Ludum Dare 14 liveblog

Sunday
5:00 AM – final progress for tonight. The deadline is looking grim, but I’ll keep on trucking.

early3

2:50 AM – woah, is it Sunday already? I’ve lost track of time these past few hours. Staying up late to make a final push into prototyping, lots of little details getting in, but still far away from completion.

Saturday
8:35 PM – as always with these things, the key is to expect delays. Right now it looks like I’m going to be pushing hard to finish the prototype tonight. Art assets (and dinner and other things) have slowed me down a bit.

4:20 PM – art’s coming along with some little tweaks. The next goal is to get to tier 2 (playable prototype) by midnight tonight. Taking a short break to get outside, enjoy the nice weather, and then come back recharged and ready to go.

2:40 PM – basic systems for the most part are in place. Consider the first milestone reached. Now I’m back to Photoshop drawing new art assets up for the prototype.

Here’s a picture to give an idea what’s going on now!

early2

1:55 PM – bullets are going in, right now they fire at various points, now I just need to assign responsibilities and destruction and we’re almost at tier 1!

12:30 PM – quick break for food. Things are progressing alright, I feel that I can be done with the 1st tier of development (systems in place) by 3 PM or so. That includes basic spawning of enemies, attack cycle, a little bit of resource management, and player interaction.

10:45 AM – rested and ready to work again! This current push is to get basic systems within the game working.

3:45 AM – First images!

early1

3:20 AM – so my idea is basically that you are the advancing wall of doom. Or rather you control the wall of doom (which is a massive machine ala FernGully). In a lot of ways I imagine it to be an inverse tower defense-style game. Unfortunately, it looks like this isn’t the most original idea, but it’s something that clicked early on. I’m going to do a little more work tonight before getting some sleep and starting again tomorrow, getting the basic systems in place as quickly as I can.

1:25 AM – game idea hatched and now working on the design doc and schedule. Trying to apply lessons learned from the Global Game Jam (and the lessons I’m going to teach when I present at the Triangle Game Conference). So even in 48 hours it helps to have a schedule to adhere to and a design document to follow, even if everything goes to hell at the end.

Friday
11:11 PM – I’m taking part of Ludum Dare 14, a 48-hour solo game-making competition. The rules are simple, finish something under the theme in 48 hours working alone and making everything from scratch. The theme for this one? Advancing wall of doom. I currently have no concrete ideas, but 48 hours to go!

XNA Community Games, not the next App Store

Last week Microsoft released the first bits of sales data to various creators of XNA Community Games. Community Games briefly are akin to apps for the iPhone. Unlike games for Xbox Live Arcade which need to go through a strenuous (and lengthy) certification process, XNA Community Games only need to be approved through a few simple metrics by fellow developers before being released. Community Games remain Microsoft’s way of opening up the Xbox 360 to interested creators who may not have the time or resources to release a full Live Arcade title. Although Community Games have been available since the roll out of the NXE late last year, up until now developers haven’t been able to get a glimpse of how their titles were doing outside of anecdotal evidence.

Thanks to some creators who were willing to publicly share their sales data the first results are in. And they are not very promising. While some of the higher-profile titles are missing, it seems highly likely that XNA Community Games are not and will not for the foreseeable future be a viable way for indie developers to earn a living. The news isn’t all bad though. As GamerBytes documents, in some cases the conversion rate for some games have been fairly successful. The problem in general seems to be the lack of general players for XNA Community Games. Microsoft for various reasons has buried these Community Games deep within the interface for the 360. Unlike Apple and the App Store, there is very little promotion or publicity done for games. And the user interface for Community Games themselves makes finding good games a chore, there are no easy filtering or rating system that would allow potential players to separate the wheat from the chaff.

It’s a bit of a shame because otherwise XNA Community Games have seemed to be gaining popularity and momentum as a platform for developers. And with a few tweaks its not crazy to think that Community Games could be a nice selling point for the 360, especially with interesting titles like Miner Dig Deep or Carneyvale Showtime. But until then, the XNA Community Games feels more like a sideshow for only the most dedicated 360 players.