4 Years of game development

2011

Nov/06/2011 was the day I released my first game to the public. It was named Kill All The Marcos and was played just by a few people. It was a game inspired by the meme X all the Y from Hyperbole and a half.

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It was a bullet hell game in which you shot and kill spawning enemies before they killed you. It was created in game maker 8.1 and it felt like an expensive purchase at the time. I didn’t knew I was buying my ticket for game development.

2012

I decided to start with a bigger game. I had many ideas of games I would like to play (and make), the best ones:

  • A zombie survival game in which you protected a wall from above. You could decide to help a NPC at the cost of your food and gain their help or just let them perish.
  • A game about a being a Dragon.
  • A mobile game in which you controlled a mage and draw symbols on your screen to cast spells to protect the castle.

HOLGORYON

The game I started working on was called Holgoryon. That was the name of a magic book which contained the instructions to build everything. The world makers would rip pages from the book and mix them together in a cauldron to build a new world until one day they dropped by “accident” the whole book in the cauldron.

I tried to recruit several friends to help with the game, but failed. Started working slowly in the game with some concepts and illustrations:

test7.pngremote_village.png

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This was my drawing stage. I already knew how to code, but graphics were a problem. Holgoryon was a very cool idea, but too ambitious and I had to drop it. This failure helped me notice I had to work in smaller projects and it is when I discovered Ludum Dare.

A BATHTUB STORY

I started with LD23 with a game called A Bathtub Story still using Game Maker. A bullet hell game where you played as the bathtub monster, destroying ships to clear the level.

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It felt great to make a game in under 48 hours.

2013

This year I tried to get new proyects running and continued drawing.

HELLDUST

The concept of Helldust was born:

helldustlogo-1.pngIt was supposed to make us better. We were promised a ticket to heaven, but we were just purchasing our doom.
At first, we had more energy and our brain power increased. Soon we didn’t have to sleep anymore.
We bought more, we used more.
The compound was known as PGB-75.
We now call it helldust.

It was an RPG game based on using chemical enhancements instead of magic.

helldust2.pngIt remains as a concept, but development never really started.

MONSTER INTERCEPTOR

Skipped some Ludum Dares, but returned for LD28 with Monster Interceptor with a pulsar ray that allowed your ship to travel really fast. You only had one chance to save humanity. Still made with GameMaker, but discovered how to export it also to Mac.

11246-shot0.pngI was really happy with this game and tried to make it a full game. I called this remake The Erebos
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2014

This year was huge for game development and there were so many proyects.

KONRAD

Decided to get some professional help and hired an artist to continue with The Erebos now called Konrad. I really enjoyed working with a professional illustrator and we had some cool artwork.

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Later I had some doubts about the proyect. I felt the game was not fun enough and cancelled it.

SWITCHER

Another participation now for LD29 with Switcher. It was really well received and was played more than 1000 times. It is runner game where you are chased by superheroes as you are a monster and are considered a threat.

switcher_1.pngswitcher_0

GOZIRA

Using #lowrezjam as a motivation I coded Gozira in a 32×32 pixels canvas. It was a cool restriction and really enjoyed making this game. The goal is to avoid getting hit and get the highest score you can.

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SAND RANGERS

Another game jam, now #spacecowboyjam and I made Sand Rangers a 2-player coop game in which you capture bad guys. A bullet hell game with beat your high score mechanic.

sandRangers_0

MAMMOTH MONKEY MOLE

Another LD game, Mammoth Monkey Mole. A puzzle game. This time I got help from a friend and we released a really complex game. Control 3 animals, each with different abilities living in a different dimension.

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SHIELD MAIDEN

This time I was hooked by a challenge. Make a game in less than 13 kilobytes! The js13kgames challenge. I delivered Shield Maiden. A rogue-like game to capture the 4 horses of the apocalypse to prevent it from happening. I learned a lot from the size restriction.

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MAMMOTH MONKEY MOLE FOR IPAD

The original game felt really good and the iPad version started development.

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PAWS OF FURY

The last game of 2014, Paws of Fury. A game in which you fight other cats for the throne. Just like Switcher it was played more than 1000 times, a really nice surprise.

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2015

Duck Attack

Inspired by a meme (Karl King of Ducks) made a game in which you control ducks by throwing bread to point where they should attack. The best thing about this game, is that someone like the game so much they donated $1 my first dollar as game development. Play it here.

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Eat Sheep

I really like puzzle games so for Ludum Dare 33 I made a simple game. You control a monster and your goal is to eat all the sheeps before they can hide. Play it here.

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Fantastic Monster Chronicles

My second time participating in JS13k games. This time I even had to remove stuff to fit it into the 13 kb requirements. I even found a tool to generate music and I composed it by myself. Visit the js13k games site to play (Use chrome).

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Mammoth Monkey Mole

This year was almost completely dedicated to finish this game for iPad/iPhone. The game is entirely coded in Swift and I am happy with the end result. The only drawback was that I was completely exhausted by the end of the year, but did learned a lot.

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Download free from the App Store.

2016

The year is just starting and I have new ideas. Haven’t yet decided on what to commit. I have new ideas on more puzzle games and I am hoping to try new concepts and new graphic styles.

December Ludum Dare

48 hours to make a game. An awesome idea.

I make games for two reasons:

  1. I like programming them.
  2. I like that people play and like my games

For reason #1, is really simple, you sit, program and done. But for the second one, getting people to actually play your game… that is quite difficult. It is even more difficult to get people like your game.

Ludum Dare is perfect for #2 reason. It has a huge audience and if played right, you can get a decent amount of plays in your game. With people playing your game, you get feedback and feedback makes you and your game better.

I started with Ludum Dare 23 using game maker to build a bullet hell(Bathtub Story) and then took a huge break and made a comeback in LD28 with still more game maker and made Monster Interceptor. Then LD29 with javascript programmed Switcher which to my perspective was a huge hit and even got a mention in Indie Statik. And the last one LD30 with Mammoth Monkey Mole (a modest hit) also in javascript.

Every game made in LD has taught me something and that is priceless. Looking forward to LD31.

Ludum Dare 30 – Results

The results were up since Monday, but I was a bit busy writing the js13k posts.

For the LD results:

results

Great results, reaching #99 in the fun rating is an excellent achievement, we polished the game as much as we could. Perhaps my only regret was not making better graphics… but you have to sacrifice something in such a small time frame.

Coop game developing was definitely a good choice since we could bounce ideas around and discuss while the game was in development and not waiting until the end for some feedback.

A nice addition to our game jam team would be an artist. That way we could add sweet graphics and instead spend more time coding.

You can still play Mammoth Monkey Mole!

 

Shield Maiden and js13k

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 8.30.04 PM

Recently Shield Maiden game was released for js13kgames. The most interesting part of the competition is making the game in under 13 kilobytes which is quite the challenge. I read about it in Twitter and decided to join since I am currently coding in javascript and it seemed like a great opportunity to learn a lot.

I wanted to make a full game, just like all the games I code with phaser, with all the moving parts placed together. It forced me to basically implement a game engine of my own and that was an incredible learning experience.

Shield Maiden is a rogue-like with tile movement and destructible terrain. It is composed of the following:

  1. Game loop
  2. Tile movement with destructible terrain
  3. Fog of War
  4. Camera system
  5. AI powered enemies(not too smart, but can dig the terrain)
  6. Music
  7. Sound Effects
  8. Matrix drawn menus

Currently I am working in detailing each of the parts and how they were placed together. It is sort of a large post, but it will be nice to have all the features documented and ready to be useful for someone else.

Take a look at the game in: http://js13kgames.com/entries/shield-maiden

Share it if you like it!

 

Mammoth Monkey Mole – Post Mortem

mmm

Every new Ludum Dare, I feel more prepared. I know more tools, improve my workflow and improve in game making. For the first time in my LD participation I found some else crazy enough to share his weekend with the common goal of delivering a video game.

Day 1

I had a feel that Connected Worlds would be the winner theme. We were stuck in traffic when the theme was released and to my surprise, Connected Worlds was selected. We spend the first 4-5 hours discussing game mechanics, searching for reference games such as: Zelda, Lolo, Guacamelee, among others.

Usually a puzzle game is something I avoid because of having to program the rules and also design the levels. This time participating in the jam and also having a partner we decided to go with it. Designed the characters, the basic movements and some special abilities for each character.

Our timezone allows us to start friday night about 8pm, which is a great advantage.

Day 2

I started coding the game and Iván started with the level design. The first approach was to move using mouse click to select the destination tile. This was good, but felt slow and we decided to change it to use keyboard. The game now used the arrow keys to move.

Programming was taking a lot of time and I feared we may not be able to add all the features we required. We then made a priority list with all the rules required to get the most levels with the least features implemented. I started tackling each item one by one. By the end of the day I was worried the monkey still could not jump, but decided to sleep and try again the next day.

Day 3

Started with the monkey jump and it was implemented. It took about 6 hours more to get in the rest of the rules, all the planned features were programmed. We had a playable, yet ugly game. Since the graphics were not helpful, solving the puzzles was extra difficult.

Spend the rest of the day creating graphics, while Iván started with the music and sound effects. Also some testing and lots of bug fixing. By this time we had 12 puzzles.

Delivery day

This day we worked remotely. I had a free day from my day job and spend most of the day polishing. Added main screen, the level names and fade out transition. Added the pending SFX for switches and other items. Added the 13th level and submitted to the site.

After delivering spent some time playing other LD games.


 

Tools

IDE: WebStorm
Great for javascript writing and debugging. It includes a Chrome plug-in to quick deploy and debug.

Audio Edit: Audacity
Really useful to crop audio and edit pitch or tempo.

Version Control: Git with SourceTree
Having the game under version control, means you can experiment freely without the fear to break something. Really improves the workflow.

Art: Pixen + Pyxel Edit
Pyxel Edit is great for tile design and selecting palette colors. Also used Pixen for quick edits.

LD30: Mammoth Monkey Mole

mmm

August is the month for Ludum Dare and this time I made a puzzle game in collaboration with @nigonzalezm. The theme for this jam is Connected Worlds, so we made a game in which you control three animals from three different worlds. The animals can’t see each other, but the environment did interact with all the animals at the same time. 

As Mammoth you can use your weight to press switches and move rocks, just be careful not to place a rock on top of the monkey or mole.

As Monkey you can jump further and activate levers to allow your other animal fellows to pass.

And as Mole you can move dirt to clear the way or to bury your mates…

It is a game made under 72 hours for the jam.

The game is available from the ludum dare site if you want to vote for us or directly on skullmate.itch.io/mammoth-monkey-mole I hope you enjoy playing it as much as we did making it.

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