Archive for April, 2010

Giving up…

24 Apr

Although I was psyched with this compo, the fact that the theme is islands sapped my will to finish this game…

Nothing wrong with it from a technical standpoint… no bugs, no nothing, it was terribly easy to code, to be honest…

I did an island-based game last time, and bar remaking that one and improving it, I’m not having decent ideas for games, and there’s no point in wasting a whole weekend on this if I’m not having fun…

Next competition I’ll be back… πŸ™‚ And hopefully, I’ll be able to come up with a better idea that I actually want to finish… and I’ll practice my sprite animations, so I don’t lose 3 hours making a stupid and terrible walk cycle… πŸ™‚

Good luck everyone! Last screenshot for the road:



Cloud-shifting system done

24 Apr

Just added the gameplay system that enables the player to convert clouds into floating islands for a short period of time:


It works great, but I’m not seeing this game turning fun anytime soon… I’ll persevere in the hopes that I have a moment of inspiration and I find a way for the game to work as a game (challenging and fun)…

Already thought a lot about scrapping this, but I like taking things until it’s bitter conclusion… πŸ™‚


Movement and collision detection

24 Apr

And once more I’ve done the most horrible collision detection system ever, a tangled web of ifs and elses, special cases and other horrible things… it works well, though, so I’ll probably just touch it the least I can… πŸ™‚


Player can jump and fall, move left and right and that is all animated… of sorts…

Going to add a nice gradient background (that blue is getting on my nerves), have lunch and then get to make our own clouds appear…


Ground sprites done…

24 Apr

At least my ground sprites don’t look all that sucky…


Now I need to get the wizard moving on these, jumping and falling, with camera tracking… the usual stuff for platformers…


Why stuff always looks better on my mind?!…

24 Apr

Enough said:


Just finished the walk cycle of my main character, and it is UGLY! :\

Took me almost 2 hours to come up with something this horrible… I wish I could just steal art from some place so my games don’t look so terrible!

Anyway, now to build some “island”, “cloud” and “ground” sprites so I can do the actual game work… I’ll get back to this later if I find the time…


An idea…

24 Apr

Got an idea… a sort of “Rainbow Islands” game, with some other things thrown into the mix…

The player controls a knigh/wizard and has to get to… somewhere… well, no matter, player will have to transform clouds into floating islands to be able to get to his destination, using the environment as well (floating islands already in place), which can have monsters and stuff…

Still need to clear up lots of details, but in the meantime I can start drawing and stuff…

First step, create the player character, so that I know what size everything will be…

First screenshot:


Impressive, I know! πŸ™‚


Just woke up…

24 Apr

Just woke up and had breakfast, after a quick peek at the theme… Islands?

I won’t say I hate islands, but I kind of did a game with islands on the last competition, which sucks…

No idea on what I’m going to do, but I’ll try to stear clear of the exploration, Sid-Meier-esque thing…

Time to think about an idea…


Almost ready…

23 Apr

Well, almost ready to go…

Reviewed some details on my base framework, you can get it here.

My framework just features:

  • D3D9 initialization and some helpers
  • FMOD interface for sound
  • 2d Sprites
  • 2d Particle System (very rudimentar, 2 color one)
  • Text (works terribly in fullscreen, hope I have time to fix that during the competition)
  • 3ds file loading (only tested with 3ds generated by 3d Studio Max). Loads lights, meshes and cameras.
  • Small simple math library (vectors and quaternions)
  • Simple 3d camera handling system (just look at operation)
  • XML loading/saving (might come in handy for configuration files, load/saves, etc. The XML loader was created by Frank Berghen, not me… the writer is all me, although the loader also has save functions, but I’m too lazy to figure out how they work)
  • 3d particle system (based on the 2d one, so very rudimentary)
  • 3d sprite system (quads that always face the camera)

This still does much less than the usual game makers, flash, etc, but it really shaves off about 10 hours or so work…

Still want some time to review my pixel-art talent (had good results on my last competition with some static stuff, want to see if I can learn how to animate a simple character… Really recommend this link: , and this sheet for reference: ).


Finally, I still need to go junk-food shopping… you can’t have a 48-hour competition without tons of junk food… chips, drinks, chocolate… hum… chocolate….

There’s some good themes for the competition this time around… Kind of rooting for “Pretentious Art Game”, although I have no idea what to do with that, but it would be fun thinking up… “Forest” might also be nice, as well as “Collecting” (rogue-like, here I go!).

Anyway, I’ll be updating my Facebook, my own personal blog ( and Ludum Dare’s blog ( one throughout the competition, as usual…

So good luck everyone!

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Some links…

19 Apr

I haven’t had anything interesting to talk about in the last days, been ΓΌber-busy with my new all-purpose editor (I’ll do a post on that when I have some screenshots to post that show interesting stuff) and getting ready for the 48-hour competititon of next weekend.

In the meantime, I have some links to share with you guys…

First up, two games from Jake Elliot: “Beulah & the Hundred Birds” and “Dog and Bone are friends“:


Like “I Can Hold My Breath Forever” (ICHMBF), “Beulah & the Hundred Birds” (BATHB) is a game that has a childhood dream story feel to it, based on exploration rather than conflict, with a nice twist in the end that explains the story… All the comments I’ve done before stand… BATHB is more “conventional” than ICHMBF from a gameplay standpoint, taking the form of a platform game, and it’s definately worth picking up (you should be able to finish it in 10 mins or so).


“Dog and Bone are friends” (DABAF) is a more “common” game, in the gameplay sense. You control two characters with different skills and have to unite them in each level. The Jake Elliotness of it comes down to the fact that it is a game about friendship, which is a human trait missing in most games… in most games, friends are just there for A) betray you; B) to save; C) as extra arms and legs for fights. It’s interesting to see what you can actually do with the friend concept in games, taking it a big further like in DABAF.


Was talking to a friend the other day and I remembered Towrl games. From the website:

Towlr are puzzles. Contrary to conventional design wisdom, the towlr games come without instruction and without explanation. Your job is to discover their secret, and score deliciousness. Yes, every Towlr game can be completed.

Towlr are complete audio/visial experiences. They should be played with sound at a reasonable level, and computer monitors turned on.

Towlr may frustrate you. This is normal.

These games are soooooooo frustrating sometimes, but they’re quite neat, check them out at

Another cool link is the wiki-based “PlayPen” game, a cooperative exploration game, where players can build on a story that’s being writen by them… Words can’t really explain what’s going on, so head on the website and try it out… It’s a fun experiment, albeit one that could really be improved with modern technology, i.e. give “players/authors” the tools to build better and more complex worlds and see what they’d come up with… If I was a decent Flash programmer, I’d go for it! πŸ™‚

Finally, a touch of awesome… After the raging success of “Megashark VS Giant Octopus“, get ready for:

Yep, that’s a real movie… and if it’s not enough for you, head on to , where you can see the trailers for more of their movies (which are totally full of awesome!).

And that’s it for me today… Have fun everyone!


Ludum Dare’s 48-hour competitions

13 Apr

The weekend after the next (from the 23th to the 25th), there will be another 48-hour competition on Ludum Dare.

In these competitions, you get a theme at an appointed time (3am in the morning of Saturday, in my case), and you have to build a game from scratch in 48 hours based on that theme… By from scratch it means you have to make all code, all graphics, all sound, all design, etc, in 48 hours, and release it with source code.

With time, the rules got a bit relaxed (you can do a code framework beforehand, or use a game maker), but it’s all good fun, and I’ve been participating since the first one (although I stopped for a while in the middle).

Thinking on this, I got this idea of doing a retrospective of the games I made in 48 hours… Note that most of these games were created before Spellcaster Studios even existed formally (only on my mind…), and that I did _everything_ you see in the game, in raw C++ with DirectX.


Competition 1 (July 2002)- Theme was “Guardian” and I actually did 1.5 games for this one… it was my first competition, and I was overly ambitious, so I had to scratch my first idea halfway through, and try to finish up something… I ended up with “Supahero – Protector of the Panicking Idiots“, in which you control Supahero and have to defeat some geometric forms before they kill 3 panicking idiots… If I remember correctly, I won 3rd place in the sound category, using only my electric guitar and my wife to do the sounds… this game is almost 8 years old! πŸ™‚


Competition 2 (November 2002) – The theme this time was split between a cosmetic theme (“Sheep”) and a gameplay theme (“Construction/Destruction”). I had this idea of building a FPS in which you could destroy and build platforms in which you stand… Again, it was overly ambitious and I ended up with a game that wasn’t finished… I just got the construction/destruction part, and it has no AI and gameplay… But still, “Sheepdome” is still an idea I’d like to work out one of these days…


Competition 3 (April 2003) – The theme was “Preparation”, and I remembered a very old ZX Spectrum game called “Star Trail” (a ripoff of Star Trek in game form, featuring a procedural universe), and I did a game that featured shooting with angles and power to destroy some targets, considering gravity. It was called “Battlefield: Stars” and after that one, I always wanted to revisit that kind of strategic space combat game (with ships moving and stuff).


Competition 3.5 (Christmas 2003) – This was not an official competition, more of something to do because there was a big hyatus. Theme was Christmas, and the objective was to make a game in a the whole month preceding Christmas (since people were very busy, nobody could allocate a whole weekend to it)… I finished up doing “The Nightmare Before Christmas“, which wasn’t completed… the idea was to use influence markers to steer the elves away from traps and into Santa’s Workshop, so they could make the toys… Only had about 16 hours to work on this total (in a month… πŸ™ ), but the result was some of the best graphics I’ve ever done!


Competition 4 (April 2004) – The theme this time was “Infection”, and I created a game called “Virgil“, in which you controlled a virus that had to infect cells, while avoiding and destroying antibodies… It was the first time I gave up on 3d for a 48-hour competition, and the result was that I actually finished this one… And it was fun playing it at the time… I mostly stayed within 2d games for the next competitions… 3d games might be cool to make, and easy aswell, if you have an engine, but if not, it’s just painful and you loose too much time with details, and not enough with gameplay and completion of the game. I went into a two-year hyatus from competitions after this game, for some reasons I can’t remember anyway… I came back in:

compo08_AntSwarm01.jpg compo08_AntSwarm02.jpg

Competition 8 (April 2006) – Theme was “Swarms”, and I wanted to create something that would incorporate the concept of natural swarms into the gameplay, and hence “Ant Swarm” was born. The idea was to control one of the ants, which would leave a pheromone trail behind her and the other ants will follow to gather food for the winter. The game worked so well, in terms of concept (not implementation, but it served as a proof-of-concept) that afterwards, Spellcaster Studios (as a company now) would take the concept and pitch to a publisher, which actually agreed to finance it and build a “good version” of it. Unfortunately, the publisher ultimately pulled out, and we couldn’t figure out how to get the game past some design issues it had… But the game is more or less complete in my hard-drive, with decent graphics (two sets of them actually, since we weren’t happy with the first real iteration of them and redone them).

Because of all the Spellcaster Studios issues, I didn’t have time to participate in anymore competitions until 2008…


Competition 12 (August 2008) – The theme was “Tower”, and I was thinking of creating a procedural RPG game for the competition, taking places in the different levels of some mage tower, but I decided against it, for two reasons: one, I was out of practice with this kind of speed-coding, and two, I had a work trip to Dublin schedulled in the middle of the competition, which meant I started the game in Portugal and finished it in Dublin… Anyway, “Brick Tower” was a simple puzzle game, and it was complete, and had some nice ideas in it, although it wasn’t very sophisticated design-wise. Unfortunately, I don’t have the original version of the game (the competition one), only a version with redone graphics by an artist, so it looks a bit better than the version I submitted…


Competition 14 (April 2009) – The theme this time was “Advancing Wall of Doom”, and it was a small nightmare comming up with something to do with it… I finished up doing an “Indiana Jones” kind of game, in which an explorer goes into some caves and has to fight off ghosts and traps to get the treasure. It was called “The Haunting“, and I was quite happy with it… Remindeded me of the spirit of “Rick Dangerous” on the Commodore Amiga, and it is certainly one game I’ll revisit when I have the time for it…


Competition 15 (August 2009) – The theme was “Caverns”, and it marked my return to 3d games for the competitions… and it was a mistake… The game was going very well, it was a game in which the player had to control a robot inside a procedurally generated cavern, to help another robot (AI controlled) get all the minerals in it. Problem was that I wasn’t having fun doing the game, for some reason, and I kind of gave up on it in the middle (48-hour competitions are about fun, so just doing something for the sake of doing, and losing a whole weekend at it didn’t appeal to me). Out of curiosity, the game was similar to what was the initial pitch concept for “Blitz and Massive”, before it turned into a graphical adventure.

compo16_Cursed01.jpg compo16_Cursed02.jpg compo16_Cursed03.jpg

Competition 16 (December 2009) – The theme was “Exploration”, and I created “Cursed” for it. The game was about a cursed pirate crew that had to find 8 relics in a procedurally generated pirate world, by getting map pieces, digging around, fighting other pirates, etc. It was one of my best 48-hour games ever, since it was very complete and it really was pleasurable doing… I even did an initial cutscene for this one, and the procedural generated game world and map system was pretty awesome for 48-hours… I even got the hang for some pixel art (hence the cutscene). Hope I can repeate this experience for the next competition…

And that’s it, all the 8 games I did for competitions in the last years… Check them out and have fun (if you can, some are terrible and don’t work too well in modern PCs)…

Can’t wait for the weekend after the next, I’ll be doing updates on my blog on the progress of the game I’ll build…