A little something I was playing with yesterday…

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Hero Core

One of the best games I’ve played in a long time.  Just finished it on normal mode (takes a couple hours).  Still have hard mode, boss rush, etc.  Check it out.  It’s free, a small download, and very easy to get into.

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Disco?Very! on the red carpet…

So, the votes are in for the 19th Ludum Dare competition (the theme was Discovery), and I’m pleased to report that Disco?Very! did pretty well.  Out of 242 entries, it placed 25th in the Overall category, 19th in Audio, 13th in Fun, and… *cue drum roll*  3rd in the Humor category!  :)

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I entered another Ludum Dare game development competition this weekend.  A theme is announced, and you have 48 hours to submit a completed game fitting the theme with all code, art, sound, etc. created by you during the 48 hour window.

The theme was Discovery.  I never go with the most direct, obvious interpretation of the theme.  So I made a rhythm dancing game called Disco?Very!.

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So who is grflwitz, anyway? (…

So who is grflwitz, anyway? (I mean, besides awesome)

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Damn you Steam, and your insan…

Damn you Steam, and your insane sales! I’m buying games at about 13x the rate at which I can play them!

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Doooo eeeeet!


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Since Ludum Dare 19 is about to kick off, I thought I’d post what I made for LD 18 (which was my first Ludum Dare).  The theme was “Enemies as Weapons”.  I was determined to interpret that in some way other than throwing enemies at other enemies, using enemies as turrets, etc.  So what I did was use symbols of commonly known mutual enemies as powerups that could be chained together.  The result was Ennameez.

For those not familiar with Ludum Dare, it’s a competition where a theme is announced, and everyone has 48 hours to create and submit a game fitting that theme, from scratch.  All art, code, sound, etc. must be created by you within the 48 hour window (but game libraries and existing generic base code is fine).

I think I spent about 20 hours total working on the game over the two days.  I’m satisfied with what I pulled off.

I’m a little burned out at the moment, and have work tomorrow, so I don’t know yet whether I’ll be up to doing LD 19 (it starts tomorrow evening).  We’ll see.

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I suppose I should post something about what I’m working on, since that’s allegedly the purpose of this blog.

I’ve been playing around with a concept in Flash, under the working title Flow (just a working title, and with no relation to Jenova Chen’s fine work).  This concept was partially inspired by walking through a lot of airports and watching the flow of people.  You have a lot of people, each trying to move toward some goal or to follow some other person (or group), with competing traffic.  Patterns emerge.

With what I’ve got hacked in there right now, the yellow blibbles (hey, I had to call them something in the code) are trying to move to the right, and the reds are trying to move left.  Each blibble is pushed away from the top and bottom of the screen.  Each blibble has an “ideal distance” that they’d like to be from nearby blibbles, and move away if they’re closer than this, or move toward if they’re further (but the strength of influence diminishes with distance).  The ideal distance from their own color is shorter than the ideal from other colors.  You can see it in action here.

All of the behaviors (seeking ideal distances, constantly trying to move left or right, wrapping at the edge of the screen, etc.) are modular, and can be assigned as needed to individual blibbles.  I’ve thrown together a simple Verlet integrator to handle the movement.

That gray area along the right will be a control panel.  The game concept goes something like this:

In each level, there will be some number of blibbles with some behaviors.  There will also be walls, and sometimes different colored zones.  The player will need to watch the blibbles and deduce what their behavior is.  This behavior could be anything.  For example, each blue blibble tries to move toward the nearest yellow blibble.  The yellow blibbles are trying to move toward some zone.  When a yellow reaches the zone, the yellow turns red, and starts some other behavior.  Then maybe the blue blibbles avoid the reds, etc.  The behaviors could be simple and obvious, or very subtle and complex, depending on the difficulty of the level.

In the control panel on the right, the player will have a bank of controls (various switches, buttons, etc., specific to that level).  Clicking the controls will change the behavior of the blibbles in some way, and/or the rules of how they change behaviors based on zones they reach, etc.  The idea is that the player needs to experiment with the controls, and figure out what does what.  Again, this could range from obvious to subtle and complex.

There will be an objective for the player, and at the top of the control panel will be a meter showing what percentage of this objective is met.  Maybe the objective in one level is to have at least 10 of the blibbles be green at the same time.  When one blibble turns green, the meter would go to 10%.  A couple more turn green, and it’s 30%.  One of the greens turns yellow, and meter drops back to 20%.  Once the meter reaches 100%, the player has won the level.

The only instructions given to the player is that they can win each level entirely by clicking the controls in the control panel.  For each level, it’s up to the player to determine what’s going on with the blibbles, what his controls affect, and what makes the objective meter go up and down.  The first couple levels will be extremely simple and obvious, so the player gets a handle on how the game works.

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Games that come so close to a great game… then fail

Every so often I come across a game that’s fantastic in some way (or many ways), but is ruined by one or more glaring issues.  A recent one I’ve tried is Vitamini.  Bouncing the blocks around with the 2D physics to make chains, shapes, etc. is enormous fun.  It has a nice feel to it, and it’s satisfying to successfully make chains.  That’s the most critical part of making any game work; having the core moment-to-moment gameplay feel good.  And Vitamini definitely nails that.  I want to really like this game.  But it has so many issues with the presentation that I can’t.

First of all, it comes with three executables, each of which has different rules for the game (Chains, Cubes, and Shapes).  There’s no reason these three modes of play can’t just be selected from a menu in the game.  They all use the same display mode, etc.  It’s just awkward to start from three different icons.

Speaking of display mode, the game runs in a tiny window.  I can switch to full screen, but then I just get the same tiny display in the center of my screen against a black backdrop.  It really needs to scale to a larger display area.

The controls for the game are awkward, and cannot be remapped.  Arrow keys to move, space to drop a new piece, and ctrl and alt to rotate.  Why do so many games use ctrl and alt, with that annoying Windows key in between?  What’s wrong with z, x, and c?  Japanese shmups FTW!

There’s also a bug where finishing a game and starting the next starts with the energy bar way too low (so you die almost immediately).

Then, to top it off, if you quit by closing the window (which is my natural inclination), it leaves a process running (with no window) with either Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell or Hendrix’s I Don’t Live Today.  Now, I certainly don’t have anything against Black Sabbath or Jimi Hendrix.  I just don’t want to have to pull up the task manager to stop their music.

To be fair, I’m guessing the game is still a work in progress, since he has a “Donate for development” link on the site.  He might want to make it a little more clear that the game is in alpha, though.  I don’t mean to be so harsh on this particular game.  The problems with it only bother me so much because I love the core gameplay so much.  It’s just an example of one of those games that’s frustrating because it has something so beautiful wrapped in something so annoying, and I want so much to see that beautiful thing be freed.  And it just happens to be the most recent such example that I’ve played, so it’s what I’m writing about.

If you’d like a polished, complete game with similar gameplay, check out Chronic Logic’s Triptych.  I just think the game modes in Vitamini have more potential than Triptych.  Hopefully someday they’ll be dug out so we can play it properly.

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