2016 wasn’t all bad. I made some cool stuff at least.
So, I fell short of my goal of making five games this year. But I did make three! I think they’re pretty neat.
I’ve been calling this one a turn-based digdug-like. I made it for this year’s 7-day roguelike challenge. It’s really hard! For me at least. I’m actually not even sure it’s always winnable but I’m not good enough to tell.
This is an automatic runner where you have two different jump buttons. I really just wanted to make a character creator and then I added the game after, but I think the game part is pretty fun too. I made this one for GBJAM 5.
I have two tunes done, but I still need to make a song for the actual gameplay part.
Here’s the music for character creation:
Unnamed Print Shop Clone
I’m working on a Print Shop-like greeting card creation web app. I still haven’t even named it yet but you edit a card like this:
And it prints out a quad fold card page like this:
I have an unfinished game where you control a hyperdimensional mini-golf windmill that I need to polish up and finish.
More game jams
I plan to do at least the 7-day roguelike challenge again assuming real life doesn’t interfere with that week. Would like do some other game jams too. I’m going to try to keep on top of things this year so I can work them into my schedule instead of being caught by surprise.
I’d like to mess around with hardware a bit more this year. Want to do at least one or two of these:
I made a game for GBJAM 5 called Runjumpers. It’s an action jumping game with a 4 color palette for the graphics. Here’s a few interesting things I learned while making it.
Game designy stuff
Music is important
I knew it would eat up a lot of my limited time, since I’d never done it before, so I decided in advance to not add any music. But half of all the feedback I’ve gotten so far has mentioned that it would be nice if the game had music.
So I’ve been looking into how to make music. I don’t ever expect to make a masterpiece, but being able to create some passable catchy tunes will come in handy for future game jams.
I’m planning on a post-jam update for the game with some music. So far, I’ve only got this track for the title screen. Making something suitable for the running part has proven trickier. I’m gonna keep trying though.
Small gameplay changes can make a big difference
When I first started making the game it only had one jump key, and you could only jump one height. I thought about having a variable height jump based on how long you pushed the key, but first I tried just adding a hop key for small jumps. The game instantly became much more interesting and challenging.
I played around and started building levels based on choosing between hop and jump. As I tested them I would get frustrated and think things like, “Oh come on! I almost had it… Just one more try and I’ll get past that part!” I was having fun. This was working.
So this change only increased the available player choices at any given moment from 2 (jump / don’t jump) to 3. Sure that’s still a 50% increase in complexity, but it’s also the smallest change possible. Sometimes that’s all you need.
I was getting some lag when testing my game in Firefox on a different computer. After some investigation I found one interesting place for optimization.
How do we reduce garbage collection? Just reduce the amount of garbage we create. What is garbage exactly? In this case we mean creating objects that are never used again. The browser has to do some computation to free up that memory.
Check out those heap allocation graphs. Also notice ‘Minor GC’ drops from 17.3ms to 0.4ms. And this is just a simple running game with no enemies or items. In a game with bullets and enemies flying around the difference would even be more dramatic.