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Been a While
Sep 30th, 2013 by Joe

After the release of A Game of Numbers and the last Ludum Dare, I’ve been taking a break of sorts. I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming, but haven’t really actually started work on anything. I think I just got a little burnt out. I am starting to come around and think that I will start up again soon. In fact, I think I will participate in the October Challenge and try to actually complete and release the mobile version of A Game of Numbers. There really isn’t a lot of work that needs to be done to make it work, but just several technical issues that I need to solve that I’ve been avoiding. I also want to go ahead and issue a huge thank you to everyone who purchase the game or mentioned it on twitter and Facebook. The game was a lot more successful than I anticipated it being and it’s mostly due to it’s propagation on social networks.

On an unrelated note, here are the results for SpaceSweeper in the last Ludum Dare:

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It didn’t do as well as A Game of Numbers did, but I’m happy with the results, especially if you consider that it was basically a 14 hour game after I quit on my initial idea. I’m also happy that it did well in the fun category, as that’s generally my focus with most of my games.

LD27 Game Finished
Aug 25th, 2013 by Joe

It is titled Space Sweeper and is a space shooter type of game. I guess somewhat similar to BubbleTime, but no where near as polished. I had lots of ideas, but not enough time because I wasted most of Friday and Saturday trying to different idea.

Here is the Ludum Dare Page: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-27/?action=preview&uid=4628

Also here is a direct link to the .zip

Here are some screen shots.

LD27-010

LD27-009

LD27-008

LD27-007

The release, future plans, and other random thoughts
Aug 19th, 2013 by Joe

So the release is over and overall I am very satisfied with the results. The game didn’t really sell a ton, but I didn’t expect it to, so not really anything unexpected there. I was actually a little surprised at the amount of feedback that I received and the general support of the people who purchased the game. I got lots of emails from people telling me that they enjoyed the game and they appreciated my work and stuff like that. It’s been a fun experience and I learned a whole lot about development and what it actually takes to release something. There also weren’t that many technical problems either.

  • My initial windows installer was built as a 64-bit application, so anyone with 32-bit windows couldn’t install it. Several people ran into this issue and I had to manually send them a 32-bit installer while the humble store uploaded the new installer. When building an installer on 64-bit windows, you specifically need to tell it to generate 32-bit output or it will default to 64. Lesson Learned!
  • One person tried running it on Linux and had some issues, but I managed to resolve them. It was just a problem getting the prerequisites to install. I actually used a Linux Mint Live CD to boot into Linux Mint and test to see if I could get it working. It was very seamless. I tried to make a .deb file that would automatically install dependencies, but it was way too difficult to figure out and I just assume if you are using Linux you are probably technical enough to figure things out and get it working. I did bundle a text file that listed all the needed dependencies, so it’s shouldn’t be that tricky.
  • One person had a Mac issue where when running the application it did nothing. This was a result of Mono not being installed and I was able to resolve the problem. On OS X, typically when you try to run a Mono based application without mono installed it will popup a message box directing you to download mono, but for whatever reason that wasn’t happening. I’m not really sure if there is anything I can do about that, as that functionality is built in the launcher script that Xamarin Studio uses for App bundles. I still need to investigate this, but overall it’s a pretty low priority issue, as it shouldn’t effect many people.

Moving forward, I am currently working on version 1.1, which is mainly just bug fixes and a couple small enhancements. It will probably add an ability to scale the game up, because it can be a little small on large monitors, and I will also add a way of controlling the game with a mouse.

In parallel to version 1.1, I am working on the mobile version of the game. I already have a build that works on my phone, but the UI needs a lot of work to be touch friendly. I also will probably cut the editor from the mobile version as it just doesn’t really work well on that platform. I am hoping that I can complete this in a couple weeks, as I am ready to start working a new project.

Also, Ludum Dare 27 is coming up next weekend and I am super excited! I don’t know what I am going to make, but I am thinking something top down, actiony, or perhaps some kind of tower defense. I always have wanted to make a tower defense game, but the theme always leads me to make something else.

Lastly, I have been brainstorming ideas for my next project and I am really starting to focus in a particular idea. I have been playing with the art style and mocking things up and I think it could be pretty cool. Can’t wait to start working on it!

Ludum Dare #26 Results
May 21st, 2013 by Joe

Here are the results for ‘A Game of Numbers’

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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

Game of Numbers 2.0
May 18th, 2013 by Joe

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:

A Game of Numbers – Post Mortem
May 1st, 2013 by Joe

image

The Good

  • Tools – I am very familiar with C#/XNA/Gimp
  • Scope – Game was super simple and easy to program
  • Editor – Used Gimp to make and map the level, so therefor no need to make a editor myself
  • JSIL Version – I managed to get a web version working, which seems really cool to me

The Bad

  • Editor – Using Gimp to make levels was difficult. Yes it saved me lots of time, but when editing levels I would often make mistakes that I would have to go back and correct.
  • Puzzles – Coming up with good puzzles was difficult. I ‘m sure there are a lot of possible puzzles with the elements that are implemented, but they take time and experimentation to find and I didn’t have much time. That said, I’m fairly happy with the set of puzzles that I finished with
  • Audio – I didn’t really have time or the desire to add any sound effects or music to the game. It probably would have beneficial to have some sound effects.

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.

Post-Compo Plans

I probably won’t do this right away, but there are a couple obvious things that I will do to improve the game.

  • Audio – Add some audio to the game
  • More Puzzles – I will add some more puzzles to the game, but still try to keep a certain uniqueness to each one. I also don’t really want to introduce any more elements.
  • Puzzle Editor – Have an editor mode where people can try to make their own puzzles

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

Math Based Puzzler
Apr 28th, 2013 by Joe

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.

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Twitter:@Joseph_Michels

Ludum Dare Results
Jan 25th, 2012 by Joe

My goals for this Ludum Dare were mentioned a few posts ago before the competition started. I wanted to finish in the top 70 overall and have at least one category in the top 20. I managed to achieve one of those goals. Here are the judging results from my game.

#40    Mood    3.59
#63    Overall    3.44
#76    Theme    3.56
#94    Community    3.22
#147    Fun    2.89
#157    Graphics    3.26
#284    Audio    2.41
#340    Innovation    2.44
#360    Humor    1.75

My game was judged as the #63rd overall so I achieved one of my two goals, but my highest rated category was Mood and was only at 40. I am pleased with the results. This game was definitely an experiment and wasn’t the type of game I would normally make. It was much more story driven and really wasn’t fun at all. My goal for the next Ludum Dare is to just make something fun. Lets say at least top 50 in the Fun category. 

I’ve also started some design work on a new game. It’s similar to Xploration, but much simpler and more complex. In many ways Xploration failed because everything was too complex and my intended scale was too large for me to deliver. Perhaps something like that would succeed if I had more experience or more skill, but I’m going to try to make something much simpler and see how it works out.

TheRescue is done
Dec 18th, 2011 by Joe

I have finished my game and submitted it. Unlike my first LudumDare, I’m actually really happy with my game this time. It isn’t the type of game I would like to make, but I didn’t really want the alone theme, so I kinda had to go with my first idea. Here is the download.

LD22_7

Some More Progress
Dec 17th, 2011 by Joe

I ended up taking a very long break today, which wasn’t really good for the progress on my game, but I still think I am in good shape and will be able to finish it Sunday. I’ll probably work on it for a couple more hours tonight and then try to get some sleep. The main things remaining are:

  • Finish creating the world (I’m probably about 10% done)
  • Everything Audio related (Haven’t done any audio stuff yet, probably not going to be able to get much done)
  • A menu/title screen (This shouldn’t take more than about a half hour)

Visually, not much has changed since the last post I made, but I will still go ahead and post another screenshot. I am really liking how everything is coming together and I am hoping I can get close to my vision for the game.

LD22_3

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