Upcoming LudumDare 30

The upcoming LudumDare #30 at the end of August has been on my mind for a couple of weeks now. I think I’m going to try to do something for it. It occurs just a few days before my classes start up again so I have no excuses to not participate! After my last attempt in a speed development event, I learned quite a few things which I don’t intend to ignore this time around. Namely, I’m going to be using Java and a game development library (Slick) that I have a lot more experience with. Hopefully the theme will be something inspiring!

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Game Engine Revolution!

Epic Games released Unreal 4 for $19 a month and Crytek has announced $10 a month for use of the CryENGINE. Hopefully Unity will take note of this and reduce their monthly subscription cost. Even so, great things are happening in the world of game development! I predict that the next 5-10 years are going to be a new golden era for gaming. I think we’re going to see rapid changes to the design patterns we’re all used to seeing for years now. I can’t wait to see what the next decade brings!

New update for Super House of Dead Ninjas Coming Soon!

Pretty sweet news, in my opinion. I enjoyed the hell out of that game but my one complaint was that it was a bit short. Having widescreen support will definitely be welcome as well and will help to detract from the “flash game” vibe that I get when playing it.

Day 7 Conclusion

A sample of combat in the game

A sample of combat in the game

Well, Day 7 has come and gone and I’m glad to say that I have something playable at least. It’s not the most fun and is mostly luck based but it’s something. I may keep working on this game anyways (especially if anyone likes the game or at least the vision behind it.) It’s a very simplistic completely text driven game. Some key features: menu system, limb simulation, detailed text based combat. My thoughts on why I wasn’t able to complete a more advanced game in the time-span are detailed in this post. I would definitely like to compete in a future 7DRL and I will likely compete in the upcoming LudumDare so I have that to look forward to! The game (which is also the source, thanks to Python) is available for download here. You need to have Python 2.5-2.7.3 (2.7.3 being the version I used to develop the game) to be able to play. I tried to get Python 3 compatibility working however Unicurses would not cooperate with me and I didn’t have enough time to try to figure out why. If anyone needs help getting the game to run feel free to post a comment to this post and I will help you as soon as possible.

Day 6 of the 7DRL

Well, Day 6 is here and nearly over now! The game is starting to come together a bit and although it’s still completely luck-based it’s at least a bit more enjoyable than before. However, I think at this point in time I can safely say I won’t be reaching my initial vision for the game (or even the second, third, or fourth visions.) Still my enjoyment of working on it is high and I’ll have something playable by the end of tomorrow. I plan to release all the source code up to the end of the 7 days once I’m done with it although I may work further on it afterwards. Seeing as I’m declaring this an early “failed” game, I decided I should write a bit of what I’ve learned from this experience.

Lessons Learned

  • Developing a complex menu-driven interface is NOT easier than making a “traditional” roguelike.
  • Having everything be text based means lots of time is spent making sure that details of every action are spelled out with proper grammar. This takes a lot of time and code.
  • RPG mechanics are quite hard to balance! Most games I’ve made before this were either simple arcade games or platformers where I can clearly see what is happening and adjust it easily. Not so with an RPG.
  • Don’t use ncurses / pdcurses. Just don’t. There are better libraries out there that will save you a ton of time and are a lot more modern.
  • Don’t attempt to use a language which you are not INTIMATE with. I spent nearly half the time reading the python documentation and stack overflow for help figuring out how to do simple things.
  • Don’t worry about code readability (especially if using Python.) To be fair, however, about halfway through I realized I likely wouldn’t finish the project in time so I started commenting the code much more in case I decide to take a break from working on it after the event is over.
  • Don’t start playing Skyrim again “just to see if it’s still any fun.” Yeah, I lost all of Day 4 to that one.

This is actually my third “rapid development” event as I’ve competed in LudumDare twice. For both of those games I took a much smaller scope seeing as I had only 48 hours (and not 48 hours of my choosing) to create the game. Whenever I read about the 7drl I assumed I could take on something with 4x the scope of one my past entries. In reality, I probably could have completed something around 2x the scope of my past efforts. I love these types of events, however, because they really allow you to be discerning when it comes to programming ideas in terms of “how much time” something may take. I find that to be an invaluable skill.

Day 5 Summary

Well, it’s already Day 5! Things are definitely starting to come together now although I still have severe doubts that the game will be any fun to play by Day 7. Still, this has been a fun experience thus far. I’m planning to work further on the game after the competition is over as I feel there are some interesting things to learn from completing and balancing a game like this.

Today I fleshed out the combat much further. Guns need to be reloaded after expending their clips (although all gang members have infinite ammo to reload from still.) Also, whenever firing more than one round is simulated and the rounds can hit multiple body parts of the victim at once. Whenever the head of the player, both legs, both arms, or the torso is destroyed the player is dead. Currently the combat is completely autonomous although I find it is interesting having to manage your gang from a kingpin perspective rather than controlling them directly.

Tomorrow I continue to add more events and happenings and complete the equipment system. Also, I hope to be able to build a system to put gang members “on the bench” so they can heal and won’t be involved in combat. That would add a bit more strategy instead of just having them as meat puppets in combat to absorb a few bullets before being discarded. Anyways, back to work!

Ideas are starting to solidify. Finally.

I’ve settled on the idea of breaking up the game into two simple phases. Preparation and reaction. Each “turn” which will be one day starts allowing the player to buy goods and services and manage their gang and once they are ready they can start the day rolling. At this point random events including combat with the enemy gang can occur. If nothing interesting happens during a day your gang will demand drugs to keep them entertained otherwise they become angry and may leave your gang. After being in your gang for an extended period of time you’re going to need to hook them up with some hoes to keep them happy. The combat still needs a lot of work to be functional as I want to have limb simulation integrated. After all, who doesn’t want a one-legged crack head in their gang?