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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...
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Don (dynamic-acs-24-101-60-248.zoominternet.net) – 09.05.10 20:13:06
This is great! I love these bugs-are-features games!
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Tom 7 (c-67-186-6-86.hsd1.pa.comcast.net) – 09.06.10 00:29:37
Yeah, the candidate theme that I think I was most excited about was actually "bugs". I'd really like to make a game where the increasingly unexpected behavior was actually essential to gameplay.
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Tadbot (c-76-98-20-178.hsd1.pa.comcast.net) – 09.09.10 20:36:17
Tom7 Font Watch 2010 [Maybe I should just start posting these to your facebook page or something]:

I started a new job 2 weeks ago, and on the personalized nametags that everyone has at their desks, I've counted at least 5 nametags using a total of 3 DBZ fonts (Action Jackson, Conventional Wisdom, and Natural Log).
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Tom 7 (c-67-186-6-86.hsd1.pa.comcast.net) – 09.10.10 01:07:30
Sweet! :) I appreciate all font sighting news. Where is your new job? And which font is your nametag in?
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Tadbot (c-76-98-20-178.hsd1.pa.comcast.net) – 09.10.10 19:02:11
The new job is outside of Philly, as a Systems Analyst for Yellowbook.com. My nametag is actually not in one of your fonts, it uses a font from Team Fortress 2 :-[
Disclaimer: my opinions, comments, and font choices do not necessarily represent those of my employer.
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