Author Archives: Anthony Messina

Monthly Review – February 2019

Books: Brief Answers to the Big Questions **

Movies: RBG ****, When Harry Met Sally *****, Spiderman – Into the Spider-Verse *****, Green Book ***, A Star Is Born **, Vice **, The Incredibles 2 **

Game Dev: Wizard Tower 0.1a

Video Game: Endless Legend **

Board Games: Scythe, Race for the Galaxy, Sagrada

Cooking: Portobello Mushroom Burger ***

Misc: Oscar Party

Monthly Review – January 2019

Books: The Fireclown ***

Movies: The Favourite ****, Three Identical Strangers ****, Roma ***, Solo ***, Leave No Trace ***, Isle of Dogs **, Bohemian Rhapsody **

Game Dev: Space Tiles 0.1a

Video Game: The Swapper ***

Board Games: Lords of Waterdeep, Monikers, D&D, Ticket to Ride, 7-Up

Cooking: Winter Vegetable Chili *****

Misc: Started work full time, Skull Kid show

Ludum Dare 43 – A Post Mortem

I went into Ludum Dare 43 thinking I was going to solo the whole thing. My usual teammates, my brothers, had a show on the first night. We went to our uncle’s funeral the next day. With limited time, I thought I’d do a simple game and not bother anybody. After doing so many LDs with people, it’d be refreshing to go solo.

Ludum Dare 43’s theme was Sacrifices. Play the village shaman and assist villagers in sacrificing animals to appease the gods!

Naturally, I over-scoped the game. I turned a simple concept of a ritualistic shaman into a number of tedious mini-games. Memorization. Drawing. Potion brewing (and cleaning). Space management. One would’ve been fine. Two might’ve worked. Four was just too much.

Thankfully, I had some help. My SO saw my plight and brainstormed ideas with me. One of my brothers joined mid-jam and took over the audio and models. Twitch chat offered advice and technical assistance, especially in the final hours. Without everyone’s help, the game wouldn’t have been the barely-playable state that it is now.

An early build of the game, featuring models and coloring by yours truly

If I could do the whole game again from scratch, the entire game would be one 2D screen. A villager’s face pops up in the corner, saying they want X with Y. You choose a color from a palette (no crafting involved), draw the symbol, confirm your drawing, and see how close you got. Simplify the game to its essence: drawing patterns in different colors.

I think it would have been better if the colors represent gods, and the requests be fulfilled via symbology. Simple requests (like, dislike, cure) would be represented by a box, a line, or a circle. Complex requests (love, hate, harvest) would build on the simple symbols, like a filled box, criss-crossed lines, or a tree in a circle. The symbol-drawing is what made the game unique. It would’ve been trivial to add more symbols with the way I programmed it. If I had focused on symbols more, I think the game would be both simpler and better.

For the (inevitable) Post-Ludum build, I made a number of changes, most significantly the color palette. After hearing the music for the game, I wanted to go all in on an ’80s retro theme. Due to time pressures, we didn’t achieve that, so I added it in after. I found some ’80s-looking fonts, as well. And the villagers sport various retro-inspired apparel.

Palette 2.0: ’80s Edition. I based the whole thing around an ’80s neon pink. Don’t leave the arcade without it!

Changes touched nearly everything in the game. The ritual book uses more symbols and less text. Villagers enter through the door instead of from somewhere off-screen. The drawing pen no longer requires the user to let go of the mouse on the ink – hovering over the bowl instantly changes the color. This fixed the awkwardness of clicking a sacrifice. Clicking was something I tried to avoid.

More importantly, the way villagers enter and exit was revamped. In the original build, the villagers never stopped coming. It didn’t matter if they received their sacrifice or not. I thought that losing a chance to please a god would be a nice detriment for the player, an incentive to go faster.

But the game was never supposed to be about racing the clock. That’s only there so the user has to do something, rather than nothing. The game is about color and symbol matching. So let the player draw! Before, the player had to get through 15 villagers in 5 minutes. Now, once 10 villagers leave happy, the day ends and the game is over.

Throughout the weekend, I kept wondering why I had set the resolution to 640 x 514. I didn’t question the preset in Unity; I obviously added it for a reason. I figured I researched it before and that was the best overall resolution to use. Turns out 640 x 514 is the resolution used for Ludum Dare’s title covers on the website. D’oh! Needless to say, the resolution was fixed for the post build.

Spiked chokers were a thing back then, right?

One thing I thought I did well was blocking-out everything the first night. I made a villager: three vertical cubes, the head colored differently than the body. Every other object was then sized around this. I gave everything to my brother the next day, and the models turned out great. No time-consuming resizing!

In my opinion, the thing I did worst was scope. “KISS” (Keep It Simple, Stupid) is written in my LD notes for a reason. I rushed the brainstorming portion, but it’s important to get the gameplay right from the start. Otherwise, what’s the point? Why put all this effort into a bad game?

On the last day of the competition, I thought the whole thing was a bust. I just wanted to finish it and move on. Playing it now, the game isn’t so bad. It was a little too ambitious, sure, but all the elements are there. I’m hoping the Overall score will be at least 3.0, but it’ll probably be in the mid 2s. We’ll see in a month!

Halloween 2017: Double the Fun

We wore two costume sets this year! The first was quickly put together in case the second set wasn’t completed in time. I also wanted to make up for last year’s horrific abomination of a costume.

Log Lady and Sheriff Truman, from the television show Twin Peaks

Prince Robot IV and The Stalk, from the comic Saga

Rumor Generator 1.1

This week I fleshed out the Rumor Generator. Basically all the random generators from my old spreadsheet has been implemented. The goal is to create an entire world at the click of a button.

New features:

  • Religion and Arcana facts, similar to the Rumor and History generators from before
  • Quick NPC generator
  • Name generator for any building your adventurer’s would likely visit in a city
  • Town demographics for creating an entire town at the click of a button

My next task is implementing collapsible buttons to better display the city information. I plan on adding such buttons to the entire world data, generating data on each continent, country, province, and city. Not sure whether to generate it all upfront, or on the fly as the user clicks around. It seems like a lot of unnecessary generation if the user only wants data on one city. Maybe I can just create a separate generator for the World.

Rumore Generator 1.1

Fantasy Rumor Generator 1.0

Need random rumors for your D&D compaign? Not satisfied with the ones already out there? Want rumors tailored specifically for your setting?

Well, look no further because Anthony’s Rumor Generator is here!

Features:

  • Randomly generates seven rumors or historical facts
  • Don’t like them what you see? Refresh the page for seven more!
  • Use the location links to adjust the names of places used in the generators

Right now, the generators start off using my current campaign’s location names. I plan to loading random from the start, and then using a load/save feature for regular use. There are also problems with plural usage, which I intend to alter by hand when copying for game use.

Rumor Generator

Ludum Dare 39: Day 2

Not as big of an improvement as Day 1 was, but we’re getting there. Energy levels are definitely a lot lower than yesterday. I think we’re running out of something something. (That’s funny because the Ludum Dare theme is Running Out Of Power, ok) I need sleep!

ezgif.com-cropStreamed for 12 hours today. And programmed for more. Had to learn how to do the plug’s cord without anybody watching. And imported the new models off stream; it’s tedious stuff.

Mmmm sleeeeeep.

Ludum Dare 39: Oh What A Difference A Day Makes

Ludum Dare 39 is Running Out of Power. After many hours of brainstorming, we decided to let me choose among the favorites. It was either a space sim, or an electron puzzle game. Since I don’t know the first clue about circuit boards, I went with the tried and true space sim.

The catch: you only have one plug to power all your systems. You must power your warp drive, but when enemies come flying in you have to fend them off. Call in for assistance, or shoot them down yourself. Raise shields, scan for distant bogeys, and try to make the jump to warp speed before you explode!

My goals for this Ludum Dare are: implement an animation (a real one!), and maintain a positive attitude. Last Ludum Dare I was overly harsh on everyone, and I really regret it. So far, all is well, and it seems everyone is enjoying themselves a lot more. We’re keeping it small this year, so it’s just me, Louis, and Vince again.

Compare the following work-in-progress gifs, taken 24 hours apart:

day 0 day1It’s amazing what a dedicated day can make. These are 100% my (boxy) models, so adding Vince’s models will only make it that much better. And of course Louis is doing an outstanding job with the audio and music so far. Can’t wait to see what the next 48 hours brings!

LD38 Update Day 2

Here’s some new gifs of the game, 24 hours later.

2017-04-23 LD38 intro

“Heya boys and girls! Can you help me defend the motherland against the illegal alien refugees?”

2017-04-23 LD38 shooting ufos

“Die aliens, die!!!”

2017-04-23 LD38 volcanos

Enlist the aid of Mother Nature to ward of the invading fleet.

Everything is to tiny. It makes me sad. Going to enlarge the player tomorrow to bring some life back into the game.