Ludum Dare 49: "Unstable"

Ludum Dare is a semiannual game jam that gives participants 48 or 72 hours to build a game from scratch. In the stricter “compo” rules, a participant must work solo and create all art, sound, and code used in their game. I took 72h, but otherwise followed the compo rules.

The theme for LD49 was “Unstable.”

  • Could You Sit Still For Five Seconds?

CYSSFFS includes a lot of firsts for me: my first game jam game, my first game using graphics, and my first time ever using GameMaker Studio. The concept popped fully-formed into my head when I saw the theme; I hadn’t even been aware of the jam (let alone planning to participate) but when I happened across the word “unstable” I was instantly reminded of a viral video of trying to line up a dozen dogs for a photograph.

I’m particularly proud of having tackled three new (to me) processes in this game:

  • Mouse control. GMS2 makes it pretty approachable, but sorting Mouse Down vs Pressed vs Released requires a lot of planning.
  • The dogs and targets are dynamically generated at runtime rather than pre-placed, based on a variable player_level (it’s a hard-coded value right now but the implementation will make adding levels easy for the next version). Dynamic instances made for some challenges – in particular, determining score – but also resulted in a lot of learning.
  • This is the first time I’ve built an AI behavior tree (for the dogs). It tracks tiredness (chance to fall asleep), restlessness (chance to wander), and discomfort (chance to want a treat/toy). The dogs’ states drive the sprite updates as well.

I plan to revisit the game and clean it up now that the jam has ended. My primary goals for a “1.1” update:

  • Clean up the mouse control to remove extra/false inputs, particularly when dogs are overlapping.
  • Add sounds.
  • A few more animations – including, naturally, the ability to pet the dogs.

Shortly after submitting the game, I was reminded of the McSweeneys “Fake Massachusetts Towns” piece and the town called “Unstable (/unst’-a-bull/)”… maybe my next game will be about throwing unruly patrons out of a dive bar in Southie.


Comments are closed