Archive for the ‘Ludum Dare’ Category

Ludum Dare 35

Ratings Well, for starters, I am pleased to announce that my Ludum Dare 35 entry, Werepenguin’s Escape placed #66 in the Humor category. I know a large part of that is due to the ragdoll effects in the game. I’ve been focusing on this category for the past two years, and I’m very happy to see that my efforts have paid off. My entry also fared pretty well in the Audio (#264) and Theme (#276) categories. Doing so well in audio was a bit of a surprise, however, that generated music IS damn catchy. It’s going through my head right now. That music was a gift from the muses to someone with only minimal musical talent.

Ivory Skies / MMMob

I’m hard at work with the Ivory Skies team trying to put together a playable demo of our game MMMob in time for GDEX in October. Lots of exciting stuff going on there, and we are finally getting some artwork integrated so there might be something pretty enough to show a screenshot of soon. A couple of months ago, we realized that the sea of the project was not as wide as we thought it was, however, now we are coming to the realization that the sea of the project is deeper than we thought it was. Still, everyone on the team is very excited, and from what I hear, others are getting very excited to have a chance to play this game.

System Building

My current main rig was last rebuilt from the motherboard up in March 2009. At the time I put some pretty beefy silicon stock into it such as a Core i7 920 and an ASUS P6T motherboard. Since then, this machine has seen several upgrades, but it is pretty much topped out now and is just now starting to have trouble keeping pace with the current generation of games. It is amazing and unprecedented for a machine to last me that long; in 20 years of system building I had never gone more than 3 years between rebuilds. But I think it is a sign of the times; I’ve said before that the gains realized from increasing tech speed are diminishing, so at this point I expect that my next system can last me just as long if built right.

Since I am rebuilding my system less than half as frequently as in the past, I can afford to push a bit steeper up the price/performance curve. So, premium parts are now on the table much more so than in the past. For a while I have been considering a system with very fast RAM and a PCIe SSD.

Finally, the last piece fell into place that made a full system upgrade worthwhile: NVIDIA’s announcement of the impending release of the GeForce GTX 1080. With this, I have planned and built what hopefully will be my next 6-8 year system:


  • Core Specs:
  • Intel Core i7 6700k
  • ASUS Maximus VIII Formula motherboard
  • G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 64GB DDR4-3333 RAM
  • Intel 750 Series 1.2TB PCIe 3.0 SSD
  • Dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB GPU (to be released)

Already, even without the GPUs, just using the integrated graphics, this machine is burning up the charts on everything BUT 3D, and is staying cool and quiet while doing it:

Benchmark XMP Disabled XMP Enabled
Passmark 8.0 – CPU Mark 11,522 12,071
Passmark 8.0 – 2D Graphics Mark 959 1,005
Passmark 8.0 – Memory Mark 3,163 3,769
Passmark 8.0 – Disk Mark 12,168 13,418

The big surprise here is the blazing score in 2D graphics – the Passmark in-app comparison charts showed this rig as coming close to or surpassing a typical GTX 980 rig in every 2D subscore, even without its dedicated GPUs. This chart also shows the importance of getting high-quality, high-speed RAM AND enabling XMP in the BIOS. Going with DDR4-3333 speed memory over the minimum DDR4-2133 speed memory gave me a nice boost in performance not just in memory benchmarks but across the board, though only after configuring the BIOS to allow the system to take advantage of the faster speed memory. For me, a 5-10% boost in performance means a few more months in the rig’s useful life, so I think it is worth it.

If reality were not a factor, the only part that I would swap out is the CPU – it would have been nice to have an LGA1151-compatible 8 core CPU by now, though it would be easy/cheap enough to swap out once the Kaby Lake/Cannonlake processors are released if the gains warrant. I just couldn’t see going with anything other than an LGA1151 setup.

Overall, though, it’s an exciting time to build a system, especially if your main rig has not been rebuilt from the motherboard up in 7 years. Once complete, I expect that this rig will be fast enough to:

  • Leave skid marks on the carpet.
  • Retroactively fix the frame rate of game sessions I’ve played over the last few months. (Not just make the games run faster now. But make them run faster in the past when I was playing them on my old rig.)
  • Commune with the Speed Force.
  • Emulate a Tardis.

I’ll post additional benchmarks once the GTX 1080s are installed.

Ludum Dare 35

posted by Duke
Apr 12

It’s that time of year once again. The time when US income taxes are due, the time when old man winter finally passes out in the middle of Ohio in a fit of drunken rage, and the time when I participate in the upcoming Ludum Dare.

Preparations are all just about made. My schedule for the weekend is clear, including the day before and after the competition. My rig and tools are ready to go, and I’m paying close attention to the theme voting.

Reviewing last year’s retrospective, I see two key areas to focus on for improvement: Game controls, and making sure to get to bed at a reasonable hour. Focusing on humor is also something that always serves me well, and will continue to be a goal. Maybe, hopefully, my inspiration this year will be for a 2D game, which would be less complex to pull off, though if I do go 3D, I’m going to try my hardest to use the stock CharacterControllers in Unity. That should help a lot with the controls.

If I do manage to keep it to 2D, maybe a WebGL build will be possible. If I do anything 3D, though, I’m not going to touch Unity’s WebGL deployment, which continues to disappoint even in Unity 5.3. At this point I’m left with the obsolete WebPlayer and downloadable .exe’s as distribution platforms. Not an optimal situation. At any rate, I could rant about that for a good long time; I’m still plenty sore at ALL players involved for rendering my older games inaccessible to many without providing a VIABLE path to move them forward.

Back to Ludum Dare… another reason I’d like to do a 2D project is that I just have not done a lot of it. Even for things that could be 2D like Breaking Block, I tended toward 3D. Chroma Invader from way-back-when was really the only serious 2D project I did. Hence my surprise when other developers tell me they stick to 2D because they fear the complexities of 3D. I’m kind of the opposite – I stick to 3D because I fear the complexities of 2D artwork, because I suck at drawing things that are not abstract. Ludum Dare is one of the places where abstract 2D can actually work well.

As always, I hope to do well, and have a blast while doing so. And create and release a new game.