Monday, May 28, 2012

GameDev.net 72-hour Community Challenge: Let Loose the Kraken!

I just competed in this last weekend's GameDev.net 72-hour community challenge: Let Loose the Kraken! It was a ton of fun, but after two days of working and with only one day to go, I threw in the towel because I wasn't anywhere near having some decent game play.

I wanted to share what I'd learned and how things went though, so without further ado, let's get into that.

Time Sucking Problems

I ran out of time, obviously. But why? Here's what I've come up with:

  • Trying to add too much "juice" too early. "Juiciness" is great and all, but I spent too much time in the beginning playing with the tentacles and not enough time on the actual game play.
  • Slow prototyping pipeline. I like prototyping, as it helps you know what's fun, what isn't, what looks good, what doesn't, etc. But my pipeline was slow.
  • I started on a clean copy of Windows. The first time I ran Visual Studio was during this competition. I should've set up my environment earlier or used my other computer. Also, ready-made tools would've been nice (i.e. my unfinished sprite editor).

It's hard to put into words all I've learned from those three bullet points above. There's going to be lots of changes in my overall process of game developing, particularly in my prototyping. A good amount of my time in the near future will be spent on making tools to assist in prototyping, experimenting with integrating scripting languages (probably Lua), and finishing a few basic tools I started forever ago.

Artwork

It's hardly art. But these are the drawings I quickly came up with in Inkscape:


The Kraken in his normal swimming state. The tentacles were done procedurally.



The Kraken when he comes up to eat a ship/people (or at least that's what it was meant for... I never got to that point). I also used this for the game intro.



My pretty little ship. I would've liked to texture the wood but didn't have time/skill.


Making the Game

I took screenshots while making the game and have put them together in a video. I used C++ and SFML for programming, Inkscape for art, and Audacity for a little audio editing.



Playing the Game

The game was far from being finished, but I recorded a little of it anyway. I was testing with tentacles when I recorded, so you'll notice the Kraken's tentacles don't snake up the ship like they should (they used to though, before I messed around trying to make it look better, and then gave up when I realized I wasn't going to finish).



Making the Video

Some may be interested in how I made the time lapsed video. For what it's worth, I took screenshots every 20 seconds with the program ChronoLapse. I renamed the saved .pngs with the following batch script:

setlocal enabledelayedexpansion

set /a counter=0
for %%f in (*.png) do (
  ren %%f !counter!.png
  set /a counter=!counter!+1
)

After that, I used FFmpeg to stitch the frames into a whole video using the command:

ffmpeg -r 30 -i %d.png -vf "scale=min(3360/iw\,1080/ih)*iw:min(3360/iw\,1080/ih)*ih,pad=3360:1080:(3360-(min(3360/iw\,1080/ih)*iw))/2:(1080-(min(3360/iw\,1080/ih)*ih))/2" out.mp4

-r 30 is 30 fps, -i %d.png tells FFmpeg the input files, and the -vf option specifies a video filter that sets the output video size and adds pillars to frames as necessary.

The Importance of "Juice" in a Game

While frequenting the SFML forums, I just came across a particularly worthwhile video. It's certainly worth a watch, as the before and after results really emphasize the importance of "juice" (as they call it) in a game. While the game play is the same and nothing about the game has really changed, it feels like a whole new game.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why yes, I would like to become a hormonal freak

I can understand taking bioidentical hormones to help going from abnormal to normal, but I don't understand taking bioidentical hormones to go from normal to abnormal.