Ludum Dare 26

minimalism

I took part in this past weekends Ludum Dare 26, and the theme was “Minimalism”. So I spent a minimum amount of effort (Sunday only) to throw something together. It runs in the Unity Web Player so it is multiplatform.

Click below to play!

My entry page is here, if you participated in the event please leave me a rating! If not, comments on the entry page are welcome :)

It was a good experience, I may toss up a post-mortem soon, but it was put together pretty quickly and it doesn’t seem too necessary.

This is also my April OneGameAMonth entry, two birds in one stone!

April!

Things have been moving so quickly, I’ve hardly had a chance to write hobby code, or blog, or even tweet. “May you live in interesting times”, indeed.

January - Tanks A Lot

In January I cooperated with an artist and made a 2-player controller-only game where each player controls 4 tanks (at the same time!) and tries to blow up the other. It is… difficult to control. As a gameplay experiment it is certainly interesting, though maybe it should be just limited to two at a time, it’s pretty hectic.

You can play it here — BUT you need 2 XBOX controllers to play it. Yes, I understand that’s limiting. If you have just one you can mess around and blow up the other team though.

February - Earth Is Dying!

A remake of a Ludum Dare game I made last year or so, I added proper music and sounds and tweaked the game play a bit. It is still very rough but it’s more enjoyable than the original version.

You can play it here — be sure to read the instructions!

March - Lights Out! Clone

Okay so in March I ran out of time, and was out of town for the final weekend so I couldn’t jam out a proper game. I spent a couple hours and knocked out a clone of the old Lights Out! game in HTML5, which was pretty interesting, it’s outside my usual experience.

You can play it here.

Next…?

Which leaves April, now over half finished. Also I’m on a bit of a job hunt so time remains limited. However at the worst I’ll have something similar to March’s basic entry. Everything depends on the next few days, so wish me luck :) I’m really hoping to take part in the Ludum Dare this month.

Oh, and it is very satisfying to look at the Month count on the clock and note that it matches the number of game I’ve put out this year. It’s like a constant motivation boost.

Till next time!

One Game A Month

Well, the holidays are over. Time to get back to a little game development.

Or maybe…

a lot of game development

A particularly visible Ludum Dare personality (@McFunkypants) gave a challenge for the new year: Create 12 games in 12 months. And with that call-to-action, over 3000 developers have now signed up to do just that! I have tossed my hat into the ring as well.

You can join too, just go here: OneGameAMonth

There is also a subreddit and an IRC channel, which you can get from the site.

12 games in 12 months can sound a bit daunting, but any game at all counts, as long as it’s released. I usually do a few Ludum Dare jams a year, that’s 3 of my 12 games already! If I do a small game-jam-sized-game a month, I’m in the clear.

And, I’ll have 12 new released games, with hopefully some interesting mechanics. I will be using this project as a way to explore some of my ideas and look for potential games to spruce up into commercial products. Consider it the year of the prototypes

And of course, I’ll be documenting my progress along the way.

where to begin

I keep an online document going with all my ideas — I use WorkFlowy, which I find excellent — and now I have to settle on one for January. They should be somewhat short so I can complete them fast, but showcase some mechanic or group of mechanics I feel might be interesting. I don’t really want to release 12 platformers with some minor variations on enemies and level design.

That said, one of my ideas is, of course, a platformer.

I won’t be hiding my monthly ideas and will announce my choices as I make them. Which I suppose I must do pretty soon!

To everyone else out there working on OneGameAMonth, good luck!

tactics

I will also be working on tactics. More specifically, I’m going to finish up the tactics-Unity alpha and use it as one of my OneGameAMonth releases, all’s fair ;)

And a Happy New Year to all!

Charity Game Jam

So, Charity Game Jam took place over the previous weekend, and I participated. Like other Ludum Dare community jams, you have 48 hours to start and finish a game, based on a theme. This time the theme was retro NES style games.

ROGUESPY

So, the game is pretty basic and has some AI bugs (specifically they sometimes …. don’t do anything and effectively freeze the game). However you should give it a try anyway!

Click here to play ROGUESPY

screenshots

credits

Well, the game was made by me. However the character art was done by the excellent @KenneyWings, whom everyone should follow.

details

I used Unity (free version) to create this, which involved quite a bit of learning on how to make a properly 3d-focused engine conform to my wishes to look 2d. I could have done the same game with, say, Haxe but I am most familiar with Unity so I started there.

open-source

While I don’t particularly recommend reading the source as it is devoid of best practices (I did say it was made in 48 hours, right?), it is available on GitHub.

Click here to view the project on GitHub.

result

During the weekend, over $1500 was raised for charity and over 70 games were made. Thank you to everyone who participated, and a special thanks to @McFunkypants for organizing the jam.

next up

Ludum Dare 25 takes place December 14th-17th, I may not be able to participate due to having some company over for a couple weeks, but I hope to be back. I’m also hoping the Charity Game Jam becomes a yearly occurance, it was great fun for a great cause!

Thanks for reading.

Setup and getups

in the beginning

Tactics is set up sort of like a card game, as mentioned before. At the beginning of each game you are presented with all the cards, each of which will have a point-value. Each game has a maximum point limit you can bring into a game, and cards may be picked more than once. They are not unique, and competing players may choose the same cards — though you don’t know what your opponents are picking until the game has begun, removing the annoyance of counter-picking everything.

This is usually called a drafting process (except in ours you can pick the same creature more than once). I’d like to introduce an additional concept onto the draft, which is the graft. After you’re done picking your cards, you may have some points left over. You will then see your opponents chosen deck, and they see yours. At this time you may then use your leftover points to pick up a single additional card. You may not remake your deck, simply graft on an additional card.

I’ll be toying around with that idea, but for now it seems to add a bit of counter strategy, but not so much as to define your drafting experience.

meet the cast

So I’ve been wanting to show off some creatures. There are 5 culture groups that our mythological creatures are drawn from, here are some example creatures:

These lovable little guys are just a few of the 30 creatures we have created. I won’t be talking about their abilities today, however I can say they are sourced from their mythologies.

moving on

I think I’ve spoken a fair bit about the design of the game, from here out it’s going to be more of a development log. I’ll keep feeding pictures into here as much as possible and other design tidbits, though.

Cheers

codename: tactics

what tactics is

Tactics, as mentioned in the previous post, is the name of our turn-based strategy game. So chosen because it’s in the style of Final Fantasy Tactics — sort of. It is closer to a mix of FFT and the now-defunct table top game D&D Miniatures.

and that’s special how

Well, we decided to forgo the typical setting for these types of games. There are no wizards or warriors or monks or rogues or mages or priests, no orcs or gnomes or imps or.. wait, there is an imp. But mostly you won’t be seeing the regular gamut of creatures and classes you’re used to in RPG games.

Instead, you will be fighting with the mythological creatures from 5 European culture groups. That’s fighting with and not just against, as gameplay consists of you controlling a small group of these creatures and battling other groups controlled by enemy players.

And I do mean ‘players’ — Tactics is multiplayer only, at least to start. It would be beneficial for new players to face off against some AI, but that will not be available at the start.

final fantasy tactics

So what have we taken from FFT? Mainly the focus on smaller scale battles with a small handful of units you control. Each of these units has a distinct and unique small set of abilities, so the creatures you field will change how you play the game in a very tangible way.

Gameplay proceeds much in the same way as in FFT, you have your turn to move your units around the square grid, and you may move and attack. After attacking, a unit may not move, so it’s move-attack or just attack. Attacks may happen over a range of squares, it does not require you to be side-by-side with an enemy unit, unless it has a maximum range of 1.

dungeons & dragons miniatures

Truth be told, we’re much closer to D&DM than FFT, but most people have never heard of it. It’s just easier to convey our gameplay style by saying we’re like FFT. So a brief history lesson, then.

D&DM consisted of three things: A map, a set of cards and a set of miniatures (corresponding to the cards). So a card for, say, a Warrior would list its abilities and stats, while the Warrior miniature would be on the map. You’d move the miniature around the map and engage opponent miniatures, using the card to determine it’s maximum health and attacks and such.

It’s played much the same way as FFT, moving your units around and attacking, but because it was a table top game and not a computer game, the interface was basically the cards.

And so it is in Tactics. Each unit has a card that descibes its abilities, movement range, movement type and statistics.

and that looks like…

That’s an example card. It doesn’t have all the info written in as it’s dynamically placed and updated depending on if the statistic is buffed/debuffed or an ability is on cooldown or out of charges.

next time on astudyinpixels

That’s enough for now, in the next post I will delve more deeply into the mythological creatures that will be doing battle on our fields, and talk a bit about how you’ll be choosing creatures to bring into battle — deck management.

Thanks for reading.

on the jumping of platforms and bandwagons ─ the tech of tactics

take a seat

Hello and welcome. This blog will be primarily used to show my exploits into the world of game development, with perhaps some delving into related technologies in the software and hardware world. While I am not catering my content purely to other developers, I will be using some unexplained domain specific language. For anyone interested in games but not the development thereof, I hope to provide enough pretty pictures to counter the small amounts of technobabble. But fear not, this will not be a technical post.

a drink for two

My current shared endeavour is a turn-based strategy game, co-designed and co-written by a good friend of mine. In proper unfinished fashion, it has an unfinished name; we call it “Tactics”. I will be talking about the game/its design in the future, but today is about the technology behind it. To give you an idea of what’s going on, it looks like a little like this:

Well, a lot like that. Entirely, in fact.

hor d’oeuvres

That is about to change. We will be taking our current code and be moving it away from our current platform (XNA) and into something we have a bit more faith and professional experience in (Unity). So, our mostly working game will become a mostly not-working game.

Why bother at all? Well, while I call the following bit an “unfortunate twist of fate”, it would be more commonly known as an “inevitable and expected conclusion that you should have seen coming miles away”. Well, I kind of did, but let me explain.

meat and potatoes

XNA is nice. That’s why we chose it to begin with. It’s quick to get something on screen and playable, which is great for prototyping. It’s free to use, which is excellent for indie development as all of your tools are paid for out of your own pocket. It also allows you to write and deploy your games for the XBox 360 (for a small fee), what’s not to like about that?

Well, we decided on XNA a few years back and by now things have changed, or rather, things haven’t changed. XNA is not dead, nor is it really going anywhere — but therein lies the problem: XNA is not really going anywhere. Microsoft has not been actively doing much for XNA for a while now, and new platforms with better stage presence have stolen the show.

Crucially, when we started work on Tactics, Unity was not a free product nor did the UDK exist. However both now have a free license and are excellent alternatives, in fact whereas XNA is a set of libraries wherein you piece together your own functionality, Unity and UDK are both fully featured engines.

That’s a whole different kind of nice. Though some hate to adapt to anothers design, I’m more than glad to put away my engine development time and instead focus on just making a game.

cake to split

UDK would be a solid choice, I’m sure. However as both of our professional jobs involve working with Unity, it became the natural choice for the future. It also has built up a good community behind it, as it seems many have fallen for its . As such, I’ve been working on excising the XNA bits of our code (mostly in the rendering and input handling), and moving it into Unity. This is relatively easy as our XNA code is in C#, which just happens to work in Unity as well.

Aside from simply porting what we have, It’s also a good time to reimagine what we can do with the game considering the new technology available to us. The first thing to go was the terrain system, for which I’ve already begun working on one of a few new terrain themes. All of our maps are procedurally generated, so the most important aspect is to produce terrains that allow interesting gameplay. That is a pretty general statement and I’ll be covering the goals of the terrain generation in a later post.

The first theme is a sort of highlands:

It’s a bit barren, but it is just the beginning. There are a handful of regional terrains planned, mostly in the fashion of quiet European countrysides. Some other themes planned are an Italian coast, Scandinavian forest, Russian tundra and Germanic river-valleys.

cheque please

In this blog series I will be writing of my progress in the port and continue to do so until this game is out there for everyone to play. I will first begin by explaining the games design and mechanics, then eventually move into a discussion of the code behind the games systems. At a later date I may also expound upon on why Unity was a good technical choice for us and why I feel it’s a good fit for many others.

I will also focus on being more succinct in the future, I apologize if the post has not been of appropriate brevity.

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