Ludum Dare 42 Post-mortem: Escape from the Alliance

For those unfamiliar with it, Ludum Dare is a thrice-annual game creation competition in which you must create an entire game from scratch (including art, music, etc) in 48hrs. Participating is a lot of fun and really forces me to exercise my game designer muscles and dive into other parts of the game development process that I rarely spend time on. When I started working full-time on indie games at Dashing Strike, I vowed to participate in every Ludum Dare if possible, and this past one marks my 10th Ludum Dare in a row!

For those that haven’t played my entry yet, it’s a spaceship management game where you alternate between phases of fighting a wave of enemies and choosing which piece of equipment to remove from your ship, making you weaker but able to carry more refugees to safety, with a few little special events that influence your choices.

You can play the game here: dashingstrike.com/LudumDare/LD42

You can rate the game (if you competed in Ludum Dare), or see what people are saying about it here: ldjam.com/events/ludum-dare/42/escape-from-the-alliance

What Went Right

  • Scope – My game idea was fairly complicated, had very ambitious coding goals to finish it in time. I managed to implement most of what I planned, making a fairly complicated game (for a Ludum Dare entry), and after the tech work, I just barely ended with enough time to do sound, music, and add a little polish.

Continue reading “Ludum Dare 42 Post-mortem: Escape from the Alliance”

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Ludum Dare in Geneva Day 2

Slept in quite late, I think I slept 10-11 hours, feeling a bit groggy, but probably over my jet-lag. Feeling a bit sad about time lost to sleeping that could have been working on my Ludum Dare submission (or touristing), but recovering from jet lag is important.

PIC_0036 Sun Lunch - Croque Madame pub food
Sunday lunch – Croque Madame. Delicious.

Spent the morning programming, and then went out to find some lunch. I sat down at an outside seat at a nice little pub, which was completely empty, that had reasonably priced sandwiches, placed my order, and then it started raining hard and gusting wind, so I moved inside, as did a bunch of other passerbys and in moments it was a pretty popular place. Continue reading “Ludum Dare in Geneva Day 2”

Ludum Dare in Geneva Day 1

I woke up a little before 3AM, wide awake, checked my calendar, and saw that one of the 3 times to do round 1 of the Google Code Jam was in fact 3AM today, so I signed on, did that (advanced to Round 2, which will be in a few weeks), and chatted with Bart (the author of the current Code Jam platform, now, finally, eligible to compete since he left Google a while back) about the problems, and tried to get back to sleep, but ended up thinking about possibilities for the Ludum Dare (which also started around the same time). The theme for the 35th Ludum Dare was “Shapeshift”, which was not particularly appealing to me, but working within restrictions is part of the Ludum Dare. For those unaware of what the Ludum Dare is, it’s a 48-hour solo game-making competition – all code, art, and sounds made from scratch, by a single person, during the 48 hours. This is my third Ludum Dare I’ve competed in, and they’re always a blast! This one will be balanced with a bit of sight-seeing in Geneva during the same two days though. Continue reading “Ludum Dare in Geneva Day 1”

Nomadic Plans

As many of my friends now know, I’m preparing to wander around Europe for 2.5 months, attempting to balance my independent work (which I can do from anywhere) with sightseeing and visiting interesting places.

I have planned the first legs of my journey – I will be arriving in Europe on Tax Day, April 15th, landing in Geneva, Switzerland.  About 8 hours after I land, the Ludum Dare #36 kicks off, so I plan on competing in that while getting over my jet lag (or, since sleeping during regular hours is traditionally not part of any game jam, taking advantage of my jet lag…), while also spending a little time exploring Geneva.  After a couple days in Geneva, I’ll hop on a train or two and get to Zermatt, Switzerland, apparently the biggest and one of the best ski areas in Europe, which should give me some good spring skiing.

After that?  I’ll plan as I go, but probably my next stop will be Venice.  The relatively small city of Venice seems to have an overwhelming number of hotels to choose from with availability when I intend to arrive, I guess I’ll figure that out later =).

venice
hotels.com map of Venice hotels

Splody showing at GitHub / Ludum Dare GDC Party

Last night I attended the Ludum Dare / GitHub GDC party in San Francisco at the fantastic offices of GitHub.  I have no idea where their employees work (perhaps another floor?) but their gathering space was fantastic, and they even had a nice big TV with a dangling HDMI cable set up which I was able to snag for an hour or two of showing off my game, Splody.  I turned the TV over to Shnipers for the latter half of the night, as that was also a fantastic local multiplayer game, and had a chance to play a bunch of other indie games around the room as well.

The showing of Splody went quite well, often had 6 or more people playing at once, everyone seemed to be having fun, and quite a few were really excited about the game.  It was great to have so much positive feedback!  Everyone unanimously enjoyed my simultaneous multiplayer character customization/control test screen.

Simultaneous multiplayer character customization and control test screen

Now, I just need to channel as much attention as possible into getting Greenlit on Steam, so, if you have a Steam account, please go vote on my Steam Greenlight Campaign, every vote helps!

I did learn a few things that hadn’t came up with my previous demos – as this demo was to a bunch of random people at varying frequencies, and most of my previous demos have been to larger captive audiences.  I need a good way to show the game to just a single demoer – playing a 1v1 match against me, a tournament-winning Bomberman player, either doesn’t go well for them, or feels like I’m just committing suicide.  I think I’ll throw in an option to pad out a match to a fixed number with AIs, so if there’s just one person demoing, AIs can fill in so there is at least 4-6 players on screen for a better feeling of what a party game can be, though obviously playing against AIs isn’t as fun as stomping your friends.  The other thing was with one particular game mode, Mount Control, which currently has a bit of randomness in it which can lead to rather long matches, and I think I can do a little tuning so that the expected match time is a lot more constrained which would lead to much better conference-floor demo experiences.

Oh, and the other thing I learned, or, rather, already knew, but keep forgetting, is that I really shouldn’t play against a set of people and win 3 to 0 to 0 to 0 to 0 to 0… but some people playing the demo get really competitive and I have to give it my all to give them a fair fight, and the I forget to tone it down a notch for the next group.  Best solution is probably to continue talking about the game constantly, as me paying half attention is probably the right skill level for most people ;).