#1GAM November14 – Slowly But Surely

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The goal for this month was to get something playable out into the world to get some much needed feedback. I’ve managed to put a little proof of concept together, so consider the goal met!

If you’d like to play check it out here. I’m very open to feedback so send it my way. It is still full of bugs and rather lacking but still a good little indicator of the core mechanic.

Miner POC - Punch

At this point I have a good idea of where I want the game to go so I will keep prototyping, adding and tweaking.

Notable changes for the month:

  • addition of ceiling enemies (not in POC however)
  • foundations of a character select screen
  • indestructible blocks
  • UI tweaks
  • beginnings of lives system
  • you can now punch the enemies

#1GAM September 14 – Forget Me. Not.

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Earlier in the month I mentioned I was working on a prototype for this month’s game. The game is going really well but a change of circumstances means I’m going to pursue further dev on it in Unity instead of Gamemaker. I’ve been working on switching over these past few days and I’ve already matched what I was able to achieve in a month of work in Gamemaker. Oh Unity how I missed you.

Anyway, back to this month’s game. The end of the month was quickly approaching and while I had made some good progress in the GM prototype, I just wasn’t happy with it and wanted to scratch the itch of releasing something of decent polish. I had been mulling over an idea for probably most of the year but hadn’t figured out a way to implement it in a good way. The idea had been to make a game about Dementia within the context of data corruption.

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I spent about a week putting the game together and I’m really happy with how it turned out. It isn’t a long game but I feel it gets my point across with the impact I was hoping for. I shared the game on twitter and it received a really lovely response which has been a wonderful and surprising bonus!

If you’d like to play the game, Forget Me. Not, you can over on itch.io or gamejolt.

#1GAM August 14 – Learning Gamemaker

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Woe is Me

As I mentioned last month; coming from a lot of Unity experience, Gamemaker feels really weird.

My biggest issue with the engine is that it feels really messy. This boils down to how the workspace divides everything into pop out windows. For example, every object is controlled separately from their own pop out window. Each of these objects are controlled by a series of events. In my case, each of these events uses a separate code block meaning that for each and every code block, for each and every event a new window is opened when I want to make changes. This leaves the screen cluttered and somewhat frustrating as they can be difficult to distinguish from one another. See the below screenshot for an idea of what I mean.

cluttered

It may well be a case of me working messily but in any case it has been rather annoying. I’ve put a request in to see if the support team can provide me any insight into my workflow woes. Still waiting on a response but if any of you Gamemaker users have any tips I’m all ears!

Out of all this struggle I got a little disheartened. Devolution as it is now was created and completed in one month. I know I can’t expect to have the same speed with a new engine but it is quite the bummer to struggle to make progress. Rapid protoyping has become a major element of my creative process and I’m missing it.

This month’s effort

My attempted solution to slow progress has been to go right back to the drawing board and complete some tutorials. I chose this one, which has been a solid starting point for what has become this month’s game – Mummified.

mummified_gameplay_snippet

The tutorial was for the most part, really useful. It did however leave the project with a lot for me to do, which worked out okay. I ended up:

  • recreating most of the sprites to suit my chosen theme
  • adding some new sprites both original and sourced
  • tweaking the control scheme to fit a gamepad
  • rebuilding the wave system

I could easily keep adding more (different enemies, more weapons, health packs, levelling etc.) but as I’m not planning on taking the game any further I’d rather move on and see what else I can learn. As I’m using just the base version of Studio I’ve only been able to create a downloadable Windows version. If you would like to play (you will need a controller) download it here.

I’ve got another idea I will begin working on as a prototype next month which I hope will be my ‘test’ project for the engine. Basically if I can’t get this basic idea to work nicely in Gamemaker from start to finish I will have to consider abandoning the engine for any further Devolution development.

Assets Used in Mummified:

Palm trees created by: Warlock’s Gauntlet artists – rAum, jackFlower, DrZoliparia, Neil2D. Source 
Shotgun Sound created by: Vincent Sevedge. Source 
Music ‘ Uncle Stu’ created by: Proffessor Lamp. Source 

#1GAM July – An Old Friend Returns

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Remember how I said last month I’d take some time off? Ha! Oh past Liz, you so silly…

Instead I’ve begun work on a larger scaled version of Devolution. Surprise!

Devolution was made almost a year ago (it was my year one #1GAM entry for August) so you could say this has been a long time coming. Playthroughs on GameJolt have cracked over 8,000 which is crazy. Not only that, the game keeps gaining new followers on the site which is encouraging. Players have liked the game. I like the game. Why not try and make it something more?

I’ve been hesitant to expand the game up until now through fear of spoiling the original experience. With a bit of a push I’ve decided to give it a crack – I mean the original still exists there’s no way I can’t hurt it!

I’m still in very early stages right now. I’ve been working on a prototype/proof of concept of the new direction I want to take and it is going pretty well. My main concern is getting the story right. Gameplay wise I’ve got some good ideas on where to go but the story has left me quite stuck. This is really what has held me back from tackling the project, I don’t fancy myself much of a writer so coming up a decent narrative is tough. It’s best not to force anything though; I’ve got plenty of time to get things right and have to trust that the best ideas will come.

WIP day 9

I have been using Gamemaker so my progress is understandably slower than normal simply because I am unfamiliar with the engine.

Gamemaker had me rather befuddled at first. The way it does things is so unfamiliar coming from Unity and I’m still getting my bearings. I do miss the freedom the Unity editor provides in terms of tweaking on the fly though. That said the engine is really impressive; I’ve managed to get the visuals on par if not better than the original and was able to get gamepad input functioning great within a few hours.

Wondering what’s happening with Reversal? Well I’m uncertain right now. It needs more work for sure before I’d be comfortable publishing to the app and google play store. I might see if I can dedicate a day or two a month to keep some progress chugging along.

#1GAM June – Daily Levels?

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This month I have been pushing hard to get Reversal polished. This has meant removing the old yellow level set and replacing it with a new set. As much as it sucks to throw out work, the old set was just full of bugs and bringing everything else down with it – including my motivation.

This new set introduces a new mechanic – moving walls. There is still some work to be done removing various bugs and issues but the set is coming along great! You can get the new version over on itch.io (if you’d like a key to download for free I’d be more than happy to oblige).

Towards the end of the month I have spent my time tweaking UI and prototyping a possible new addition – daily levels.

The UI has really come along nicely (even since creating the below gif) and is getting nicely polished. The gif demonstrates how the game will remember which level you last played and have the level select screen bring up the relevant level set should you return to the screen.

The idea for daily levels was completely stolen from the game Lyne by Thomas Bowker. Lyne has a similar target audience and I think it is too good of an idea to leave by the wayside. So far prototyping has been going well. Of course there are a bunch of difficulties with procedural generation but I’m excited by the mode so happy to power through them. Check out some procedurally generated levels in the gallery below!

I’m planning to take a bit of a break for the next week or two. Hopefully I can still make some more progress on the daily levels and have a demo of it out by the end of july. I do have a neat meeting coming up though so stay tuned in the event anything comes of it!

#1GAM Feb14 – Local Multiplayer

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Earlier this month I mentioned that my iteration goal was to improve path generation by removing the appearance of long boring paths. Turns out that only took me a few more days of head scratching to fix up and it’s now working perfectly!

The rest of the month has been extremely productive:

  • I’ve changed up the UI. I’ve simplified the buttons making them sleeker and there are now paused/quit menus for every scene.
  • I’ve added more levels. Now from level 11 to around about 16 the grid spawned has an added level of difficulty with pulsing scale and colour changes.
  • Removed the timer and score elements instead opting for an accuracy rank. This has also improved the levelling system.
  • Added a local multiplayer mode.

Get the game here (android tablets, PC, OSX and Linux builds available).

Local multiplayer is something I’m quite excited about. It came about because I was feeling down about the game and struggling to see how to improve it. I looked through my design doc and remembered I wanted to try a multiplayer mode so decided to give it a try.

Basically, two players are shown a grid and must remember where the barriers are. Each take turns revealing squares (similarly to pool, their turn will end if they hit a barrier). The player with the most squares wins. I want it to become a game for train, car or plane rides where you and a friend are stuck together with little to do.

I’ve already started working to improve the mode for next month – allowing players to select difficulty, the number of rounds played and their colours. I took the game along to IGDA Sydney’s Beer and Pixels event and while I was rather shy, those who played it liked the premise.

#1GAM Jan14 – Moar Games

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This year my aim is to release something. I’m not entirely sure what that something is at the moment but the goal is to sell something for real world money somewhere. Nice and vague I know. Thanks to the revamp of One Game a Month (i.e. iterative work counts) this goal can also coincide with my 2014 12 game goals.

With that in mind January’s game for 2014 is an android version of Wanderlust, my December 2013 entry.

Running on Nexus 7 second gen.

Running on my Nexus 7 second gen.

Things are going pretty well. Things ported over really easily thanks to some Unity functions that work for both a mouse and touch controls. Most of my work thus far has been making things look good so basically making everything scale and place correctly no matter what the resolution. The many android devices out there make me very nervous as I’ve always been reluctant to release games untested on every device/platform I’ve targeted (hence why Linux builds are few and far between). Outside of UI work I’ve made input better suited to a touch screen, added a levelling system and added a few bells and whistles.

There are however issues. The pathways spawn far too similarly sometimes (even repeating) and they can be too easy (long lines on the same row). I’ve been having trouble figuring this out with my current code so that means I will likely need to spend more time on the game. I’m not too fussed by this at the moment as I would like to release the game on the google play store with more features I don’t have time for this month anyway.

In case you hadn’t noticed/are new here I’ve revamped my website quite a bit so let me know what you think 😀