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Say no to minimalism

There I was on Friday night, ready to make a game for the Ludum Dare…then I saw the theme: minimalism.  This is the worst theme for me.  It’s not even a proper theme, it’s a constraint!  If I have the time and ability to make a game as big, complex, and non-minimal (is that a word) as I want to, then I will.  Regardless, I sat in front of my whiteboard for an hour trying to come up with an idea for a game.  Then I had a realization: I have better things to do than make a game I don’t want to make for a theme I hate.  I still haven’t beaten Fire Emblem: Awakening!  So I decided to skip Ludum Dare 26.  Maybe Ludum Dare 27 will have a proper theme.

LD #26 Game Plan

Given my current level of motivation and the amount of time I need to spend doing other things this weekend, I’m only planning to spend 20 hours on my game.  Here’s how I’m breaking down those 20 hours:

  • 2 hrs - Initial design based off of the (likely terrible) theme
  • 8 hrs - Coding (coming up with a no-frills version of the game)
  • 4 hrs - Art
  • 3 hrs - Sounds and Music
  • 3 hrs - Creating menus, squashing bugs, and polish

Any additional time (gained by finishing things early or spending more than 20 hours on this) will probably be spent on polish.  I will try to stick to this, but it’s a schedule, I’m developing software, and I’m in a hurry.  The schedule doesn’t have much of a fighting chance.

Still lazy, and still going for it

It’s Ludum Dare time again, and I’m feeling a huge lack of motivation.  Regardless, I’m still going for it.  My goal: to make something tiny.  I’ve had a problem with biting off a bit more than I can chew (especially with the last one), so I’m trying to do as little with my game as possible and possibly scale up if I have the time.  I’m even coming up with a schedule that I will completely deviate from by the Sunday night.  I’ll also try doing something that I’ve never done before: posts updates throughout the competition.  I’m not terribly motivated (and how can one be while Fire Emblem: Awakening sits in their 3DS?), but I will do my best.  I can’t do any worse than last time.

Stop being lazy!

I’ve done a whole lot of nothing involving making games for the past few weeks.  Mostly because of life (houses must be bought) and Fire Emblem: Awakening (so good!).  But Ludum Dare 26 is a month away, so it’s time to put my game face on!  I have a 4 day weekend coming up, so my goal is to make a very full featured breakout clone.  Well, I still deciding on the game, but it will likely be breakout.  Let’s do this!

Robo Jerks!

“I can totally make a turn-based strategy game in 48 hours!” I stupidly exclaimed at the beginning of the Ludum Dare 25.  48 hours later, I ended up with a functional, but flawed, turn-based strategy game called Robo Jerks.  I’m not exactly pleased with how it turned out, but it does have orphanages to destroy.  I even wrote a post-mortem, so feel free to read that.

Ludum Dare 25!

It’s time again for another Ludum Dare using the power of LÖVE.  I’ve been so extremely unmotivated lately, so I’m hoping the Ludum Dare will fill me with motivation (like it has in the past).  I’m a bit ill-prepared for this Ludum Dare, unfortunately.  I’ve barely made any effort towards making warm-up games, and I still haven’t posted my game skeleton (which is something I’ll need to do to not break any rules).  I’ll have much to do tonight, but it will be worth it (assuming the theme isn’t dumb).  Hopefully, I’ll have a game to show off on Sunday night.

Dec 4

A shameful lack of motivation

Remember when I said I was going to work on my game less?  Well, I was so very correct.  I’ve barely gotten anything done in the month of November.  I certainly got nothing done worth showing off.  It wasn’t due to a lack of trying.  I’d sit down in front of my computer, open Geany, look at my code, and feel a wave of apathy wash over me.  I’m just not so sure about this unnamed space game.  I’m tempted scrap the game and make a different game (I feel the urge to make a dungeon crawler).  That’s admitting defeat, and I’m considering it.  But I think I want to at least release a pre-pre-pre alpha version of this game before I call it quits.

Making games is hard.

Now is the time for prettier screenshots

Here’s a list of some stuff I’ve finished recently:

  • Gamepad support
  • Auto-aligning/spacing GUI for LÖVE
  • Options menu for setting graphical/input preferences
  • Resource manager

Noticed a trend?  While all this stuff is quite necessary, it still means I’ve got screenshots that look like this:

Latest screenshot

Terrible. I’ve started putting some thought into the art my unnamed space game will use.  I’m thinking of something like Geometry Wars or Gate 88.  Something a bit “abstract”, so my inability to art (which is a verb) is less of an issue.  I’ve already started working on the star field.  So far, I’ve only added a parallax effect.  My stars look nice in motion, but still look about the same as they do in the screenshot.  I haven’t gotten around to doing something like varying the stars’ brightness.  On a somewhat unrelated note, I’ve also gotten around to working on the gameplay, and I’m a bit happier with the gameplay now.  I hope to soon have either prettier screenshots or an actual pre-pre-alpha for people to play.

A white flag and boring stuff

I’ve officially given up on the October Challenge.  There is no way this game will be done by the end of October.  To show how serious I am about giving up, I started playing playing Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey (50-ish hour DS game).  I’ll still be working on this game, I’ll just be working on it less.  I still intend to release this game at some point; I’m currently shooting for January.  Why January?  No real reason.  3 months just seems like a more reasonable amount of time.

I’ve actually been working on a couple of things, but nothing screenshot-worthy.  I’m working on gamepad support (LÖVE + TLBind made this pretty easy so far) and a GUI library. Sure, there are many GUI libraries for LÖVE and I was using gspot (LÖVE libraries have the best names), but none of them had exactly what I wanted.  And what I want is a gui that supports keyboard/controller/mouse navigation, auto-aligning layout widgets (think HBox in GTK or QHBoxLayout in Qt), and supports mouse-over events.  Nothing does all 3, so I just made my own.  So far, it works perfectly, but I’ve yet to add keyboard/controller navigation.  I still haven’t touched any code relating to actual gameplay, maybe next week I will.

A violent collision with a wall

I think I’ve hit a wall with my game.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I needed to have something that will allow you to protect your ship while engineers are building terrible, day-ruining things far away from your ship.  So I added “pods”.  Pods orbit around your base ship and can be fitted with weapons or things that provide passive abilities (i.e. increased shield regeneration or an emergency shield recharge). With that addition, most of the intended core gameplay is in place…and things aren’t working as expected.

Despite some tweaking, I’m running into a few issues:

  • Unmanned drone health isn’t something the play has to worry about too much.  I’ll need to have some enemies that specifically target the unnamed drone.
  • Pods are either so overpowered that they make it so that you don’t need to help your base ship or too weak to defend your ship for a few moments while you’re trying to murder the jerk engineer building several warp jammers and beacons.  I’ve yet to find a healthy balance.
  • The level ends when your warp drive is charged, you return to your ship, and jump.  However, you can still stick around, kill enemies, and collect scraps to upgrade your stuff.  The enemy spawn rate increases steadily after that and a strong enemy appears eventually, so there should be some risk.  However, I’ve noticed that the better my ships become, the longer I can stay.  The longer I can stay, the more scraps I get.  The more scraps I get, the better my ships become.  It’s a positive feedback loop, and the game become very easy and very boring in a few stages.  Which leads to another point…
  • The main way I have of increasing the difficulty is increasing the enemy spawn rate and the length of time required to charge the warp drive.  I’m not liking that very much.  I think I want to tone down the torrent of enemies the player as to worry about.

These aren’t even all of the issues, just the ones that come to mind.  A lot of tweaking (some things may need to be drastically changed) will be required before I’m happy with things.  Not to mention I still haven’t work on the graphics, UI, full controller support, etc.  My point: it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that I will get this done in 16 days.  But I still plan on finishing this and selling it at some point.  The October Challenge will become the Eventually Challenge.  When is eventually?  Maybe January-ish 2013?  How much will I charge?  I’m not sure.  I’m debating whether to go the pay-what-you-want route or just charge $1.

In the meantime, instead of tinkering with the gameplay and getting frustrated, I’m working on the UI and controller support.  That way, progress is being made and I don’t get too demotivated.