Ludum Dare 25 – My Liveblog

I’m participating in Ludum Dare 25 next week, a game development competition that takes place on 14th December and lasts for 48 hours.

The Theme for the competition is: “You are the Villain”

This is my first Ludum Dare and, in fact, my first ever game jam. I’m going to use this post as a liveblog of sorts that I’ll be updating “diary style” throughout the 48 hours period. I’m hoping you’ll get a decent insight into the trials and tribulations of creating a game.

Tools

Framework: Moai
Sound Effects: sfxr
Music: ? (to be decided)
Art: Inkscape
Other tools (Depending on the game design): Glyph Designer, Particle Designer, Texture Packer

I’ve settled on Moai as my framework of choice. I find that, since it utilises Lua, its particularly good for rapid prototyping. I’m also using it for Subterranea so, whilst I’m not an expert, I’m already familiar with it.

I wanted to deploy to the web via Chrome NaCl (Native Client) but I’ve hit lots of issues with input, logging, playing sounds, and deployment. Ultimately those last two items have been the final nails in the coffin. I can’t seem to get FMOD to load sounds via Moai’s implementation and deployment relies upon the Chrome App store (as opposed to just visiting a web page). I’ve ended up settling on deployment by providing the OSX and Windows hosts. Unfortunately this means download only for players but hopefully I can provide enough reason to do so :)

On the sound front, I’ve used the mac port of sfxr previously and found it to be very fast for producing sound effects (certainly adequate for a game jam). Music is a bit of an unknown. I may not have time for it so we’ll see.

Inkscape was the obvious choice for the art. At this moment in time I’m extremely comfortable with the package and can provide reasonable looking assets fairly quickly.

My supporting tools will be Glyph Designer if I need custom fonts for menu’s and the GUI, Particle Designer for fancy particle effects (which I may or may not need), and Texture Packer for creating sprite sheets.

So, quite a lot of tools when it comes down to it. All of them I feel are essential for producing a game in just 48 hours.

My Plan

Plans are generally doomed to fail from the moment you write them down but its nice to have some idea of what I’m going to do and when. By my reckoning, due to time zone differences, Ludum dare kicks off at 2am on Saturday morning (UK time). At this time I plan on being asleep :) The competition should finish at around 2am on the Monday morning (when I also plan on being asleep). Here’s the rough plan then…

6am Saturday: Up and showered with Coffee brewing.
7am – 9am: Loads of inspiration and come up with some initial ideas.
9am – Midday: Experiments/Prototype
Midday Saturday – Midday Sunday: 24 hours of actual development (perhaps punctuated by a little sleep)
Midday Sunday onwards: Polish and submission by Sunday evening.

That’s as detailed as I can get it for now. I want to allow plenty of time for the submission to test deployment and ensure everything works.

Development Diary

8:20am (Hour 7)

I’m up, showered, and ready to go. Due to timezone differences I’m on the back foot slightly and we’re already into hour 7 of the 48 hour competition.

I’ve checked Ludum Dare and the winning theme has been announced as “You are the Villain”. That took me by surprise a little.

My first step is to come up with a handful of ideas and then choose 1 or 2 to prototype. I’ll do this away from the computer. Here’s my brainstorming setup.

brainstorming

9.30am (Hour 8)

I’ve spent just over an hour brainstorming and come up with a couple of nice ideas. One of them shines slightly more than the other in terms of how likely I am to manage to complete it in the remaining time – so that’s the one I’ll focus on first.

Ideas

Along the way I also found a few bits of nice visual inspiration which I’ll hopefully be able to feed into the art when I begin work on that side of things.

criminal city

criminal letter

Its onto prototyping now. If the first game doesn’t work at prototype level then I’ll move on to my backup idea.

Here’s my obligatory workspace picture.

workspace

10:38am (Hour 9)

Some progress on the prototype, mostly figuring out dimensions. Feeling a little rusty but slowly getting into the groove.

Ludum dare 25 prototype1

12pm (Hour 11)

I’ve spent the last hour and a bit figuring out mouse input and grid selection. I’m at the point now where I can identify any square on the grid and update it’s contents. Once I have a bit more in place I’ll explain the concept :)

Ludum Dare 25 Prototype 2

3pm (Hour 14)

We’re just entering hour 14 and I have the start of a simulation working. There’s still lots to do!

My game is a very basic crime simulation. The main screen shows a city split into zones. A zone can be neutral, controlled by the police, or controlled by you (a criminal mastermind – some might call you a villain!).

You are tasked with distributing your thugs around the city. You only have a finite number of thugs although more are earned as you control more parts of the city (indicated by your cpm – criminals per minute).

The police won’t just sit there though. They will try and prevent your city domination by taking back your controlled zones.

That’s the basic premise. I’m working to make the core simulation solid so that I can work on Art, sounds, and adding more interesting features (of which I have many ;) )

Ludum Dare 25 prototyp 3

4.30pm (Hour 15)

I’ve just gotten to a really nice point with the game. You can now fight for police territory. That makes the game more fun :)

Next up is the tough part… police AI. This will ensure that you’re kept on your toes.

6.15pm (Hour 17)

Brilliant progress in the last few hours. I have a fully functioning game as far as gameplay goes. The police AI needs lots of work and I want to add an additional layer of strategy so that both you and the police can use tactics to keep control of zones.

For now though, its done. I’m going to change tact for the rest of the day and focus on Art and sound effects.

Here’s the police having successfully handed my arse to me on a plate.

Ludum Dare 25 prototype 4

8.30pm (Hour 19)

WIP artwork. Hopefully going for an Art Deco style.

graphics-wip

10.45pm (Hour 21)

Time to call it a night. Losing concentration so going to get some sleep. Will get up early to continue with Art, sound effects, music, and feature addition.

7.30am (Hour 30)

Ok, this is the last day of the competition. I have 18 hours remaining. I have coffee brewing. I’m resolving a font issue and continuing with the Art.

9.50am (Hour 32)

Artwork takes a long time, even basic stuff. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. Anyway, the zone graphics are done (for now).

zones

Now I’m moving on to GUI graphics :)

11am (Hour 34)

Basic GUI elements are now in and the game is really taking shape. I’m spending a little time injecting some personality into the phrasing I’m using and then moving onto the sound effects (and music maybe!).

WIP

2.30pm (Hour 37)

Phrasing is sorted and now matches the aesthetic. Sound effects are in (but far from perfect). Music is in. I’ve also added a random city name generator which adds a bit of character.

Now I’m on to the less exciting stuff. Namely, the game over menu, the title screen, and the instructions.

6pm (Hour 41)

And with that, my game is finished! I still have to package it and submit it but I’ve played through it a good few times and everything is working as it should.

Here’s my Ludum Dare 25 competition entry for the theme “You are the Villain”

Gameplay

Rules

You won

You can download and play the game here. Any votes will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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