Party Animals

Game Jolt Contest 10. The theme is “Party”.

So here’s what I’m thinking. At every kid’s party, there’s always that surly, washed-up, alcoholic clown making bad balloon animals. You, the player, are that clown.

You’re shown how to make different patterns, starting, of course, with the classic four-legged dog/cat/horse/sheep/whatever you tell the kid it is. The kids line up and, in turn, demand one of the animal types. You then fill their request, using a 2D point-and-click interface.

The bad Photoshop mockup below shows the gist of the interface. You click a starting point (A), then the next point (B). The balloon length extends from A to B, twisting off at B. Then click to extend to and twist at C, then back to B. Any time you reclick near a previous point (like B ), it snaps to that point.

balloonimalYou continue clicking as shown (A-B-C-B-D-E-D-F-G-F-H). At the end point (H), there will need to be some way to indicate that you’re done, and it’ll use the remaining length of the balloon in that direction.

When you finish, it superimposes it over the ideal pattern you were attempting, and scores you on accuracy. You then receive money based on your speed and accuracy, and proceed to the next kid’s animal.

At the end of the day, you take the money you earned and spend it on things like new animal patterns.

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Image Pop

Just a little image toy I came up with last night.  Click the screen shot below to play with it.  Move the mouse around.  Reload the page for a new one.

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Minesweeper Infinity – now with completely unrelated pictures!

I’ve been playing with the idea of having some kind of incentive or goal in Minesweeper Infinity, so now you get to uncover a secret picture!  What’s under there? Aren’t you just dying to find out?!?  Yeah, neither am I.  But it lets me play with the idea of having some kind of objective.  Click the pic below to play.

I have some other interesting ideas for MSI.  My biggest one is Metaminesweeper, but that’s going to take some time to prototype.  What is Metaminesweeper?  Hopefully I’ll have it up here for you to see before too long.  Sooner if people indicate some interest in the comments.

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Infinite Inspiration

So Jovoc, the guy behind Planet Minesweeper, left a comment on my last post, and I ended up typing a somewhat lengthy reply in which I discussed some of where I’d like to go with Minesweeper Infinity.  I’ve decided to copy what I said into a new post here, so it isn’t just buried in a comment thread.

I’ve spent several hours playing Planet Minesweeper and it’s by far one of my favorite diversions on the iPad. It was my primary inspiration for the Minesweeper Infinity prototype.  It’s one of those things that, as I was playing it, I kept asking myself a lot of “what if” questions. I finally decided to start a prototype, and try to answer some of those questions.

I like the infinite minefield idea, and I want to stick with that, but the game does need some kind of direction or goals. One idea is to do something based on literal goals: waypoint hexes that the player has to work their way to and uncover. I’ve also been bouncing around some ideas about a map that the player is uncovering, with areas of some kind of resources and objectives. I just want to make sure that the game remains very accessible; something that a player can jump into and start playing without having to read or learn much of anything first. And I don’t want to ruin the simplicity of the core gameplay.

I think I may have the flagged hexes and surrounding numbers removed from the board altogether once the neighbors are done (instead of just dimming them), since they’re no longer relevant to the player. It would be like clearing the minefield. This would also work better for uncovering a map (or whatever).

One thing I really want to do is have the randomized minefield generated in such a way that there is a guaranteed solution to revealing all of the hexes without ever having to guess. It would be a matter of placing random mines, having the computer play test the area, and modifying anyplace the computer got stuck. It’s just made much more complicated by the fact that the minefield needs to be generated progressively as the player reveals area. But I have a general idea of how to go about it, and I intend to make it happen.

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Minesweeper Infinitier

Made a few enhancements to my Minesweeper Infinity prototype.  Flags are now represented by target circles instead of triangles, and numbered hexes and flags become dimmed once they’re no longer relevant (thanks to David Maddox for that suggestion).

Take it for a spin here.

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Minesweeper Infinity

Just a little concept I’m starting to play around with.  Click the image to play.

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Cloudberry Kingdom Kickstarter – do it!

Very cool Kickstarter project. 3/4 of the way to their goal, with just four days left to go, so they could really use some more pledges. I’ve been playing with the beta, and it’s a lot of fun.

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Anthony’s Psyche: Escape

Just a little postmortem on my LD #21 entry, Anthony’s Psyche: Escape.

This was my third Ludum Dare.  In each one, I’ve challenged myself to come up with a different interpretation of the theme than I thought would be typically done.  For the Escape theme, I decided to go with the idea of psychological escape mechanisms, or avoiding painful thoughts and memories.  This turned out to be a rather artsy, narrative-driven playable story of sorts.  This is very different than anything I’ve developed before.

I spent about 27 hours on this entry.  Friday night when the theme was announced, I spent three hours in the typical initial panic of trying to come up with an original interpretation of the theme.  I settled on the psychological escape mechanisms concept, and that it would have something to do with words on the screen representing thought fragments.  I was still unclear about the specifics beyond that.

On Saturday, I spent a couple more hours playing with ideas in my head, and settled on a design.  I then spent about ten hours writing code and debugging.  It took me much longer than I anticipated to get text with variable alpha per character working in Flashpunk. Probably five hours on that alone.  I also spent a few minutes making the “art” for the game (the one stick figure) for a total of 12 hours on Saturday.  By this point I had most of the basic functionality of the game working (moving a box of text around the screen and having the words fill in when over the character).

On Sunday, I spent about an hour getting Reason and my keyboard set up, and coming up with the short music loop and “thought complete” riff.  I then spent several hours trying to come up with a decent story.  I discovered that telling a story through first-person thought fragments is very difficult.  When I started entering the text for the thoughts, it just wasn’t coming together.  I also discovered some bugs in the way Flash renders text, so I spent a couple hours debugging and working around that.  I finally gave up on the story I’d come up with, and about two hours before the deadline, I came up with a very different story that came together pretty quickly.  I also wrote some more code for the title screens, ending screen, etc.  That made a total of about 12 hours for Sunday.

The end result isn’t exactly a “game”, but I’m satisfied with what I came up with because it’s very different for me, and pushed me in a different direction.  I like the overall feeling of the play.  I’m thinking of developing something like this a little further.

Like my previous two LD entries, I created things as stand-in content (the stick figure guy, and especially the very short, repetitive music loop) so I had things to write the code around, but they ended up being the final content because I didn’t have time to do “real” art or music.  The difference this time was that by now I’ve learned that when I create them, that’ll probably be the case.

Ludum Dare is always a great exercise in game development (and a lot of fun) because it forces you to be ruthless in cutting features and calling things “good enough” because of the very tight time constraints and having to create everything by yourself.

Anyway, click the image above to have a go at it.  I’ve kept the story very short, so it shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes to play through.

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Aaaand… this was lunch

People always blog what they’re eating during Ludum Dare, so here ya go.

I’m sure this didn’t make me groggy.  At all.

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Ludum Dare!

So, I’m doing Ludum Dare #21 this weekend.  That’s the competition where a theme is announced (Friday night at 9pm Central), and you have 48 hours (’til 9pm Sunday night) to make a game fitting the theme, from scratch, by yourself.

The Ludum Dare server has gone over capacity with all the traffic during the compo, so I’m blogging here instead of there as usual.

The theme this time is “Escape”.  As always, I try to come up with an interpretation outside what I think most people will be doing.  This time, I’m going for a very artsy narrative kinda thing (very different from anything I’ve done in the past).  I’m going with the idea of psychological escape mechanisms.  The character, Anthony, is tormented by his past, and overcome with guilt and denial.  There’s a series of thoughts that he’s trying to avoid (presumably through various escape mechanisms).  You have to guide the thought toward him, filling in the words as they appear above him.  Once all of the words in a thought are filled in, Anthony has accepted and come to terms with it.  You then move on to the next thought.

I’ve got the basic gameplay mechanic working, where you guide the thought and it fills in the words, and moves to the next thought.  Right now, the “thoughts” are just some pretty random text I came up with that sound like painful memories.  I still need to come up with an actual story, and replace the random text with that.

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