Tag: music

LD33: Frankenstein’s Monsters, Inc.

Frankenstein's Monsters, Inc.

Last night I submitted my Ludum Dare 33 entry, Frankenstein’s Monsters, Inc. which besides being a bit of a mouthful, is a fairly minimal management game about running a monster-building business. The theme was ‘You Are the Monster’, and I think you’ll agree that digging-up bodies and sewing them together is pretty monstrous. I say it’s minimal because your controls are only to drag monsters and job applicants to assign them to a department, drag monsters to sell them, and click on buttons to spend money.

It was a lot of fun to work on! I’m happy with how it’s turned-out too – the only thing I didn’t get time for is more art, especially some animations for when each department is working, and more variety for monsters. It started out overambitious, but I managed to simplify the design a lot before I started. I even had time to do some music:

As with any jam game, there are things I’d like to add to it. My original idea gave the monsters statistics which affect how much money they’re worth and how effective they are at different jobs. In that way, you’d be able to gradually level-up your production quality as well as its speed. You’d have a PR department which would slowly reduce outrage over time, which would allow outrage to ramp up without being unbalanced. I also have some ideas about selling monsters – that they’d be sold automatically but only when there was demand, and you would increase demand by assigning workers to a marketing/sales department. I’d like to change how human workers behave too – at the moment, they’re 4 times as effective as monsters and 4 times the cost, so there’s no reason not to hire them as soon as they’re available. So, two different directions it could go in, really! Either more of an “idle game” that runs by itself, or a more detailed business simulation.

The Ludum Dare page is here, or you can go play it here.

Spacelunky Post-mortem

As previously mentioned, I’m attempting 1GAM again in 2015. My attempt for January is Spacelunky. Download it free from Itch.io.

Spacelunky

Spacelunky came from my admiration of Spelunky, and the fact I’ve not really made a platformer before. So at the beginning of the month I outlined my plans for what I thought was ambitious for my 1-week time limit, but felt I’d be able to complete a decent chunk of it. However… I barely finished anything. It feels like a 48-hour game jam’s worth of work.

What went well

Let’s start with the good! I tried to put into practice what Casey Muratori calls “compression-oriented programming“, where you don’t design the code in advance, but write it as simply as possible, and see what structure naturally emerges. The result is that I’ve written much less code than I normally would, but with the same effects. It’s quite liberating, but does take some practice.

I wrote music! It’s mutated a little as I converted it from in-my-head to on-the-computer, so it doesn’t really feel appropriate to the game, but it’s not actually painful for me to listen to, so I’m making progress from my previous attempts. Still very rough though, I hope to be much better by December.

I’m also pleased with the art. OK, the tiles are a bit horrible, but whereas I usually don’t animate things, this time I put some effort into doing so. The player and aliens have walk and death animations which I’m really pleased with.

Finally, and this will make more sense in a minute, I kept going, and made sure I had a playable game now, even if it’s not a very good one. I was really worried about meeting the deadline, and nearly just gave up on the whole thing, but I’m glad I finished something.

What went poorly

The first problem was over-scoping: the game design was too big. I knew this before I started, and hoped that as most of the design was optional, it wouldn’t be a problem. It wouldn’t have been as much of a problem as it was if it wasn’t for…

Having a terrible week! Many of you will be aware that I suffer from depression, and this week was not a good week. I don’t know why, but I just felt rubbish. I would sit down, intending to work, and just stare at the code with no idea of what I was doing. Not great.

I’m not at all happy with the generated levels. The algorithm I think is fine: it creates a 5×5 array of chunks, with connections between them, then slots in a pre-defined tile layout that matches the connections. (e.g. a chunk connects up, down and left, so it finds a layout for it with those connections.) The problem is the levels are dull and repetitive. Partly this is from the lack of available things to put in them, but also because of a poor decision I made early on that the layouts should be 10×10. This is much too small to fit anything interesting in, once the appropriate corridors are added.

What I would do differently

Definitely next time I will shrink the scope of the game significantly. In February I’ll aim for the sort of game I would attempt for Ludum Dare, and see how that goes. I’ll try to look after myself better and hopefully avoid feeling so low.

Anyway, if you want to check it out you can do so on Itch.io. It’s a free download, but does require Java.

Goal Update 25th of January 2015

The last couple of weeks I’ve been in Lanzarote on holiday with family, so I haven’t got any work done! So rather than a dev log, here’s an update on how my 2015 goals are going. Overall, pretty well I think.

I ran a couple of times in the first week, then faltered a little, not helped by going away. I’ll be starting over tomorrow morning, despite it being very cold at the moment. Need to break through and make it regular.

I actually began my game for this month, Spacelunky, a bit early because I couldn’t concentrate on the work I was supposed to be doing. It’s intended to be a very basic version of Spelunky, but set in space, hence the awkward placeholder title. What that means is it’s a 2D platformer with generated levels, lots of hazards, and when you lose you start from scratch. I have definitely bitten off more than I can chew, so we’ll see how complete it ends up being. Here’s a screenshot from where I left off, with a basic tilemap, some art, and you can jump around:

Music-wise, I’ve picked up FL Studio, and have found it massively easier to understand than LMMS. So technically, I’ve already completed my goal to be competent in it! However, making the music itself is really hard. I’m not sure what I was expecting really. I’ve created a short song, embedded below, where I basically worked on it for 1:30 hours and then ran out of ideas. I’m planning on entering February Album Writing Month, a contest where you have to create 14 songs in the 28 days of February. Right now, it looks like it’ll be really tough, but I’m still hopeful I can do it.

A couple of Sundays ago I worked through an introductory Blender tutorial, and then created a model of a barrel on my own. It’s certainly not the best barrel or anything, but I’m still pleased with it.

I didn’t take my drawing calendar with me, so I’m now working through it a few pages a day until I catch up. I’ve rather lost my enthusiasm for it, but I’ll try to keep on regardless.

Tomorrow, work on Spacelunky begins properly! Looking forward to it, I should probably be more organised for it than I actually am though.

Goals for 2015

So, last week I mentioned wanting to make more games this year. I’ve had a bit of a think, and decided on several goals for 2015. I think this is the first time I’ve made a conscious effort to do this. Anyway, let’s go!

Become fit enough to run 5 kilometres

For probably at least a year I’ve been intending to start Couch to 5k, a running program that takes you from no exercise at all, to being able to run 5km in one go. I’m incredibly unfit, but as it hasn’t caused any actual problems I’ve been basically too lazy to do anything about it. I’ve always felt too busy to devote time to exercise, and too embarrassed to go to a gym. This time though, I think I can really do it. I made a start on January 1st, and I’ll be running M-W-F mornings from now on. It should help my mood too, as I’ve generally been pretty low recently.

Make One Game a Month

I wasn’t sure before whether to actually participate in 1GAM or to come up with my own system of doing lots of small projects, but I think 1GAM is the better idea, if only because it’s an external thing that I can’t change the rules of. How I’ll actually go about it is subject to change, but to start with I’ll devote the last full week of each month to a small game project.

Become competent in a music program

I’ve wanted to learn to compose music for ages. I hum a lot, often making the tune up as I go along, but any time I’ve tried to use software I just get confused and give up. I’ve created very short songs for a couple of jam games, but always in a rush, and the next time I go to do so I can’t remember what I’m doing. So, a proper effort this year to learn some software properly – I’m considering buying FL Studio so I’ll feel obligated to get my money’s worth. 😉 I’m not going to worry about making good music, only being able to make music at all. By the end of the year, I want to be using my own music in my games.

Become competent at Blender

Being able to create 3D models, however basic, would be very useful. I’ve learned from experience that Blender isn’t the sort of thing you can just pick up in a game jam and start using! I want to be able to create simple models, texture them, and animate them. As with music, I’m not going to worry about making good models. Just being able to use the software is the goal, and then I can practice and get better. Again, by the end of the year I want to have made some games with my own animated models in.

Draw more

I used to draw constantly in high-school, then got out of the habit. I’m using a desk calendar with a daily drawing prompt to get back into the habit. The goal is only that I stick with it all year. 🙂

In other news, the website redo is progressing well. I’m not entirely happy with it, but it’s a definite improvement on the current one. I also got distracted and started tweaking Snowman Sumo – mostly polish, but also fairly-inept AI that I may or may not keep as it’s too easy to fool. I’ve also made F!shing pay-what-you-want on Itch.io, because the EU VAT changes mean either that or removing it from there entirely. Enjoy!