Post Mortem – Avalanche

posted on 11 September 7 by jrrt

The LD is long over, so it is more than time to finally write the post-mortem for my game “Avalanche“. As usual I participated along with a friend, and we even had another guy from the university come along!

The story starts a little before LD itself, while the theme was still being voted. I had an idea I really wanted to implement, and it could somewhat fit it with some of the final round’s themes, including Escape. It was a platformer centered around doors that could transport you to another place of the scenario, and change something while you traveled through them, your job while escaping would be to orient yourself on an intricate network of crazy doors.

So, once the theme was decided and it was time to start working, I imediately jumped on getting the basics for a platformer to work, and to implement the door mechanism. Everything was going smoothly until I realized I was stumped…Being so eager to get something working, I set for it without asking myself all the questions. So I now had a prototype but no idea how the gameplay would exactly be, how would travelling though doors be a challenge? What would the player have to do to progress, to reach the end of a level? I thought on some alternatives, but I simply wouldn’t have a good idea. The whole pre-idea proved to be more a curse than a blessing.

The failed prototype

After that, as I was trying to find some inspiration and clear my head a bit by playing around in garage band I played a tune I actually liked. So I took that and tried to put some effort to give it a beat. While listening to the song I thought “this would be great in a fast paced game, like running away from an avalanche or something”. And it was set, I still had 24h!

I started by making the background move, and off I was to program what I think is the most important part on this kind of game: the controls, and the feeling you get from playing. I spent some time tweaking how the board rotated, how it influenced speed and the overall feeling of sliding down a steep mountain.

Then I started to make what would give some adversity to the game, the oncoming trees. At this point the game was playable, but needed some diversity, I thought just trees would be somewhat boring to dodge. So I implemented the jump feature, but as it would be silly to jump over trees, I added rocks, and made them larger than trees, so that they were more easily jumped over than dodged.

The finished game

At this point I considered adding flag gates that would give boosts to the player, however, the clock was ticking and I still needed to add the thing that gives its name to the game, and determines success or falure: the avalanche!

I implementing the effect using a particle emitter that worked along an horizontal line behind the player. And started thinking how would I tell the player if the avalanche is close or far. I try to keep an ever incresing speed for the avalanche, and indicate how caught up the player is by moving the avalanche down as the difference in speed between player and avalanche gets lower. I also move the player down on the screen when its speed increases.

At this point time was starting to running out so I needed to start to finish it all up, so I added winning and losing screens, a menu screen, and messed around in cfxr to make the sound effects. At the end of the day, it was playable, and was not half-bad. But there was so much I wanted to have added/tweaked (Isn’t there always?). Looking back at the game these are my main points:

  • I like how the controls turned out. And it was fun to implement it.
  • I like how the music influenced the game
  • I like how the avalanche effect turned out
  • I like the general “speedy” feeling I could get on the game
  • I don’t like the state of the obstacle warnings, they should appear much sooner, and give some visual cue about the distance they are at
  • I don’t like the losing and winning conditions. The difference between loosing and playing perfectly may be too small.
  • I don’t like not having an indicator of progress…oh well
  • My main addition of boosters of some kind. Having only obstacles kind of sucks, and boosters could help the game feel more rewarding.
  • I also think that the “coder’s art” state of the game does not help, but oh well, I might improve with time 🙂

Once again, LD has been a great learning experience, and I am looking forward to the next one! I am also amazed by the growth LD is having and I hope next time we can bring even more people with us!

See you next time! 🙂

 

Post Mortem – Room Escape

posted on 11 September 7 by bmfs

It is more than time for the Post Mortem of Room Escape.

Since I’m in Portugal, the theme is announced around 3AM. I wanted to wake up “early” and fresh so I left the theme disclosure for Saturday’s morning and took a good night of sleep(It really makes a difference). Next morning I woke up, fired the ld page, saw the theme, and prepared to go jam it! It was around 10 in the morning when I settled and started to get serious. I had already devised some plan in my head and in my sketchbook.

Like in the other LD’s I was participating with a friend, José Teixeira (each of us doing his own game of course). A week before LD we tried to see if anyone from our University was interested in participating. We had other guy showing up and joining us in this LD. Maybe next time we can get more peopled interested.

Idea

Sktechbook

The main idea consisted of the player waking up in a motel room from where he couldn’t escape. The only actions he could do was to sleep or to pickup objects that existed in the room.

Each time the player goes to sleep with a different object, he ends up in a different world with different powers.
To finish a level the player has to pickup a glowing golden triangle, which will be used to open the motel room door.
After getting all the golden triangles, the door can be opened and the player somehow escapes this strange room.

A couple of days before LD, I started to watch “The Lost Room” Short TV Series. (Which you should all watch by the way!) So I was totally pulled into using the strange essence of that room in my game.

I wanted to convey the mystery of the room and of the objects and I think I did it better in some aspects than in others.

Process

In the previous LD, my developing methodology was basically thinking the game as I was going on. In my first LD (LD#19) I was really proud of my graphics which by the way was where I started first. In the end I had not much of a game, but good graphics considering I never had done something like that.

In LD#20  I decided start coding instead of worrying with the graphics, but in the end, although it was more of a game than the previous entry, it had no plan. I really liked doing the sword movement and all but it lacked some game essence.

So for this LD, I decided I needed to plan the game. At least the big plot line, and have something with a start, middle and end.
After having the big plan, I started coding the base platformer using the usual coloured rectangles as characters and objects.
Once I had the character jumping and running I started to intercalate the graphics with the level development.
I worked in each level a time, doing the graphics used in it, coding the powers and the enemies, and then moving to the next level.

Placeholders

Actually there was one part of graphics I did earlier, while working in the level loading. The general game look. Since graphics aren’t really my main area of expertise, if I had to draw every stone in a decent looking level I really would never have a game. I’ve been wanting to try the graphics style for some time, specially after seeing deepnight’s wining LD#20 entry .
So I decided to give it a go and I believe it turned quite nice.

What went Right:

Having a plan

Spending more time planning the game instead of starting right away coding was good. In the end I had something I could call a game.

Smart time management (no Limit breaks please)

In the previous entries I went berserk in the first 24 hours and end up tiring my self up way before the deadline. Draining yourself in the first day, thinking you need to go through the night without sleeping is plain wrong. You’ll probably end up wanting the finish you game the fastest way possible which obviously it’s not good for its quality.

This time I tried to make some stops and get to walk away from the screen. And the most important, I had a decent night of sleep from Saturday to Sunday. That was the smartest move ever!

Graphics

That really neat trick of layering and small squared pattern over plain coloured world really comes out great. I also feel proud of the room objects. Those window drapes are every motel room owner’s dream.

Story

This combination of moving graphics (, almost no sound) and story came out right. I’m proud :’)

What went Not So Right or things to improve next time

Stuck on something

While implementing some parts of the levels, sometimes I got stuck doing something which wasn’t really that crucial. And it ended up consuming precious time which could have been used to implement something else.

If something you’ve been hammering for a lot of time isn’t coming out right, maybe you just need some perspective. Walk away, work in something else and then come back to it when you have more time.

Sound

The sound in the game were near none. I only used the beeping sound through out the game and it probably would only make sense if you completed the game. Maybe I could have used some sounds in the character movement, like to have the sound of steps in snow in the cave level, but I didn’t have time to do it.

The audio department can really help one to emerge in the experience of a game, but it isn’t a domain I feel comfortable. It’s one of the vertices of a game I don’t want to get wrong, or I could end up with a very annoying game to play and hear.

Character Mechanics

In the end I felt the character movement could be improved a lot. Some of the comments in my entry also suggested that the character moved too quickly.

The wall jump also had some quirks. That’s definitely an area I can improve specially with more practice.

Gameplay

One recurring critic in the comments is that the player didn’t really know what to do at first and they were about to give up. I imagine how many more really gave up :S
That is totally my fault. I could have introduced the player to the gameplay in each level, although it would really diminish the game mystery 😉
That was an really great LudumDare. We even had server problems like every awesome project should have.
Thanks for the efforts of all the LD staff to keep the competition up and running.

Being able to participate in the LD is great and the support of community towards everyone in the community is even better.

 

Ludum Dare 21

posted on 11 August 15 by bmfs

4 days and 6 hours left for the next Ludum Dare.

Trying to give life to a game and create all its assets (sound and graphics) from the beginning in less than 48h is always a challenge but it’s simply awesome. Specially the feeling in the end of the two days, when you submit your entry.

Go check http://ludumdare.com and join us!

 

The Future of the Present is the Past!

posted on 11 May 25 by admin

… or the Past of the Present is the Future.

You pick your favorite.

 

Do First, Ask Later

posted on 11 May 9 by admin

There’s no better way to start.

Mantra #1

 

Color Factory: a short introduction

posted on 11 February 8 by admin

It is finally time to reveal what we have been working on. The name is color factory:

It is a puzzle based game, where the player must combine beams of colored light and make them reach the level targets in the correct color.

The initial idea was to make some kind of chain reaction game, and we wanted to do some level based gameplay. But we also wanted to do something with a new mechanic, so we changed the initial concept accordingly.

As of now, we have ways to reflect, divide, colorize and filter beams of light, all at our disposal to make some mind boggling puzzles! Stay tuned!

 

GGJ2011 in Retrospect

posted on 11 February 1 by admin

The Global Game Jam 2011 is over and let’s be honest about it: It was awesome! Everyone that showed up here in Portugal was extremely motivated to actually do a game and work as part of a team.

After the brilliant brainstorming session we came up with a game concept and defined the team roles. We ended up with 4 programmers, 2 graphic artists, and 2 composers (yes, we were surprised! two awesome musicians!). And off we went!

The Jam theme was extinction, so we came up with a concept that involved driving an alien ship to the core of various planets to extinguish life in the entire universe. The player had to dodge the existing tunnels and control the ship descent, in order to avoid an early explosion.

The next two days were very nice. Everyone was very dedicated to their stuff, and we were all swimming in the same direction.

One of the things that impressed us the most was the impact that the two musicians (who were best in their thing than anyone else on the team) had. The music produced was of quality, and greatly boosted our morale. Of course, it also gave us a glimpse of the value having full-time artists can bring to a game development team.

All in all, we managed to make a working prototype, and even with it not being complete, the experience added great value to anyone involved.

You can head here and check out the result, the source and all the assets produced (please, check out the soundtrack, it deserves!)

 

GGJ11 almost in end

posted on 11 January 30 by admin

A couple more hours and our 48 hours game development experience will be over.

And it has been awesome!

Later on we will give our aftermath, for now just check out a few nice wallpapers inspired by our artwork.

We have two awesome musicians in the team (Vasco Martinho and Kyriakos Koursaris) which composed the best game soundtrack ever. Listen to it in http://soundcloud.com/kamikaze-aliens

More updates related with the actual game can be found in our GGJ project page.

 

Global Game Jam 2011

posted on 11 January 28 by admin

Hello all,

This weekend is the GGJ 2011, and as the dedicated game developers we are, we’ll be sure to be participating from the nearest place (Audiência Zero in the city of Porto).

The format is new to us, and we are pretty excited about exploring some crazy concept in a game. The achievement system they propose is sure to give the games some extra flavor 🙂

Looking forward to make and play great games over the next 48 hours.

 

What we are up to

posted on 11 January 7 by admin

In the last months, we have been taking our first steps in the world of game development. We started out by trying to make a 3D platform game, but as we started to progress, we realized there is much we need to learn and decided to start from the bottom up. As I recall someone saying on a game development article, we need to make 10 “bad” games before we can make a “good” one.

So, we are not exactly looking forward to make “bad” games, but to start experimenting with simple formulas and known mechanics in order to learn as much as we can, and take each game we make a little step forward.

As we have already mentioned in a previous post, our first released to the public was Thumb Riders. Our main objective was to experiment Android as a gaming platform, and get used to the stuff we need to do. You can access it on the Android Market using the code below.

Next, we decided to pick and existing mechanic and implement it on the android. We made a simple ball avoiding game called “Avoid” and published it. This time we added drawn graphics and started to experiment with the awesome andengine. Just like in Thumb Riders you can get it on the market using the code:

The result: Two weeks, two games! In the meantime we got ourselves around the basics of dealing with all the aspects of a simple game and are ready to give another little step forward.

Our next objective is to create a fun game that is distinct from what is already available. Our idea is still in a conceptual stage, so we will talk about it in more detail later on.

Thanks for reading!

 

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