February 17, 2012

Some time ago I took a class called Game Design Workshop. It was absolutely the best class of my entire education. For one of the assignments I created a concept for a game that was sort of like a reverse Earth defense shooter. That is, instead of your ship being at the center of the screen fending off enemies from all sides, your ship traveled along a specific path around the edges of the screen and shot at enemies coming from the center. I guess you could say it is a lot like the classic game Tempest. Well, I’ve made some modifications to that original design and I’ve actually decided to start developing it. I’m building it in Game Maker and have already got some of the ship movement completed. Like usual, I’m just using placeholder graphics for now.

At first I was totally stumped about how to do this, but then I started tinkering with Game Maker’s paths system. So basically, I created a predefined path then assigned that path to my player object. Then I mapped movement to the path speed and the player ship came alive! After some playing around, I decided to add a second ship at the exact opposite point of the path. So now, the player will have two ships moving around the path as they choose. I’m having some issues with the second ship not showing up on creation and then ‘popping in’, but I think I have an idea of how to solve that.

Anyway, there’s really nothing to show yet, but I at least wanted to let my current project be known. I’ll update as soon as I get some more work done with it.


EGP Infinite World – Preliminary Research

February 4, 2012

Well with the Experimental Gameplay Project having finished up the ‘5-Button Competition’ it is time to move on. A new month means a new theme and a new 7-day challenge. This month’s theme is ‘Infinite World’, so before I move into a full game design, I’m spending a little time with Game Maker. I have a few ideas, but before I jump in I wanted to see if I could even figure out how to make any of them work. I’ve been testing some randomly generated objects. I think I’ve got the initial workings of this ready. Now I just need to put it through some final tests. If it works out as planned, I’ll begin brainstorming and my 7-day development cycle.

Oh and the roundup for the ‘5-Button Challenge’ has been posted over the EGP website. It looks like I have some serious competition. I’ll update with the status of the event as EGP does. Until then, I have some stuff to randomize!

Balloon Ride: We Have Liftoff!

February 1, 2012

I did it! Balloon Ride is finished, uploaded and submitted.

Wow. I cannot even begin to describe what an exhilarating experience this was. Sure it’s just a simple one-level game, but having something tangible that I can say I built is so amazing. That I built it for an actual competition is even more exciting. There’s a chance that people in Germany might actually be playing my game on a huge television screen!

After finishing up the graphics and some last minute details for the level select and results screens, all I had to do was add a couple of sound effects. I popped a balloon to get the sound of, you know, a balloon popping. I also recorded a sound for the balloon ‘lift’. All in all, this has been an incredibly exciting experience and I learned some valuable lessons in design during this short span.

So, while the game was designed to be played on the step pads I described in the first Balloon Ride post, it is of course totally playable on just a normal computer. It is unlikely to be as fun this way but if you want to give it a try to see what people might be playing, you can do so! Just download the game at this link:

All in all, I had crazy amounts of fun building this game. There were times I had no motivation and just wanted to do something else. But I forced myself to keep going, and I am really glad I did. I’m actually really excited to get going on my next game project.

Until then, here’s hoping I get some screen time with this EGP entry!

Balloon Ride: Up, Up, and Away!

January 31, 2012

Ugh. Down to just one day. Balloon Ride has to be submitted by the end of the day tomorrow, the 31st. I am wiped out. Work, class, and a group project on top of this EGP entry are just zapping my strength. But I’m so excited about Balloon Ride!

Being mostly comfortable with the gameplay, I turned my attention to updating the graphics and finalizing the layout of the game level. I think I have a fun and somewhat tricky level design made, at least within the context of the design challenge. Playing solo on a PC probably isn’t all that difficult, though from personal experience I can say that it is really difficult to pop a lot of balloons without just spamming the fire keys.

That actually brings up another point. I changed the way the points are tallied in relation to shot accuracy. I felt it was no fun to actually take points away from the player. Nobody likes that. Instead, I’m using the accuracy counter as a bonus points meter. Now, players can earn up to DOUBLE their score just by being an accurate shot. So if you score 1000 points from popping balloons and your accuracy was 50%, you get the 1000 points PLUS 50%, bringing the final score to 1500 points. (Before, the accuracy meter would have deducted half the players score in the situation giving a final score of just 500.)

I’ve only got a few things left to integrate. I need to build the title screen with some simple directions, and I need to build a nice looking results screen that automatically reverts back to the title. I think I need to adjust some variable setting too so that the score always reverts back to zero at the title. However, I may also try to integrate some sort of high score feature so that new players at the event (should my game make it there) can see what they need to beat. Lastly, I’m going to record a few sound effects for the game tomorrow evening before uploading it. I even bought some real balloons to blow up and pop to get that sound. Fun!

All in all, I’m very happy with how Balloon Ride is turning out. I’m excited to release this for the EGP challenge and hope to get it on the big screen in Berlin!
More to come as the project wraps up.

Balloon Ride: Moves and Math

January 28, 2012

Okay, Balloon Ride is shaping up nicely. I believe I have all movement squared away. I’ve also worked out math needed for the scoring method.

In the game, players must shoot point balloons in air and on land. Air balloons can only be shot with arrows and smaller balloons are worth more points. Land balloons can only be shot with bombs (or whatever) and are also worth more as they decrease in size. Land balloons are overall more valuable as well. I have also added an accuracy counter, so players will not want to just blindly shoot since your final score is calculated by multiplying your achieved score by your shot accuracy.

Here is a screenshot of the game so far:

Of course, that’s not the final look of the game. One thing I learned from my failures in other design challenges is to use placeholder graphics until I am done with just about everything else. With the basic gameplay in place, I’ve really just got two major things left to do – update the graphics and build an actual level.

This game will probably only have the one level. Again, it’s not really meant for computer play (though it can be played) but for play on step pads by multiple players. I may tweak a few things about movement. As I play it more, the right-firing bomb seems to fly out a little too far. Plus, I’ve toyed with the idea of making some of the target balloons move, maybe even bringing some in from the right. I haven’t decided yet. Currently, the level takes about 5 minutes to play, and I’m hesitant to extend that since the area where the game will be played will probably have people waiting to play.

The game is short and the mechanics are simple. I know the event is going to be covered by word, photo and video, so I’m looking forward to the possibility of seeing people actually play this. More updates as it nears completion…only a few days left in the challenge!

Balloon Ride – Targets Acquired

January 28, 2012

Okay, so I spent a couple of hours on Balloon Ride over the past couple of days, and I got some decent work done. It’s still in early stages, but little by little stuff is happening.

I got all the projectiles set up and working. Now, the player can fire an arrow or drop a bomb from either side of the balloon. I did have to tweak some speed settings a bit to get everything to work well. Since the balloon is moving at a fixed pace, I had to increase the firing speed out one side of the balloon so that the balloon did not immediately pass what was being fired. With all the numbers in place however, it actually looks fairly nice.

I also have a basic test level set up and have build some placeholder graphics for the targets. I think I may have decided on a score system too, but I’m sure I’ll have to play with that to get the full fun factor out of it.

More work on Balloon Ride to come today!

Balloon Ride – 5 Button Conrols

January 24, 2012

Finished up the initial work on my control scheme for the EGP 5-button challenge. The challenge stipulates that the digits 1-5 must be used. Since submitted games will be played on a big screen with large step pads, I’m developing the game with that in mind. Specifically, this game would probably work best in that environment with 5 players, but it could be played by just one very frantic person.

Here is a link to the EGP challenge so you can get an idea of how the game will be played with the screen and step pads:

I’m just using placeholder graphics for now.

I have movement and gravity set up. Currently, the hot-air balloon is constantly falling. The player will need to ‘step’ on pad 3 (push the number 3) to add lift to the balloon. The player will need to be careful to not let the balloon hit the ground or carry it too high off the screen.

Numbers 1 and 5 fire an arrow left or right respectively. The arrow is long-range and will be used to pop point balloons.

Numbers 2 and 4 launch a small bomb left or right respectively that falls quickly to the ground. This is used to try to hit ground targets for points.


December 30, 2011

I’ve finally gotten started on my first EGP backlog game with the theme ‘100 Things’.

I decided to make a simple space shooter. I’m calling it 10^2 because the idea is that it is supposed to be 100 boss fights back-to-back. I’m starting out with the bare bones here. I have some grand ideas for weapon upgrades and intense multi-stage boss battles. However, that will all be implemented only if I actually get the chance to do it. Before worrying about all that, I wanted to get the basic gameplay mechanics working. That I didn’t focus on this before is likely why my other projects have failed. This one won’t.

Speaking of other projects, I do have something exciting in the works. I’ve been asked to join a team as a designer. Can’t reveal much on it yet, mostly out of respect for the team, but also because I really don’t know a lot about it yet. I’m looking forward to it though, and will keep GBD updated with whatever information I can as it gets moving.

More to come on 10^2 as it develops.

Experimental Backlog: 100 Things

December 22, 2011

I’ve been following the Experimental Gameplay Project ( for about a year now. Every month, the guys over at EGP post a new challenge. Some time during the month, readers are supposed to take 7 days to work on a solo game project based on the theme. It’s a continuation of something they started back in college, when they challenged themselves to collectively create 50 games over the course of a semester, never taking more than 7 days for each game.

I’ve actually decided to participate in the current challenge, 5 Button Challenge, but since it runs through the end of January, I’ve actually decided to work on that one during the first week of the new year right before I start class again. I have also decided to go through the backlog of challenges on the EGP site. There are 26 of them. If I do two of them every month, it will take me about a year to catch up.

What I have done is written down all the previous challenges and assigned then a number. Then I used a random number generator to pick one of the topics. With that done, I adjust out the entry and in two weeks I will randomly pick a new topic.

This first time around, the topic randomly selected for me was 100 Things. This was a theme from before I started following the site, so I never actually gave it any thought before. I’m going to sleep on this and try to decide where I want to take the project. I’m going to try to follow the format the guys set up, so even though this challenge is long past, I’m still going to try to get something done in no more than 7 days. Hey, that’s quite a bit more lenient than the 72 hour Ludum Dare jam I just tried to enter.

Actually, I already have the beginnings of an idea forming. How quickly I am able to come up with an idea here will determine if I jump straight into it or if I save it for next week and continue work on what was supposed to be my LD22 entry, The Loneliest Robot. Updates as my brain allows…for now, I’ve got some thinking to do.

LD22: Alone, and in the Dark

December 22, 2011

I did not finish my game for Ludum Dare 22. It was incredibly disappointing. However, I also have a pretty good idea of what went wrong and how I can fix it.

I am not an artist. Not even a little bit. Yet I spent far too long trying to perfect the art. Next time, I’m going with a minimalist pixel approach.

I am not a programmer, though I can find my way around some low-level scripting. I wasn’t familiar enough with Stencyl, or Flash, or programming logic in general really, but I think I’ll be better prepared before April’s Ludum Dare 23 rolls around.

Oh and one more thing I’m not – a Ludum Dare veteran. When I was working on The Loneliest Robot, I was working on it with intent to win LD22. Dumb. Seriously. There are people who have released very high quality games and money-makers working on LD. I need to remember that the weekend is all about the practice and the experience of the competition.

The Loneliest Robot is still lonely, so I can’t abandon him before he finds a friend. I’ll post updates as I continue my work on the game and actually hope to have it done before Winter break is over. I’ve also got a few other projects going right now, one as part of a decision to go through the backlog of challenges over at the Experimental Gameplay Project.

There are still good things coming, and the weekend was not a waste. I have learned much and will apply it to the future.