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AGameAWeek 2008-2009 : Part Three
5th August 2009  

The AGameAWeek 2008-2009 Retrospective

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five

Back to work

Week Twenty Three - Space Monkeys Go Bananas - Link

It kinda sucked not making AGameAWeek for such a while, so with the fresh new year I decided to get back up to speed. The first week's game was a simple 2D Super Monkey Ball clone.Top down maze, guide the ball around, that type of thing.-=-=-

Over the past few games I'd learned to make games in a slightly different way. It was becoming apparent that my better games were those which made the player struggle to get a decent score. Those that really reward the player for really giving it a go were rapidly becoming a favourite of mine.

With this in mind I made Space Monkeys Go Bananas as a much tougher version than I normally would. Unlike my normal "ball around a maze" games, I gave the player one single life. If you want to see all the levels, you'd have to be really good at the game!

Once online, I got a couple of complaints about the difficulty, but curiously, more people complained about the lack of levels. I guess, then, that this worked great! So the SuperHard structure was left in for future games.

Week Twenty Four - Generic Slider - Link

Usually I just write a game, and have done with it. This week, though, I decided to simultaneously build a tutorial to go along with the game. The plan was simple. Starting from scratch, write an entire game, and jot down what I'm doing along the way.

I built up a game involving a few dozen techniques. One of the more important was grabbing objects, and dragging them, using the mouse. Since I'm always being asked how to do this, I figured it'd be handy to have a reference point in future. Of course, I've since forgotten that I have this reference, so in many ways, that didn't work, and I have in fact answered this question a few times since. Silly me!

As a tutorial, I think it worked out well. It's readable enough to follow, and the gameplay engine has plenty of little reusable elements.

Unfortunately, the game isn't quite as good as it should've been. Not really sure what didn't work, but something didn't!

Week Twenty Five - Go Left! - Link

A simpler game, this week. I had initially intended to update the graphics once the gameplay was working, but. well, I didn't! Oh well.

This game plays a lot like Afr0's Chair, in that you just have to walk and dodge the obstacles, and not much else. The game only has one key, though. Just go left. No other keys, no jump, no going backwards, nothing.

As a test, it works out alright. It'd probably be a better game in Flash, though, and would be about half as big, too. This is one of those times where I really considered switching to Flash to work on games. To this date, I haven't bothered to do that, though. Maybe for Year 2.

Week Twenty Six - J-Walker - Link

It's probably really obvious that I played Vib Ribbon this week, because J-Walker is pretty much a rip off of that. A simple game that takes the ideas of Cowbell Hero, and turns it from one button to four.

I spent a day or so working on a batch of little Vib Ribbon style stick figures, but no matter how much I tried, it looked rubbish. Instead, I opted for a simpler style. Drawing the graphics in 8x8 pixel sprites, then scaling them up, I ended up with a nice thick black-on-white chunky look.

With a tiny bit of colour added to the graphics, things were starting to look great, so I then set each button to it's own colour, and got the game whirring away.

In the end, this is a really neat looking game. It might not be the most playable thing ever, but at least it looks good!

Week Twenty Seven - Disasteroids - Link

Sometimes people complain about things that I don't feel are an issue. This week's game was one of those times.

Disasteroids was a simple Asteroids game. Shoot the asteroids, pickup the bonuses, shoot more asteroids. Simple stuff. I added a bit of glowyness to the graphics, and made the whole game nice and fast, in line with my "Harder is Better" theories. I thought the game turned out nicely.

With nothing much else wrong with the game, the control scheme was the thing that people opted to complain about. To be fair, I'd taken the controls straight from Horizontal Shooter. Nobody had ever complained about the controls on that game, so I felt they were good controls. I wasn't expecting a whole bunch of complaints about not being able to turn your craft around quickly enough, and having targeting issues.

They were good enough for H~S, and quite frankly, they're good enough here, too. I still think this game's great, even if nobody else does!

Week Twenty Eight - Nada - Link

After tweaking Disasteroids back and forth, I still got complaints. Bah! Even more excuse wise, I also had my mum's 50th birthday this week, and I was full of flu as well! What a busy week!

As a result, I got little to no game making done. I did start hacking at Crossword games, but that game's release wouldn't happen for another week. Instead, I decided to post a game I'd done a few years earlier. Having hunted everywhere, I couldn't find this game anywhere, so I figured I probably hadn't put it online before.

Green's 16-bit Collection was originally meant to be a large multiplayer version of Green's 8-bit Collection. I got a fair way through the thing, and even got some AI players working. For some reason, though, I seemed to have stopped early on in the project. Having to hunt for the sourcecode, I realised I'd left it on the other PC when it's harddrive died. D'oh!

I've learned to keep files in a specific folder, do backups, yada yada. I hate that I've lost code, and I've sworn never to do it again! Backup, people! Do it now!!

Week Twenty Nine - Jay's XWords - Link

Hacking away at a batch of Nintendo DS games, I managed to grab a large batch of Crossword questions and answers. I decided that, if I was ever going to play a Crossword game on the DS, I was going to have to make my own. See, the issue is, no matter which DS Crossword game you try to play, there's always something fundamentally wrong with it. Some have the DS hold in regular landscape position, so it's awkward to play in a pen-and-paper style. Some have the stylus make stupidly annoying noises everytime you dare touch it. And the most annoying one has the crossword puzzle vanish from the screen, being replaced by a blank box, and the question.

Stupid.. Really stupid.

So, with the clues and answers collected, I set about making a random layout creator, which spent a day or so building a batch of crosswords from the collected Q/As, and formed me a really decent collection.

With all that work already done, actually making a complete, working and GOOD crossword game took around about 3 or 4 hours. Popping in the Q/As was simple, and the game worked a treat. It also seemed to be fairly popular.

It does, of course, include a great big copyright thing on the titlescreen!

Week Thirty - Storm of Idigidragon - Link

Aah, Idigidragon. A creature spawned from a crazy time in the communities past. Idigidragon is mean, and so far has never been defeated. He seems to be completely invulnerable, which is a shame since all the games are about trying to defeat him.

In this week's game, you're a little biplane trying to shoot down Idigidragon, the invulnerable super dragon who can't ever be killed. As such, the game is less about winning, and more about lasting as long as you can.

As far as gameplay styles go, this is probably the most retro looking, and sounding game I've ever managed. You'd think that kind of thing would be easy to do, but getting the games to feel just right is strangely complex. Storm of Idigidragon is just about right, with a gigantic green monster, square cars, blocky weapons and fantastically retro bloops all over the place.

Week Thirty One - Mini Sokoban - Link

Taking a batch of levels from David W Skinner???s Sokoban Level Site, I set about making a simple Sokoban game. More retrostyled squares made up the graphics, and the gameplay was pretty easy to impliment. It's only Sokoban, after all!

I originally built this game to go inside a new DS Platdude collection, and even successfully ported it over to the DS within this same week. The game works great on both systems, and uses the same graphics and level data.

This would become a recurring theme for the next few weeks, but... For whatever reason I seemed to have given up on the DS project. As such, the DS one remains firmly sat on my harddrive with no probable release date. It's a shame, but at least you can play the PC one!

Week Thirty Two - Flinging Ships - Link

Oh, that's right. I forgot about the DS project because I bought a new phone! My new LG Cookie turned up, and had a whole range of disappointing Java based issues. Long story short, just about the only input method turned out to be tapping the screen. Not even stylus-dragging worked properly.

With that in mind, I tried to come up with an interesting gameplay idea that would only ever need taps to play. Flinging Ships was a simple idea. Tap the screen, send a bomb shooting off, and that in turn sends the ships flying across the screen to their destination.

In many ways this game worked as intended, but there wasn't much in the way of gameplay, and the idea was scrapped halfway through. It's still playable, but don't expect anything amazing.

The AGameAWeek 2008-2009 Retrospective

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five

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