Strumb Postmortem

Its only been over a year since I released it. Looking back I said I would do a postmortem so here it goes.

Strumbloader

This has been my most experimental game by far. Strumb was meant to be a really relaxing, almost meditative game. I designed it to be a pretty easy game, that generates the music from the gameplay. The score keeps things a little interesting and there are actually some interesting choices to make in the game.

In strumb the player runs across the strings of a guitar, picking up notes and avoiding the fingers that slide down the strings.

The scoring is all about keeping up a combo. You increase your score multiplier by getting 4 notes in a row, picking up a different note than the one you have will fill up your combo meter, and the same note will add 1/3rd to it. The combo meter is constantly draining so you have to keep picking up notes to keep your multiplier up. Once you collect enough notes the solo bar will fill up. You can use a solo to make your combo meter stay full for a certain amount of time. If your meter is about to drop and there are no notes on screen, a solo can save you from losing your multiplier.

Every beat all the strings on the guitar that have a finger or a player on them are strummed.  The note that plays when the strings are strummed is based on what chord is active. So whenever the strings are strummed it plays the notes of the chord, on whatever strings have things on them. If a solo is being played, it starts playing notes on only the string that the player is on. I really like the way that it turned out but not everyone felt the same.

What went right

  • It got finished in a reasonable amount of time. This was probably my best job at starting and finishing a project on time and feeling good about the finished project.
  • Really stable. I don’t know of any bugs in the game at all. There is a “feature” that was a bug, some of the fingers scroll across the screen a lot faster than others, and thats because they are double spawning, but I liked the result so I left it in.
  • I really enjoy the game, and I think I achieved all of my development goals with it. I finished the game on time. It was designed to be a meditative relaxing game and for me at least, it really works for that.

What went wrong

  • I don’t know that I explained the mechanics enough. I feel like the system works well, but it could have used at least a tutorial card or something showing the interactions.
  • People didn’t really like it. I hate to be the guy that says “they just don’t get it”, so I’ll just say that the game is not for everyone. Maybe it didn’t reach its audience on newgrounds, or its just not a very appealing game to most people. There are a few people that really enjoy it like I do, but they aren’t the ones leaving comments. One person said that the sound hurt her dog, I don’t know what that’s about but I felt bad.

I keep saying this, but I’d like to get back to making games like this. Keeping the scope low, making a solid system, and having some time left to polish. Jam games have done well for me but they always end up being so messy. This was one of the last really clean games that I made.

Global Game Jam and Pace of Cake

Global game jam was my first time jamming with real people. It was a really cool experience, although also another big let down like the newgrounds game jam. We had a team member fall out like we did the first time and it kind of killed the project.

Its a shame too because that game would have been awesome.

Pump-Jackson-Head-Bobbin

 

I met a lot of cool people though and I was really happy to have done it.

1 game a month

After that last ludum dare I felt like I really needed more of a regular deadline to help me produce more regular content (I could probably benefit from getting back into that habit).

The first game I made (though it didn’t get released until later) was one of my favorites.

tankslogo (1)Very few people have actually played this one, since it requires 2 xbox controllers to play and I didn’t really release it anywhere except 1 game a month. Its a pretty fun versus game about trying to control 4 tanks at once with the same inputs. I’d like to remake this game at some point and make it more accessible, the current version is really more of a prototype than anything.

I didn’t stick to 1 game a month for very long, I only finished one more game in it. Just another thing I’d like to get back to doing.

Battleship Texas, Second Ludum Dare

Between this Ludum Dare and the last I didn’t really get much done. I think I tinkered around with a lot of projects but I couldn’t really get anything off the ground. I was mostly getting de-motivated by failing to do the warthog sequel.

Anyway Battleship Texas was one of my better jam games at the time. It combined humor with a little bit of actual gameplay. It scored pretty well in humor, #32 out of 1327. Legacy of the Cavemen actually did better in humor coming in at #19 out of 1406. I again did all the audio with a guitar and my mouth and I really liked how that turned out. I really got the full game jam experience out of this game, especially in that I restarted the whole project 3 times in the weekend.

This is one of the jam games I’m most proud of, and I have actually met someone in real life that knew my game before ever meeting me, and that was pretty cool.

First Ludum Dare

This was my first jam game success.  Well I say it was a success, the game was awful. The only thing it had going for it was a cheap laugh but it was fun to make, and I was happy with finishing a game in a weekend.

legicon

Legacy of the cavemen was a game about cavemen viciously kicking each other in the balls to remove their rival from the gene pool. My take on the theme “evolution” was more about the process in which a species evolves. The thing I enjoyed most about this game was making all the assets myself, especially the music and sound. I’d like to get back to ghetto recording everything with sounds from my guitar and mouth, at least for the little jam games. I think its something that a lot of developers forget about, there are other options for making sounds than hiring a professional and using sfxr.

 

 

WARTHOG Sequel?!

Warthog64O

 

Warthog is so cool.

I didn’t know quite where to put this post. I have tried making this game a few times and it never gets very far. I always get stuck making the backgrounds for the first level. I just made that sprite so cool I have a hard time making the rest of the graphics good enough.

I’d like to make it someday, I think the design is solid enough. Its a 2D platformer and the idea is that warthog is a pacifist so he doesnt directly kill any of the enemies, the anthropomorphic bugs that have infested the planet he is on. Instead his gun does a variety of non-lethal attacks that stop enemies and help him get through the level. He would have a teleport gun that swaps his position with whatever he hits. He would have a freeze gun that trapped enemies into solid blocks that could be used as platforms to hold down buttons, or get him to higher places. There were a few more ideas that I don’t remember right now.

I learned from this game that I should probably not tell everyone about this great game I’m working on until it has a chance of actually becoming a thing.

First Group Game Jam

My first game jam experience was pretty rough. I joined up with the newgrounds game jam. I went in without knowing anyone, and that year they had a high school gym style team picking system. The designer or programmer picked out their team one by one from all of the people that were signed up to participate in the jam.  I won’t recap completely but we totally overscoped, the artist didn’t really do much work, and the whole thing fell apart. We had some really good music though.

My biggest mistake was trying to keep making the game after the jam. It was my first experience working with other people and I have learned since then that its really important to pick the people you work with carefully.

First Game!

Ahh W.A.R.T.H.O.G, probably the happiest I have ever been to release a game. Its also I believe the only game I have fully made and released so far using a non-visual IDE. Since then I have mostly just used stencyl or unity. I’d really like to get back to making some games with just straight code, it is so much cleaner.

Warthogss

This was also my first time having to force a deadline on myself to get a project done. Its always rough having to do that but its often the only way to get finished. There is more I would liked to have added to that game but I’m much happier that I released it instead of letting it turn into another game sitting on my hard drive that I don’t know how to finish.

 

The very beginning

So I started off with some lofty goals and quickly realized my limits.  I had done a few tutorials and I thought I had a good enough grasp on the whole development thing to produce a small game every week or so.  I wanted to use the 1st edition D&D monster manual as a source of a weekly jam theme, although I don’t think I really knew much about game jams at the time.

Looking back it seems I tried my hand at stencyl for the first time, and hit that learning curve hard. I feel like only in the past several months have I really started to understand how to use stencyl fully. No games came out of this, and most of my time was spent trying to discover how to actually pull these ideas and systems together into a game.

First attempt at solo game jam games
First attempt at solo game jam games

I think I might actually go back to the monster manual games idea, I’m much more confident with my ability to actually be able to make some of this stuff happen.

Time for a retrospective

Its been a full year since I last posted, and there has been a lot going on since then. To commemorate my year of neglect I’m going to do a retrospective on all the games I have made, and write about what I have been up to for the past year.

I have come a long way since then and I feel I have grown a lot as a game developer, however I don’t really feel like I have gotten much done. Maybe this retrospective will change my mind about that, but I really want to start producing more regular content.

Anyway time to get started, I’m going to just start making posts starting from the first game I made and going to where I am right now.