As I write this, I can look at the blog feed of this site and see that the second article is the 2017 New Years post about what we had planned to do in this year. I am a bit ashamed in what didn’t happen this year and know that I could have done better.
There are lots of excuses I could lay out about why I didn’t make any progress on any of those goals, but that would be exactly what I shouldn’t be doing. Instead, I am looking at this past year and deciding to make a change in my life for the better.
Back in 2014, I attempted the One Game A Month challenge. It wasn’t bad. I successfully completed 6 games, even if not all of them were good. It did feel great to make that many games and get them out there. I learned a lot, tried some new things, and had fun. That was the primary goal of that challenge. I would have loved to have actually made 12 full games.
This year, I want to do that again. But I am going to do it differently. Instead of trying to make 12 games of different genres and play styles, I am going to focus on only one play style, top-down action adventure games. These will be 12 Zelda like games. They certainly won’t all be swordplay and action, but they will all follow the same constraints.
The purpose of this particular challenge is to get me back up and running as a game developer and actually build up a set of classes, tools and libraries that will help me start work on Shattered Star: Prelude and Shattered Star. I really feel good about those games and feel that they would do well in the current indie game climate.
In addition to this goal of creating 12 games this coming year, I will be running a Patreon campaign to support the effort. As a perk to supporting this effort on Patreon, you will get the games earlier than the public, you will get to see the development process in action, and depending on your backing level, you may get to contribute creatively in some fashion.
Once a game is done, it will also be published to our itch.io store and posted for sale. I don’t plan on using any other store front at the moment, but I do want them all to be available for purchase. This will provide another avenue for people to support this effort to make 12 games this year.
In addition to this, I really want to do another conference. With the sad news that Super! Bitcon won’t be happening this year, we will instead like to shoot for the XPO conference that happens in September. That way, I will have more games to show off and will be able to have a greater impact on the success of this challenge. If I can have 9 games ready to go for that event, then I would be exciting.
I will also continue work on the Simple Site Builder and add some additional features for the free version as well as make some premium features. I would like it to be a tool available to as many game developers as possible. I think it could be very helpful for many people.
That is what I want to do this year. I want to do better this year than any year before it. I know I can do this. So here’s to a great 2018.
Goals and Deadlines
New Year, OneGameAMonth, OneGameAMonth2018, resolutions
So I got a headstart on my July One Game and boy did it make a difference. The past few months have pushed me to the last week of the month to even be able to start, but this month, I was able to start in the second week and I finished with plenty of time to spare.
So let me introduce you to my latest One Game, Amazing Mazes. Sorry for the bad pun, but I just couldn’t figure out a clever name. Amazing Mazes is simple. There are four mazes and you must navigate them. Find the flag at the end and win. Beat your best time. All that kind of stuff.
Amazing Mazes is designed to be a Gameboy style game. It only has 4 colors and fits a 160x144px screen. Those screenshots are full size. There are a couple of sounds, but not too many.
I decided to go with a Gameboy style this month because I want to participate in the Gameboy Game Jam first thing in August. So I needed to prep myself for that frame of mind.
I also had fun designing the mazes. I vaguely remember drawing mazes as a kid and I never really had fun solving them either. However, actually sitting down and making the mazes was a lot of fun. I only made four, but I could easily spend a few days making many more, but I have other work to do.
When I made the mazes, I would place the start and finish of the maze, then draw the “correct” path between them. Then I would put in all the deadends and false paths. As I made them, I think I got better because the last two I made I really got lost. My first test runs took me nearly 5 minutes to get through maze 4 compared to the 2 minutes to complete maze 1.
One thing that I am very proud of is that Amazing Maze is my second game that feels like a complete game. There is nothing about this game that I think could be done better or anything that is really missing. I think of the things that are missing they are relatively minor and easy to add in. These would be more mazes, included music, and maybe a few different characters. Like I said nothing major.
I still need to get on the ball and work on an online score keeping tool. I would love to see how quickly people are solving these mazes, but I still have not gotten around to doing that.
So that is it for this month. I really look forward to my August game as I will be knocking it out in the first week. This will give me plenty of time to work on other projects like my Kickstarter game and my September game.
Amazing Mazes, OneGameAMonth
I am really surprised that I completed this one. It was looking like I would be stuck on a couple of really annoying bugs for a time there. But I managed to pull through though.
Alex’s Meadow RPG was a blast to make. This is my first ever RPG. While it is not an RPG proper, there are no leveling, stats or anything like that, it does have that RPG feel to it. There is a lot that would have to be added for this to resemble a real RPG.
But enough about that, let’s talk the game as it is. As you may know from earlier blog posts, this game was based off a level that my son designed. It was really fun watching how excited he was to create the level and then to actually see it turn into a game. Continue Reading
Alex's Meadow RPG, OneGameAMonth
Recently, I have been working on my June One Game. I decided to take the level that my son built and turn it into a quick game. So I did what I thought was all that was needed and pulled it into a HaxeFlixel project. And it borked. This is what I got.
Compare that to the level my son created.
I hope you can see the problem. So I turned to the HaxeFlixel forums to figure out what went wrong. Continue Reading
Contributions, HaxeFlixel, OneGameAMonth
This month I set out to create a Bomberman style game. I got the idea from two sources. One was a demo for grid based movement on the HaxeFlixel website. From that demo, I learned of a powerful map editing tool called Tiled Map Editor. Using these, I began work on something that I just was not able to complete.
I feel like I am a broken record on this, but I ran into a wall of time. May was the last month for my wife and I to move everything out of a failed business venture we had. So we were spending every night and weekend I had cleaning and moving things out. As such, I had extremely limited time to work on this game.
However, even though I did not complete my May One Game, I still learned a lot from this one.
The major thing I learned was about the Tiled Map Editor. Everything in this game, aside from the starting point of the player, was put into this game using the Map Editor. I could have even included the player position in this, but i chose not to as I was building the game.
This Map Editor is extremely powerful and has been added to my permanent set of tools I use for creating games. Every 2D game I make from now on will use this tool for its level creation capabilities. Check it out for yourself to see what I am talking about.
The second thing I learned was how to properly implement grid movement for a player character. Looking at the demo code for the feature it was pretty easy for me to parse out what I needed to do to get it working. This is another feature that will be included in future games and could actually be used to expand my March game Board Game Quest.
This is definitely a game idea I want to complete in the future. I think once fleshed out it could make a great multiplayer game. THe original Bomberman still remains one of the most fun games I have ever played.
So if I find myself able to revisit it, you will not be disappointed. But for now, I have other plns for the month of June.
April was not one of my best months. I had a very hard time getting to work on games this month due to a lot of other things going on. So when I actually had time to work on a game, and there was little of it to be sure, I went with something very basic.
Easter Egg Toss is about as basic a game as you can get. Colored eggs drop from the sky and you must catch them in the matching basket. Each correct catch gets you one point. But there are black eggs that you have to avoid.
I really can’t say I am “proud” of this game as it really isn’t up to my usual standards. It is a complete game and provides some kind of challenge, but could use a lot more effort and work to make it something viable. I feel like it was done merely because I obligated myself to making it.
As for what could be done to improve it, That is hard to say. I think completely changing the game mechanics would be in order if I wanted to make a truly fun game. The rearranging of baskets is cute and all, but just doesn’t present a lot of challenge.
On the technical side of things, it would be better if I had set it up to alter the z-index of the baskets based on their y position. I would want all baskets to appear behind the other baskets if they have a lower y value (closer to the top of the screen). This would add a layer of depth the game it is currently missing.
That is really all I have to say about this particular game. I am going to try to do what I can to make May’s game a lot more interesting, unique and fun.
Easter Egg Toss, OneGameAMonth
March was a fun month for me. After spending 2 and a half weeks just trying to come up with an idea for a game, I finally got around to making it.
Back in February, I wanted to make a board game but ended up doing something different. The game I wanted to make needed to be timely for a specific event but wasn’t going to be finished in time. So I put it off.
So in March, I decided to scratch my board game itch with a slightly different board game. And thus Board Game Quest was born.
I was inspired to make this particular game after the Lego Heroica line of board games. I own all but one set of that particular game and my son and I love to play them. I think it is a great game and very much would like to make something along those lines as a video game. So this is my first prototype to that end.
The game was a lot easier to make than I had originally expected. Designing the board wasn’t bad at all as it is a simple spiral to the center. I could easily add more to it by expanding the size of the board to be larger than the game resolution. The hardest part of the game board was trying to design board elements that meshed together well. I went through various iterations of walls and spaces until I reach the set you see above. It turned out to be a lot more “brown and grey” than I really wanted, but it was the best I could make.
The characters and monsters were mostly chosen at random. I had no preconceived ideas of what I would do with them once they were put in the game. I just wanted to add variety. But lucky for me, as development advanced, I was able to use the character sprites to add mechanics variety to the game as well.
Once I had the very basics of the game down, I wanted to explore adding abilities to the characters to make them more unique and make choosing them to be an actually thought out choice. So I took the 4 character types I had and the four main aspects of the gameplay and came up with their individual traits.
While these individual traits are not too amazing in a single player match of the game, as I expand the concept and introduce multiplayer, they will become far more important. In a multiplayer match, the goal would be to reach the end and beat the end boss before the others. Which character you choose would help toward that end.
There are a few things I really want to change as I go forward with this concept. The first being the spawning of monsters. Right now, they just appear at random and disappear whether you beat them or not. As I develop out the concept of the game, I would like to leave spawned monsters in place until one player defeats them.
As the game board increases in size, I would also like to add a bit of a random encounter element. So not every move results in a monster, but perhaps only a chance to run into one. As you reach nearer your goal, the greater the chance of one spawning in front of you.
Another aspect I will consider changing is the potions. Right now, it is a single potion, or two in the case of the priest. This is fine in a single player game, but I think it would not work very well for multiplayer. I think a better system would be to replace the potion with a “rest” mechanic. With this, the player can choose to rest instead of move for a turn. Doing so would allow them to recover 1hp. This would allow the player to decide if they want to try moving forward and gaining an advantage over the other players or to rest and live to fight another day. I would change the priest’s ability from 2 potions to recovering 2hp.
One other issue that I have not decided on a proper solution to is the Paladin’s ability. The problem isn’t the ability itself, but its interaction with the final fight of the game. If the player attacks the final boss but loses, they are typically sent back a space and then must roll to move then attack again. The Paladin doesn’t move however and it feels a bit annoying to have to make a movement roll then attack. I guess the same could be said of other characters as well as any roll from one space away is going to pit you against the boss. But that can be a problem for another day.
Overall, I found developing this game to be a fun challenge. It is unique from all other games I have made and has a whole lot of potential. It could be the start of a path that leads to a tactical RPG, something I have wanted to make for a long time.
One final lesson, I would like to share. I really need to begin work on these earlier in the month. I waste a lot of time in the first 2-3 weeks and it cuts into the time I could be using to make these changes I always write about. Had I started work on this a week or two before I did, It could be a full multiplayer board game right now. That would be awesome. However, now that I have this prototype together, that could still happen and it will be great.
Board Game Quest, OneGameAMonth
These updates were not too extremely necessary, but I felt like I should make them at some point. And the last few days have been that “some point”. So here is the rundown on Dragon Canyon‘s updates.
These were some updates that I wanted to put into the game since I created it. I didn’t think the game was right when it was first released and wanted to make a few changes.
The first one was just the size of the game window. It was way too wide. I needed to scale that back considerably. The game play just didn’t lend itself to such a wide area. If the game were to be released as a four player game, I could easily see a much wider game area to be a necessity.
The next update was a simple high score mechanism. The game now tracks your personal best score, in the current play session. If you refresh the browser window or close it, your score will be lost. But it will at least let you challenge yourself a bit better.
The final update is one that it badly needed, pixel perfect collision detection. The game originally just used hit boxes based on the size of the sprite. This led to a lot of transparent pixels overlapping transparent pixels causing a collision. This led to a lot of awful deaths and some seriously crazy shots. So now, the actual opaque portions have to overlap to count as a hit. Much better.
If I were to make this into a full fledged game, I would certainly add more. I would like it to be multiplayer. That would require more monsters and a larger play area. I also need scrolling backgrounds. Multiple levels with their own monsters and backgrounds. A greater variety of monsters with a greater variety of attack patterns would be awesome. This would also include monsters that shoot back. Boss monsters would add another bit of flair. Controller support would be great as playing multiplayer on a single keyboard just doesn’t work right. I would also add health and special attacks. This would make the game more interesting a varied. Of course I would also add animations, sound effects and music to the list too.
Come to think of it, this is pretty far from a “complete” game.
Dragon Canyon, OneGameAMonth
This is not the game I wanted for February, but it is the game I needed. To steal and butcher a line from Batman. I wanted to do something a bit larger and more political for the month of February but time got away from me and I was not able to complete that game. But I did not give up on my goal of one game a month.
Instead, I made something simpler and just for fun. The game is called Graveyard Defense. The premise is simple. You stand in the center of a closed off graveyard. The undead begin to rise from the graves as you attempt to defend yourself from the wave upon wave of monsters. They keep coming and keep coming faster and faster. Eventually, you find yourself overpowered and you fail.
One of the neatest things about this game is the fact that it has sounds. This is my first game to include sound effects. They aren’t the best sound effects, but it is pretty good for a start. There are a total of five sounds for the game. One when the monster rises from the grave. One when the player kills the monster. One if the player misses. One when the player gets hit by a monster. And the final sound is when the player dies. These sounds were created using the great free tool SFXR.
The game is played using the arrow keys on the keyboard. When a monster rises, you press the arrow that points to the monster. If you hit it, you kill the monster and gain a point. If you miss, the monster is there waiting for its time to attack.
If you wait for too long to attack, the monster will attack you and you will lose a hit point. If you lose them all, you will die. Did I mention that the monsters attack faster and faster as teh game progresses? At that point, you have an opportunity to try again.
The graphics were mostly made by Willis. I made the animations for the paladin based on his forward facing idle pose. I also created the gravestones, the walls and the “pow” image.
The paladin’s attack poses were a bit trick as I am not too skilled at creating action poses. They could certainly be refined and if I decide to expand on this game idea, I will certainly ask Willis to redo them. I would also like to add animations for the monsters, but that would not have been possible in the time frame I had.
One potential update I could make to the game is to make it more like the game “Simon”. Right now, the monsters just pop out at random and you attack them. In this update, the game would build up a pattern of monsters that you would have to attack as they come. If you mess up, then you would lose a hit point. Fail too many times and you lose. This wouldn’t be too difficult of an update to make, but not something I felt like I could get right before the end of the month.
I created the game from start to finish in about 8-10 hours. That includes creating the various graphics, sounds and the coding. Not bad for something that is this fun. I will certainly try to get a bigger game out soon.
Graveyard Defense, OneGameAMonth
Every month, there is a meeting of Oklahoma Game Developers. This gives anyone attending an opportunity to show off their projects. So we took some time to show off our progress on Demon’s Hex and our January One Game A Month entry, Dragon Canyon.
We plan on showing off each of our One Game A Month entries at each meeting this year. It gives us a goal and a deadline for completion. Something that we didn’t have last year when we tried it.
You can see everything else that happened at the meetup over at OKGamDev.com.
Updates and Status
Demon's Hex, Dragon Canyon, Meetups, OneGameAMonth