What happens when you combine sports and words? That’s right, the unholy portmanteau of this post’s title. Conceived as a last minute entry into the TIGSource Sports competition, Spwords is a player-versus-computer match that puts your (English) vocabulary, spelling, and typing speed to the test.
Maybe you didn’t understand the commentator’s quick explanation of the rules. That’s fine, that’s what this paragraph is for. You and computer take turns typing words during rounds, and each round has an assigned letter. Each word played must start with the round’s letter. Also, a word must contain the last played word’s last letter for it to count. In addition to all this, you have a time limit, and words may never be repeated. Win three rounds to win the match. Have a go!
I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to participate in this weekend’s Ludum Dare, as it had been too long since I last made (and released) a game. This time I didn’t make a fancy timelapse video or anything like, but I did spend some time on Friday learning to use the beautiful Flixel, and then the weekend bending it to my nonstandard needs. The result is a game, unlike last time, though not exactly what I set out to do. Still, it’s playable. And it fits the ‘exploration’ theme.
I made this animated GIF over a year ago, thinking of an idea for a game I envisioned for the Game Boy Advance. This game was to be a bichrome, Knytt–inspired platformer. I decided to reuse the core of this idea: that is, the running on walls and ceilings, and a tad more. It was simplified to the essence, though: the little guy won’t stop running, so all you can do is jump in order to steer him where you want to go. It feels a bit like controlling a jumping, sticky train.
I forgot to report back then, but my game, Viewpoints, got tenth place in the competition it was created for, TIGSource’s Cockpit Competition. Considering that there were 41 entries, that’s not too bad.
More surprising is that Sheets, the game I entered in TIGSource’s latest, the Adult/Educational Competition, also got me in tenth place. This is so surprising due to my making the game in a rush to get something in at all, and it being mostly just a ‘choose your own adventure’ interactive story. More so, because there were a few very good games that didn’t even make it into the top ten, such as Gregory Weir’s Silent Conversation. All I can say is that I got lucky, this time.
I made this video for a local competition of short format videos, called Nanometrajes. Sadly, I couldn’t come up with anything to make, until it was already only a few days until the deadline, so I came up with a simple plan. I didn’t have a video camera (the one I use usually is my dad’s), so I’d have to animate. I decided to use my photo camera to capture the zooming shots you see in the video, taking two steps between each frame. Since I didn’t have much of a story or context, I decided to make these oneiric, and basically make it all the interpretation of a dream. That’s how I came up with the narration, which, translated, goes as follow:
I dreamt that, in a fish tank, there was a whale. Every fish wanted to be eaten by it—they crowded in front of its mouth. The rush was such, that, shortly, only the whale was left in the fish tank. Alone, and without sustenance, the whale died.
I thought that a fable was perfect to complement visuals that didn’t have much to do with it. I meant it to represent the metropolis, but it can be read in several ways.
The other sounds all came from my own mouth. I used a Nintendo DS and NitroTracker to sample my voice, and to structure the sounds into what you hear. The video was made using After Effects. This whole project was completed in around 10 hours. […]
I had things to do and places to be Friday night and all Saturday, so only got started on my Ludum Dare entry by Saturday night. LD is a 48 hour competition in which I also participated four months ago; back then, I made Heart. This time, I didn’t get to make such a complete game. The theme was ‘caverns’, so I had planned to make a rhythmic game about flying through a cavern (okay, more like a tunnel) and avoiding obstacles to the beat. It was actually pretty hard to just get the visual effect right, so I got only as far as adding some randomized obstacles, and throwing in a sound effect upon hitting one. So, it’s far from a complete game. The code that would allow me to add in a music track and have it be synchronized to the images is already there, at least.
This latest TIGSource video game competition has a double theme: adult/educational. I have to say, it’s a fantastic combination. The idea was that entrants could create a game under one or both themes. I wish more entered games had used both simultaneously, but, well, not even I did that in the end.
During most of the duration of the competition, I didn’t find the time to make my game. Also, I was finding it hard to come up with an idea. Educational games are tough to make; they require familiarity with the taught subject, therefore they involve plenty of research, usually. I wanted to make an educational game foremost, but the adult theme also intrigued me, so I was thinking of incorporating it somehow. When I finally came up with an idea, it was already too late to really consider trying it; a week wasn’t going to be enough. That idea was a puzzle game about additive and substractive color theory, which I still think is good enough to archive for a future opportunity. But since it would take me too long to make that, and educational games in general were already out of the question, I decided to just go for the other theme.
Next came the question of how to make any game in a short enough amount of time. I’ve had the idea, for some time, of creating a small engine for text-based games in Flash, which I would use to make a series of games, and which I would also release independently. Trying to plan that proved to be too difficult with my limited knowledge of programming best practices, design patterns, and whatnot. But I figured I could use the occasion of the competition to just hard code a game in that fashion, which would be an easy thing to program, and in the process figure out what kind of structure my code would need to turn it into an engine. So, by making this game, I fulfilled two goals: I entered the competition, and I learned a bit more about programming.
The game is text-only, but it does deal with subjects such as sex and rape, so it is meant for mature players.
What you see above is my computer screen during the past weekend (each hour reduced to 2.5 seconds), as I make two games for two events that were held concurrently. One is a competition called Ludum Dare, on which, during the 48 hours of its duration, participants are expected to create a game by themselves and ‘from scratch’. The week prior, participants vote on a theme. ‘Advancing wall of doom’ won this time, which is not one I’m too fond of, but I did participate and make a game. Or two, in fact, because for the other event, my usual two-hour Klik of the Month, I made a game based on the same theme.
Heart is the name of my Ludum Dare entry. The game is not final, and neither is the name, so let’s say it’s the competition version’s name. It was inspired by Stephen Lavelle’s Defect. It was made for Flash, using the Flex SDK and coded in Actionscript 3. I’ll probably post more about it in the future, when I decide that the game is finished.
I’ve completed a new videogame—another entry in another TIGSource competition. The theme, this time, is ‘cockpits’. My game is pretty much on the fringe in the way it implements the theme, though. What I originally intended to make was some manner of car driving game, inspired by the original Out Run, since I’m such a big fan of the series, and because I love the aesthetic of that kind of low-tech 3D. I might do this in the future; we’ll see how creating such an engine will go for me. But the game I ended up conceiving, because I only had roughly a week to make it (until the deadline was extended another week), is not about driving anything at all, it is merely about looking; how much more simple can a game’s interface and set of verbs get? You are still in some kind of convertible sportscar, but you’re just sitting on the passenger’s seat.
I’ve coined the term ‘narrative exploration’ to describe Viewpoints, because the very core of the concept is about exploring, but not a physical space, like in, say, Metroid, but, instead, a space of different possible stories—a narrative space. The concept itself was shamelessly ripped from Terry Cavanagh’s Pathways —a short game I can wholeheartedly recommend—, though his execution is different from mine (I’m not quite that flagrant).
Also, for this past April Fools’, I made a variation of Viewpoints and released it as if it were the finished game for the competition. I took the Out Run and Sega inspiration further, and created something quite ridiculous. I call it Winner. (It may be worth mentioning that some of the contents of this variation were taken straight from Sega-made games.)
increpare (Stephen Lavelle) just released an entry for the CODEAR Single Boss Game competition that is currently running, called Infidelidad (Infidelity). Since the competition is held by the ADVA (Video Game Developers Association of Argentina), I offered him to translate it into Spanish, and so I did. The dialogue is brief but quite comical, and I had lots of fun doing the translation. The game itself is short, but sweet. Put a smile on my face.