte? Horrible things can happen, but not to you.

But even without these ideas, I have enough to start coding up something I can interact with. Let’s see how quickly I can build a world to move around in.




Save the Princess: Love Triangle

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Javascript/HTML5 — Save the Princess: Love Triangle The princess has been turned into a frog, and only the prince can save her with a magic potion! Too bad he's only motivated by cake, and he has not only a rival to contend with, but spikes, switches, and more are in his way in this cute HTML5 puzzle game. Tagged as: browser, free, game, html5, playthis, puzzle, rating-g




LD33: UI Mock-up #LDJam

from GBGames

Imprisoned Mock Up

It occurred to me that I would need a HUD and some stats to show the player. Here’s a mock-up of the UI.

So, it will look very similar to an RTS. I hope it will be intuitive.

I figured that a big component of this game will be the loyalties of the villagers. They have gods they pray to, but you want them to worship you instead. So, you nudge, and you cast doubt, and you otherwise encourage them to make the choice you want them to make.

The more followers you have, the more influence you have, which makes it easier to get followers and influence them to do more.

I might find that the focus switches from removing those magic stones around the tree to increasing the number of followers you have.

I decided on going with a tree instead of a boulder as your prison because it will be easier to see how strong or weak it is. A discolored and wilting tree makes it clear that it is losing its hold on you.

1 hr, 15 minutes before Ludum Dare is a quarter of the way through. I should start coding something up now.




LD33: Paper Prototype So Far #LDJam

from GBGames

Imprisoned Evil prototype

The top left is the village, complete with villagers. The top right has the four magic stones surrounding the boulder that imprisons you, represented by the barrel.

The stars are your Energy, which is how you exert influence on villagers.

The bottom left is the forest, and the bottom right is the river.

Right now, Energy resource management seems to be key. You only have so much to start with, but as you influence villagers, they start to worship you and give you more Energy, which means you can influence them more with greater effects.

For instance, you might be able to Cause Fear at first, which is enough to get someone to believe you exist, but too much fear can backfire in that no one will want to go anywhere near you, which limits your abilities.

Later, when you have a lot of Energy, you might be able to Compel a villager to go somewhere specific.

So, this game seems to require a lot of AI and content, which is what I was worried about. Villagers have to go about their own business, which means they need things to do besides walking around.

On the other hand, if I abstract away a lot of the behaviors, maybe it can simplify things, but I worry I will lose what makes this game exciting for me.




LD33: Good Morning, Ludum Dare! #LDJam

from GBGames

I’m either getting a head start on my morning, or I’m going to crash. I got up one hour and 45 minutes before my alarm for some reason.

I feel well-rested. Let’s see what happens.

My current task is to figure out the actual basic game play. I like the idea of keeping the interface simple and letting the player do nothing more than click on villagers and then click on an influence, but the dynamics that arise from causing fear or greed need to be solid and understandable.

Otherwise, I’m going to have the player directly control a monster.

So, now I’m going to spend a little time brainstorming with myself figuring out what the villagers can actually do and then figure out how to cause them to do it.




LD33: An Imprisoned (and Ambitious!) Evil #LDJam

from GBGames

Concept: An imprisoned evil

I was choosing between being a vampire drinking the blood of your neighbors while avoiding the vampire hunter’s investigation each day, and being imprisoned in a rock surrounded by magical rocks that you try to get rid of by influencing the nearby villagers.

I think the first is something I can see doing much more easily. I can see the game play, and I can make it as detailed or as abstract as I want. The second one is really complex and still kind of vague. I know what the player can do, but what results are possible, and in 48 hours?

I told my wife about my choices, and she gave me a look like she was worried. I asked why, and she did an impression of me:

“At the start of Ludum Dare, you’re like, ‘I’m going to take on this huge design!’ Then, partway through, you’re like, “I’m worried I won’t be able to get this done.’ Then by the end, you’re like, ‘Doh, I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked.'”

Nailed it.

And I decided to go with the second one anyway.

My initial thoughts are that you are surrounded by four magical stones, each one represented by an element such as earth or water.

You can’t directly get rid of the stones, but you can influence the nearby villagers who have shown up in your area. You can click on an individual, then select an influence type. Examples of influence types are:

– Suspicion
– Fear
– Trust
– Greed

The vague part: I don’t know what happens then.

I can see Suspicion causing infighting among the villagers. Ok, they’re fighting. Now what?

I can see Greed causing villagers to use up resources more than their neighbors, or kill the proverbial goose that laid the golden egg, perhaps in the form of digging up cropland to search for gold.

My wife suggested that perhaps instead of using this indirect influence, the game play can center around being a monster trying to free something from imprisonment by dealing directly with the four elements. It would be simpler.

And I’m going to sleep on it. 1 day, 21 hours left. Good night!




LD33: Some Monster Concept Art and Milestone Deadlines #LDJam

from GBGames

Here are some quick doodles of monsters. I like the idea of the monster being a cute ball of fur.

Monster concepts

I’ve been thinking about what direction to take this game, and at this time I’m coming up with as many concepts as I can. I set a deadline for me to have a concept ready by the 2 hour mark. I hope to have something sooner, but in case I don’t, that’s the point I stop spitballing and start running with whatever I have that seems to work.

Have you set milestones for your project in a Ludum Dare compo? Or do you just keep going until you’re done?

The constraint I threw on myself: make a non-violent game. Basically, it means that attacking or being attacked can’t be part of the core mechanics, which cuts down the viable concepts quite a bit.

But the player could be a helpful demon or a sneaky creature. There’s still plenty of potentially good ideas here.

I tried to break things down a bit. Here are some notes I’ve made in my design doc to help me come up with the concept of the game.

Where did you come from?
– Outer space
– Ocean deep
– Frozen in Arctic
– Nuclear mutation
– Toxic waste/pollution
– Deep underground
– Psych Ward
– Meteor
– Forest
– Mountains
– Science experiment gone awry
– Magic/Summoned
– The Gods
– Birth defect
– Hell
– Extreme emotions manifested in three dimensional space
– I don’t know. I’ve just always existed as far as I know.

Where are you now?
– Feudal era, Modern day, Futuristic urban/rural
– Fantasty world
– The pages of a storybook
– On a ship (sea/space)
– In a cave
– Underground, waiting, biding my time.
– In a castle
– In a heavily secured experimental lab on a military base
– In a house, mine or someone else’s.
– Encased in a tree/boulder/etc

Games I can see making at this time:

– You’re a vampire in a village trying to suck the blood of your neighbors while avoiding detection. You’re stronger and faster at night, but you’re vulnerable during the day. It’s similar to a concept I came up with a long time ago, only you were the vampire hunter then.
– You’re a tiny monster sent to help a poor human family. You mend things and try to make things right, but if you’re caught, it’s bad news for everyone. So, a stealth game? I can see this being a platformer to really emphasize the height difference, but I don’t want to spend time on figuring out platformer physics.
– You’re an ancient evil imprisoned in something magical like a tree or boulder, but you have limited abilities. You are able to influence people from a nearby settlement and you want them to break the hold on you, but you need a lot of them and no one knows about you yet. You want them to free you without tipping them off about your intentions. So, a strange sim game?

And there’s 30 minutes left to decide…




LD33: It’s Started! And the Theme is: You Are the Monster #LDJam

from GBGames

Ok, Ludum Dare #33 has started, and “You Are the Monster” is the theme.

I can see a lot of potential here.

Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend pretty much ends that way. Maybe you are a stranger in a new world, or your own world that has changed dramatically to the point you don’t recognize it, and everyone is afraid of you.

Perhaps you are Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’s monster, created by a mad scientist and now on the loose, being chased by townspeople with pitchforks.

Maybe you’re a vampire trying to live in a village and feasting on neighbors without anyone figuring things out, such as the vampire hunter that came to town.

What if you’re a sea creature terrorizing ships and divers while trying to avoid being caught?

Jekyll and Hyde? You are turning yourself into a monster for…some reason. I never actually read this story.

There’s a lot of classic horror as source material to explore. The Invisible Man, werewolves, The Deadly Mantis, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, War of the Worlds, Godzilla, King Kong, Godzilla vs King Kong, etc etc etc.

And of course there’s non-horror classics such as My Teacher is an Alien, or Little Monsters, or…do Garbage Pail Kids count?

I’m going to doodle and try to settle on a direction as soon as possible.




Blank Dream

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Windows — Blank Dream Death is only the beginning for 16 year old Mishiro, who plans to throw herself into a nearby lake that's the source of local legends. But when she finds herself trapped in a dark and dangerous world, she also finds herself without her memories, and she'll need to regain them all, and possibly those of others stranded there, to find a way forward in this creepy and unsettling free indie horror adventure from Teriyaki Tomato, translated by vgperson. Tagged as: action, adventure, download, free, game, horror, indie, mystery, rating-r, teriyakitomato, vgperson, windows



August 21, 2015


The Seventh Door

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Windows — The Seventh Door There are grim things happening in The Seventh Door. You play as Julian, a man who wakes up on a rooftop only knowing a name and as Detective Zikas who is investigating a murder on that same rooftop, unknowing it will throw them both right in the middle of a grand scale conspiracy in this free indie adventure. Tagged as: adventure, alterego, avmonesser, creation, criket, download, famasgame, free, game, indie, mapache, mystery, noir, rating-o, roiofthesuisse, rpgmaker, sriden, thriller, trotter, windows




LD33: Yeaaaaaaaah! I’m in! #LDJam

from GBGames

I’m in.

Here’s my pre-compo checklist for Ludum Dare, the 48-hour game development competition that starts tonight and ends on Sunday.

I’ll be using C++, libSDL2, CMake/make, the awesome sfxr by DrPetter for audio, my own basic code base, my prototype toolkit, and a secret ingredient: love.

Last time, I did a terrible job of pacing. I focused on creating bad art instead of designing a game, even after I said I would do the opposite.

So this time around, I’ll be focusing on mechanics. For real. I’ll prototype and focus on getting something playable as quickly as possible, and I will iterate on the design so I can feel confident that I will have something to submit by the deadline.

If I need art, I’ll force myself to use circles and rectangles, or I’ll make a quick doodle, take a picture, and turn it into a sprite without worrying about cleanup.

I’m looking forward to making a game with you.

Well, not with you. I’ll be working by myself. But at the same time as you make yours.

As usual, I’ll be cross-posting between here and the Ludum Dare blog.

Good luck, everyone!




My History of Game Jams, Part III #LDJam

from GBGames

I’ve been writing about my lessons learned from past game jams. In a few short years, I’ve gotten better at finishing more ambitious games, and yet I still had a lot to learn.

If you didn’t read them, see my history of game jams part 1 and part 2.

Mini LDs
Between the major Ludum Dare compos, there are monthly Mini LDs. Usually someone hosts it and has the option of specifying special rules.

Apparently I didn’t blog about the mini compos I participated in. My favorite is from MiniLD #6 in 2009, which had the theme Monochrome and the special rules that you could only use a limited palette of colors. The idea was to combine all entrees into a single game. The other special rule was that each entrant also got a theme. I got Guardian.

I’m not sure how the final result turned out for all the games, but my game was Guardian Fish. I didn’t even plan on participating that weekend, and yet I put together something that people have told me would make a great game for the growing iOS market if I fleshed it out.

GuardianFish

In 2010, right before Ludum Dare #18, I hosted MiniLD #20 with the theme Greed and the optional theme of Fishing with a special rule: “Only one of each.” While programming usually makes it easy to make exact copies of objects, I was insisting that everyone had to ensure there was only one copy of any object.

While there was some griping about the constraint, there were more entrees in this MiniLD than any before it, even though a power outage and my project’s overly ambitious scope meant I didn’t get my own game, The Old Man and the Monkey Thief, done in time. I should have paid attention to my own compo’s constraints and adjusted the scope to fit it instead of trying to create a bunch of content to get around it.

Inventory and Treasure!

I wrote up a post-mortem of MiniLD #20, including both my own project and running a MiniLD.

It turns out that people want closure and it isn’t enough to simply start a compo and disappear.

My favorite piece of feedback:

I must say there were times when I wanted to stuff that glass of juice down his throat.

You can’t buy memories like that. B-)

It’s also when I met McFunkyPants on the Ludum Dare site for the first time. He’s a pretty awesome game developer, game jam enthusiast, and author, and he runs One Game a Month, an awesome challenge now in its third year.

Full-time Indie Jams

The MiniLDs are great practice for the main compo. I missed Ludum Dare #19 due to the holidays, but I was sure to be part of Ludum Dare #20. At the time, I was struggling with how long Stop That Hero! was taking and I wanted a quick win.

The theme: “It’s Dangerous To Go Alone! Take this!”

Ugh. Really? The meme won? Fine.

I had the initial design I went with right away, prototyping it and eventually making it happen, except I didn’t get it done in 48 hours, so I once again took advantage of the third day of the Ludum Dare Jam to submit Hot Potato!, a game of delivering a package while avoiding the agents trying to grab it. You can pass the package to an adjacent courier (the “take this!” part of the theme).

Screenshot - Final with pedestrians

Once again, simple graphics meant getting things done more quickly, although I didn’t get nearly as much done nor as quickly as I would have liked.

It would be over a year before I would participate in another game compo. Ludum Dare #24’s theme was Evolution, the Susan Lucci of Ludum Dare themes that never won until it did.

I managed to have something playable very quickly, and I iterated the development well. I didn’t get everything I wanted, but when the 48 hours were up, I had something fairly solid to submit instead of trying to rush something that resembles game play at the last minute.

Evolution Game Play

It turns out that Ludum Dare had been getting quite popular, and it has been hard to get people to rate games. In the past, you were given a random list of 20 games, and you were expected to do your best to rate at least those games. Now, they introduced a coolness rating, which increases as you rate other games, and it’s value determines if other people see your game when they get their random list of games that need a rating.

I didn’t plan on setting aside time to play and rate games, which hurt me in this compo.

In my post-mortem of Ludum Dare #24, I wrote:

If I could do LD#24 over again, what would I do differently? I’d spend more time upfront trying to create a design better suited for the theme that is also simple enough for me to make. I’d make sure my list of tasks was prioritized so that at all times I was working on implementing something that served the core design. And I’d make sure that I had set aside time after the compo and Jam to rate other games. People worked hard on their entries, and with over a thousand of them submitted, it’s unfortunately easy to get buried. I think the coolness rating does a great job of making things fair, and the name is perfect. I want to be cooler next time.

Another Long Absense Before the Next Compo

But it would be another two years before I participated in another game jam. By this time, I had a day job again, progress on Stop That Hero! was indefinitely on hold, and I had spent some long and dark evenings figuring out what direction GBGames should go in.

And I apparently forgot my previous game jam lessons.

I came up with a lot of ideas for Ludum Dare #32’s theme, An Unconventional Weapon. Some of them were used by other participants to great effect.

I loved the idea I ran with, though: getting a giant monster to follow your character so you can lead it towards your enemies while avoiding death yourself.

LD #32 Giants And Ogres

My strategy was to doodle when I wasn’t coding, and rather than use my poor digital art skills, I would use my less-poor pencil drawing skills and digitize them.

LD #32 - Controllable Character

And then I threw out that strategy for some reason and tried to create sprites that face four directions, taking up the lion’s share of the time I spent on this compo.

LD #32 A Giant Weapon

What’s worse is that while the animation helped, it looked worse in screen shots and didn’t look much better in motion. So all that time I could have spent on actually getting game play in was wasted.

It was hugely disappointing Ludum Dare compo for me. You could say I was rusty, but I handled my pacing badly and focused on assets instead of game play.

At the time, I was hard on myself and felt like it was proof that I still suck at game development. On the other hand, a few years ago, I would never have been able to quickly put together the limited game play that I did. I had a character that moved where you clicked in a very intuitive way, which is something people complimented me on, and I had a monster that you could attract either by getting in its vision or yelling out to it. The animations helped make it easier to see where the monster was looking, but I could have simplified them and had something working much faster.

So to be fair to myself, yeah, it sucked I didn’t submit a game, but I’ve come a long way from FuseGB and my first game jam.

Immersed Learning Experiences

My time working as a full-time game developer were definitely very good in terms of how much skill I developed and experience I earned in a couple short years, but the next best thing is a weekend dedicated to creating a game.

When you fully immerse yourself in the work, and when the constraints are that you need to have something finished in a short amount of time, you don’t get to procrastinate or be idle. You don’t read how to do things.

You spend your time doing.

And in the end, you have either a completed game that never existed before or experience to leverage for next time.

Getting that game finished is a great feeling. You get to point to a real game and say, “I made that. I’m a game developer. I developed a game.”

I’m looking forward to the next game jam. It’s another opportunity to grow with an entire community of game developers.




Play Fan Solitaire Online!

from A Shareware Life

Playfan

Play Fan Solitaire Online for free.




Episode 396: Getting Targeted

from Casual Gamer Chick

No Gravatar

This week’s episode is very long to make up for the crappiness of last week’s episode, and the crew have fun with the trolling of Target critics this past week.

The news this week includes:

  • Guillermo del Toro quits videogame development
  • There is no suspend feature for Steam Machines
  • Gamescom sets attendance record
  • Chinese console crowdfunding project manages to rip off PS4 and Xbox One

This and Listener Feedback.

This week’s episode is very long to make up for the crappiness of last week’s episode, and the crew have fun with the trolling of Target critics this past week. The news this week includes: Guillermo del Toro quits videogame development There is no suspend feature for Steam Machines Gamescom sets attendance record Chinese console crowdfunding project manages to rip off PS4 and Xbox One This and Listener Feedback.




Stock Trader Hiyo!

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Windows — Stock Trader Hiyo! In response to heroes always raiding their loot, the monster world learns corporate management practices and it's up to you to investigate their facilities for some monster stock picks in this free indie point-and-click adventure game with 13 endings! Tagged as: adventure, download, free, game, indie, pointandclick, rating-g, sapiboong, simulation, windows



August 20, 2015


Monkey GO Happy Samurai

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Monkey GO Happy Samurai PencilKids' monkeys are sad again, and in this point-and-click puzzle game, the only thing that'll make them happy is summoning a samurai... oh, and, you know, finding all 70 tiny mini-monkeys masquerading as ninjas hiding absolutely everywhere throughout the countryside, too! Tagged as: browser, flash, free, game, monkeygohappy, pencilkids, playthis, pointandclick, puzzle, rating-g




My History of Game Jams, Part II #LDJam

from GBGames

Last time, I talked about my first ever game jam and my first year’s worth of Ludum Dare events. After many years of thinking about it, it was nice to finally get some wins under my belt as well as a couple of good lessons. If you didn’t read it, see my history of game jams part 1.

My second Ludum Dare year

April 17th, 2009 was the start of Ludum Dare #14. The theme, Advancing Wall of Doom, was announced while I was out at a party for way too long, which meant I got a late start.

I remember thinking about something along the lines of Rampart, and eventually settled on a design in which you are trying to capture resources with your walls while preventing your opponent from stealing them. I had some neat design ideas and concepts, but almost no code after the first 24 hours. Oof.

Back then, Ludum Dare had medals for each category, and not only can your game be ranked, but the fun side competitions were the Community and Food compos. I got gold for my food pictures, and it was the only reason I submitted anything, because when the deadline hit, I had nothing else to show for the weekend but a button you could click.

Screenshot-Walled Off by GBGames

Since I was writing everything from scratch, and my previous attempts had either keyboard input or paid attention only to mouse movement, I learned how hard simple GUI elements such as buttons were to implement. It turned out that they have a lot going on under the hood.

I really wish I had written a post-mortem for this failure, too. I think it would have been insightful today.

That year’s August, Caverns was the theme for Ludum Dare #15. I had a good idea right away, and I ran with it.

Prototype Update

I took advantage of some new prototyping lessons I learned from Ian Schreiber’s free Game Design Concepts course, and I think I was able to put those lessons to good use. The final game had a lot of help getting finished because I spent some time figuring things out with paper and wooden pieces.

CavernGameFinal

My Mineral Miner post-mortem shows that rapid prototyping works well, and writing good, non-buggy code would help too. Graphics and sound are great for polish, but a lot can be done with terrible placeholder art. I also need to work on my pacing so I’m not wasting time figuring out what to do at any given moment. With only 48 hours, every minute counts. Even though I took in a soccer game and still managed to get a game finished, I could probably have used those few hours to make things better. I would try to make sure my calendar was blocked for for Ludum Dare weekends from then on.

Full-time Indie Game Jam

I missed Ludum Dare #16 and #17, but Ludum Dare #18 was a special one in my heart. It was the first one I participated in as a full-time indie game developer. In 2010, I had quit my job earlier that summer to be an independent game developer, but I had no dream game I was trying to make. When August came, I knew I was participating in Ludum Dare.

The theme was Enemies as Weapons, and I normally don’t like to think about the potential themes before it is announced, this one was standing out in my mind. I wanted to make a reverse Super Mario Bros in which you were Bowser sending Goombas and Koopa Troopas after the AI-controlled hero. I had just been learning a lot about game artificial intelligence, and this kind of project would be perfect for putting it into practice, except I would then also have to learn platformer physics.

So I changed the concept to a reverse Legend of Zelda, in which you were sending out minions to stop the hero from storming your castle and destroying you.

I spent some time coming up with other concepts before settling back on the reverse Legend of Zelda. My prototypes look very much like the end result.

More prototyping

Stop That Hero! is finished

I created a project backlog because I knew this project was going to be ambitious. I was making an epic game.

The game has a title!

As my Stop That Hero! post-mortem says, I missed the original 48-hour deadline, but luckily the 72-hour jam compo was introduced and so I used my Monday (because I was full-time indie and could use my days however I wanted) to finish the game.

I spent too long on the UI again, and I had to scale back on my ambitions, but I was very pleased with my casual strategy game. Unfortunately, the jam compo wasn’t very popular then, so not many people played or rated my game, but the October Challenge proposed by Mike Kasprzak was coming, and now I had a game I wanted to make. I made this game in 72 hours. What could I make in another month?

It turns out that it took me another year to make Stop That Hero! into a more fleshed out game. Oof.

Stop That Hero!

More Game Jams

I was a full-time indie by this point. I had all the time in the world to participate in game jams, but I also had to do work that brought in money. What did I do next in terms of game jams?

I’ll write about it next time.




Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon

from Jay Is Games

Platform: iOS, Mac, Windows, Linux — Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon Collect and eat bugs as a spider in this atmospheric exploration game, for your PC or your iOS. Creep into every nook and cranny to find clues to solve the mysteries of the abandoned estate while building webs to snag yourself some dinner. Whether you're in it for the exploration, or are driven to get a high score, you'll be sure to be entertained. Tagged as: action, download, exploration, game, indie, ios, ipad, iphone, ipodtouch, linux, mac, mobile, mystery, physics, puzzle, rating-g, steam, tablet, tigerstyle, windows



August 19, 2015


Play Giza Solitaire Online!

from A Shareware Life

Playgiza

Play Giza Solitaire Online for free.




Dusk Child

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Javascript — Dusk Child In this fantastically retro explorer platform you play as our pink haired hero who was drawn to this strange cavern filled with spikes and mystery. Search for a way to activate the statues and discover the drive that pulls you ever forward in this gem by Sophie Houlden. Tagged as: adventure, browser, exploration, free, game, javascript, pico8, pixelart, platform, rating-y, retro, shoulden




My History with Game Jams #LDJam

from GBGames

If you want to be a game developer, you need to develop games.

And when I look back on what games I’ve made, I realize that most were originated during game jams. What follows is a trip down memory lane with links to my game jams of the past, complete with links to post-mortems. Those are hard-earned lessons learned from a game jam veteran, kids.

2005: Game in a Day

Garage Games used to host the 24-hour game jam Game in a Day. I participated in my only Game in a Day on June 10th, 2005. The GID theme was Fusion, and I came up with an ambitious design.

I’ve been warned by TomB in #gameinaday on irc.maxgaming.net that I really should pick something simple for my first GID. The fact that I feel I need a design means that it is too complicated. Perhaps he’s right, but we’ll see how I do.

It would be an ambitious design for me today to complete in a 48-hour game jam such as Ludum Dare. I was young and naive, I was not very knowledgeable about the programming language or the 3rd-party libraries I was using. I had no experience with pacing in game jams. Even so, it seems even this early I learned a lesson that would serve me well to remember:

About 10 hours later, I finally have the main character moving about the screen according to the arrow keys. He only moves in four directions, but I’m not going to draw up more images for diagonal movement this late in the GID. I’d rather spend my time getting the fusion part of the game going.

Smart move, Self from 10 years ago!

What I recall most vividly during this jam was an overwhelming sense of fear the likes of which I have never known before. Early in my 24 hours, I started worrying that I didn’t know what I was doing and wouldn’t be able to finish, and I felt like I should quit. Logically, I knew it made no sense, that if I stopped, then it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it was a cold, numbing feeling I couldn’t easily ignore. Fear is the mind-killer, the little death that brings total annihilation, and I was apparently facing it head-on for the first time in my life.

But I did it! My first game jam ended with a playable game, the creatively-named FuseGB. It does not resemble my design at all, but I pushed forward and managed to make a playable game in 24 hours.

I gained a lot from my Game in a Day participation, including first-hand experience I never had before that would serve me well.

2008: Ludum Dare

Three years later, I was getting ready to participate in Ludum Dare for the first time, back before it had a dedicated domain name.

LD11 Minimalist by GBGames

Even though I spent a lot of my precious development time trying to get basic infrastructure together, I had a finished game with six hours left to polish it up before the deadline. I purposefully picked a simple set of mechanics so I had the best chance of finishing. While today’s Ludum Dare competitions see thousands of entries, in 2008, there were 70. I earned my first LD trophies in this compo, including my prized “Amazing Pickle Sandwich” award from HybridMind and The “Thanks for Epilepsy” Award from keeyai.

You can read my Ludum Dare #11 post-mortem for Minamilist, which eventually became a slightly better game Walls and a short-lived Facebook game called Sea Friends. It even inspired Maximalist, a game by pansapiens I enjoyed.

Later that year in August, the 12th Ludum Dare compo started with the theme Tower with the optional theme of Owls. I had successfully submitted games to two game jams, so I went in quite confident. I was also dabbling in test-driven development at the time, and I thought that a timed competition was the perfect time to practice my TDD skills.

Ludum Dare #12 was the birth of the ridiculously obtuse Towlr games, but I managed to submit what amounted to a tech demo. It had an owl, and a lot of people were inspired by my user interface. I got “The Palm Of RSI Prevention” trophy from Hamumu for it.

Tower Defender Game Play

But it wasn’t a complete game, and in fact it had bizarre bugs, such as the enemies climbing up the tower into the sky and getting stuck. As you can see, apparently I thought this bug was a good thing to show in the screenshot.

There was no way to lose, and no way to win. According to my Ludum Dare #12 post-mortem for Tower Defender, I wrestled with technology more than with game development, something I still struggle with because I insist on doing everything from scratch instead of using existing tech.

Months later, coinciding with the Winter Olympics, Ludum Dare #13’s theme was Roads, and early on I had a concept that I saw to completion.

Road Lockdown design

These design notes eventually turned into these guys:
Road Lockdown

driving around in this game, Road LOCKDOWN!:
The final screenshot

I find this odd, but somehow I never wrote a post-mortem for this game jam. The final entry post and development time lapse don’t really say much about what happened, but I recall getting the game finished and submitted at the very last minute, getting “The Photo Finish” trophy from Doches. The game earned me The “I Can’t Get You Because You’re In The Bike Lane” Excuse trophy from demonpants, poking fun at how you have limited controls available to steer only at intersections so your squad car and the criminal’s car can be driving towards each other but in different lanes of traffic.

But the important thing is that I finished a playable and complete game again. That’s 3-ish out of 4 game jams, and that ain’t bad!

More Game Jams to Come

Thanks for reminiscing with me. Rereading my old posts reminds me of how far I’ve come.

Soon I’ll write up what happened in the next year and beyond!




Weekday Escape N°89

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Weekday Escape N°89 Games featured this week: BLAST! The Wall; Escape Plan: Police Station; The Microcosm Escape — This week on your Weekday Escape! A terrifying world where the police are out to arrest unlawful nappers! A developer who's had it with you escaping their games and wants you to bust your way out this time! And a relaxing game of the birds and the bees... no, not that kind, weirdo. Tagged as: browser, escape, esklavos, flash, free, game, selfdefiant, vitaminhana, weekday-escape



August 18, 2015


Chromatic Seals

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Javascript/HTML5 — Chromatic Seals If you're a brightly coloured seal, the only thing that'll turn your frown upside-down is to be made gray by being matched up with some identically coloured ice. In this HTML5 physics puzzle game, things get tricky as you slice through scenery to reunite the seals with the ice to turn them back to normal. Tagged as: ahtan, browser, free, game, html5, incompetech, ozdy, physics, playthis, puzzle, rating-g




Blossom Time

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Blossom Time Soothing, introspective piano music... lovely pastel aesthetic... "I have no clue how to solve this"? Oh yeah, it's gotta be a TomaTea escape, and a wide variety of clever puzzles, not to mention a little painting, await you within! Tagged as: browser, escape, flash, free, game, pointandclick, puzzle, rating-g, tomatea




Bubble Boy

from Jay Is Games

Platform: Flash — Bubble Boy A charming little physics action game that has you controlling a little boy floating through his own dreams in a bubble. Use the [WASD] or [arrow] keys to avoid walls, spikes, and lasers, and to get your little trooper to the gate that will take him further into his own bed time story. Tagged as: action, avoidance, browser, flash, flashchaz, free, game, physics, rating-g