Things are going great on the development front. I don’t think I’ve ever been as motivated as I am right now and I am getting a lot done. My target is a mid August release on PC/Mac/Linux, with mobile versions to follow shortly after. Here is everything that I have left:
One thing that I’ve tackled this week was slightly upgrading the visuals. Nothing drastic, but just a slight improvement that makes everything look a little less flat.
I’ve added several popup screens such as a pause screen, level complete screen, and several others. Here is the level complete screen.
Also have created a bunch of levels and added arrow blocks to the game. The arrows restrict movement to a particular direction.
Thanks for visiting and thanks for reading this post. Leave a comment if you have any questions or have a cool level idea. Also you can follow me on twitter if you are interested @Joseph_Michels.
Here are the results for ‘A Game of Numbers’
I am absolutely amazed at how well the game was rated. There were 1610 games submitted and 1400ish were past the threshold of getting rated and to be ranked that high in the overall, fun, and innovation categories is just crazy. My goal with Ludum Dares has always been to get better and to try to make something that I typically wouldn’t. I definitely achieved that goal with this game and I’m excited to continue working on it.
After the initial feedback was positive I thought the game would do ‘ok’, I was thinking somewhere in the top 200, but I didn’t think it would be this high. I think my game was deceptively enjoyable. For instance, my game never showed up in a single “favorite games played” post on the Ludum Dare page, but yet people still rated it highly and seemed to enjoy it. It’s as if it never really seemed great, but at the same time, when you were done playing it, you could acknowledge that you enjoyed it. I’m definitely reading too much into it, but I’m just excited right now and very motivated. Also I should mention how many great games were made. Seriously, just go through this list and play some of these games, they are great: Top 100 Compo
The response to A Game of Number has been amazing and honestly I didn’t really expect it. It’s hard to say exactly, but it has probably been played by around 7,000 people judging by the stats gathered from the Web version. Speaking of which, the web version is really what has enabled the game to have that level of reach. It’s just not super practical to expect an average person to download a .zip file to play some random short free game. That’s somewhat discouraging, but is understandable, you need to make it as easy as possible to play your games and if it just loads in a browser then there is very little barrier to get people to play it.
With that many people playing it I have received a lot of feedback and the majority of it has been very positive. In light of the feedback I have decided to go ahead and develop it further and make an enhanced version of the game. I’m still in the process of putting together everything and coming up with a plan, but my initial assessment is to create a game that will target the tablet form factor (iOS/Android/Win8). It seems a natural fit for touch input and would be something could be played in small bites. I would also release for PC/Mac/Linux as the game is being coded in XNA and using MonoGame to support other platforms works really well.
As for what the enhanced version means for the actual gameplay and game, the idea is that there will be a significant more number of levels. I haven’t come to an exact number of how many there will be because making them is a time consuming process and I want them all to have a certain unique feel. I don’t just want to create a bunch of similar levels that play on the same idea. I also plan on adding a couple elements to the game. Nothing really extreme, but just a few things that will open up the game to some more logic puzzles. The game will also feature a level editor and an ability to create and upload levels and level packs to a server, where they can be played and rated by other players.
And here is a sneak peak of the editor and a level I’m working on:
This is my third Ludum Dare that I’ve participated in and the 4th gamedev competition that I’ve done. Unlike my previous attempts, I was super relaxed during this one. I brainstormed for a couple hours after the theme was announced and then started programming right away. I think after about 6 hours of programming all the mechanics were implemented and all that was left was making levels. I thought the levels would be easy so I took a break and didn’t really do much work on Saturday, I think I made 3 or 4 levels. Then on Sunday I started crunching because I realized that I couldn’t come up with any good puzzles. Luckily I buckled down and managed to create a good number. Overall, it was a great experience and I am pretty happy with my game.
I probably won’t do this right away, but there are a couple obvious things that I will do to improve the game.
I might also look into the possibility of porting to mobile devices and trying to make an educational type of game, it could be interesting.
Here is the entry (Windows + Web):http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-26/?action=preview&uid=4628
My game is almost complete. It’s a math based puzzle game. This is the first time I have made a ‘puzzle’ type of game. I normally stay away from that genre just because I don’t really enjoy them, but I decided to give it a try. It’s been a fun experience and much more laid back previous ludum dares that I’ve participated in. The only thing left is adding more puzzles, but creating them has turned out being a lot more difficult that I thought it would be. I’m hoping to have around 20 or so levels, but who knows how many I’ll actually get in time.
I’m still working on the platformer that I referenced in the last post, but I’ve kinda changed it up to make a lot less of a sandbox type game. The way I’m thinking now is that it will be a metroidvania with specific zones that are open to you to mess around with the terrain and place objects. If you ever played Dark Cloud on the PS2, it has similar elements. You would go into a dungeon and find various pieces of the town and then you could build them wherever you wanted. At least that is the plan. In some ways this project is now becoming a nod to an old project that I used to work on titled Xploration. It’s not going to be the same project, but it will have some of the same elements and possibly use some of the same art assets.
As a result of that, I’m trying to improve my ability to create tilesets. I’ve started doing a daily challenge where I will create a small scene that demonstrates a portion of a tileset. It obviously isn’t going to be a while tileset, but just enough to get a taste of the tileset. For me this generally includes the core tiles and a couple flavor tiles that give a little more detail. I don’t know how long I will keep doing it, but I’m going try to keep it going for a while. I will be posting the scene on twitter everyday and encourage anyone who would like to participate by posting on twitter with the #TilesetChallenge hashtag. It would be cool if a couple began doing it and we could provide feedback for each other. Here are the scenes that I made the past week up until Sunday.
My goal from doing this is to get better at making tilesets that convey a theme. I will be using mostly 16×16 tiles and trying to limit the colors to around 7 or less. I’m also going to be trying to mix up the primary colors that I use, so some of them might end up looking pretty stupid. For instance, today’s scene has some reddish grass and a green sky, but it seems to kinda work.
If you have been looking at my twitter or my posts on reddit at all, you know that I am now working on a new project related to the terrain generation that I posted a couple weeks ago. [If you aren't following my on twitter, you should, because I update it more often: @Joseph_Michels] I thought I should also share a lot of the screenshots that I’ve posted.
I’m really not sure exactly what I’m aiming for. I’m mostly just winging it and seeing what works. I’m thinking that there is going to be lots of experimentation and just figuring out what makes a good game. Obviously there are going to be similarities to Terraria, but I’m not sure to what degree. I want my combat to be different and more gun based. I don’t think you will have a pickaxe or anything in my game, but will use a mining gun/laser thing. I want the character physics to be a lot more fluid and faster paced. As far as gameplay is concerned, I want it to be a little more roguelikish. I want it to be difficult to survive.
My goal is to have a lot of different items that the player can find, but also at the same time make inventory management easier. I also want to change up the tech advancement in these types of games if I am able to. I don’t want it to be so linear.
I also like the ideas of generating a bunch of built structures throughout the world. These could include mines, catacombs, cave systems, tombs, ruins, various huts, underwater cities, underground cities, tree houses, random constructions, and a lot more. I think the more creativity used here the better.
I like the thought of the game not being so earth themed, yes the surface of the world will be dirt+Grass+Trees with occasional water, but when you go down perhaps you find a lot of alien looking stuff. Maybe there will even be some very alien biomes on the surface.
Crafting is an important part of these games and I want to make it as simple as possible. I also want to have some way of generating random crafting recipes for various endgame recipes as a way of mixing things up for the player. I have a couple ideas, but not sure of the best way yet.
Who knows though, these are just my basic ideas for the game, but right now I am still implementing the lower level systems. Also there is the problem of multiplayer. I’d really like to have it, but being as I’ve never written a multiplayer game before, I’m not sure if I have the knowledge to make it happen.
Quick personal update, Me and my Wife purchased our first house earlier this month and we have now moved in and almost finished painting everything (One more room to go). As a result, I’ve been pretty busy and haven’t really been updating this blog or my twitter, but now that things are settling down a bit, I’ll probably start working on things again. I’ve kinda decided that I want to branch out and work on stuff that I don’t really have much experience with, but that I’ve always found very interesting. I decided to start with Procedural Generation.
It seemed the logical first step was to learn how perlin noise works and try to implement the algorithm. After a couple hours, it was completed and I mostly understand how it works. Here are the results from my algorithm.
Next, I wanted to see how I could generate a 2D landscape from this. I decided I needed to take the perlin noise and divide it into land and air based upon some threshold, but just using the raw noise obviously didn’t work because the land mass would be all over the place and not concentrated at the bottom like would be desired. To fix this problem, I added in a bias so that lower part of the noise gets a little help getting over the threshold and is therefore more likely to be considered as solid land. At first I tried a straight linear multiplier based on height, and it worked ok, but the variability was too high. Several times it would look great, and then several times it would look terrible and the land would be terribly disconnected at the bottom. It would have probably been possible to tweak it to make it look more acceptable, but instead, I used a parabolic bias and the results were instantly better. Here are the better results, I unfortunately didn’t save any images from the other method.
Here is a view closer zoomed in:
I thought these looked pretty good, but clearly needed to be smoothed out. I am familiar with some automata rules that I’ve used to smooth out caves in roguelikes, so I ran two iterations of it on the terrain to smooth it out. Here are the results of that on the two terrains shown above.
Overall I’m pretty happy with the result, the terrain looks pretty cool and has enough variation that it could be fun to explore in a platformer type game. I had originally set out to just try to learn some new stuff, but after getting these results, it just makes want to use these a Terraria like game. Here are a couple larger scale terrains that I generated. This one is 4000×100
This one is 10000×100 (you will probably need to open it in it’s own tab to really see it well) (Also note that the largest Terraria world is 8400 tiles wide, if each pixel were to be a tile, this would be larger than the largest Terraria World)
I’ll keep tweaking it, because there are definitely some improvements to be made. For one, the altitude is a little to constant. I’ve got a pretty good idea for making the height a little more variable and perhaps a little more mountainous. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it, if you have any questions about any algorithms I used, feel free to comment.
I’ve decided that my alpha for grab the loot and run is going to have to wait for a while. It’s just not ready to be released and my motivation for working on it is zero. I’ve decided to take a break and participate in OneGameAMonth in February and try to make something smaller. Although time will be hard to come because I am purchasing a house and will be moving and doing various home related projects.
In the mean time I’ve been brainstorming ideas for what to work on in February. I think I’m going to make an RPG crossed with Oregon trail. I guess a little bit like FTL but less management and more RPG like. I’m also going to try to target phone devices for this. It seems like the simple kind of game that would be great to have on a phone as a time waster.
So awhile back I added buffs to the game. They are pretty huge bonuses that apply to various parts of the game. Some for damage, some for defense, some for health, ect. The only problem is that I couldn’t come up with a good way for the player to earn them during gameplay. I originally was planning some kind of an item that would grant them, like some kind of a deck or card. This would be good because it would allow them to be identified before hand if a player didn’t want to risk getting a curse (negative buff). I decided against that and instead gone with an idea that these mysterious guardian statues found within the game will grant you buffs or curses. When you encounter them, they will request an item. You can give them the item and you will be blessed with a buff. If you happen to give them an item they didn’t ask for, you will receive a curse (This will probably only happen in the case where the item is unidentified and you guess incorrectly). I’m not sure how well this system will work, but I’ll give it a try for the upcoming alpha and see what people think.
I have also managed to complete the Highscore code. The game will feature global highscore list so anytime you can play you will be able to compare your score to all the scores that day, week, month, and all time. It’s basically the same code and backend I used for BubbleTime, but I updated the server stuff a little bit.
Another thing that I have changed for the alpha is that you select your weapon and armor before you start playing and you don’t find any other weapon in the dungeon. I’m not completely dedicated to a system like this, but it was the simplest way of doing it. It works pretty well, but I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to balance all the combinations appropriately.