Ludum Dare 38 Post Mortem : Astromike

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Ready, set, GO!


TL;DR; Marco Vale and I made a game for Ludum Dare 38 in 72h that you can play here. What follows is a small post mortem.


I was awake at 3 am to know the theme for Ludum Dare 38. I still hadn’t made my mind if I was going to participate, it would depend on the theme and if I could come up with something. The theme was released, ‘A Small World’, and I immediately went to bed. There’s nothing like a good night sleep, and letting my brain think about the theme.

So in the morning, I started researching the theme, I had micro-organisms in mind, micro and macro ecosystems but nothing really that would stand out. I thought about how Small World could lead to having a simple set of rules in a small constrained world, and with the micro-organisms idea, I shifted towards a space exploration game, heavily inspired by Hitman GO and Lara Croft GO games.

Initially, the idea would be to have your main character cleanup each level from organisms there but quickly shifted to a puzzle-solver sci-fi game. Having Hitman GO in mind, I prototyped a level and started to create what would become the node-based navigation system. A collection of nodes that the main character and enemies could travel to, based on their distances.

At this point, I had a friend of mine, Marco Vale, asking if I needed an artist, so we teamed-up and he started to create assets for the game’s environment, as well as a character, gun, jetpack and a crashed ship, while I was developing game mechanics. Soon after that, I had a node-based navigation working, and something a lot prettier than cubes to show.

At the end of day 1, we had a placeholder character moving around a map, an exit to finish the level, an enemy that would follow and kill the player, items to pick up, a simple inventory system, and trigger objects that would fire events, either to open or close passages and activate traps.

On day 2, Marco started with the main character, gun, and jetpack. Meanwhile, I was working on creating more levels, introducing new components to the game and building up from the previous levels. For instance, on level 2 you grab the gun, therefore level 3 has enemies that you’re now able to shoot at in order to solve the puzzle and go on. The jetpack is unlocked further and will allow the player to jump across gaps.

At this point, I was still implementing a Hitman GO movement style, because I thought that we wouldn’t have time to make animations. Ultimately we had, so we threw that away, and gladly because it looks and feels much better.

The last couple of hours before the compo deadline, I swapped all placeholders for the gun and jetpack, integrated the animations for the main character, made some quick particle effects, created a teleport mechanic and added sound.

On day 3, we focused on making it look better and fixing a few issues that were making the game difficult to play. We also added the crash site with the spaceship, decorations, particle effects and camera post processing.

I started the Ludum Dare alone, with a faint idea of what to do, and with Marco‘s amazing help, we were able to make something really nice, and learn a lot in the process. I think this is the most fun I’ve had making games in quite a while, and definitely my best LD entry so far. 72h later, I’m proud of the game we’ve created. Feel free to try it out, and leave a comment if you like.

See you next Ludum Dare.

Simple UIImage Caching in Swift

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This is a snippet of code that will cache images downloaded from an online source, and provide them when needed. I still have some work to do on it, but right now it works pretty fine.

I’m using a dictionary to keep track of the images, with their Base64 encoded urls as keys.

Example usage goes like:

PS: Also, that UIImage().loadAsync is an UIImage Extension method I have lying around πŸ™‚

SuperStems is out for iOS

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SuperStems is finally released on the AppStore for iOS! After 14 long days waiting for approval, it finally passed and it up for grabs for free! There are already over 400 downloads and counting, and players are rocking the leaderboard!

I’ve setup a new website for SkyBelow, my new gaming studio.

Edit: I’ve been updating SuperStems since Unity5 was released, and all I can say is that it runs smoother and better looking with the new IL2CPP – converts C# to Cpp to increase performance -, which is awesome! So far I’m testing it on my device, but you should get the update in a couple of weeks. Just enough time to send the new build and get it approved again by Apple.

Super Stems Post Mortem

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B4L4pozCYAAHAwj Super Stems, originally called Stems, started on a gamejam weekend, Ludum Dare 31. The theme was “Entire Game on One Screen”, which many people complained about, me included, since a lot of people were expecting the snowman theme to be chosen. Aside from that, once the theme was announced, I started to make Stems.

So what is Super Stems? Super Stems is a board domination strategy game. You have tiles and board slots. Each tile has three sides, a number attached, and adjacent sides on the board will battle. Upon battle, the higher number will win, and the losing tile will be captured. This is a simple concept that I stripped down from another game I’m planning, which has this basic gameplay with more gameplay mechanics, inventory and multiplayer in it. B4M3HkVCAAAjR2a But since I had only 48 hours to make it happen, I stripped it down to this. A few hours in, I had the tiles and placeholder models and ready to be used in Unity.

I don’t usually take much time in planning during gamejams, I usually go all in with a minimum planning and knowing what I must do and sort and solve problems as they arrive. But since Indies vs Pew Die Pie gamejam went really bad because from the lack of planning, this time around, I took some time to plan ahead and think of what I wanted to make.

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So with my plan written down and my idea right fixed in my head, I started developing the game until I had basic gameplay done. If you asked me by then, how much more time would I take me to finish a minimum viable product, I would’ve said a week, maybe less, but oh boy was I wrong. First things first, the gamejam atitude of coding this and that without taking much care, because time is of the essence, is bad. I don’t use magic numbers, nor hardcode anything. I usually take care in writing beautiful and maintainable code. So for that end, I was good. On the other hand, I manually placed the grid and linked neighbors, one by one. Since the original grid had only 9 pieces, it was fast and did the job. Finding after a few days that some of those links were broken/switched, was bad tho.. Mistake #1.

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But nonetheless, everything was in place, I had the grid, the basic Turn-by-Turn gameplay, basic animation, tile capturing, teams, score. I was just missing an opponent.. better yet.. an Intelligent Opponent. Making the Artificial Intelligence was hard. It was hard because of mistake n# 1, not having a generic grid, in which I could make the calculations required to make it easier for me. Having a properly made grid system, I could have made methods to make my life so much easier, but nooo.. I might have written the battle, capture, AI play code at least 5 times! And by this I mean, really starting from scratch. Taking pen and paper, putting it all in a new perspective. And every time I did it, something good came out of it. Every time it god better. Obviously by now, the 48h period had long gone. I was more like two weeks after the deadline, mainly because I was working on it part time, after work, 3 or 4 hours a day, and you can only do so much.

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But still after those AI changes, it wasn’t working properly yet. I wanted to make it smarter. After another brainstorming session with pen and paper, I finally tweaked the algorithm to make it the way I wanted to. You can now have decent battles with it. It will lose, but also win. So far, from online gameplay and local testing, my analytics say that the AI wins above 60% of the times, so I’m ok with that. During that time, while I was trying to get the AI right, I kept changing the UI, textures and models. The images speak for themselves.

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Right now the game is ready to be published. Its maybe not as polished as I would like it to be, but I have to release it, get feedback, and then I’ll see what I’ll do with it. I’m already thinking of other games I want to make. This is my second ‘board’ game. This one has a new gameplay type, which is good, since I always try to make new gameplay on each game. So I’ll be releasing the game in the upcoming weeks, hopefully this will get some players. At least more than my previous one.

Simple Achievement System in C#

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Achievements are becoming more and more usual in games. They provide the player a sense of accomplishment and progress by rewarding them with badges that proves their skill and experience. Some achievements are simple and other require a combination of particular actions to unlock. In this article I show you how to make a simple Achievement System using C# and will demonstrate it using Unity3D, but this should be easy enough for you to port it to whatever language you’re more familiar with for your games.

Continue reading

Measure Method Time Performance

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Quick snippet to let you check the time used by any method you have.

This will write to the console the time spent on the method.

Just remember to use System.Diagnostics.
More info on Stopwatch.

That’s it. Enjoy.

Final Flapasy on Android

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Hey!

So this couple of weeks, I’ve been mostly working on my Thesis, or at least should have been. But the urge of making games has lead me off track. I’ve participated in two gamejams: #candyjam , to protest against King.com and #flappyjam , to support Flappy Bird’s creator.

#candyjam wasn’t that great for me, I was able to make something, but its no fun really, and the artwork wasn’t made by me.

On the other end, #flappyjam was really nice to make. I’ve made all assets and ended up making a clone of flappy bird under a week. My theme of choice was Final Fantasy, hence the name Final Flapasy, so I’ve made a chocobo for the player and some cactuars as the enemies. I hope you like it.

You can play the game for free either at itch.io or gamejolt.com , and you can play it on your Android phone or tablet for free, obviously. Just follow the link to download it for android .

The game is still buggy, and it has no catchy tune, but I’ll keep updating it if enough persons like it and play it. πŸ™‚

If you like the game, please share it with your friends and family πŸ™‚

Now back to the “serious” work. πŸ™‚
Cheers.

Memtiles Kids and Updates

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So, I’m about to release Memtiles kids for Free. Why? Well, because no one is buying the game really. So I’m going to try another approach. I’m going to insert ads, one or two, and I’ll see whether that ends up creating revenue.

The objective here is to make some money in order to fund other games. I have some games in mind already and as soon as I get some time from my Msc Thesis, and occasional game jam participations ( #flappyjam, #candyjam ), I’ll work on two new titles I have been prototyping and playing with.

One will be of the same style of Memtiles Kids, but with a new twist and for a broader audience. The other is completely different, and hopefully challenging.