0G: Ludum Dare in zero gravity

Last weekend, I took part in Ludum Dare #33 and made a game about flying around a messy space station in zero gravity. In 0G, a mysterious explosion ripples through the station, disabling the gravity stabilisers and leaving the player character in a state of disrepair. The player must then find a way to repair their body and get the station back in order, all while gliding through an ethereal environment and listening to Bach.

You can play it via the Ludum Dare page.

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I was really happy with how this turned out. Unlike most of my Ludum Dare forays, I managed to implement almost all of the features I had initially planned. I made the sneaky decision to work off an idea I had been mulling over for a day or two before the start, which meant that I mostly ignored the theme of “You are the monster”. One the one hand, I missed that chaotically fun brainstorming session that happens when trying to come up with a game idea around a theme. On the other, I was able to quietly throw out a few of the more tangential ideas and come up with a more focused list of features for the game.

I’d like to carry on with 0G, but even if I don’t, it’s a fairly complete and entertaining game which has had one player confessing a play time of around 40 minutes! I may extend it to include a bit more of a cohesive story. I didn’t pay enough attention to the writing and story design process while jamming, so I’d like to try to add more of a mysterious narrative to the game. I also think there’s room to play with some physics and gravity-based puzzles in a zero gravity environment.

Overall, I had a ton of fun with this Ludum Dare! It was great to do a solo jam for the first time in ages. Over the last year or so, I’ve been jamming with my fellow RetroEpic devs, which has been fantastic, but in the solo jam I get to stretch my creative muscles and level up a multitude of skills.

GGJ 2014: Glorious Nation

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I took part in this year’s Global Game Jam, making this my third. Apart from being enormous fun, I’ve been suffering from a holiday-induced slump in productivity and I thought it would be good to kick things into gear again with 48 hours of twitchy coding, “free” pizza, and hopefully a game at the end. This year, I went in with a bigger team consisting of Matt de Villiers (@mattdev), Damien Manuel and Tim Smith. Matt and Tim did the majority of the AI, pathfinding and flocking code, I worked on design and interface, and Damien created all the awesome art!

We created Glorious Nation, a city-building sim from the point of view of an evil dictator!

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As it is with many jam games, we didn’t get as far as we would’ve liked, but we were still thrilled with what we managed to accomplish in 48 hours. The basic idea for the game ping-ponged between a number of different core mechanics: pure city builder, tower defense, even arcade shooter, but the one thing we were adamant on keeping was a satirical narrative. The theme of the jam was the phrase “we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are”. From this, Matt developed the idea of a dictator who had to build a wonderland for tourists and foreign dignitaries, while viewing his desperate and disenfranchised populace as evil.

It was really interesting having a biggish team this time. In all honesty, I was predicting disaster, with us fumbling through the division of labor. However, apart from a few GIT hiccups, we each managed to have plenty to do without stepping on one another’s toes.

Overall, it was another amazing GGJ event! Many thanks to the organizers and UCT for hosting. Until next time!

Ludum Dare #26: Road Rage!

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Having just recovered from an awesome Ludum Dare, I present Road Rage.
Visit the Ludum Dare project page to download the game, or play it online here.

Road Rage is a top-down traffic simulation game that goes wrong very quickly. You control a traffic officer who has to run around and control the flow of traffic, stopping cars at points, and letting others through before people boil over and redefine the meaning of dangerous driving.

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For this Ludum Dare, I decided pretty early on to take part in the Jam rather than the official competition. This meant I had an extra day (72 hours total), and could use a great freeware track from 8th Mode Music. Overall, the Jam is much more relaxed, and given that a social event decided to creep into my weekend uninvited, the extra time was necessary.

In the spirit of Ludum Dare, here is a quick postmortem.

What went right:

  • The traffic simulation, while haphazardly coded, results in some wonderfully funny, even borderline realistic road chaos
  • Used the ‘minimalism’ theme to go for simple, effective graphics. Doing no 3D modeling and little texturing gave me lots more time
  • Gave myself the extra day of the Jam to compensate for a night out and a slow first day while struggling with the AI
  • Managed to squeeze 7 levels in

What went wrong:

  • Had a rotten first day wrestling with the traffic simulation AI, and generally struggled with it. I should have taken some time to carefully read up about traffic/city driving simulation, if only to get some ideas
  • Didn’t really get to explore the timing/movement-strategy gameplay until the last level, which ramped up the difficulty massively! I would like to explore the puzzle options for this one

I’d like to work on Road Rage a little more, tweaking the player movement and AI as per peoples’ feedback. However, I think it’s a really neat idea that has lots of potential for fun, strategic gameplay and hilarity, and I would definitely like to explore some more gameplay options. In the mean time, give it a play and let me know what you think.