Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mini Ludum Dare #37

As M.A.D. is a very simple game, I figure that instead of looking at how it was made I would instead discuss the upcoming Ludum Dare mini event that I hope to participate in this weekend. The mini-events are far-less strict than the regular events and are for fun. While judging gives you feedback on your game (something I really don't get enough of) I have been entering game-jams for the fun of creating games. As I am starting to focus on much larger-scaled games, game-jam releases will probably become a much more regular feature on BlazingGames as that will allow me to continue to have regular content on the site yet still be able to put the time necessary to create larger games.

The theme for the game was announced early so I have had a few days to think about what I will do. This is a mixed blessing. On one hand I am able to plan out the game in my mind. On the other hand I am anxious to get started.  The theme for this challenge is not a game. An alternative theme is real-time. After sleeping on it, I came up with a game idea that fits both themes and also focuses on my two biggest weaknesses. My interpretation of the themes might be a bit different than other peoples, but that is part of the fun.

The no-game game makes me think about sandboxes. There are a number of games where the player is given tools to build things. There is no goals or win condition but instead the player has fun creating things.

The real-time game to me has two different meanings. The first is that time passes in real time so what takes a minute in the real world takes a minute in the game world. This is where my idea fits the theme. A more interesting meaning of the theme is to tie the date and time to to the game. I have seen a number of games that do this and if done well adds to the game. This can detract from a game as well as some players may only be able to play a game at a certain time and as a result be limited with what they can do.

The focus on my weaknesses is the best way of improving my skills. More to the point, I am hoping that by the end of the challenge I will have the start of a tool that will allow me to better overcome my weakness in future projects.

While I do want to shift to HTML development, the game will initially be written in Flash as despite the similarities between JavaScript and ActionScript the later is still faster to develop in. For me, Flash professional CS6 and Flash Builder 4.6 are the tools to use for Flash development with Flash pro also being adequate for my art needs. While I don't absolutely need the starling framework, it will be used. Audacity will be used for sound editing.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ludum Dare #24 postmortem

People who have visited Blazing Games last week or who are following me on Google Plus already know that I recently participated in the Ludum Dare #24 challenge. This is a challenge where you have 48 hours to develop a game that reflects on the theme of the challenge. This theme is announced at the start of the challenge and this time was Evolution. For this fortnight's post, I have decided to write a mini-postmortem of my entry.

What went right

This was my first Ludum Dare but I had participated in the 7DFPS challenge so I was aware of how quick time goes by in these type of challenges so from the beginning decided that the best way of proceeding was to quickly get a functional game and then iterate on it. The theme of evolution immediately gave me the idea of missing links so the first pass of the game was simply a search of the map for the missing links. I then cleaned up the game to make sure I had something to release before the deadline. Finally I added the combat to the game.

My other wise decision was to take advantage of the photography rule. The challenge allows use of photographs and generated sounds as long as they are created during the 48 hours of the challenge. By quickly taking some photos and using a sound effects generator I was quickly able to come up with good looking game assets in a really short period of time. This gave my game a more polished look without the time burden.

What went wrong

The biggest mistake I made was not having a library of game code ready beforehand. Writing an engine from scratch is not really a good idea when you have time pressures. When you consider that one of the complaints for my game was the sluggishness of the scrolling, Having an optimized map class to start with would have been much nicer and would have given me more time to fine tune the game.

The combat was a bit too last-minute so ended up being a bit more difficult than what I would have liked. I should have listened to the voice in the back of my head telling me to cut the speed of the spiders down and lengthen the whip. I didn't and as a result a lot of people found the game too challenging to finish.

I am thinking that entering game jams will become a bigger part of my life. I really don't care if I win, but do enjoy the challenge and can use the resulting game on my site while I start focusing on the development of larger scale games that can actually turn Blazing Games into a real company instead of a hobby.