larzdk on 3rd Alakajam!

Since people are posting how they plan on making their games, I figure I might as well follow suit.

Since I'm doing this as an individual, I don't need fancy version control, just basically a glorified undo / backup system. Also since it's a browser-based game there's not really anything to compile. A few years ago I wrote my own file manager in PHP and ace.js-based editor - I usually just edit things directly on the same server that will eventually house the game.

The really cool thing I'm working on before the game will be the engine. The engine has two main components: a WebGL-based renderer and isometric game framework. This was initially developed during the last Ludum Dare but in a rush to get it done I wrote some absolutely terrible code. So instead I am planning to tidy it up and add new features. This time, before the jam even begins I'll have an engine that can handle things like:

  • large terrains without too much lag
  • terrain elevation
  • nicer shore / water effects
  • proper A-star pathfinding and collisions (hooking into pathfinding.js)
  • different types of blending between terrain types
  • fog of war
  • particles
    Aim is to get it to at least 90s standards of isometric engines, although it's possible I won't get all these features implemented in time. I've already improved it with better resource loading and font handling, so I'm optimistic I can tick off many of the things on that list.

Graphics are usually my worst-scoring area in game jams. But I've been trying really hard to improve.

Typically I'll use Photoshop for just about everything. Sometimes I'll do some hand-drawn sketches, especially if the game I come up with calls for more complex art. I absolutely suck at drawing isometric characters though. Given that I'm creating this isometric engine, I'm considering pre-drawing a "base" isometric character and basing my other characters off this design. I considered 3D modelling my characters and rendering those, but I'm even worse at 3D modelling than I am at 2D pixel art. For putting together sprite sheets I usually use an online tool called Stitches. For making seamless textures this is a website I use sometimes.

Audio is usually my best-scoring category. I tend to think it's really important in game development but often neglected.

For sounds I like to get creative around my house, and just record them with audacity (free) and my laptop mic. I have a couple of plugins that I use to master my sound effects and edit them until they sound the way I want them to. For example, me whacking the side of my printer sounds a lot like a catapult. I'm also considering, since I won't need to worry about my engine in this jam, that I might even have time to record my own voice. Voice acting could be fun to try.

For music, I start drafting out ideas using a free program called Anvil Studio, which edits MIDI files. Then I use a shareware program called Synthfont to play the various MIDI tracks using VST instruments or Soundfonts in my collection. The resulting sound is usually passable although not as good as professional DAWs. To make it really sound good, if I have time, I will usually rerecord the music in many takes using different instruments / sounds. Then I'd use Audacity to mix them together and master them appropriately.

Comments (2)

4 months ago

I like your music making process! Have you ever tried LMMS btw?

Also I'm curious to see your LD41 entry, it will be fun to compare how your isometric engine did for both games.

4 months ago

@Wan thanks! I'm pretty excited to compare too XD In LD41 my game was called The Chronicles of Witchnook. I'll link to it somewhere when my game is finished.

LMMS is by far the best option (that I've seen) for anything electronic or that requires automation. I use it seldomly because most of my music is more orchestral - Anvil's score editing and Synthfont's layering I generally find easier. Although I guess it might be a familiarity thing. It's definitely another tool that's good to have though.

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