Junk Food Blaster

Junk Food Blaster is a game that I created for the GM48 23rd game jam.

Blast the junk food and keep your heart rate below 200! Walking and jumping will slowly raise your heart rate. Junk food will significantly raise heart rate!

Standing still will drop your heart rate back to normal.

Hot dogs move in a straight direction. Hamburgers float in the air.

Entry – https://gm48.net/game/645/junk-food-blaster

Time Lapse Video

Post Mortem

Junk Food Blaster is the first game that I’ve created using GameMaker Studio 2.  I bought this version of GameMaker from Steam during the summer sale.  I was disappointed to discover that I am not able to make HTML5 web builds, however I can make builds for Windows, MacOS, and Ubuntu (Linux).

The theme for this GameMaker game jam was “Sacrifice”.  After I had heart problems four years ago which required as stent placement, one of the things I’ve had to sacrifice is fast food.  I know some of us in the Knoxville Game Design group joked about me making a heart attack game before, so this seemed like a good opportunity to make that game.

I used to eat fast food regularly, but I’ve scaled it back dramatically to avoid having heart problems again.  Going to the emergency room in the middle of the night with chest pains is not an enjoyable experience.  I was planning on having many of the types of foods that I have given up (or scaled back).  Time ran short for me on this game jam, so I only included hotdogs and hamburgers.  I was also planning on having pizza as an enemy in the game which would throw pepperonis at you.

As with other game jams, all of the assets have to be created in 48 hours, ending at 8pm Eastern Time on Sunday.  This includes art, sound effects, and music.

As with my Miner Madness game, I decided to use vector based SVG art created in Inkscape, which I animate in Spriter.  However, this time I learned how to use bones in Spriter to animate various parts.  This was necessary to keep the right arm and the gun together.

Some parts of GameMaker 2 proved to be very frustrating to me.   I liked the ability to switch between DnD (drag and drop) mode and GML code.  However, sometimes the action toolbox would not display in DnD mode.  Plus, the camera and viewport system has been completely redone, so most of the information on the Internet on moving a camera in viewport is out of date.

I didn’t like the method for navigating in GameMaker 2 either.  Too many instances of windows in windows in windows.  Moving around in the workspace felt like a chore.  There are no scrollbars, so you have to press the middle mouse button down to move around.  The zoom-in feature on the code windows was annoying, because it made some really distracting anti-aliasing effects which are fine for graphics, but makes text difficult to read in an editor.  I did finally find the magnifying glass with equal sign which makes everything in its original size.

The panning around in the workspace when selecting different objects also got annoying after awhile.  I would rather just have one window with tabs like every other IDE.

One the complaints I have about Spriter Pro is not being able to set the dimensions of the generated sprite sheet for an animation in pixels.  You have to specify the size in percentages, which means you have to figure out the size in Gimp first and use a calculator to get the percentage.  I also had issues with the animation playing too fast in the Spriter Pro editor, and it has an annoying step of pressing the set length button after setting the maximum number of frames.  It’s like my gripe with Inkscape with having to press Export to generate a png image after pressing Export As and pressing the Save button.  You would think that Save means that it is going to write the png file, but it doesn’t.

I had problems with the jump animation, because there is no straight forward way to make an animation not loop.  I had to keep track of the last frame, and then set the animation speed to zero until the player touches the ground.  The gun shooting animation had a similar issue, but I just made sure that the animation frames (15) were the same number as the shooting delay.  Since the game runs at 30 frames a second, it takes half of a second for the shooting delay.

Another issue that I had was the game looping back to the level screen after the game over screen, when it was supposed to go to the title screen.  After some thinking, I realized it was because it was registering the space key down on the frame after it was pressed to leave the game over screen.  To fix this, I put a 60 frame (2 second delay) on the title screen.  One important thing that I added was an offset to the title text based on the delay value, which makes the text rise upward.  When the title text stops, then the user can press space to load the game.  Otherwise, it will make it feel laggy because the user has no visual cue of why they weren’t able to continue by pressing space before.

I would like to add more types of food to the game as enemies.  As I mentioned earlier, pizza which would shoot projectiles.  I’m thinking about adding fries as well.  My cardiologist says that keeping my sodium intake low is one of the most important things to keeping my blood pressure low and avoiding another heart attack.  Salty foods like fries contain a lot of sodium.

When I made the hamburger enemy, I joined two circles together and took the difference with a rectangle to make the bun.  Then I duplicated that piece and flipped it vertically to make the bottom piece of bun.  I cut a rotated square in half to make a piece of cheese.  Originally, I just had one piece of cheese, but then I added a second and it looked like fangs!  I definitely didn’t plan it that way, but it looked so good I had to keep the two pieces of cheese.

I would like to add powerups to make the gun shoot farther and maybe add other abilities.  The game needs additional levels as well, since this is probably one of my shortest games.  The problem I have with gamemaker is that the collision detection is done by specifying the name of the object, which means I would have to update the code to add a new type of wall objects.  There is probably a better way to do this that I don’t know about yet.  I know there is a tile layer, which I should probably be using instead of instantiating individual wall squares.

I used BFXR for generating the sound effects.  The enemy death sound effect reminds me of Bill Cosby’s marker sound on Picture Pages.

I felt like I could have done better with the music.  I made a slower more relaxing theme this time.  It has one background pattern then a slow moving theme.  I cut the theme a slowed the tempo for the title music.  I did have some background ambience tones, but those came out way too loud after I exported the mp3 from my MacBook Pro to my PC desktop, so I ended up removing that track.

I knew I wanted to have a representation of the hearts health as the player’s life value.  I thought about using blood pressure, but heart rate seemed more appropriate.  On my last GM48 game jam, one of the categories that I was graded lowly in was originality.  So for this game I made it so that running and jumping added to your heart rate.  If your heart rate reaches 200, then it’s cardiac arrest and game over.  I originally wanted to have a graphical heart rate monitor that would speed up and possibly change color as you approach the maximum heart rate value.  If you stand still, your heart rate gradually lowers back to a minimum of 100.  Colliding with a hot dog or hamburger will significantly increase your heart rate, by 20 and 40 respectively.  Walking increases your heart rate by 0.2 for every frame.  By default, your heart rate lowers by 0.1 per frame, so I had to make walking  more than default to see an increase.  Jumping raises heart rate by 5.  Looking back, I would probably make it so that the player can’t die from walking or jumping, so that the player would actually have to collide with the enemy for the game to be over.  Otherwise it just feels strange by dying from walking or jumping.  An audio cue or speed up in game music would also let the player know they are reaching a dangerous level, although I didn’t see any way to increase the tempo or speed of the music in GameMaker like is possible in Unity.

One problem is that sometime the player can rapidly jump in the wall when holding down the jump button.  I think this is because the collision boxes on each sprite animation (standing, jumping, walking, shooting) are different sizes and there is no easy way to make them the same.  It would be nice to have just one collision box for an object, and just change the animation.  I did see an option to use a different collision box for a sprite, so I will need to learn more about that option.

The background was also made in Inkscape.  One of the difficulties was making it wrap around.  I figured out how to make the background tile across the entire viewport.  I used the number of horizontal blocks in Super Mario Bros level 1-1 as the size of my level.  I had to adjust the horizontal size of my viewport to take account of the larger size of my times.

I figured out how to get the camera to follow the player by enabling the viewport and setting the appropriate camera size and setting the player object as the thing to follow.  The difficult part was getting the status text with the heart rate value to anchor at one spot on the screen, since it wanted to scroll with everything else.  After much trial and error, I finally found the correct values to use camera_get_view_x(camera_get_active()).  If you want the text to follow the player, you can just use the player object’s x value.

Controls

  • A,D or arrow keys – move
  • Space – jump
  • Left mouse button, F, or Ctrl – shoot

Tools used

  • Engine – GameMaker Studio 2 Desktop
  • Graphics – Inkscape 0.91
  • Graphics – Spriter Pro 11
  • Graphics – Gimp 2.8.18
  • Sound Effects – Bfxr 1.4.1
  • Music – GarageBand 10.1.1

Miner Madness

Help the miner collect gems and escape the caves.  Run and jump to avoid the deadly bats!

This my first time submitting a game to GM48. This game jam was recommended to me by a friend in Knoxville Game Design. The last game I made in GameMaker was a game called Shape Quest that I created for a game jam in April 2016. My GameMaker skills are a little rusty, but I still remembered most of the basics. This is my first time developing a platformer in GameMaker.

The entire development stream of Miner Madness is on my YouTube channel. The total development time was about 9 hours (I didn’t start until Saturday afternoon).

Miner Madness Live Development Stream Archive

Move with the left and right arrow keys. Press space to jump. The level can be restarted by pressing escape (provided you still have lives remaining). Red rubies are worth 500 points and green emeralds are worth 1,000 points.

Shape Quest

Shape Quest

Shape Quest

Help Mister Square save Shape Land by returning the super spinning power artifacts. Avoid touching all enemies.

Shape Quest Official Videos

Post Mortem

Ludum Dare 35 was my tenth time participating in the full Ludum Dare 48 hour game development competition.  The theme this time was “shapeshift”.  I knew fairly early that I wanted to make a game with controllable shape characters.  My original idea was to have three shapes that you could switch between, and each shape would have a unique ability or power.  I had envisioned having three playable shapes, which were the square, triangle, and circle.  The gameplay was going to be similar to Trine, where the player would need to switch between the three to solve puzzles.

I wanted to take a break from Unity and create a game in some other engine this time.  I had heard a lot about Godot, so I planned to use that engine for this competition.  Godot is a free and open source game engine that is very similar to Unity.  Before the weekend, I worked through some Godot tutorials, so I was able to move a simple sprite around on the screen.  In Godot, instead of GameObjects, it has Nodes which have similar properties such as position, rotation, and scale.  Godot can be used to make either 2D or 3D games.  It has a scripting language that is very similar to Python, where tabs and spaces are significant.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t ever able to fully understand the physics system.  In Unity, physics is fairly simple.  You attach a RigidBody component and one (or more) colliders to your GameObject, and then you are good to go.  In Godot, there are three types of physics objects (KinematicBody, RigidBody, and StaticBody).  Your object has to have a CollisionShape or CollisionPolygon as well, and everything has to be parented correctly under your main object.  It was very confusing, especially with the bounding boxes, and it just never did work correctly for me.

After about four hours into development, I knew I wasn’t going to have the time to successfully make a game in Godot.  Therefore, I fell to my backup plan which was to make a GameMaker game.  I had heard a lot of bad things about how GameMaker handles things like collisions.  Although, I have been impressed with some games that I’ve played recently, such as Crashlands, which was created in GameMaker.

Shape Quest GameMakerFortunately, most of my initial development was creating the vector graphics for the game characters, so switching to GameMaker didn’t sacrifice too much work.  I had worked through some GameMaker tutorials before, but this was my first time creating a full original GameMaker game.  The GameMaker development environment is very similar to Stencyl, which I used to create Dream World for Ludum Dare 30.

All of the graphics were created with Inkscape.  I made a simple tree, which was composed of the union of three circles for the leaves, and a simple path for the trunk.  I created other obstacles such as rocks (rounded gray rectangles) and water (curved blue bezier lines) I created a red square, green circle, and blue triangle characters, which all had two frames of walk animation.  I had originally envisioned the heroes to use an additive color model, while the enemies used a subtractive color model (magenta, yellow, and cyan).  I abandoned that idea, since a yellow circle looked much better like an emoji.  I created a purplish trapezoid as the first enemy.  I also had the idea of making the heroes parallelograms with sides of equal length, while the enemies would have sides of unequal length.

Shape Quest InkscapeWhen I first started designing the movement of the playable character, I used the default GameMaker actions.  The problem with this method, is that the character is stopped whenever one of the movement keys is released.  So the player could be holding two movement keys (such as up and right arrows), but the player would completely stop whenever either of those keys are released.  For instance, the character would expect to keep walking right if the up key was released.  Also, with the default GameMaker movements, the chacter would move when the key was initial pressed, and would pause for a moment before it would continue moving.  This is similar to typing into a text document, when a key is held down.  First it adds the character, then pauses, then repeatedly adds the character multiple times.

To resolve this, I found a tutorial on making a platformer in GameMaker, so I just modified that method to work with a game in overhead view with no jumping.  This method keeps track of a horizontal a vertical movement speed, and the speed values are modified based on which keys are held down.  Now, the movement controls felt much more accurate and responsive.

Now that I had everything necessary to create a level, there needed to be a goal.  I made a simple cyan diamond as a crystal.  To differentiate it from the other world objects, I made it spin and flash between cyan and white.  Adding custom scripts to GameMaker objects is fairly simple, and the GameMaker API is well documented.

The first enemy that I created was the purple trapezoid.  It simply just moves vertically on the screen until it collides with an object, then it reverses direction.  When the player collides with an enemy, the player is returned to the starting position.  If I had more time, I could have added a health meter so the player wouldn’t have to restart after being hit just once.  I gave the enemies angry faces with two frames of animation, which reminded me of the boxer profiles in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!.

The second enemy that I created was the yellow circle, which was modified from my previous green circle hero.  I just had to remove the arms and legs.  The yellow circle just moves in a random direction for two seconds and then changes to a random direction and moves for another two seconds.  This behavior is very easy to create in GameMaker, and I had remembered implementing the behavior in the “Catch the Clown” tutorial that comes bundled with GameMaker.

The third character I created was the green triangle.  I wanted this to be a water dwelling enemy that shoots projectiles at the player.  This behavior is similar to the Zora in the original Legend of Zelda.  If the player stands in one position for too long, then they will be shot, so the player has to keep moving to stay out of the line of fire.  The third level becomes more difficult with four green triangles shooting at the player at once.

The final enemy that I created was the orange pentagon.  Originally, I had made the pentagon cyan, but I thought that would be too confusing with the cyan crystal goal, so I changed the color.  The orange pentagon shoots in four directions at once and randomly changes location after every shot.  These characters are similar to the Wizzrobes in the original Legend of Zelda, except they shoot in four directions.  Their projectiles can be easily avoided, as long as the player doesn’t stand directly horizontal or vertical from one of the orange pentagons.

For the music, I used GarageBand again on my MacBook Pro.  A few weeks ago, I had read an article on Gamasutra about music theory, and to watch the number of steps and skips, so hopefully my music sounds a little better for this game.  I usually try different instruments until I find something that sounds good.  I use the command + left mouse button to add new notes to the piano roll.  I’ve found that it is much easier to modify the lengths and positions of the notes in Piano Roll editor than the Score editor.  I used the C major key, so I just made sure I just stuck with all of the “white keys”.  Overall, I think it took about an hour to create the music.  Like I’ve done with my previous games, the title screen music is just the game music slowed down with some of the instruments modified or dropped.

Shape Quest audioI used BFXR for creating the sound effects when the player is hit or when the crystal is collected.  I used Audacity for touchup work.  I also recorded my voice again for the title screen and game complete screen.  I used Audacity to add a bit of an echo sound.  Unfortunately, my voice sounded a little faint against the background music, and I never found a way in GameMaker to make it louder.

There are many ways the game can be improved.  First, I would like to give the player a method for attacking the enemies.  I would also like to have a way to move from room to room, instead of collecting crystals.  I would also like to have various items, money for purchasing new equipment, and many more enemies.

Finally, I played the game MANY times to ensure that all five levels were completable and also not too easy to finish.  I made both Windows desktop (EXE) and HTML5 (web) builds, and uploaded to Itch.io and GameJolt.  I think the Windows build is the better experience, but I know some people only prefer playing the web version.  It just seems like there is more lag and dropped frames in the web version.

Overall, I was happy with the simple game that I was able to make in GameMaker.  I really appreciate everyone who has played it already.  It already has over 60 votes, which is by far the most votes of any of my Ludum Dare games have received.

Downloads and Links

GameJolt

Itch.io

Ludum Dare entry

Let’s Play Videos