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Ludum Dare 21 – Conclusion

I didn’t finish. I just didn’t have my weekend clear.  You really need a clear weekend to finish Ludum Dare. The tech change in the middle didn’t help.

My main take away: Unity slowed me down. I’m too much of a programmer. When a game engine gets in the way, I can see all the different ways I would code myself out of the problem, but I can’t see any solutions in the engine’s context. Code is a powerful too, and I’m good at using it. Game engine’s are alien worlds with bizarre rules and un-explainable behavior.

So, I’m going to stop using game engines (or frameworks etc.) I’ll use non-game libraries and leave all the game programming to myself. Specifically, something like SDL, SFML or even XNA are good for me, but not stuff like Torque 2D or Unity. I think XNA is “library” enough not to be considered a game engine. It’s more like a toolbox. Oh, I think the caveat here is I want to make 2D games, not 3D.

I think there is a bigger principal at work here: KISS = Keep It Simple Stupid Game Engine’s are complicated systems built by lots of programmers.  They have multitudes of  audiences with different needs.  This all makes them hard to understand with lots of bells and whistles.  In order to accommodate all these different requirements, some feature are overly complex with lots of assumptions.  Those assumptions require rigidness to keep you out of the weeds that aren’t handle so well because of those assumptions.  So at the end of a Ludum Dare weekend, you look back and see all the time lost figuring the game engine’s nuances and gotrchas.  Then you pine for a chance to go back in time and just pounded out the code you needed.

Ludum Dare 21 – Update 3

The XNA version of my game now surpasses the Unity version. What’s working:

  • Player display
  • Player movement
  • Player collision with items
  • Background Board (no wall collision yet)
  • Door key displays
  • Player can pickup keys
What still needs to be done:
  • Wall collision
  • Door display (Locked and Open)
  • Level transition
  • Enemy display
  • Enemy following
  • Enemy killing you
  • More Levels
I’m feeling like this list is too long to finish in 7 hours and 15 minutes. I also have a lot of chores around the apartment that need attention. So, I’m going knock the “can’t ignore” ones out and then hopefully I can sprint to the end!
LD21 Screenshot 2

LD21 Screenshot 2

Ludum Dare 21 – Update 2

Sick of fighting with Unity. Switching to XNA. And, I have a party to goto now, so I don’t expect too much of a game done by Sunday night. That’s the way Ludum Dare’s go!

The Start in XNA

The Start in XNA

Ludum Dare 21

I’m about half way throught this weekend’s Ludum Dare 21 (althought the traffic level is really bad right now.)  The theme is Escape.

Tools so far:

My Pac Man mechanic isn’t exactly fun, but it too late in the contest now to change 🙁   I’m using momentum or forces to move the player, which at least one interesting difference over the classic game.  This make moving around a little less straight forward, and might have some emergent strategies, we’ll see.

Interesting! Notch of Minecraft fame is video streaming live as he programs his Ludum Dare 21 entry!!



Ludum Dare 20 Has Begun

It’s going to be a hard Ludum Dare, because the theme is It’s Dangerous to go Alone! Take this!

Ludum Dare 19 – UNSS Pasteur

Ludum Dare, big, tall and shadowed

What is Ludum Dare?: You have 48 hours to make a game from scratch meeting a theme announced at the start of the contest. Learn more about Ludum Dare here.
Started: December 17, 2010 10 PM EST
Ended: December 20, 2010 10 PM EST
Theme: Discovery
Dev Log: MrPhil at Ludum Dare

Install/Play: Windows
Note, The following prerequisites are required:

Ludum Dare Career

Ludum Dare 19 is right around the corner, so let’s take a moment to review my Ludum Dare Career.

LD #6 – Light and Darkness, 2005
Puzzle Bots – Incomplete
There is, amazingly, still some evidence that I particpated in this one. Only the Internet Gods know how long that’ll last, so I harvested the results and added them to my blog under the tag LD6. My idea was to build a strategy game about photosynthetic organisms battling for light. I got an incomplete.

LD #7 – Growth, 2005
Name Unknown
I may or may not have particapted in this one. I feel like I did, but can find no evidence.

LD #11 – Minimalist, 2008
Battle Magic
A game of battling mages with no visuals, just text. It is one of my more successful games, and generated a bit of buzz because people disagreed about the affects the Luck spell had.

LD #12 – The Tower, 2008
This is the most playable game I’ve created. You stack small little yellow cubes higher and higher.

LD #13 – Roads, 2008
Iron Roads – Incomplete
LD13 was interesting because I just used the time to start a larger game, and didn’t even try to finish. If you look at the comments it got, a lot of people would like to see it completed. I have continued to work on a post-compo version but it has always suffered from being a low priority. I hope it’ll become my top priority in the second half of 2011.

LD #16 – Exploration, 2009
No name – Incomplete
I tried to make a space exploration game. I was trying to do something like Digital Eel’s Weird Worlds – Return to Infinite Space. I got bogged down by the user interface code and gave-up.

LD #17 – Islands, 2010
Island Airline
Islands was another attempt at a strategy game. The player is in charge of an vacation airline. It is playable, but really isn’t any fun. I think it’ll be a full game one day.

LD #18 – Enemies as Weapons, 2010
Deflector Beam
You’re the tracker beam operator aboard a UFO and must protect your ship by deflecting the bullets of enemy fighters. It is barely playable and really short.

MiniLD #10 – Domestic Violence, 2009
No Name – Incomplete
This was a very hard theme for me to work with. I did some design, but eventual abandoned the whole idea because it creeped me out.

MiniLD #16 – Constraints, 2010
Yet to be Named RPG – Incomplete
I didn’t finish a sort of rails squads tactics game.

October Challenge 2010
Play/Buy Stacker Dev Log
I took LD12’s Stacker made it 3D and gave it obstacles to build around. It is for sale, but it is still very rough around the edges. I have a big face lift planned.

All in all I’ve participated in 10-11 Ludum Dares of some flavor or another. Notice how I used the word “participated?” This is clever of me because several of my attempt are incomplete or ridiculously un-fun. There are a lot of incompletes. I often over reach with my idea and often get stuck pounding out basic infrastructure code. I think I’m getting better, but I certainly don’t think I’ve conquered this problem. I’m considering using Unity this time around as a strategy to keep myself from getting stuck in the code details. I am worried, however, that Unity won’t be flexible enough to execute my ideas in. Unity is a 3D engine, and my art skills are barely only suited for 2D games, much less 3D. Plus, my area of interest tends to be strategy games, which are more about a user interface than a 3D world. I’m not sure how well Unity will serve these tendencies. So, I have my pile of XNA books and code on standby.

Ludum Dare 19 Coming Soon

I’ll be participating in Ludum Dare 19 – December 17th-20th, 2010, you can follow my dev diary of  the event at Ludum Dare’s site.

I’m also collecting resources at: Ludum Dare and /r/gamedev
* ANBSoft’s Sprite Manager 2 ($150)
* 3DBuzz’ Simple 2D Shooter
* Unity 2D Tutorial
* Unify Community Wik
* Unity 3d Student

Also here are some Ludum Dare survival guides:
Sol’s “rules” for surviving Ludum Dare 48h
MrFun’s A Guide to the LD48

Have any to add?


Woo hoo!  I had my first sale today!!!

Stacker - Bumps on a Log

Stacker - Bumps on a Log

October Challenge Released

I’ve put Stacker up for sale: here.

I’m a little embarrassed that it isn’t in better shape, and only has four levels. I’ll be improving in time, but for now I’m just happy it is done. Here are a few obstacles I had to over come to get it even to this point:

Outside Forces
1. On Sunday, October 24th my apartment was flooded! Apparently, a hot water heater a few floors above me failed and water flowed into mine (and 14 other) apartment unabated for about 9 hours. Naturally it affected the area my workspace is setup, so I had to move everything to a dry safe area. I only got things back together late Wed night. So, that’s was a few days I was not able to get any work done.

2. The last few days I had family in town, so I didn’t get much done.

Internal Forces
3. I’m art skills are awful. There came a point in development a couple weeks ago where I started hating my boring visuals and this de-motivated me. Made me even question the entire project. I couldn’t get myself to move forward on my levels because I kept trying to make them look better instead of play better. The little critic in my head kept saying no one is going to like it because it so boring looking! I lost two Saturdays to this issue by procrastinating. I played a lot of SillySoft’s new game Castle Vox.

4. 3D visuals! This is connected to the issue above. Usually I stick to 2D visuals and dealing with textures, etc was all new. It made it hard for me to get things to look nice. I need to hire an artist!

5., unfortunately, I’ve made a habit of jumping to from time to time as a mental break, which it is great for, but it leads to never ending, “Ooo… what’s that… click… Ooooo… what’s that…” repeat over and over and over. So, yeah… I need to stop going there maybe.