GGJ 2014 — As We Are

As We Are is a short 5-minute puzzle game where you explore a situation from several different character’s viewpoints. It’s our entry to the 2014 global game jam.

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TANKS FOR ALL THE FISH

My second game jam is over and done! I competed in the Indie Speed Run with Greg Krsak and Eric Goldman. Our theme/element was Agriculture/Aquarium.

As per usual, I tended to bite off more than we could really chew design-wise and we ended up with a top-down game where you command all these little invertebrates and plants (not fish. Fish are jerks.) to expand your aquarium and… well, get to the other ones? The idea was to have to collect the right seeds to grow a spaceship before an interstellar catastrophe befell the planet, but between AI and pathfinding and making it look pretty, the end product is more of a strategic aquarium simulator.

This was the first project I’ve worked with others in writing code! I was dragged kicking and screaming into object-definition madness instead of my usual monolithic huge single file approach. Of course, as soon as my co-coder Greg Krsak left for a wedding, I reverted to my old habits. But I think I learned some important things about how non-me people code (read: how to actually do stuff right instead of fast).

Aesthetically, I’m pleased. Eric Goldman put together some very atmospheric music and I had a lot of fun in drawing and animating the graphics. I haven’t worked in this quick-sketch-but-realistic style before, but it just sort of happened.

Of course, the power went out with an hour and a half left on the clock, right as people were starting to upload their games to the Indie Speed Run website. We got an extension on the honor principle to not work on it for any more time than we had left, so I threw in the music and a splash screen and called it done.

We did the whole thing in Python, which unfortunately means that I can’t really link to an easy thing for people to run and play it. There are tools that’ll spit out an exe but I’m not clear how to use them and I’m about to crash. God, I love game jams.

Google Reply Window

Today I submitted a feedback form to Google. Eyep, things will definitely be changing ‘round these parts…

I’m feeling frustrated with the design of the new reply window. Having to click the formatting A to bring up the window to select a formatting option is a headache enough, but having to click another button on that to bring up another window to indent/deindent/comment is a huge pain. Since that second window closes whenever I press a button, indenting something multiple times requires me to go through this process over and over.

I’m having a similar issue with inserting links; needing to mouse over the + to bring it up as an option is an extra step that I do not understand the necessity of. This UI feels like a house where everything is neatly packed into boxes. It looks nice and clean, but you need to unpack and repack the whole damn thing every time you need your car keys.

There’s a ton of potential whitespace all along that lower bar that could be used for common functions, but it’s being “taken up” (only kind of because of that strange mouseover plus thing) by buttons that are going to see significantly less use (I have never “inserted an invitation” into an email, ever).

I realize that Google is a giant and you’re unlikely to push through changes because of one bit of unsolicited design feedback from the internet, but graphical simplicity is NOT the same as simplicity of use. The Google aesthetic is beautiful because it’s easy to use and its form follows that, but strong-arming the form to be “simple” can undermine what that form stands for. Thank you.


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Rubicon: Source

Here we go, Rubicon is now an open-source project; you can now download its code, art, and music from Rubicon’s repository over at Github.

To compile the code, you’re going to need the proprietary Blitzmax compiler. You have to buy a license to create distributable executables, but they also offer a free version that you can use to compile and run the code for yourself.

Please forgive the comments, for the nights were long and the puns were many.

Here you go! ClickClock: a little productivity widget. Full description here.

Here you go! ClickClock: a little productivity widget. Full description here.

the process

A designer/scientist does not "express himself". We come up with a process that we think may produce some result (interesting, illuminating), carry out that procedure, then with fresh eyes look at the outcome to judge its actual result. Is it what we were expecting? Do we need to tweak the process? We must be able to honestly see and report what is there in order to provide the feedback that advances our knowledge and our art.

Quick 1.2 patch

Soooo… turns out that the 1.1 update broke saving points for later unlocking. A bit of quick patching has bumped out Rubicon 1.2.

Changelog:

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asker

Anonymous asked: Android port? :)

I wish. Blitzmax is great in that it makes porting to the supported platforms really easy, but mobile is not on that list. Once I release the source code (I’m still putting that together, I promise!), I’d be overjoyed to see that happen by somebody who knows what they’re doing better’n me.

Global Game Jam 2013
The 48-hours-to-make-a-game challenge put on by the Global Game Jam just wrapped up here in Portland, and here’s what the team I was working with produced: Murmur, a ” 2D side-scrolling one-button rhythm-based survival-horror” game. You run away from this monster you’ve created (you are a BIOLOGIST who has a problem with compulsively creating flesh-eating beasts) by tapping the spacebar on the red beats as they pass under your feet. The prompt for the jam was a ~10-second audio recording of a heartbeat, and we tried to reflect that with a rhythm game that represented/induced the same sort of pumping heart of TERROR.
To get away from being, as a fellow Jammer put it, “a one-note guitar hero”, you can also hit optional nodes to direct yourself down alternate paths. The highlight of this is being able to lead the monster to fellow scientists in order to buy yourself time while it chews on their bones.
We designed this choice (among others) to just add some variety and interesting gameplay decisions to an otherwise simple mechanic. We didn’t intend for the fact that it was a “human” powerup to be particularly meaningful. It was really interesting, then, to see people playing Murmur learn that they could do so, initially avoid it, then as the game got harder begin to resort to the sacrifice. There’s some message in there somewhere about people being moral only until it’s inconvenient.
All in all: I’m very pleased with the the scale and focus of this project. There were only three of us (plus one physically absent audiowizard- Mike Skalandunas) and we were able to come up with a core mechanic, design enough variation to keep things interesting, and produce a polished product within 48 hours (a little bit less, even, since we started late).
There was a bit of talk among us to throw in a couple more I’m not a huge fan of the lingering-commitment variety of gamejam. I like my projects wrapped up neat and tidy, which doesn’t allow me to fall into the habit/excuse of “I’ll fix and work on this more this later”. Working within your constraints, setting realistic goals based on available resources, etc etc, I’ll get off the soapbox now. Long story short: I think it’s a polished little nugget and that feels great.

Global Game Jam 2013

The 48-hours-to-make-a-game challenge put on by the Global Game Jam just wrapped up here in Portland, and here’s what the team I was working with produced: Murmur, a ” 2D side-scrolling one-button rhythm-based survival-horror” game. You run away from this monster you’ve created (you are a BIOLOGIST who has a problem with compulsively creating flesh-eating beasts) by tapping the spacebar on the red beats as they pass under your feet. The prompt for the jam was a ~10-second audio recording of a heartbeat, and we tried to reflect that with a rhythm game that represented/induced the same sort of pumping heart of TERROR.

To get away from being, as a fellow Jammer put it, “a one-note guitar hero”, you can also hit optional nodes to direct yourself down alternate paths. The highlight of this is being able to lead the monster to fellow scientists in order to buy yourself time while it chews on their bones.

We designed this choice (among others) to just add some variety and interesting gameplay decisions to an otherwise simple mechanic. We didn’t intend for the fact that it was a “human” powerup to be particularly meaningful. It was really interesting, then, to see people playing Murmur learn that they could do so, initially avoid it, then as the game got harder begin to resort to the sacrifice. There’s some message in there somewhere about people being moral only until it’s inconvenient.

All in all: I’m very pleased with the the scale and focus of this project. There were only three of us (plus one physically absent audiowizard- Mike Skalandunas) and we were able to come up with a core mechanic, design enough variation to keep things interesting, and produce a polished product within 48 hours (a little bit less, even, since we started late).

There was a bit of talk among us to throw in a couple more I’m not a huge fan of the lingering-commitment variety of gamejam. I like my projects wrapped up neat and tidy, which doesn’t allow me to fall into the habit/excuse of “I’ll fix and work on this more this later”. Working within your constraints, setting realistic goals based on available resources, etc etc, I’ll get off the soapbox now. Long story short: I think it’s a polished little nugget and that feels great.