Ludum Dare 42 Idea Vlog

This is a little different of a format but it seemed to make more sense since there was a lot to explain. Here's a little rundown on the ideas for games that I had based on the theme of this Ludum Dare, "Running Out of Space."

Levels, Where Art Thou?

I've moved into chill zone by slowly chipping away at some new art assets for Suburban Scavengers. 

I've decided to drop the release date and work on art stuff until the game feels "full" enough.

The latest completed...well, nearly completed asset in a new level, "The Trailer Park."

Part way through making the art for the level, I decided to create a sort of Photoshop roto/textures version of the level. Hand painting a bunch of elements is very time inefficient. Adding a filter and some minor modifications to some existing images is much better. Is it the most legit way to do it? I dunno. None of the images are 100% what they started as. It's a blurry sort of gray area. They way I see it, it's the equivalent of remixing a part of a song then throwing it into a new song.

There is a mix of hand painted elements. One of them is the toddler. The face is a partial Photoshop filter with an over-paint. The body is hand painted. The animations were done in Spriter.

I felt that the game needed more variance. This makes it so players of different skill levels may find something that they vibe with better. A idea to increase variance was to add levels with level specific hazards. In this case, the toddler is a hazard that runs on a sort of part elliptical path, creating a collision when it crosses the plane that they players are fighting on. It triggers an audio queue and is visible briefly before creating the collision object. It also collides with the chosen interactable if it's in the way. (which is currently my favorite interaction in the game).

I'm currently working on a second level and am kind of amped to start working on a new character, inspired by a tweet from the Meatly.

A clown would be great for Suburban Scavengers. I could let the community help come up with a name too. :D

My original plan for playable characters was to hit some social group style stereotypes (hence the first characters being a hipster and basic bitch). This strayed when I made Mall Santa as a sort of holiday bonus character (he was never planned in the beginning). 

Sometimes, it's correct to stray from the path. I think a clown is the right choice for the next character. I have a vision for a rough looking clown in the vein of "Mall Santa." The sort of clown that only gets hired because he's the last option in a pinch. I'll draw inspiration from the Birthday Clown that Patton Oswald talked about.

I'm going to have to make some new background music tracks for the levels but I haven't really been feeling it lately. I honestly haven't been feeling art either but when I start working on it I usually end up working for a few hours. It's a weird compulsion to make things more complete.

Visual art seems to get a better response on social media which is kind of nice. Code stuff doesn't really translate well visually. X(

Alright...I'm out of here. Expect to see more level stuff in the near future.

Until next time.

_Doombrowski

Connecting

Well, the first test of online with a computer that isn't mine or the one at work failed miserably. I figured having tested on 4 different computers, I would have had it right....wrong.

I managed to figure out what seems to be a usable matchmaking system. There was an issue with multiple lobbies being created at the same time that I kind of have straightened out? I dunno. This stuff is tricky.

I'm going to start working on new content while I wait for bug tests to come in. It's art stuff, so I'm not too pumped about it but...I feel like it's necessary.

I took a step back and looked at the game in the state that it's in and thought to myself, "I wouldn't buy this." That means I need to keep putting stuff in. I feel like with a few new levels and characters, it could be worth a few bucks. The current end goal is at least 4-5 levels and 6-8 total characters. It's a bit painful thinking about the time that will need to be invested in order to get this content added, and the bugs and new networking code that I'll probably have to deal with but I really want to make at least some money off of this. I think it will protect my investment if I make the game more of a complete experience.

I watched the trailer today and it was a bit cringy. I felt, at the time, that the trailer was pretty decent. I hadn't realized how bad the animations were since I was used to seeing them so much. The new animations are so much better.

I will definitely be making a new trailer come closer to release time.

Speaking of release; I am tentatively removing the release date due to the new content that I'm wanting to add. I still want to release it as soon as possible, but lots of work needs to be done and I don't need the added stress of an unnecessary deadline.

Well, that's about it for now. Getting more people to help test. Hoping that they can help make the game more user friendly.

Until next time.

_Doombrowski

#gamedev Reflection and Insight

Lately, I've been working on things in game development that are more difficult and frustrating than anything else I've ever worked on.....probably ever. It has literally brought me to tears at times. These unfamiliar feelings that come along with venturing into difficult and confusing new territory have had me thinking a lot outside of game development.

I don't know that these things will help you out when you're in troubling times, but the perspective has helped me to not stress out quite as much.

Making a Game is Like Filling a Fish Bowl with Marbles

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It's difficult to not think about the desired end result when working on game development and measuring progress. This can be a detrimental outlook. Games are made up of lots of little pieces and take a long time to make. Judging a work in progress by a final product is not fair to the creator. Instead, think of the game for what it is, a bunch of small pieces that eventually come together to create a cohesive whole. Filling the bowl will show progress and that's what matters.

Think Like a Flashlight, not Like a Light Bulb

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It's easy to get overwhelmed when working on a complex problem. Sometimes, trying to take a step back to assess the big picture can be daunting.

It is wise to narrow focus when working on complex tasks. Think of just how small you can shrink the problem. Write the smallest versions of the problems down one by one and work on them one at a time. Thinking, "This menu is broken" is probably too broad and will be difficult to troubleshoot. This is thinking like the light of a light bulb. The light shines in all directions, is unfocused, and doesn't allow you to see the details. Writing down the most precise version of a small problem related to the aforementioned broken menu can lead to less mental stress and more overall progress. This is thinking like a flashlight; A small and focused light that is used specifically to illuminate a certain area. The light is brighter and will allow you to see more details.

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Feeling dumb or incapable of doing certain things sucks. Feeling overwhelmed sucks. It's all part of the process of making something great. 

It's alright to feel lost.
Sometimes, you need to give your brain a break.
Don't overdo it.
Try to stay calm.
Slow progress is still progress.
Narrow your focus.
Don't judge your progress by a finished product.

Until next time.

_Doombrowski

Shenanijam 2018

This past weekend, I decided to take part in a game jam arranged by Butterscotch Shenanigans, a little indie studio in St. Louis who made Crashlands, Flop Rocket, Roid Rage, Towelfight of the Gods, and assorted other games.

It was sort of a last minute decision to take part, but I figured it would be a good way to freshen my game development perspective. I needed a break from Loop of the Lost. 

The theme choices for the jam were "Void Sandwich", "Sticky Justice", and "Burn it Down". After taking the day at work to think about what kind of game I could make out of the themes, I decided on making something with the Sticky Justice and Burn it Down themes.

My original plan was to make a puzzle game where the goal was to burn a rope to drop a block on a heckler. Your bullets stick to whatever they hit, with a set amount of ammo. The idea was to platform to a certain zone that ignites your player, thus igniting his bullets so you could burn the rope. That plan didn't end up being something that I felt would be accomplished in time or well enough.

The next plan, which is what I ended up with, was to make a top down shooter where your bullets stuck to enemies and slowed them down. If an enemy could no longer move, it would burst into flame and burn for a set amount of time before dying. The idea was to make the enemies turn into dangerous terrain for a short time before they eventually exploded.

After toying with sticky bullets, I couldn't make it look quite right so I removed the graphic of the bullets being stuck.

The next task was to try to make something that had more playability. This brought me to the idea of an endless mode of play where each level gets progressively more difficult and you just survive for as long as you can. This gives incentive to replay.

After failing at an enemy spawn system or a while, I ended up making a system that did a very close version of what I was looking for. The idea was to give enemies a point value then populate a list with semi randomized numbers one at a time in a for loop until reaching the total relative to the difficulty. Then each value would be popped from the list and an enemy is spawned in a random location along the outer edge of the room.

The game would definitely need some work to make it feel a little better, but I surprised myself with what I could make with only 23 hours of work.

I may take some time to make the enemy waves feel a little more difficulty accurate, as well as making the boss better (I failed hard at making it do what I wanted), and adding a couple extra bosses and basic enemies and making an online leaderboard. 

Oh yeah, I've been learning networking. Expect some form of an online multiplayer game from me in the future. It's really intriguing to me right now. I briefly spoke to Dan Fornace (Creator of Rivals of Aether) about net code and he told me about his current system in Rivals and pointed me in the direction of some literature on the subject.

Until next time. 

_Doombrowski