I'm not dead!

Posted on April 19, 2018

Believe it or not - I'm alive and well!

I mentioned in my Heart Jam "post-mortem" that I was going to share a little something I have been working on. Weeeeellll...in classic Michael fashion I've held off to further develop this project. At this point, I just need to get some sounds in place and it'll pass my should-I-show-it-off litmus test.

I'll have that prepared for next week, as this weekend is Ludum Dare 41 and I'm wrestling with just how much time I'll have to spend on it. I already have plans tomorrow evening to spend some time with a wonderful girl I've been seeing - which will likely take precedence over getting a jump on the theme. I also have to push back some family time that I've been putting off, which is never easy despite how loving and accepting my family is of my game development endeavors.

Like most Ludum Dares, the theme possibilities are not getting me too excited. I've been watching some really entertaining post-mortems from Pixel Prophecy to try and get my mind in the right spot. It's helping a bit and I am beginning to jot down some possible ideas for the final round of themes.

Regardless of the final theme, I usually go into each LD contest with a basic criterion for what I want to make. This time around, instead of getting hounded by art and gameplay, I really want to focus on the story. I've had a real burning desire to do some writing lately and I think that can culminate in a short but engaging game.

Hopefully, I can stick with it this time. The past several Ludum Dares have been complete failures and I really want to get another notch on my LD belt this time around. I need to be diligent and focus heavily on time management or I'll be doomed once again.

Wish me luck!

Michael

Couldn't Get It Done

Posted on March 26, 2018

Unfortunately, this weekend got the better of me and I did not have enough time to finish the game I had planned for the Heart Jam. Realistically, the idea would have been executable had I worked a full day on Friday. I basically skipped Friday, starting in earnest early Saturday morning.

I should have cut my scope down mid-way, as I have done successfully in the past - but by the time I made that decision, I wasn't left with enough time to get levels designed. I had implemented all of the mechanics I planned for and even a little bit of art, but alas, I was defeated by the dreaded level design.

If there is one take away from this experience I can highlight it's that level design is time-consuming. With some ideas, it can be a matter of throwing things at a wall and hoping they stick. This idea, which boiled down to a 2D puzzle-platformer based on speed running, was not one of those. In order to balance levels out for the items/mechanics the player was to acquire, the levels required considerable design. This sort of cohesion makes or breaks a game of that style.

As I approach Ludum Dare next month and any game jam in the future - I need to remain cognizant of ideas/designs that require explicit level design choices to be made. This is something that has stalled me in the past and has worked out for me, as well. So, I need to hone in on my designer Spidey-senses and make those saving calls earlier (or recognize them before I even start to develop).

For instance, in Ludum Dares 34 & 35, I built level-based puzzle games. Because the majority of my time was spent fleshing out features and implementing art - the time required for levels was cut short and the result was A.) fewer levels and B.) rushed design lending to reduced leveraging of mechanics.

Here's a little screenshot of what I had managed to get done:

The premise was to get to the top of the tower as fast as possible. In your way were gates, which required keys to unlock. Collecting gems and keys increased your score. In addition to that, you collect Relics, which are items that give you unique abilities, like Double-Jump or Gliding.

The idea and implementation was really simple and not too difficult to implement. I got hung up on the level design and my time was limited by work and life on Friday and a few distractions on Saturday.

I'll have some news and announcements on a little project I'm starting on later this week. Until then!

Peace and love.

Michael

The Heart Jam Begins - Theme: Scarcity

Posted on March 23, 2018

The Heart Jam began early this morning at 2 AM Eastern Time while I was in dreamland. The theme for this jam is SCARCITY. It's a broad theme and one that is applicable to almost any kind of game that relies on limited resources or economies of scale. To say the least, I'm diggin' this theme!

I have work today, so I won't have much time to work on my game until this evening, but I should be able to mull over some potential ideas I can execute on knowing we have a little less time. Alas, I'm pretty used to 48-hour jams, so I'll just treat it like a Ludum Dare compo and use my time wisely tomorrow and Sunday!

Given the theme, I'm leaning towards some sort of economic resource management game. I'm not sure exactly how I want to handle that, so I'm going to have to turn the old noodle on and do some brainstorming.

For this jam, I am going to roll with Construct 3 for my game engine. I'm a big Unity buff, but Construct allows me to do a lot more in a lot less time and really keeps me grounded on getting gameplay done and not dicking around with art and design too early. If I have the time I'll program out some tunes in FL Studio and do some art in Photoshop.

I'm considering streaming some of the jam over on the Twitch channel. I'll make an announcement on Twitter if I decide to do so (it will likely be tomorrow and Sunday afternoon and not tonight).

Anyways, I should uh...get back to work. Wish me luck!

Peace and love.

Michael