Slow progress

Today I have made just little progress on my game for Experimental Gameplay Project and OneGameAMonth. At least I’ve decided for a name: “Growstruct”. Also I’ve detailed the game mechanics and made some first sketches for the buildings to construct. They will definitely not look like the buildings in the mockup from yesterday’s post. They’ll be smaller and more greyish. Finally, I made a new project in FlashDevelop. So I’m not that far away from writing the first lines of code ;).

Mockup of May Project

Started with gamedev today, but haven’t written a single line of code yet. I just made some basic sprites and a mockup of the main screen of the game. The trees will grow by themselves and you can construct tree-buildings that will have an impact on the three resources. These resources will influence the growth of the trees.

Sounds confusing? Yeah, I’m still not sure about the main game mechanics. But the game will look similar to that mockup.

mockupThe plan is to make a Flash game with HaxePunk.

Beatbeat Arena

I’ve finished my second game for OneGameAMonth and this time even one day before the month ends ;). This game is sort of an arena bullet hell shooter. My initial plan with it was to make a game where the automatic shooting of bullets matches with the rythm of the music (as the theme suggestion in February was “music”). In the current state, this feature is rather a minimal electronic beat. So you can get the basic idea but it isn’t as nice as I’ve planned.

You can find the game here!

BBAAnother thing I didn’t implement is control with a gamepad. This would probably make such kind of game much more fun to play, so I will eventually add that feature later. Other things I can imagine to add are:

  • Increase the rate of bullets appearing with the escalation in a level (by collecting dark green blocks)
  • Add more sound effects and guitar made sound effects instead of the bfxr ones
  • Add a two player mode
  • Increase screen resolution to full HD for console like play on the TV
  • Add some particle like effects
  • More variations in enemies and their bullet types and directions

As you can see, there are still a lot of things to improve. Nevertheless I’m pretty happy with how the game came out. The development time was rather short (about 8 hours at all) as I recycled my game Watercolor Wheel Evolution that I’ve made for Ludum Dare with my 3 year old daughter (Just noticed the old game’s name is still displayed as the window title).

I even kept the evolution mechanism for the level progression, so if you come to playing more than one level you will eventually notice slight differences in player and enemy behaviour due to strange evolution effects.

One Game A Month, January Game and February Plans

Finally I found some time to write a blogpost about my participation in One Game A Month. To start with, One Game A Month is quite an open (rulewise) experience point based community motivator for game devs to make one game a month (as you probably guessed by the name).

I started quite early in January, as I had a vacation and some spare time for gamedev. But after one and a half week my enthusiam slowed down a lot as my spare time faded away pretty quickly. So all my initial plans to make a really interesting first game got crippled real soon. I was inspired by the theme and tileset suggestion made on the One Game A Month page and wanted to make a game with portculis including game mechanics based on Conway’s Game of Life. It should have been sort of a puzzle/action clicking game where you prevent a fire from spreading in a fortress by throwing buckets of water at it. Additionally you can open the portcullis by hitting a lever with a stone (if there is no fire around) which will add a lot of extinguishing water once in the game’s level.

First try at the level design. tiles are in place.
First try at the level design. tiles are in place.

Barely in time I managed to implement these basic mechanics (you can find the game here) but I couldn’t fulfil my plans to make multiple levels, nice graphical effects like steam appearing if you add water to the fire, and sound effects. Especially not having the time to add multiple levels bothered me a lot cause I wasted quite some time implementing a routine to load levels from an xml file at the start of the month.

This is how the final game looks like.
This is how the final game looks like.

To conclude my January attempts: Am I happy with my game prototype? Not that much. It does work as planned but isn’t that much fun to play and doesn’t look as good as I would have liked it to.

Have I learned something? Yeah definitely. And I guess this is the most important part about that One Game A Month challenge. I could improve my skills in storing level design in a file and load it into the game. Also I made some additional experience about how much effort different things need to get implemented and how much time I can spare in a month for gamedev.

For doing my second game in February I am comparably late to start. Again I am inspired by the suggested theme – music – but already know that I won’t finish my initial plan and idea. But nevertheless I am going to make a small game in February (mostly by converting an old one). So this is what I’m at:

  • Take my Ludum Dare game “Watercolor Wheel Evolution” to convert it
  • Record some handmade guitar music and sound effects
  • Change all the graphics to fancy colored rectangles
  • Try out to implement game control with a gamepad
  • Make it into an topdown arena shooter with autofire on and rather stupid auto-firing enemies

Even this is probably to much to acomplish. I will keep you updated what will come out of this.

What I’ve been at in November

To be honest, I didn’t put that much of my spare time into game development in November due to mainly two reasons:

  • My children
  • DOTA 2

Yeah, that’s unfortunately right. I got into playing this MOBA – never tried a game of this genre before – and basically wasted a lot of my spare time in November to it (It’s pretty good from a gamedesign/balancing perspective but also with a pretty steep learning curve). Anyway, that game inspired me to try something out which is more gamedev related.

For some time now I wanted to give modelling in Blender a try. And since there is the possibility to create some nice visual equipment stuff for DOTA 2 I even had an interesting test case. So I decided to make something for the hero Lich. In the picture you can see the progress I’ve made so far.

Technically interesting from the gamedev perspective is how Valve’s Source engine interprets different shader masks. That is what is still missing in my specific case – to author the color channels of the two shader masks to let the engine now where reflective, etc. material is.

Blender itself was not that difficult to get into. Not as difficult as I’ve read and heard beforehand from different sources. So I can put this experience under some gamedev progress at least :).

For painting the textures I also invested some (little) money into this tool:

Do you spot the dust? Yeah, haven’t used it for one or two weeks :(.

Quite a great tool for precise control in painting stuff digitally. This also comes in quite handy for future gamedev projects fitting the hand-painted style of my prevoius games. Finally what am I up to next?

  • Finish that DOTA 2 equipment, just as a test case (and to get something done with this)
  • Learn some new tools for gamedev (Unity 3D, or Haxe NME) by making a new game
  • Continue development and finalize my game Bottlecolonies

Expect some more updates in December.

July update on my projects

It looks like this month I can spend some more time on coding and stuff for my games. Additionally, as my Raspberry Pi arrived last week, I have some extra motivation to make my pygame based games run on it.

Bottlecolonies running on the Raspberry Pi.

The latter is not as easy as I thought initially. With its rather limited hardware the Pi provides quite a challenge for my game Bottlecolonies to run in an acceptable speed. So I started profiling and optimizing my code which is quite an interesting experience so far.

For example, I was able to make blitting my number font three times faster by removing an unnecessary surface copy in every call. With that success I will continue to search for bottlenecks in my code to remove them. On a standard PC I wouldn’t even have noticed.

This is the hardware I’m talking about. Runs Linux.

There is a second project I haven’t forgotten yet, which makes most of the traffic on this blog. That is my Experimental Gameplay Project prototype “Infinite Floating Islands“. The prototype has been made in less than a week and was quite buggy but has over 100 downloads so far and I really like tha basic idea of it. (Just for comparison, Bottlecolonies’ postcompo versions, which are much more “finished”, have a cumulate download count of about 15)

I tried to remove the bugs of the prototype by heavy refactoring but haven’t gotten that far actually. So it looks like I have to start this again from scratch to make it stable and expand on the idea.

Still extremely buggy.

So that’s it for now. Expect some more regular updates on this blog about those projects.