Ludum Dare

37,000 feet over the Atlantic is no excuse to miss Ludum Dare.

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I didn’t think I’d be able to participate at all this Ludum Dare, as a result of being out of the country for business-related activities. However, I really didn’t want to break my 6-LD streak, so I decided to take my own advice: Just participate in any way you can, even if it’s just with an extremely simple game.

So when I found myself on a trans-Atlantic flight with no mouse, no Internet access, but with a small amount of free time, I decided to do the best that I could.  What resulted is a infinite-frogger-style game with a very weak hacking theme. What I really wanted to do a riff on the Hollywood-style hacking visuals that you see in movies and tv shows.  To do it right, I would have really needed some nice custom shaders, and that’s not something I can produce without more time AND access to copious documentation.

Still, in the end I produced an actual game. It has loss conditions (get “traced” by running out of time, smash into a firewall) and a goal (accumulate as many points as possible before you inevitably collide into the ever-speedier firewalls, or run out of time of course).  My interpretation of the “10 seconds” theme is very obvious, but enabled me to focus on a very simple arcady game that would be doable in just a few hours.

I started the game when I was still in Germany, finished it up somewhere over the Atlantic, and uploaded it using the Toronto Pearson International Airport’s free wifi.

[Click to play Time Hack!]

 

Ludum Dare 26 Results!

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Ludum Dare 26 (Theme: Minimalism) – Shoot. (AAA_FPS_GOTY)

 

At the last minute, I changed the title of the game to “Shoot.”, as a nod to minimalism, but I really wish that I’d kept my working title of “AAA_FPS_GOTY”. Nonetheless, that’s pretty much the only regret I had with this game.

For every Ludum Dare, I always have the following schedule:

Friday Night: Come up with idea, implement rough proof of concept.

Saturday: Implement all core features.

Sunday: Polish, balance, textures, sounds, main menu, debugging.

I’ve also always said that if I don’t feel good after Friday, I can restart with a completely new idea on Saturday morning — but after that I have to be “locked in”.  I’ve never had to change my idea in the past, but this time I actually did it twice. I went to bed on Friday night so unhappy, that I ended up getting up at 1am and working on a completely new game for two hours. Then, by the time I got up on Saturday “proper”, I’d decided that I didn’t like that either and starting over again!

As a result, I only had about 25 hours (minus breaks + sleeping!) to make the game that I’d ultimately end up submitting. On top of that, I wanted to do the UNTHINKABLE for such a short competition: I wanted to make a multiplayer game.

Multiplayer is exponentially harder to implement and is a nightmare to debug.  I’m truly convinced that this was a crazy thing to try. However, I really wanted to make a multiplayer game because I love streaming the entire Ludum Dare process and I wanted to allow my viewers to play with each other (and me).

In the end, despite the craziness, I ended up with a game that I am extremely happy with — and the judging was incredibly positive as well. Out of 2346 entries, I scored:

 

Humor: Top 1.4% (Mostly due to the audio, I assume.)
Fun: Top 2% (The only rating I truly care about!)
Overall: Top 3% (My best overall showing to date!)
Audio: Top 5% (And that’s with no music!)

Shoot (AAA_FPS_GOTY) entry on the Ludum Dare website.

Play the game here.

 

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Shoot (AAA_FPS_GOTY)

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Shoot (AAA_FPS_GOTY)

Things that I did this Ludum Dare that pretty much go against every recommendation:

  • Throw away everything and start over from scratch after 13 hours into the competition with a completely different game.
  • Make a 16-player multiplayer game. With automatic matchmaking.
  • AI bots too, to fill any empty slots automatically. Make sure they have the ability to navigate a 3d space in real time, looking for powerups if there’s nothing to kill.
  • Livestream the whole thing to almost 8,000 unique viewers and try to keep everyone entertained while coding.
  • Include nearly 50 different death sounds, because it’s not like we’re on a tight deadline or anything.

Despite all these ridiculous challenges, I’ve completed what is by far my most fun Ludum Dare entry ever! At peak load, there were nearly 200 players connected simultaneously to the multiplayer servers. The only unfortunate thing is that now that the stream is over, there are sometimes no human opponents available — and they really make the game a lot more enjoyable.

If you’re going to test Shoot (AAA_FPS_GOTY), see if you can get a friend or two to connect at the same time. It’s way more fun than just fragging bots. :)

 

This visual  makes death sting a little less.

Everything you see in Shoot (AAA_FPS_GOTY) can be made using entirely free tools.

I used the trial copy of Unity 3d Pro that was offered for Ludum Dare, but the free version would have been perfectly sufficient. The only “pro” feature I used was the shadow on the character — but a blob projector would have been just as good here. I also made use of the A* Pathfinding Project Free library as well as Photon Unity Networking.  A free Photon Cloud server is used for matchmaking.

I used Blender for modelling — including making an animated character for the first time for use in an actual game. That was fun. The textures were drawn in Photoshop, but could have been made in Paint. I also used Substance Designer (trial) to get the ambient occlusion texture for the character as a learning experience, but I could have done the same thing just as easily (better?) in Blender itself.

The face of a killer.

 

Anyway, I hope you can take the time to try Shoot (AAA_FPS_GOTY) and pwn some noobs.

 

 

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Ludum Dare 26: Final Round!

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Here’s the final list of themes, from which a single one will be selected.  (This post will be updated over the next two days as I come up with more ideas.)

 

MY CRITERIA:

- The game must be easy to understand. The judges play dozens or hundreds of games. You can’t expect people to spend a lot of time learning complex rules. Also, complex games are harder and slower to make.

- Ideally, the game should also suck you in instantly. Get to the action right away.

- I really want to make a multiplayer game.

- My primary concern is making a game that is FUN. Even if I lose points for innovation, theme, or mood.

- I will consider any score above 50% to be a win, though my real goal is to get in the top 25% in “fun”.

 

Afterlife: It makes me think that we’ll be playing a lot of generic games that happen to be placed in heaven or hell or something. That being said, there are interesting opportunities to draw from a variety of more interesting literally sources and to mine from a large variety of religions and mythoses. Mythosii? Mythosaurus Rex?  Anyway, there’s also the mechanic angle — where the game changes after you die or somehow requires death to progress.  Note that this is different from a game that revolves around things killing themselves to accomplish goals (i.e. Baneling swarms or something).  I’m still having trouble coming up with a specific (and hopefully multiplayer-friendly game).

After the End of the World: What happens after Mario reaches the castle at the end of Level 1-1? Of course, there’s also the obvious post-apocalyptic connotations.  That being said, I think I’d personally lean towards “Humans have left Earth” (Wall-E style? Nuclear War? Dying of the sun?).  Turn it into a Homeworld/Battlestar Galactica kind of thing.  Players pilot fighters to defend the mothership? Or maybe

Against the Rules: So broad and yet so specific. Maybe it’s just a lack of creativity on my part. I guess what starts to come to mind are all the “do not” signs you see in life.  “Wrong Way”. “No Skateboarding”. “No Smoking”. “Employees Only”. A graffiti game? A game about removing tags from mattresses? Actually, the graffiti game might really be fun as a multiplayer game.  Everyone is trying to “tag” as much stuff as possible within a time limit.  Maybe you can’t “tag” something that’s still wet (forcing people to spread out), but after a certain amount of time you can start to overwrite other people’s tags. Okay, I’m starting to like this now.  It could also be about breaking the laws of physics in some ways.

Alternative Physics: The “Dreams” calvin-ball idea certainly fits here!  I don’t know what the single-player version would look like though. AI bots are hard enough in CONVENTIONAL physics.  Maybe the physics change on their own, and you’re trying to “score” as many points as possible in the amount of available time?  There can still be the option of changing things yourself to try to make things easier for you and improve your time — and in multiplayer, it’s a combination of easy for you and hard for the other players.  Maybe your in a “cube” room — you start on one side and have to go to the other. There are obstacles in the way that you can shove away. The catch is that the bottom/left/right/top of the room each has its own gravity — and every time you score you get moved to a different floor.  So when you change the world, you are potentially screwing other player or just yourself on future rounds.  A different, but related idea: “The Enemy Gate is Down”.

Ancient Ruins: Maybe an exploration game. Find artifacts. Could be done a puzzle game — some variant of Sokoban or Soduku.  Maybe you’re constructing Stone Henge.  Who doesn’t like a good henge?  Or maybe even building the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.  Kind of a “prequel” to them becoming ruins.  An E Truly Hollywood story.  Maybe the ruins are of an alien civilization on a distant planet?  The players are a team of archeologists…and then they accidentally awake some ancient monsters or a robot self-defense system.  You have no real weapons. You have to get back to your ship somehow (or maybe defend the ship while it powers up?)

Beneath the Surface: Could be subterranean, submarine, or subcutaneous.  It could also be about hidden thoughts and emotions, but I don’t think that’s the kind of game I want to make. Some kind of mining game? Fish Tank Commander 3d? Are the players part of the human immune system, fighting against viruses?

Colony: A solid contender in recent LD votes, and certainly something that would align itself with what I — and my viewers — enjoy.  A co-operative survival game. Maybe in space. Maybe on a deserted island.  Maybe in the “new world”.  Heck, maybe you’re a colony of fungus.  Or Ants.  It’s Dwarf Fortress, except YOU are the dwarves. Hard to make in 48 hours? Fuck yes. Epic as hell? Indeed.

Creation and Destruction: The first types of game that come to mind to mind and minecraft/terraria-esque games, where maybe you are smashing rocks or tearing apart old structures to build new ones.  Maybe you have two vehicles — one’s a wrecking ball and one’s a crane or something. Single player, you hope back and forth between the two — but in multiplayer you can be paired up with someone (or many someones) and work together to do…something.  Are you building skyscrapers out of a husk of an abandoned city, like Wall-e?  Maybe it’s a survival type of game, where you are running to escape monsters — they can outrun you, but you have the ability to put up walls that they take a while to break through. A never ending sequences of run, create, and then more running while the destruction happens.

Death is Good: .  You could use the ideas discussed in Parallel Worlds, where when you die you play on as a ghost.  It could be a game about dogpiling a fortress wall and building a ramp out of bodies.  Or maybe you’re playing as “banelings”, exploding on death. You could also play as Death (the Grim Reaper).

Dig Deeper: Unless you really go for a figurative interpretation, you’re going to get a lot of games that are pretty literally about digging. Those sorts of games aren’t necessarily bad — just lacking in variety. Dwarf Fortress, Minecraft, Terraria, and Dig Dug are all sources of possible inspiration.

Every Death Is Meaningful: .  You could use the ideas discussed in Parallel Worlds, where when you die you play on as a ghost.  It could be a game about dogpiling a fortress wall and building a ramp out of bodies.  Or maybe you’re playing as “banelings”, exploding on death. You could also play as Death (the Grim Reaper)

Exploration: Roguelike / action-RPG? I mean, if I wasn’t trying to do a multiplayer game, I’d just try to design some interesting looking area and hide a bunch of stuff all over.  I suppose that the “eXplore” phase of a 4x space strategy game might be something interesting to play with. And of course, we could probably do a pretty decent space sim based on this theme.

Islands: Has strong literal and figurative parallels to Parallel Worlds. These could be actual islands, or they could be little asteroids or pocket dimensions in space.  It could be about traveling from island to island.

Minimalism: Carries the risk that people will make boring games and try to pass them off as “minimalist”.  On the other hand, this can really push people to do interesting and creative stuff.  The other problem is that super minimalist art actually needs a really good sense of colour and movement to pull-off…which is not something I have faith in my ability to pull off.  That being said…. I REALLY liked the level design and look of my FPS Tutorial level.  Simple, flat textures, but with carefully placed lighting.  Portal is technically a good example of a minimalist game, at least while you are still being tested: Tight, focused gameplay with an uncluttered visual style.  Maybe this could work.  Not sure what the “game” itself would be though…which is rather key.

No Enemies: The thing to remember is that this is a theme, not a rule. Just making a game that happens to be the sort of thing where there is no conflict (like SimCity), is not a particularly strong use of the theme IMHO. Additionally, the game could actually HAVE enemies — as long as there was an odd subversion in there somehow.  Maybe you have the ability to mind control people, therefore making them not be your enemy. That sort of thing. And then there’s the idea of still having some kind of conflict, but not against personified enemies. Like man vs the environment (castaways, lost in space, etc…)  It could be a kind of “social” game of deception, where all the characters are supposed to be working together (and not be enemies), but people are secretly competing and trying to get an advantage over one another.  We could call it “Frenemies“. You could play as vicious, gossiping high school girls out to ruin each other’s social lives via Facebook. :)  It could be a game about a huge interstellar war fought over huge distances — and when an invasion fleet finally reaches the enemy homeworld…they discover that they’re already dead, having accidentally killed themselves by mistakenly detonating a super-weapon.

No Weapons Allowed: Is, in many ways, what I consider to be a classic Ludum Dare style theme. I think that’s because it reminds of some of the older LD themes, such as “Enemies as Weapons”.  Now, it’s important to remember that this is not a rule of the competition. You could have a game in which you have TONS of weapons, but you’re trying to go into an area protected by metal detectors and x-ray machines. Although, as I type that, all the scenarios I’m imagining are kind of “terrosisty”…so best avoid that.  There’s also the idea that you aren’t allowed to use conventional weapons, but what about fists, or nerf bats, or paint guns, or maybe you’re fighting “grumpikins” by throwing “flowers” at theme.  You could make a classic Quake-style FPS game…but all in bright cheery pastel colours.  I like this theme because it should force creativity.  To me it’s not about making a game that just doesn’t have weapons — it’s about explicitly subverting genres that classically rely on weapons to function. What is a “weapon”? Paint guns feel too weapon-y, but what about snowballs?  Of course, this could be a game about rebuilding after a war so devastating that everyone is trying to come together to build a big peace monument. It could also be a game where you don’t have weapons and are mostly stealthing/running/parkouring away from people who do.

Parallel Worlds: Has many literal and figurative interpretations. It could be a game where you constantly have to switch “modes” to be able to complete it — and in a multiplayer setting people could co-operate by splitting up between the parallel worlds.  It could be about a bunch of castaways, each stuck on their own island…not far from each other, but separated by shark-infested waters. Maybe you can throw stuff to each other to build a signal fire.  We could take a more symbolic bend — imagine a game where everyone plays in a single vertical column, representing a single human life. You start at the bottom as a baby in a randomly assigned country/income/culture/class and try to make it through life. Everyone progresses forward at the same speed, but not everyone has the same opportunities — but you have the option of helping each-other out.  It’s kind of a Prisoner’s Dilemma game theory experiment.  We could also do a space sim, where the players share a starbase at a wormhole nexus, and they can pass through the wormholes to switch to parallel dimensions to look for resources.  It could also be a riff on the life/death thing — it starts off as a typical FPS/whatever, but when you die you switch to a “ghost” form where you interact with the world in a completely different way until you respawn.

Side Effects: We could recycle the “Alternative Physics”/ “Calvin “Ball” idea, where obstacles removed or physics modified in one round get in your way on subsequent rounds. I feel like there’s more room for interesting and original ideas here, but I haven’t figured it out.

You Are Your Enemy: Okay, first thing that comes to mind here is a game that switches back and forth between two modes.  For example, a tower defense game where you first place towers, the you have to spawn enemies in such a way as to overwhelm the towers, then you have to play as the towers in a way to defeat the wave that you just won with, and so on…  I’m not saying this idea is a winner (and it’s way too complicated) — it’s just the sort of thing that comes to mind.  We could go meta and make it a parable about people who pre-order games.

 

 

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Ludum Dare #26: Round 3 Voting Results

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Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 2.07.24 PM

Who could have guessed that game programmers would upvote a theme called Creation and Destruction? [sarcasm] Obviously, similar themes have made appearances many times in previous LD voting, although I don’t think that they have ever been picked in the end.  The first types of game that come to mind to mind and minecraft/terraria-esque games, where maybe you are smashing rocks or tearing apart old structures to build new ones.  Maybe you have two vehicles — one’s a wrecking ball and one’s a crane or something. Single player, you hope back and forth between the two — but in multiplayer you can be paired up with someone (or many someones) and work together to do…something.  Are you building skyscrapers out of a husk of an abandoned city, like Wall-e?  Maybe it’s a survival type of game, where you are running to escape monsters — they can outrun you, but you have the ability to put up walls that they take a while to break through. A never ending sequences of run, create, and then more running while the destruction happens.

No Enemies definitely sounds like a game competition type of theme. It’s specific in one way, but otherwise quite free to explore. It’s a hipsterish reversal of the norm. The thing to remember is that this is a theme, not a rule. Just making a game that happens to be the sort of thing where there is no conflict (like SimCity), is not a particularly strong use of the theme IMHO. Additionally, the game could actually HAVE enemies — as long as there was an odd subversion in there somehow.  Maybe you have the ability to mind control people, therefore making them not be your enemy. That sort of thing. And then there’s the idea of still having some kind of conflict, but not against personified enemies. Like man vs the environment (castaways, lost in space, etc…)  It could be a kind of “social” game of deception, where all the characters are supposed to be working together (and not be enemies), but people are secretly competing and trying to get an advantage over one another.  We could call it “Frenemies“. You could play as vicious, gossiping high school girls out to ruin each other’s social lives via Facebook. :)  It could be a game about a huge interstellar war fought over huge distances — and when an invasion fleet finally reaches the enemy homeworld…they discover that they’re already dead, having accidentally killed themselves by mistakenly detonating a super-weapon.

Parallel Worlds has many literal and figurative interpretations. It could be a game where you constantly have to switch “modes” to be able to complete it — and in a multiplayer setting people could co-operate by splitting up between the parallel worlds.  It could be about a bunch of castaways, each stuck on their own island…not far from each other, but separated by shark-infested waters. Maybe you can throw stuff to each other to build a signal fire.  We could take a more symbolic bend — imagine a game where everyone plays in a single vertical column, representing a single human life. You start at the bottom as a baby in a randomly assigned country/income/culture/class and try to make it through life. Everyone progresses forward at the same speed, but not everyone has the same opportunities — but you have the option of helping each-other out.  It’s kind of a Prisoner’s Dilemma game theory experiment.  We could also do a space sim, where the players share a starbase at a wormhole nexus, and they can pass through the wormholes to switch to parallel dimensions to look for resources.  It could also be a riff on the life/death thing — it starts off as a typical FPS/whatever, but when you die you switch to a “ghost” form where you interact with the world in a completely different way until you respawn.

Islands has strong literal and figurative parallels to Parallel Worlds. These could be actual islands, or they could be little asteroids or pocket dimensions in space.  It could be about traveling from island to island.

Isolation could also be played with in similar ways to Parallel Worlds. Imagine a multiplayer game where players share the same space…but can’t actually see each other or interact directly.  You can move objects or write on blackboards or something, which affect everyone’s world.  Of course, it could also be a group of people isolated from the rest of the world (castaways or some such thing).

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Ludum Dare #26: Round 2 Voting Results

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Round 2 is done!

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 10.16.49 PM

 

Minimalism carries the risk that people will make boring games and try to pass them off as “minimalist”.  On the other hand, this can really push people to do interesting and creative stuff.  The other problem is that super minimalist art actually needs a really good sense of colour and movement to pull-off…which is not something I have faith in my ability to pull off.  That being said…. I REALLY liked the level design and look of my FPS Tutorial level.  Simple, flat textures, but with carefully placed lighting.  Portal is technically a good example of a minimalist game, at least while you are still being tested: Tight, focused gameplay with an uncluttered visual style.  Maybe this could work.  Not sure what the “game” itself would be though…which is rather key.

After the End of the World invites “meta” games. What happens after Mario reaches the castle at the end of Level 1-1? Of course, there’s also the obvious post-apocalyptic connotations.  That being said, I think I’d personally lean towards “Humans have left Earth” (Wall-E style? Nuclear War? Dying of the sun?).  Turn it into a Homeworld/Battlestar Galactica kind of thing.  Players pilot fighters to defend the mothership? Or maybe

Beneath the Surface could be subterranean, submarine, or subcutaneous.  It could also be about hidden thoughts and emotions, but I don’t think that’s the kind of game I want to make. Some kind of mining game? Fish Tank Commander 3d? Are the players part of the human immune system, fighting against viruses?

Side Effects. Huh.  We could recycle the “Alternative Physics”/ “Calvin “Ball” idea, where obstacles removed or physics modified in one round get in your way on subsequent rounds. I feel like there’s more room for interesting and original ideas here, but I haven’t figured it out.

One Shot. Sniper game? Death Star Trench Run?

Forgotten Places. I must be tired, because my creativity is waning more and more.  This really has a lot of potential for a moody, interesting theme, but I’m having difficulty nailing down specifics.

Survive.  I like the base-defense / starship-troopers kind of thing here, and it feel great as a multiplayer.  Setup barricades, turrets, etc… and defend for as long as you can against wave after wave of enemies.

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Ludum Dare: I want to make a multiplayer game.

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As I mentioned in my previous post, my plan for this Ludum Dare is to try to make a multiplayer game in Unity 3d.

It’s crazy. No one does that. 48 hours is a microscopic amount of time for a simple, single-player game. Debugging is going to be a *bitch*. The real challenge, however, is that the game must be playable solo because I can’t guarantee that there will always be other players online when a judge tries the game. Fun times.

Anyway, as a mental exercise, I’m going to go through the top-20 voted themes from the PREVIOUS Ludum Dare and try to think of ways to work this theme into a multiplayer game.  The basic control schemes I’m considering, in ascending order of “hardness”, are:

  • First-person (may or may not be a shooter)
  • Over-the-shoulder third-person (shooter? platformer?)
  • Diablo/UO/-style 3/4 view (RPG/Adventure?)
  • RTS

 

Things that WON’T work:

  • Fully automatic physics. The built-in physics engine does not work correctly in a peer-to-peer setting. Physics aren’t impossible, just trickier and/or more limited.
  • Persistent worlds. I will be using cloud-based peer-to-peer networking, with no central server. (Assuming something miraculous happens, I MAY have time to have some things sync to a central server, but those things would be more like leaderboards.)

 

 

Note — these were the possible themes for the PREVIOUS Ludum Dare and are unlikely to come up again. This is just a mental exercise.

 

Chaos:

  • Butterfly theory — what kind of small changes can players do to something that has a large effect down the road?
  • Are the players trying to build something, but there are unpredictable disasters that keep happening?
  • Some twist on something like the classic Kerplunk game might be possible (with just the Master client resolving the physics).

Colonize:

  • FPS game with day/night cycle. Players are space colonists that have crashed on an alien planet. During the day, they can scavenge for debris, resources, build barricades, etc… During the night, they must defend themselves from monsters.  Each night brings more enemies. How long can they survive? (Number of enemies scale proportionally with number of players.)
  • Multiplayer dwarf fortress/SimCity/Tropico. Because I’m a masochist.
  • Players are shipwrecked. Gilligan’s island.  Under the Ocean. The Settlers. Players have hunger, thirst, tiredness, dryness, and coldness. They must hunt, make fires, cook food, build shelter, craft items, and survive for as long as possible (X number of days until rescued?). Friendly-fire is enabled (can be disabled when creating a room?).  Dead players drop their inventory…..and meat.

Construction:

  • See “colonize”.
  • Players control cranes and work together to build a tall tower. Depends on ability to resolve physics on the master client with reasonable latency to clients — not sure if this is possible.

End of the World:

  • See the ideas for “Colonize”. Replace space aliens with zombies. Cliche game, but a good one.
  • See the ideas “Chaos”.
  • The world  is literally disintegrating around us.
  • Some kind of “free running” game? Where’s the interactivity? Or is it just a race?

 

Fortress:

  • See “Construction”. Medieval variant?
  • Alternatively, top-view castle building. Tower Defense game?
  • Rampart.
  • Co-op or competitive?

 

Journey:

  • Players are on a souped-up bus, trying to make it out of town during a zombie invasion. One person drives, others fight? Problem: Some roles are more fun than others. What about solo-play?
  • Players part of a convoy of vehicles? Cars?  Horse-drawn wagons?  Players can choose to drive (including for solo play) or if they’d prefer, they can man turrets or something.
  • Players represent the environment — either assisting or obstructing something trying to make a trip. Are they working together to blow a ship through a reef-filled bay?  Maybe they take turns placing down road segments, jumps, turns, etc… for a vehicle (or instructions for a robot) or something.  Players have 5 seconds to place their next piece somewhere on the board. Reminds me of something like RoboRally.

 

Night and Day:

  • See “Colonize”.

 

Outer Space:

  • See “Colonize”.
  • Multiplayer space sim. Artemis? Escape Velocity? X-Wing?

 

Parallel Worlds:

  • Players cannot see each other, but changes they make in their environment are reflected to other players. Where’s the game? What’s the solo mode?
  • An actual play on “parallel”, where one player operates on the XY plane and another operates on the XZ plane. Solo mode could allow players to <TAB> between them. Or if it’s competition, have an AI opponent option.
  • Maybe each player is playing on a separate “floor” of something like an office tower building.
  • It might be fun if we intentionally FAIL to sync something across the network, such as physics.  Players can see each-other, but their worlds start to diverge as various boxes and stuff get moved around or destroyed in completely different ways.  Imagine an FPS where a box you can see doesn’t exist for another player. He can walk right through it or shoot you through it, but you can’t do the same.  You need to build a mental map of what you think HIS world looks like and how you can take advantage of it.  Maybe you can place “bombs” that only blow up in other dimensions, allowing you to affect other worlds in ways different from your own. No solo mode that I can think of, but remarkably innovative/unique.

 

Salvage:

  • Maybe a “sorting” game, where you’re having to divide up paper/plastic/metal recylables using some sort of claw?  A little like the construction crane game. Each player has his own claw.
  • See the Colonize idea, where players are salvaging during the day.

 

Time Loop:

  • Ugh.
  • Seriously ugh.

 

You Are The Villain:

  • The players are the enemies in a shmup or something.  They have hundreds of (shared?) lives and must destroy the “hero” before he reaches his goal. It would be neat to show a “zoomed out” view of the area, where you can clearly see where the hero’s screen view is (and bullets cannot go in/out of that area) and then the huge armada of ships that the players can claim just outside of it.
  • Dungeonland.

 

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Possible themes for this Ludum Dare

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Here are the finalists for the Ludum Dare theme this time around.  Any one of them could be picked.  You can vote here: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ld-24-theme-voting-round-5-of-5/

 

Which one would you like to see win?  What kind of game ideas do you have for each theme? (I will be posting my own ideas in the forum thread, linked below, shortly.)

 

1000 Kittens
Abandoned
Afterlife
Beginning of Time
Break the Rules
Castles
Chain Reaction
Colony
Companion
Creation and Destruction
Curiosity
Deep Space
Don’t Go Outside
End of the World
Evolution
Night
Parallel Worlds
Ruins
Survive
Trapped in Another World
Tunnels

 

 

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Ludum Dare: Pinball?

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You know what I miss? Pinball machines. They are super fun to play, but very hard to find these days as arcades are getting rare.

They also have a consistent gameplay, but can fit any theme through various graphics and gameplay “combo” elements.  I’m going to keep this in my back pocket as a “catch-all” mechanic for themes that don’t scream out some specific kind of gameplay… just because it would be REALLY fun to create a pinball game.

I think the real trick would be to properly simulate the various *plonk* and *ka-chink* sounds of the ball interacting with the various bumpers and such.  Getting reflection mapping on the chrome ball too.

I think it would represent a manageable, focused game that wouldn’t suffer from feature creep.

Although, I’m starting to think about how cool one particular feature would be…

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Ludum Dare: Genre Before Theme?

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To avoid one of the issues I had with the LD warm-up last weekend, I want to have a discussion about different gameplay genres we may want to use for the competition. By following a fairly well understood blueprint for the basic gameplay, it will minimize the number of deadends I will be pursuing and will let me focus on best executing a game that is fun and strongly represents the story/mood elements of the mystery theme. I will try to be FAR less avant-garde than I was with LD22′s Paper Town.

As I mentioned in my last post, I think I want to have something a little more action packed this time around.  There was arguably room for some twitch-factor in my LD22 entry, but not much — and clearly none in TD23′s Fish Tank Commander, the turn based strategy game.  Now, this doesn’t mean pure action (like a FPS or shmup — though these are certainly options), but a fast-paced Tower Defense game that operates in very real-time (instead of waves) like Creeper World and The Space Game also fits the bill nicely (and Desktop Tower Defense is actually pretty adrenaline-inducing too, on the higher difficulties and/or when rushing for high scores).

I’m hoping that whatever genre ends up getting used, that I find a good excuse to include physics and explosions and particle effects.  Also, 3D models via Blender.  Unfortunately, good looking “natural” units – such as animals and people – are not really within my artistic abilities.  Highly stylized/cartoonish might be possible.  Alien-looking things might be an option. Robotic/inorganic may be the best choice.

 

2D Platformer: I think – in light of my LD23 entry and my recent Unity tutorials – I want to avoid something that looks 2D.  That being said, we could still lock the camera to the side and use pure 2D gameplay, while giving the game a more distinctly 3D look.

3D Platformer: Zero additional programming complexity compared to 2D, but considerably more level design work. There’s also the possibility that we’ll come up with a bad control scheme and/or camera.

Tower Defense Game: LD22′s Paper Town was originally going to be a crafting/TD game, but took a different turn. I think that with more focus – and my now increased familiarity with Unity – I could do a much better job at this.  This could be a classic top-down (or 3/4 isometric) view, or it could be done as a 1st/3rd-person game where you place turrets, like playing a TF2 engineer.  You could be building something more interesting than just random turrets — maybe you can do walls and such and it becomes a castle-building game.

Third Person Adventure Game: I’m only including this entry to say that “Third Person Adventure Game” is was too broad and tells us nothing about the actual gameplay. It only tells us what the camera and movement are like.

First Person Shooter: We don’t have to be shooting bullets. Are we shooting “blobs” that stick to terrain and become things you can jump on, becoming an interesting kind of platformer more than a “shooter”?  Combine some limitations about how much “goop” you have (and maybe different types of “goop”), the need to do multiple things (create platforms to stand on, block laser beams, add weight to a see-saw) and suddenly you can create a first-person-puzzle game in the same vein as Portal.

Space Ship Sim: Before people get too excited, a huge epic space trading game with dynamic economies and thousands of sentient NPC ships is out of the question. But blowing things up X-Wing style might be reasonable.  Note that it might not literally be “space”. Maybe you are a white blood cell flowing through arteries and blowing up viruses.  Maybe you are a dragonfly exploring a swamp, munching on mosquitoes.

“Physics/Building/Puzzle Game”: Fantastic Contraption and Cargo Bridge are examples of this. (The early versions of Minecraft other possible examples of this, except that Minecraft isn’t much of a *game* due to the weak/non-existent win/lose mechanics.)  The “First Person Goop-Shooter” described above could also be another example that fits this.  Obviously this isn’t as much of the “actiony” type of thing I want to create, but some themes might work better here — and it still gives us the chance to get a real sense of *physicality*, which is interesting.

 

If you have any ideas of specific mechanics I could use for any of the above, or if you have any other basic genre that I could consider (include examples of specific games where you can!), let me know in the comments.  When the theme gets selected next week, I want to be able to look at it and say: Okay, I think we should make a tower-defense/platformer/whatever kind of game, because we can make your character a ________, the enemies be _________, and the story will be _________, and that will work well as a tower-defense/platformer/whatever.

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