Black Forest Programming
September 16, 2014 [2 days ago]
There were around 1000 Jam entries for Ludum Dare 30 (citation needed). I’m tired and slightly disappointed (spoilers!) but here’s how my game held up. I threw in some of my thoughts for good measure.
Not as great as my first entry in Ludum Dare 24. No marks over 4.0 but nothing less than 3.0 so slightly better than average?
Humor is the highest ranking! And I find that super surprising. Most of the “humor” I added was probably in the last hour when I threw together the game over screens. And those were simply text on a black background. Soooooooo yeah. Interesting. I didn’t really intend to make the game “humorous” it just sort of ended up that way I guess. I also find it strange that a 3.42 isn’t my highest mark but is part of my highest ranking category? Okay sure, I’ll roll with it.
Next is audio. The music was universally loved and it isn’t even mine! It’s ”Mining by Moonlight” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) [aside: he makes some awesome royalty-free music go visit!]. The only reason I could use the audio was due to the relaxed rules of the Jam too. So I find it hard accepting that mark (which is the highest of all with a 3.68).
Then there’s theme, which was “connected worlds” this time around. I expected to score lower because of my very loose interpretation of what constituted a “world”. I won’t go into my original vision for the game (which got butchered by the end of the jam) but it would have made the idea of countries as different “worlds” more apparent. And I cut all that stuff out and people still made the connection!
Innovation! I think I try the hardest each competition to innovate, to make something unique. But with connected worlds I guess you get a lot of games about manipulating graphs. Like mine, which is about manipulating graphs! Because graphs are inherently based around connections. Much innovation such wow.
Mood is fifth! Mood is fifth? I wanted jazzy, relaxing music but that’s all I really consciously contributed to the mood. So uhhh ranking presented without comment?
3.41 (#248) overall. So top 25%? Again, no real comment here. The game was better than mediocre.
Fun is way down near the bottom and I sort of expected it there. The game ended up being hard. Frustratingly hard I think, which is a combination of bugs and lack of tutorial/instruction (both a result of not having enough time). These are easy things to fix…
Graphics are last. Are you surprised? I’m not surprised. The menu screens are basically white text on a black background. The game only has 1 image, essentially, and that’s the overworld map. The graph is made up of simple circles and lines (and the things are hard to see). I short-changed graphics in terms of gameplay because I was running out of time.
I rated 25ish games so pretty bad coolness (1204 out of all 2500 entries so mid-pack).
I think the one important thing this compo taught me is that I refactor a lot. Waaaay too much. Or I spend too much time on features that end up getting cut. And it’s all just wasted whereas I could have put it towards a tutorial, or more game mechanics, or anything else. I noticed it too with Ludum Dare 24, so I guess this just reinforces it: I need to stop wasting so much time!
I’m happy I made something, but I had a vision of a great game that I slowly strangled and contorted as the remaining time diminished. So I’m sort of sad to see this is the result. Maybe I’ll actually make that game some day.
September 5, 2014 [1 week ago]
I want to put my thoughts into words so that I won’t forget and so I can organize them; I thought I’d kill two fluffy puppies with one giant frisbee (that’s how the saying goes right) and let all of you in on it too. It ruins the surprise but… surprise!
I’m rebranding!… or more appropriately Black Forest Programming is going away!
Since Black Forest Games is a legit thing run by other more talented (probably more handsome) people I thought it would be high time to bravely run away before… something… happens. That means rebranding, but to what? I’m terrible with names; the best I could come up with was Penguin Party Programming. The only real problem with that is if you Google “penguin party” you get a lot of kids birthday party related stuff… and I don’t really want to touch that (I still like the name by the way).
What does that leave me with? Well, since this is a one-man-show I thought why not ditch the name entirely; cut out the middle man and just call things “made by Michael Hitchens” (which is me by the way hi). I already have to redo my assets so this will give me some flexibility as to the color scheme, style, etc. Plus, I can make a site and turn it into a portfolio. And I can register a domain name. And maybe get a separate email. And maybe look professional for once!
So here’s what’s going to happen:
- Black Forest Programming is, I guess, “no longer”; I’m forgoing using a pseudo-name because it was pointless in the first place
- going to redo ALL the assets!
- going to register a domain name which points to my portfolio
- going to hack together a portfolio
- going to still have a tumblr for a blog (maybe I’ll actually use it like most people use tumblr who knows)
- all my other social media profiles are going to be collapsed with my own so we’re all united and one
- uh… if I remember anything else I’ll put that here
I’m not sure how long this process is going to take (considering university goes into full hectic swing on Monday) but I will have to redo a lot so it might take a while. Please bear with us (me) through these tough changes!
tons of work,
August 29, 2014 [2 weeks ago]
Last weekend I made a game for Ludum Dare 30 called International Communication Construction and Consulting! (Download link below)
The theme was “Connected Worlds” so I made a game about connecting countries with high speed internet. I used the definition of “worlds” very loosely here to denote different cultures and countries. Of course, I started off with a more complex idea that slowly got butchered and simplified as time went on.
I was shooting for the 48 hour compo but that didn’t give me enough time to have a playable product, so I ended up falling back to the 72 hour jam. Fortunately, the relaxed rules of the jam let me use royalty-free music.
August 21, 2014 [4 weeks ago]
I’ll be participating in the Ludum Dare game competition this weekend! And so should you!
Here’s my declaration of entry post
You can get the up-to-date high jinks by following my Twitter.
August 16, 2014 [1 month ago]
I thought I should post an update. So here I am now, posting an update. Strange how these things work.
Here’s how I’ve decided to structure things, in order of level of activity (and professionalism?):
- Twitter: constant live updates which are a mixture of rambling and gamedev
- Google+: less frequent, but all gamedev related (none of the inane Twitter banter)
- Website: Tutorials, release posts, major updates… probably less frequent than Google+ but hopefully not by much.
- YouTube: videos (duh) whenever I decide to make them, so probably less frequent than website posts
- SoundCloud: For game music, but I don’t compose very often so don’t expect any updates
What I’ve Been Doing
I started learning LÖVE and made a very basic platforming engine. Then I got frustrated with how sloppy Lua feels and I ran. I love Lua because of it’s simplicity and relative ease of things, but it feels sloppy because everything is run-time with minimal compile-time checking.
Then I wanted to do something Java- or 3D-related so now I’m learning jMonkeyEngine. I’ve also been forced to learn Blender in the process (tutorials for that are coming soon?).
I’ve also found that new Atom text editor that everyone is raving about and I wrote a few plugins like Batch highlighting and a thing that launches LÖVE for you.
I also finally uploaded a piece of music I wrote a couple of months ago to SoundCloud which I called Serene Town (because I’m original like that).
I’m trying to figure out how to redesign the site to be more Tumblr-friendly, mostly in the area of posting pictures, but that might be a ways off.
…aaaand that’s it, for now.