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Ludum Dare #28 – Road To Zion Part 02

Ludum Dare #28 – Road To Zion Part 02

Read part one here:


I woke up early, about 6:30AM. In the shower my mind wandered. Other game ideas tempted me with throwing everything away and starting again. I reminded myself I wasn’t trying to make something good I was just trying to make something.

So I decided to go for it and got back to work. The issue I was having trying to get the flag looking how I wanted took about an hour. Now fully rested my mind could think through things more competently without getting confused.

I worked throughout the day without a plan, just adding things as I thought of them. The game had no point so I added some crowns to collect which did nothing but give an appealing chime sound. I added some events that occur as you wander through the game to add a bit of interest and the game was shaping up to be a kind of trippy dream sequence.

I knew the only thing that would make this worth playing would be if it had some music to create atmosphere so I knew I needed to get onto that asap. I’d never created a music track before so I looked up a free browser based music creator and found AudioSauna. It did the job but with some frustration due to the lack of an undo function. It is easy to accidentally delete whole sequences and then have to completely remake them.

I did the best that I could in the time and I was pretty happy with the result. One reason I’m excited about game development is it gives me the chance to make music to go with my visuals. I can’t wait to do more.

As soon as the music went in there was life to the game. I think audio is probably the most important thing in a game for creating a breathing atmosphere and world. You can have the most basic graphics eg. Thomas Was Alone – but as soon as you add quality sound to them they immediately expand into a whole new dimension. I think by mastering sound it would be possible to save alot of work on the visuals for a project.

So I spent the rest of the day finishing up some details and working around some other things I had on during the weekend. I managed to complete the game on time with a few seconds to spare before learning about the one hour upload period. In total I spent around 20 hours on the game and can see in the future when my skills are more developed that it would be possible to make something a bit more substantial if I was to use more of the 48 hours.

All in all Ludum Dare was an amazing experience and really forced me to face reality. The energy on the website of thousands of developers constantly updating with their progress was something unlike I have been involved with before. Ludum Dare is truly something special and I cannot wait to get back into it in April and try to make an actual game next time.


Road To Zion turned out to be more of a brief atmospheric art piece than a game and had little to do with the theme although I had it in mind at the beginning.

Game Jams are amazing things and I’m glad Ludum Dare #28 was my initiation. I’m planning to participate in Global Game Jam at the end of the month and then the next Ludum Dare also.

You can check out Road To Zion here:

27 December, 20130 commentsRead More
Ludum Dare #28 – Road To Zion Part 01

Ludum Dare #28 – Road To Zion Part 01

This past weekend I participated in the popular game jam Ludum Dare. It is a competition to build a game in 48 hours to a theme that is voted on and presented at the beginning. All assets from sound, music, art and programming had to be created within the 48hours by one individual with whatever tools they liked. My goal for the jam was to simply participate and try to complete the most basic thing possible. I had not yet made any finished games and am still learning programming so I knew finishing a game of any kind was going to be a challenge.

DAY 01:

The Jam started at around 2pm on Saturday and I got started at around 4:30pm as I had been at a Gnostic meetup for most of the day. The theme was announced and it was an ambiguous one:

‘You only get one’

My initial Idea came fast – within the first 10 minutes of starting: An atmospheric auto-runner with a Rastafarian theme. I quickly sketched out how the game would look:


I envisioned an epic widescreen slo-motion shot of a tiny character running across the screen with a trailing Ethiopian flag behind him and holding a crucifix scepter and crown. Most things I make have pyramids so a chucked a few of them in there to create a psychedelic African landscape. The specifics of what would happen in the game other than running was still a mystery but I decided to just dive into Gamemaker and start creating it.

I started in Gamemaker by just getting some blocks moving. I created the ground object and built a crude level including the pyramids.

spr_block_0 – Ground Object

Next I programmed another block that would be the character. This was relatively easy as I have been doing alot of this already in my Shark Slam game and all I really needed to add was a jump button and some gravity and collision detection. When the character was moving sufficiently I added in some temporary graphics for the sky and made a rising sun.

spr_sun_0– Rising Sun

I made most of the graphics in Gamemaker and with the mouse. I thought I might go back later and do some better ones but decided to finish the game first and do it only if I had time. Although part of me was really interested in achieving an abstract beauty by just using really raw pixel art.

Next I spent way too long trying to get the aspect ratio right. I wasn’t fully conversed with how Gamemaker’s view system worked and ended up with some warped screens. I noticed most of my problem was due to an optical illusion that made my square character look squashed as it fell out of the sky. This caused me a lot of headaches until I realized it was correct after all.

Once the aspect ratio was sorted I moved onto the next crucial component – the drifting flag. At this point I was starting to get tired as I had had and early morning. I got a particle system going for the flag but it wasn’t working correctly. I was trying to get it to look like it was waving in the wind and also had physics for when the player moved. This turned out to be a major pain. I tried for about 2 hours to get it working how I wanted but it just wasn’t happening. I was getting really tired and frustrated and suddenly felt a panic coming over me. I felt like I was going to fail and wouldn’t be able to finish anything in 48hours. I had a feeling like I really hadn’t learned anything this year and I was useless and this jam was really showing my how incompetent I really was. I wanted to give up. I wanted to quit.

I went to bed defeated.




20 December, 20130 commentsRead More
First Twitch Stream Now Live

First Twitch Stream Now Live


I want to get into a habit of streaming whenever I’m working on my own projects so here is my first one. I will try to record it and upload it to youtube also.


4 December, 20130 comments
Switching Over: Corona to Gamemaker

Switching Over: Corona to Gamemaker

Vlambeer’s ‘Nuclear Throne’

Lately I’ve been watching Vlambeer livestream development of their lastest title ‘Nuclear Throne‘, a top down roguelike shooter. I also bought the steam early access version of the game and have watched the game evolve through its weekly updates.

One thing I noticed while watching the livestreams was the speed and ease that JW is able to update the game and add new content. He is using ‘GameMaker’ for the development and has done so for all of his games aside from a few flash ones.

I’d also heard that Cactus, the game

developer behind ‘Hotline Miami‘ also uses ‘GameMaker’ exclusively. Cactus is well known for pushing the envelope when it comes to striking and unusual visual styles and content in his games.

Dennaton Game’s ‘Hotline Miami’

I was pretty dedicated to using Corona as I had invested so much time learning it but I thought I’d download the GameMaker demo just to have a play. GameMaker is known for the ability to create a real game in a matter of hours and Corona for me had started to become a bit of an uphill battle as the bigger the game got, the more and more code there was. Often I would just find myself staring at code for ten minutes and then realize I’d forgotten what I was trying to do.

So I downloaded GameMaker and did a few of the tutorials. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the coding in GameMaker is not too dissimilar to the Lua coding in Corona. Also the ability to know play my game with the keyboard and mouse rather than the painful process

in Corona of having to load up the simulator and then open Corona Remote on my Iphone in order to control the game. I could also now play my game in full screen! Corona only allows you to test you apps in set resolutions according to the device you are targeting.

In the past I’ve heard a lot of negativity toward GameMaker. People seem to not consider it a ‘serious’ IDE. I think the name ‘GameMaker’ doesn’t help toward this impression. But for me as an artist and not a hardcore C++ programmer that isn’t satisfied with making a game unless they built the engine from scratch, it seems perfect. The ability to build a game with code but at the same time have a GUI to keep my brain from freezing from code overload is incredible when my only other experience is using basically a text editor and a compiler.

Other awesome features of GameMaker that Corona doesn’t have include:- A built in map editor
– A sprite editor
– An image editor for quickly chucking in test art
– A code editor
– A drag and drop interface for doing trivial tasks

And heaps more!

With GameMaker you can liter

ally make a

game in hours. But the best thing for me about GameMaker is the ability to experiment quickly, be it gameplay, levels, feel or visual effects, playing around is EASY.

Here are my two favourite GameMaker games:

GameMaker: Studio is available here: Yoyo Games


23 November, 20130 commentsRead More
Updates on Corona Game Design

Updates on Corona Game Design


If you read one of my previous posts you will remember me talking about a small game I wanted to release before I get into Mystic Assassin, which along with Czepta I would class as a more ‘serious’ game (in terms of me trying to actually make a cool and interesting game as opposed to just getting a game finished). The small game is actually coming along quite well and has become a cool casual game that is semi-original.

I will post some images sometime soon but for now I can reveal that it is called “Shark Slam” and has the vibe of a 16bit sega game with an 80s hip hop/basketball aesthetic and is set in a world of cartoon shark characters (eg Sonic but with sharks instead of hedgehogs.) The gameplay is a cross between ‘Super Crate Box’ (which I’m addicted to..) and ‘Capture the Flag’. You play as a Shark Slam team that is trying to make a come up from the obscurity of their local tournament to the Grand Slam.

The game is pretty basic so has been easy to code. I’m confident that by the time I finish this up I’ll have the skills to get back to Mystic Assassin and attempt to make it something decent. And then after Mystic Assassin my skills should be sufficient to get onto my big episodic game ‘Czepta’.

I may have a great new game mechanic for Mystic Assassin that I hope to prototype at a later date. The ‘Endless Runner’ game is no longer something I’m interested in doing nor just a standard platformer. I’ve learned so much about game design this year and especially recently as my study moves past the basics and into more in depth learning.

12 November, 20130 commentsRead More
Learning game programming in Corona SDK

Learning game programming in Corona SDK

Been a while since my last post so thought I’d give a quick update. Since deciding to make a game earlier this year I’ve learned a tonne. Its crazy that at that time I new absolutely nothing about creating games other than that it was probably difficult. Its been a lot more difficult than I realised from the outset but I think running into it with some naivety was good as it allowed me to just dive in thinking it wouldn’t be too hard to get something going.

My original plan to make Mystic Assassin was to create a simple game before moving on to make a Czepta game. However as I worked on it, Mystic Assassin became a cooler concept than a simple endless runner game could justify. Mystic Assassin will still use the code I’ve been working on but it will probably be a plat former instead meaning you will be able to move the character any direction you want instead of auto-running to the right.

Since Mystic Assassin will have expanded features from the basic code I’m writing now, I’m planning to release a smaller game first. It will be just a straight up endless runner/shooter. My aim is to finish a bad game so that I can learn and get the experience of taking a finished game to the App Store. The game has to be bad so that I won’t get caught up spending a lot of time trying to make it good. The goal here is not to make an original or interesting game but simply to have a game finished in the shortest time possible.

Once this game is release I’ll be able to use that code and build into it the more advanced and playable features for Mystic Assassin as the basic template will be complete. That’s one great thing about games vs comics – the ability to reuse all of your assets across multiple games. I’m thinking that the smartest way for me to approach game development is to build and expand upon a single game template that will allow me to tell all of my Czepta stories. Then once the code base is complete it will just be a matter of adding new features with each episode and creating new content rather than having to code a whole new game from scratch every time. Because what I really want out of game development is the chance to tell my stories in a visceral and interactive manner with complete control and self sufficiency.

I’ll share the details of my ‘bad’ game in the coming weeks. It will be bad but hopefully some dumb fun.

1 October, 20130 comments
Prepping for some temp sprite animation

Prepping for some temp sprite animation

I’m gonna be using Spline for the animation in Mystic Assassin. This has many benefits over framed animation such as being able to animate programatically, ability to reuse animations across characters and modify character’s weapons and outfits etc among other things. So here is step one: draw a character and break him to pieces. This will just be a temporary animation so I’ll just be using basic pieces for now. Later on I’ll be adding some frame based pieces to make the cloth flow with his movement etc.



Stay tuned for the animation preview!

14 September, 20130 comments
Pixel Art Experiment and Updated Character Design

Pixel Art Experiment and Updated Character Design

I’m playing with the idea of having some kind of pixel art style for the characters. I’m thinking Street Fighter Alpha style but with some gradient glows etc that don’t need to be pixelated. The reason I’m interested in trying this style is that I kind of want the game to have a ’90s’ vibe. So Sega Megadrive, Super Nintendo,  Image comics like Spawn, Uncanny X-men and animated cartoons. I want to mix this up with a modern soundtrack with the sounds of trap music and dub.

Here’s my first try at some pixel esque art. I think I’ll do a few more to try different looks.


6 September, 20130 comments
Character Design Version 01 Turnaround

Character Design Version 01 Turnaround

Here’s the basic concept for the player character. There are still a few things I want to change but this is the general idea. On his staff are seven chakra stones that can be charged for different abilities. The general concept for the game is still coming together and I want to do some more concept art and some basic game mock ups to get a better idea of what to code.

The character I would best describe as a cross between a street ninja, a shaolin monk and a shaman. Together they form a pretty potent mix of potential abilities and a core philosophy that the character adheres to.

I’ve also been think that I want to stick to my comic book roots so have been thinking of ways to incorporate digital comic techniques to tell a short story within the game.

Anyway here is the latest art!


3 September, 20131 comment
Playing with styles – More Concept Art

Playing with styles – More Concept Art

I’m working on concept art at the moment and working out what kind of art style to use. I’m keen to use something akin to pixel art but without the pixels. By that I mean using a limited colour palette and keeping blending to a minimum. Here’s a poster I just finished using a more comic book style. Planning to do alot more experimenting as have been playing through sword and sworcery and am blown away by what they achieved.


2 September, 20130 comments