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My 48-hour videogame: Priority Cats in ''It's dangerous to go alone. Take sis!'' (03 May 2011 at 00:45)
I made a new video game this weekend for the 48-hour game programming contest Ludum Dare! For the contest they announce the theme at 10pm on Friday, and you have until Sunday night to crank something out as quickly as you can. You're allowed to supplement your hacking and drawing and musicing skills with beer and whiskey and coffee, which I did. Not a lot of sleep though. My game:

Priority Cats: It's dangerous to go alone. Take sis!
Play Priority Cats in the browser


The theme this time was "It's dangerous to go alone. Take this!" which is pretty ridiculous. I suspect vote fraud. The line comes from the old Nintendo game The Legend Of Zelda, where at the very beginning of the game a man in a cave gives you a sword and says that. Like as if giving an 11 year old a sword is a recipe for safety! Here at Tom 7 Radar we are big proponents of sword safety (not really. Some people in the computer science department circa 2003ish logout party have some stories about me and swords. But seriously who keeps an actual real sword in their closet at a party?). And there is a fairly famous internet "meme" (that means "picture" in internet language) that is a picture of someone holding a cute cat with that caption. So my game is about a brother and sister cat who go on an adventure outside the house for the very first time. Go ahead and play it (after turning on your speakers) if only for the cat animations and theme song. The controls are pretty intuitive but realistically frustrating! The ending is not too hard to find. If you collect everything then there is a small additional reward.

Also: I recorded 4 brand-new songs, which are available in the soundtrack zip file. And then I made this timelapse video of me programming and drawing and drinking coffee, which has pictures of my screen and also of me touching my beard a lot, via brand-new webcam. I'm goin' all out here, guys.
Categories:  t7es  video games  tom 7 music  drawings  contests (14 comments — almost 2 years ago)   [ comment ]
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My 48-hour videogame 'Disco? Very!' for Ludum Dare #19 (20 Dec 2010 at 01:58)
This weekend I made another game all by myself, for the 48 hour game programming contest Ludum Dare:

Disco noob fails to impress disco veteran
Disco? Very!
The way this works is they pick a theme on Friday night at 9pm, and then everybody makes a game for the weekend based on that theme. That theme this time, chosen by lowest common denominator vote, was discovery. Since I can't resist the 'misheard it' gag (deployed last time with islandsis lands?), my game this time is called Disco? Very!. You can play it right now in almost any web browser, because it's made in Flash. This is a dance platformer (I also like to invent a new genre) with moderately charming VGA-style graphics, lots of dance animations, a boss battle, and three new T7ES songs as its soundtrack. Plus this time there's actually something to do, and you can win the game, and it almost seems like it's on purpose! So best is to just play. I'm pretty happy with how this one turned out, and I was efficient throughout the weekend, though it is also sad all the stuff that got left on the cutting-room floor. For example the original intention was that when you die it plays the sound of a vinyl record scratching and the screen says: Disc over? Y! and when you win, it shows you pictured on a dancing magazine, and it's like Dis cover? Y!, etc.

I recorded a video of my screen throughout the weekend (only stopping it when I was leaving the house or sleeping), so you can see my nausea-inducing window-switching habits. It's kind of funny to see the graphics being drawn, at least. Its soundtrack is truncated versions of the game music.
Categories:  drawings  contests  t7es  video games (26 comments — almost 7 years ago)   [ comment ]
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Ludum Dare 18: You Keep Sliming (28 Aug 2010 at 11:11)
Last weekend was Ludum Dare, a weekend-long video game programming competition. Since I had such a good time last time I knew I wanted to do it again. This competition had a new simultaneous "jam" which was open format (no real rules; does not have to be teams of one) in order to tempt away rulebreakers from the mainline competition. I had done a team game jam before with Head Cat so I was interested in trying again, and so were like 9 other people (mainly computer scientists from CMU) and so Bouncecrab 2 was born:

You can download the OS X version or Windows version. Both should just work if you download and unzip and click to confirm your selection.

I regret to inform you that the intro sequence is not representative of gameplay. Let me tell you about it. One of the ways Ludum Dare protects against head-start rulebreakers is to announce the theme of the contest just as the clock starts. The theme is determined by voting, so you can see some of the options, and we were talking through them all at dinner and excited about ideas for some of them, but not for the one it ended up being, which was "Enemies as Weapons". So we applied the deliberately misheard it strategy also deployed for the theme islands in my previous ludum dare Is Lands? and made our game with the theme Anemonies as Weapons.

OK but still: We started with some code (BTW this game is written in Standard ML) that I had developed to prototype a long-time secret project, which in its current state is just a boring jump around a nearly empty room video game. The first night we had lots of ideas, like how you'd be doing space-inversion rock pushing puzzle solving, where each time you'd find an anemone it would unlock some power, until the dramatic boss fight, etc. The story is something like you're a hyper snail, and you have to rescue all of the anemones from the Evil Dr. Bouncecrab (an inescapable in-joke from William's Ludum Dare 17 entry). One of the minor details was that we needed to adapt the physics of my test game to snail physics, which was mainly that we needed the snail to be able to slime up walls. Long story short: Getting the snail to slime up walls actually took the entire weekend, and even on Monday night it wasn't working yet, and David just decided to replace the very delicate and carefully thought out but non-working physics with new hilariously unexpected physics but that allowed you to slime up the walls and get stuck flying upside-down sometimes, but actually get around our universe, which had been half-heartedly built without the benefit of being able to move around in it, because of the sliming, and with only like 25 total graphical tiles since I had been distracted from making graphics like I promised I would. So you have here an oddly unbalanced game, with like 15 minutes of lovely newly composed music by the music team, a pretty nice intro sequence where it seems like this game is gonna be pretty polished huh?, a pretty fancy level editor, some bits of the universe that are lovingly detailed and others that are literally I just drew a big beer glass and wrote "beer" on it, which you get stuck in and there's no way out except resetting and you don't know why, which probably had to do with the drinking we were doing at some parts of this, plus custom written ray-traced lighting:

custom ray-traced lightmap


And the game itself, which was charmingly put together in the last few hours by those still with us, can best be described as "exploit physics bugs to find the anemones" or "you keep resetting". I added a last minute timer for speedrun mode. At its best gameplay looks something like:

snail in some kind of light beams standing next to an anemone


Despite the wide gap between dreams and reality, consensus is that the game came out magnificent and we can't wait to make Bouncecrab 3: World of Bouncecraft! [Bouncecrab 2 OSXBouncecrab 2 Windows]

In other news, I have a long-outstanding game post I really should get to, since I keep making in-jokes about it on my blog but not actually sharing with you. For shame. But next up is another music post...
Categories:  video games  contests  drawings (5 comments — 7 years ago)   [ comment ]
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Ludum Dare 17: You Keep Flying (25 Apr 2010 at 23:06)
Ludum Dare is a 48-hour solo game programming competition on the internet. This is my first time doing it; I participated with a bunch of friends all hanging out at my house and stayin' up late. The theme for this competition, announced at the start of the contest, was islands:



Here is my game that I made, called "Is Lands?" (submission) which is about landing a plane. You can play by just visiting that page, because it's Flash. (The game is very short.) I didn't plan well for this one, in that I spent too much time struggling with physics, its interaction with scrolling, and refusing to use existing libraries for it. (Despite all the work you can still see a bunch of silly stuff happening when you put your plane in a solid object.) I should not have spent so much time investing in a quick way of generating content without actually then investing significant time in content creation. There are only two levels and neither one even uses physics significantly. But, highlights: I think the atmosphere is pretty good, from the title screen to the parallax to the soundtrack to death chords which are tuned to the soundtrack. The off-screen arrow was a deft (though not new) solution to an annoyance where Flash wouldn't let me create movieclips large enough to actually surround the enormous playing field. Most of the things that I like about the game came about without any real work, which is usually the way it goes. Of course I've got no chance in the contest, but it was worth the weekend and I'd do it again for sure. (Unfortunately put myself a little out of shape for next week's Pittsburgh Marathon!)

Other people in my party: William made bouncecrab (submission), Lea made Pirate-Go-Round (submission), and David made Geology (submission). Those are all downloads and I can't guarantee anything. William and David were using my SDLML library and were having release problems as they tried to submit (though I tried to warn them hours in advance to start doing hourly submits). But I think they had fun and I think they'd be in for next time, too.

I'm kind of on a Flash game kick recently, since I made another game for SIGBOVIK. I haven't posted it here yet—it's much better than this one and I have been polishing up some corners before I post the final version on Tom 7 Radar. (But if you do some light digging it's not hard to find.)
Categories:  video games  drawings  contests (15 comments — almost 7 years ago)   [ comment ]
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Swedish Boy video (15 Feb 2009 at 16:55)
Ah! It feels right. Another project actually completed, this time with the benefit of deadline. It's my entry in a music video contest for the band Obi Best.

I heard this band on a podcast, which is my new most effective way of learning about new music. I liked the song in that 'cast ("Who Loves You Now") so much that I ordered the album from the label, although allegedly this album is not technically "released" yet, so I don't really understand that, and it came with a little hand-written message Enjooy! with the oo made into a googly-eyed smiley face, which was endearing. And I think it's a pretty good album. More sparkling clean than I'm used to but musically it is very clever. So then I got this new camera, as I've mentioned before, and I was in Connecticut over Christmas break in that leisurely time browsing web sites of bands I like, and saw that this band had a video contest going on. I had that project itch (unsagely ignoring all those 70–99% complete projects still) so I decided I'd throw something together as a way of experimenting and learning my camera and some animation techniques. But then five vacation days later it had grown out of hand in ambition and sunk cost, so here we have:



Even more so than usual I insist that you click through to the video page to watch in glorious HD or download the 450mb original (bottom right). There are a lot of details and motion you just can't get in this little box.

At first it was an accident, but as I was CMOS-ing a recent Pittsburgh snow storm to provide a Sweden-like backdrop, I decided to capitalize on my handheld camera shakiness for stylistic reasons—the various illustrations and animations are motion-tracked to the video to make them seem more present in the scene. I did this all by hand and also the animation by hand obviously, and the foolhardy rotoscoping of my hand by hand, which I will never do again, and fought a lot with software that just barely falls short of my expectations, so I think it took me a total of about 50 hours (!). But really it was mostly fun and I am quite happy with the result, especially some special parts.

Here's what I'm not happy with: Quality of video on Youtube. We're supposed to upload our videos into their contest group, but the regular Youtube quality on this high-motion video is absolutely unbearable. The "HD" version looks reasonably sharp but the framerate is ridiculously low and unstable. And it starts with some VHS malfunction kind of vibe. I don't know what the deal is. I am trying again, this time ignoring Youtube's advice to upload the highest fidelity I've got. Vimeo's doing a great job as usual so I simply point you to that version for your potential enjoyment/dismissal, but it'd be a real boner to not have the contest people be able to properly enjoy/dismiss it on account of Youtube encoding problems. Boo hoo.

So in post 1002 I told you about six projects and now 3 of those are totally done. I've been training for the Pgh marathon so that's in progress and obviously can't be done until May. Beatles visualizations are almost done. I got the Laser Suspension Womb parts so I can work on it soon. Boo yah!
Categories:  contests  video (14 comments — almost 9 years ago)   [ comment ]
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July facts (11 Jul 2008 at 10:45)
Facts:

Yesterday I went to California University of Pennsylvania (isn't that kinda confusing?) to teach computer science to high school girls attending a technology camp. This was fun. I taught them about graph algorithms.
I think my least favorite commonly experienced feeling is when I remember having an idea but I can't think of what it was.
If there was only one day per year, then it would be everyone's happy birthday every day! Wouldn't that be nice?
Tonight is the beginning of the ICFP programming contest. I will therefore be spending all weekend programming for fun and glory. You might recall two years ago that we designed and judged the contest (video, etc.), so the stakes are high for our team.
I realized that I can tell how nice a neighborhood is by seeing if the signs say "No dumping. $200 fine." or "You must pick up your dog's dumpings. $200 fine."
Category:  contests (4 comments — almost 10 years ago)   [ comment ]
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Old book bindings (29 Jan 2008 at 00:32)
Since voting has ended, I can now brag that one of my photographs was a finalist for the Wikimedia Commons (this is the part of Wikipedia that hosts free-only graphics for the project) Picture of the Year competition. Predictably, mine didn't win—some of those other pictures are way better. Still, it was a nice surprise to find myself in the finals (out of 500+ images that were featured this year) and to finish in the middle of the pack.

By the way, if you're an amateur photographer, and especially if you've got a fancypants digital SLR, I recommend Wikimedia Commons as an outlet for your best work. You do have to use a free license (meaning that anybody can use your work, subject to some conditions), but unless you're expecting to sell your photographs this ought to be easy to get over. It's (1) a nice way to contribute to a useful resource and (2) a good way to get visibility for your work. For me these kinds of chance encounters (like spotting one of my fonts on a poster somewhere or seeing my photograph appear in a Wikipedia article I didn't work on) are probably the most fun possible outcome from making something.
Categories:  sightings  contests (8 comments — almost 10 years ago)   [ comment ]
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Pittsburgh Game Jam (17 Nov 2007 at 16:38)
Pittsburgh Game Jam
Adam and Jason and I are hard at work on our game for the Pittsburgh Game Jam! Here's a picture (a little staged) of our team in progress just now (I am holding the camera but that is my laptop with the title screen showing). Our game is called Head Cat and I will leave it at that in case we don't get as far as intended. ;)
Categories:  contests  video games (22 comments — almost 10 years ago)   [ comment ]
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ICFP Contest 2007 writeup (13 Aug 2007 at 14:07)
After finishing writing my paper last week, I finally got around to writing up our experience in the 2007 ICFP Contest. It's much longer and more detailed than our previous writeups (2005, 2004, 2002, 2001), I think mostly because I'm really defensive about our totally low score. As we were last year's judges I am kinda embarrassed about this! But, well, we took a gamble on an unorthodox strategy and were bit by some last minute bugs, so there you go. Fun times, for sure. Check out the page for the full story, some images and some movies.
Category:  contests (8 comments — almost 4 years ago)   [ comment ]
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Halloween 06, Puzzlequest, etc. (31 Oct 2006 at 21:34)
Updates!

This weekend we (Team "Eating Buildings" = Myself, Jason Reed, Adam Goode, and William Lovas) achieved our highest official ranking yet in Puzzlequest: 2nd place. This was something like our 8th time doing it. It was a really good contest this time, with some aspects similar to the ICFP contest we designed this summer (it was built around a text adventure game in which you had to discover "scrolls" that contained the puzzles). It is always nice to play something really polished and filled with lovely in-jokes.

Halloween 2K6!

We were done three hours before the end of the contest so I even had time to go to a halloween party. I dressed as a member of Devo, thanks mostly to an excellent Energy Dome that Cortney made for me (see right). I was pretty disappointed in many of the whippersnappers at the party for not even knowing who Devo is, seeing as how they had like a top 20 hit and everything. But I guess it is less embarrassing for them than when I went as Mikhail Gorbachev and people didn't know who he is. And we're talking a CMU grad school party, not some remedial pig roast. Ah, well.

The other news is that today I finished the proof I had been struggling with for a few weeks (I thought it would be easy but it grew into a 2500-line monster) so I am SERVER OK on that and ready to go back to actual implementation work for my thesis project...

Okay, see you soon!

Category:  contests (9 comments — almost 11 years ago)   [ comment ]
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