Last weekend I had the chance to participate in my first 48 hour game jam for Mini Ludum Dare #41 which was a lot of fun.
My entry is here: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/minild-41/?action=preview&uid=19985
The first thing I did on Friday was to check the Ludum Dare Website to make sure it was happening. I was surprised to read this post and find out that not only was it happening but it had started for some on March 11th. Oh well I wanted to do the 48 hour challenge in any case to train myself for the big Official Ludum Dare 26.
My first task of course was to come up with a concept that I would be able to carry out in the time limit. Thing is, I know myself. I can’t just grind endlessly on something over a weekend, I knew that real life pops up, I knew that I might get lazy, and I knew that everything always seems like less work than it will be. With this in mind I decided to start with a simple prototype story. I would use Inkscape to create graphics to complete a short story arc and then code a screen switcher to swap between screens. Once I had this protoype working I could add in a game portion that would be required to advance the storyline.
Friday night I sat down at Inkscape determined to get all the graphics hammered out the first night so I could focus on my game mechanics for the rest. The first character came together very quickly. I don’t have the original here but for fun I thought it would be fun to show how the vampire was built with an evolving photo.
Step 1: Create the basic shape, in this case simply a circle, big rectangle, then two small rectangles for shoes. I used a stroke size of 2 for the face and the shoes with 4 for the cloak so it would have a thicker outline for a trim.
Step 2: Create the face. An oval for the eye then duplicate and shrink it and pick the color, then copy and shrink again and place it to finish the eye. Next just select the 3 elements and group them (Ctrl+G), then we can just duplicate them (Ctrl+D) and mirror it for the second one. Another circle for the mouth but this time we’re going to convert object to path and move the nodes around until we get a good looking mouth. A simple triangle for the tooth, then move the nodes again to make it tooth like. In recreating this I spent way too much time before it looked alright to me. I actually like how the teeth turned out in the game better. That’s the danger of creating art you can end up tweaking things forever.
Step3: The cloak was the last big change it was a little more tricky. I converted it from object to path then started adding new nodes like crazy and pulling them out to make the shape of the cloak, luckily I like the sharp look for the cape so I didn’t have to twiddle them too much.
Step4: For the inside line of the cloak I just used the Bezier pen and changed the stroke to 4 to match the cloak. I ended up not finding the red deep enough so I changed the color on both the cloak and the bezier line. The final step was the shoes, again just converted to a path and deleted both to nodes and stretched out the bottom nodes to create the arc for the shoes.
As you can see for me it can take a bit of work to get your art done, for me I ended up being a bit too slow and/or picky. Between that and some anime procrastination I didn’t end up hammering out all the images the way I wanted them until Saturday night.
(Side note, this picture took me way too long to make, it was meant to be a quick throw together and did not work out. It is meant to be my place of programming but due to the lack of furniture ends up looking kind of like a school…)
Finally the time came for programming. I put on my programming hat and sat down to code the story switcher. A few hours later I was looking at a lovely story. It was Sunday around noon and all I had was a story, lovingly illustrated and coded. Unfortunately I wasn’t entering a story contest but a game contest, it was time to hack together a game portion and get it in as fast as I could. My blood boiled and I heard the distant cries of war and havok. It was time to code an rpg in just a few hours.
I ripped into action coding a character, generic enemy class, and all the functions I would need for combat. Combat ended up being directly hacked in on the attack button with a timer then auto linking to the enemy turn after the player had time to see the damage done to the opponent. It worked flawlessly! Just kidding, I spent an hour or so debugging all the various mistakes I had made, luckily most of the stuff was easily solved. There was just one difficult bug which frustrated me. When that was out of the way I had a finished game.
I looked at the clock: 2am. My deadline was 3am. Do I want to try to hack in a third combat?
My sense of self preservation kicked in and I submitted my game.
(This account does not include various breaks for eating, drinking, running around like a maniac, watching anime, typing emails to people, doing exercise, playing with the cats, looking at cute cat pictures, and all the other various activities that fill a weekend. The project probably took me altogether around 10-15 hours of “real” work.)
This was my first code jam and it certainly won’t be the last. I’ve been having trouble getting motivated recently and there’s nothing like the molten fire of a deadline burning through your veins for inspiration. It also loved that I had to come up with a simple Idea, execute it and release in such a small amount of time. It led to me making quick decisions and making things work rather than getting bogged down in perfectionism and analysis paralysis. I’m really excited for Ludum Dare 26!
Published my 48 hour game jam game on both Kongregate and Newgrounds. If you have an account and want to give me a rating, or if you haven’t seen it yet the two links are below: