#1GAM September 14 – Progressing

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This month has started fairly well. While I’m still finding the move to Gamemaker rather annoying at times, I’ve made some decent progress and my comfort level is improving.

The game is still very much a prototype but I’m liking what it is becoming. The idea was inspired in part by a Warioland 2 level in which the player had to charge through the walls, roof and floor around them to move between rooms. Also serving as inspiration is a Mario Party 5 mini game where you race to be the first to ground pound through all the blocks.

Out of this comes the basic idea for my game – a randomly generated area that the player can destroy in all directions. Destruction will reveal collectables, enemies and upgrades for their miner. Their goal is to reach a set position before the time runs out. I want the game to be pick up and play with plenty of juicy extras to keep the gameplay interesting.

My focus has been getting the player movement and actions feeling as slick as possible. For the first week I worked towards getting the basics up and running; platformer movement and destruction.
miner punch
This past week, I’ve been working on tightening things up as much as possible; getting destruction in all directions working pretty well and getting the controls more responsive. I also added some simple animations to give a bit of an idea of where I might go art-wise.
miner progress 2.gif

For the rest of the month I’ll be working on the actual game loop, essentially, giving the player a goal with success and failure conditions.

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#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 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 May – Public Domain Jam

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My, May was a busy month but I’ve managed to keep my #1GAM streak going thanks to Public Domain Jam! The game is called Patience and is based on the poem of the same name by D.H. Lawrence. Play it here.

The jam went okay for me. I had a rough idea going in and had found a really lovely poem by D.H. Lawrence which was to be my basis. The game took a little while to come together into something playable and I’m still not happy with it really. But what can I say it was about 2.5 days work so I can’t expect magic in that time, especially given that I got really sick on the Friday and had to rush to submit before feeling worse.

The annoying thing was that the jam time was extended last minute and the rules tweaked to allow public domain assets to be used. The time wasn’t an issue as I was sick anyway but the asset thing bummed me out a bit. I spent a good chunk of time working on a backing music track because I’m no good at it, this time could have been spent on other aspects (and the music which you know actually be good) if I had the option to choose public domain music from the start.

All that aside the jam went well, @gritfish did a great job organising it! This was my first jam outside of GGJ and I’m happy with my results:

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Check out the winning entries and more at here.

Now back to Reversal!

#1GAM April – Updates galore

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I’ve neglected my blog recently so I’ll catch you up on what has been happening.

#1GAM April

For my April entry to One Game A Month, I created a short little game in just over a day. The  game is called ‘Belong’ and was inspired by this GDC panel. It turned out reasonably well and I’ve been happily surprised by the response from peers.

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Click the image to play Belong.

Reversal

Reversal is at a bit of a roadblock currently. I’ve gone ahead with development adding in 20 more levels since first reveal in March. I haven’t revealed much since then simply because I’m not happy with it. The second level set (levels 11 through 20) turned out really well and plays with a new mechanic of destructible walls.

A level from the second set. Note the destructible wall in the top left.

A level from the second set. Note the destructible wall in the top left.

The third set (levels 21 through 30) is not going as smoothly. These levels introduce lines which aren’t always straight and are proving to be tricky to achieve. It seems as though each day I sit down to work on the game, I’m met with a new bug that I hadn’t seen the day before. This is making development really frustrating and killing motivation to continue working on the project.

A level from the third set. Note the angled line in the top right.

A level from the third set. Note the angled line in the top right.

I’m resigned to the fact that I may need to remove the set all together and opt for a different or simplified mechanic, It is just not worth the struggle if the game will be worse off because of it.I have to remember that this is okay. I’ve only been working on the game for two months and have achieved a fantastic amount thus far. It will get there eventually.

I’ve already got a big list of things to change, tweak and add so I’ll will keep at it and think about getting some feedback from players.

Check out the game here.

IndieCade

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In a slight spur of the moment decision I’ve submitted Devolution to IndieCade. I’m mostly interested in the feedback received from the judges as I’d like it to help spark some inspiration into the game’s further development. Fingers crossed it is received okay.

Check out Devolution here.

#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 Onwards to February

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wanderlust-gamejolt-newI’ve made some great progress with Wanderlust and have already submitted it to onegameamonth.com as my Jan14 entry. Some of the notable changes for the Jan build include:

  • Basic level system (Tutorial, through to level 10) including progress save
  • Pause screen
  • Android, PC/Mac/Linux standalone builds
  • Changes to input
  • UI scaling according to device resolution
  • Tweaks to path generation

This month is more of the same really; tweak, add and improve. My big aim for Feb is to fix up the path gen even more – the long lines I mentioned in my previous post. Anything beyond that will be awesome!

I’ve decided to use itch.io for distribution while I’m in development (the goal being that once at a suitable level of completion I will put the game up for sale on other marketplaces such as google play). The decision was kind of made for me by the way the google play store handles free. I didn’t want to charge for the game while it was incomplete but the store doesn’t let you swap between free and paid. This way I have the game up for download at what ever price the user wants to pay, even if that is zero which is more than fine.

Also, the marketing side of things is proving to be tricky so itch.io is a great place to test things out without too much risk.