Week 19: BRICKS, Neon Dummies and that Paddle game

Week 19 was mainly spent in Croatia, on a family trip that is still going except now I’m in Austria! And the week-end between week 18 and week 19 was spent on the road to Croatia. And I saw some cool stuff! And things got done too! And this post is going to be super long!!

Let’s start with that week-end between week 18 and week 19, so right after the last blog post! Turns out that week-end was the Ludum Dare #36 week-end! I really wanted to do something so I did something. I couldn’t really dev in the car so I had to work on my entry on the night from Saturday to Sunday while we were staying in a German hotel before taking the road again on the morrow and then on the night from Sunday to Monday, after arriving to Croatia and before it was too late to enter Compo.

All in all I think I spent between 6 and 8 hours on my entry and I managed to finish it in the very last minutes of the compo time, before submission hour, giving birth to BRICKS!

PICO-8_10
~ BRICKS ~

BRICKS is a game in which you want to plant as many brick seeds as you can and watch the plants grow and kill the bad plants before they explode and destroy your other plants! Then at the end of the 1 minute timer, the bricks are collected from the plants and a pyramid is made with them! You want the biggest pyramid! So go grow some bricks!!

To me, Game Jams are a great occasion to make something you want to try making. And I wanted to make a farming game. But I thought farming wasn’t a great “ancient technology” of itself, so I looked for something else. I came up with the brick. The brick is an “ancient technology” and there’s plenty to do with bricks in video games. So I ended up making a farming game where you farm bricks. And since it wasn’t going to be your standard farming game anyway, I went for a very simple arcadey recipe:

  • each game lasts a very limited time that is counted down at the bottom of the screen
  • bad things pop up regularly
  • the player has the actions of placing good things which will become points (or bad things) eventually and of destroying the bad things
  • at the end of each game you get your score based on the number of good things placed and a rank

The rank was important because while some people won’t really care that much about doing a better score but they will care about getting a better rank.

PICO-8_71

And the game was a success I think! People did point out the game didn’t really make sense but they enjoyed the graphics and for most of them, the gameplay was good enough that they went for more than one try!

What I personally regret about the game mainly is that it still feels pretty shallow and also that I didn’t get the time to make proper music for it. Nonetheless, for something made in 6-8 hours, I think I did really good and I’m quite proud of that!

You can play BRICKS here on itch.io and read most of the feedback I got for it here on its Ludum Dare page!

 

PICO-8_2
live-coding ProcGen Pyramids in 100 seconds

Not very long after releasing BRICKS, I tweeted a new live-coding GIF! In it I code a procgen pyramid generator, it’s the one that I made for BRICKS! It uses the srand function, a much overlooked function that lets you set a seed for your random numbers, transforming your following random numbers in a random but consistent list of results! Very useful when you don’t want to take up memory with a regular array of random numbers!

 

Then I wasn’t sure what to do next. I did have an idea but it was one that I feared would take me a lot of time to become something good. I went for it anyway.

The idea is a cross-over between a simple RPG and Tinder, targeting mobile with swipey controls. Each screen would have an NPC, a monster, some loot or a door to another level and you would interact with the screen by taping on it (how original!) and you would change screens by swiping left and right. I like this idea A LOT and I really want to make it happen. But it will need time and I need money. More on that later.

PICO-8_3
A bit funny but very ugly

The second part of the idea is that the NPCs and monsters would be physic-based animated portraits, as in that very old unfinished Pico-8 prototype of mine on the previous GIF.

So I started making this happen because it’s graphics and I could make it without caring too much about the rest of the game, which I was designing at the same time on paper.

puppet
Funny and Pretty

I first made a simple articulated dummy to test things out. All the physics are coded by me and they’re not very good but they work OK.

faces1
Funny and Really Weird

Then I made faces because I could.

The next step of that is replacing the colored limbs with actual sprites which need to be made. And then make the actual game.

But that’s not what I did. What I did is start something else because I happened to get a much simpler idea for another type of game I wanted to make.

 

I’ve been wanting to make something in the gameplay style of Intake, one of my favorite games of all time, and I found this idea where a ball would be pushed from the center of the screen and you, the player, would have to keep it in a circle with a short paddle while it rolled around. That would be the core of the game and on top of it I can add whatever simple complexifications I care about such as different types of balls/ball behaviours, maybe power-ups, unlockable graphical themes, etc.

paddleball
Prototype 0.1

I enjoy this idea a lot and this is going to be my new main project. Also the first project I’m actually going to sell in the end.

PADDLEs
Prototype 0.2

I’ve been making only free games until now and because of that, apart from a total of 3 donations summing up to 15$, I haven’t really made any money with them. Just to be clear, I do not actually aspire to wealth. But I do need to make money with what I do, first because I am going to run out of savings eventually and second because I want the people around me to stop worrying about me not going anywhere with what I do. So this new game of mine will be priced (not very high, don’t worry about that).

It also means I will be doubling my care about the design of the whole thing and I will be doing play-tests. A lot of them.

 

There’ll be more about it next week!

This week was actually pretty productive, despise the poor conditions and small amount of time with the family trip going on.

Hopefully next week will be the same! I will be working on that Paddle game and I might make something for the FermiJam!

Have a great week!

Take care!

TRASEVOL_DOG

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