Tag: Alamogordo

Ludum Dare 29 results

Voting results for Ludum Dare #29 were announced earlier tonight. My Jam entry, Alamagordo, fared pretty well, considering:

Rank (of 1004) Category Score (of 5)
Coolness 100%
#69 Humor(Jam) 3.60
#110 Theme(Jam) 3.70
#424 Mood(Jam) 2.97
#546 Audio(Jam) 2.53
#581 Graphics(Jam) 2.80
#592 Innovation(Jam) 2.52
#648 Fun(Jam) 2.33
#662 Overall(Jam) 2.58

The 69 and 110 rankings are the best that I’ve done so far in a Ludum Dare judging, narrowly edging the #70 ranking I received for Humor in my LD25 game, Bad Puppy.

Considering that Alamogordo was a last minute entry that I threw together in about 10 hours development time, and was intended as more of a joke entry than a game with ambition, I’m pretty pleased at how it was received, overall. I was going for humor and theme, and the other categories weren’t as important for me — I only cared about making the game look, sound, and feel like an Atari 2600 game, and I’m reasonably pleased with my work in that regard. It’s admittedly not very fun to play, nor innovative, nor very good overall, so I feel like my scores are pretty fair overall. I was also very pleased by the fact that I was able to build the game very quickly, with no false starts, rework, or getting stuck in debugging. In my previous LD games, I often found that I’d get stuck on a technical problem that should have been easier to solve than it turned out to be, I think mainly due to self-imposed pressure. This time, I felt mentally unhurried, confident that I was capable of doing what I had set out to do, that I knew how to do what I was doing, and didn’t have to spend any amount of time experimenting and figuring it out, and that helped me to build a clean, well-organized project. Although the game isn’t much, I’m pleased with the code that I wrote for it.

Alamogordo: Post-mortem

I almost didn’t submit a game this time around. For some reason, I couldn’t get my creativity going. I thought that Beneath the Surface was such an excellent theme, too, with great potential. When they announced it, I started trying to think of a game that would happen underground, or under water. But all I could think of was the setting, not what you’d do there. My brain was being an enemy to me.

So I stayed up until about 6 AM Saturday morning, and still hadn’t thought of any good ideas. My best idea of the night came to me when the Neil Young song, “The Needle and the Damage Done” popped into my head, and I briefly considered making a game about heroin use and damaging the skin beneath the surface. If I wanted to do that right, I needed to make a chiptune cover of the song, and I still can’t do music properly. One day…

So, I put that idea aside, and then nothing else came to me. I slept in until around 11:30, and spent most of the afternoon sitting around, waiting for inspiration to hit me, but nothing happened.

I dicked around on the internet, reading stuff, and started reading all these articles about the New Mexico landfill dig, where they were trying to determine if the legends of massive amounts of unsold Atari merchandise being buried in the desert were really true.

Turns out, they were true!

I found the story fascinating, because why would people still care  that much that they’d dig around in a land fill trying to find that stuff. It’s not as though E.T. was a rare and valuable game. To me, the story wasn’t fascinating, it was people’s fascination with the story that was fascinating. It seemed to be getting a lot of coverage in the media.

I still didn’t have any ideas for what would be a good game, and by around 5 or 6, I had given up and resigned myself to not producing anything this time around, and felt pretty down about my failure to come up with any good ideas. I had a relaxing Saturday evening, went to bed, had a pretty normal Sunday, and then, around 7pm it occurred to me that the land fill dig was happening beneath the surface of New Mexico. Beneath the surface…

Beneath the surface…

Beneath the surface…

Beneath the surface…

neath the surface…

the surface…




And I got this visual in my head of the pits in the E.T. video game, and connected that to the landfill, and immediately realized that there was a potential game in there.

Digging in the Alamogordo, New Mexico landfill, in a pit from the E.T. video game, searching for the secret stash of E.T. videogames. I knew exactly what I wanted it to be, not really a challenging game, just an idle time waster that paid homage to the legend and the events of the weekend. I had less than 2 hours before Compo deadline, and knew I’d never make it, but this would need to be a Jam entry anyway, as I wanted to use graphics and audio sampled from the E.T. video game.

Unfortunately I was already on my way to spend the evening with friends, and I didn’t get home until close to 11pm. By 11:30, I had just gotten started, and I worked through the night until 6:30am, and which I had most of the level laid out and working. Movement and collisions were very buggy, but the game was basically playable by this point.

I took a power nap, worked Monday, and then cranked out bugfixes until I got everything working right. All told, the game took about 10 hours to build. My fastest development time ever. Howard Scott Warshaw took 5 weeks to make E.T., his fastest development time ever.

I used that time rather well, struggling only a little bit with the bug fixes, and all I really needed to fix those bugs was to step away from the project and return to it fresh — once I did that, it was fairly easy to redesign the code that handled movement and fix the problems I’d been having in the wee hours of the morning earlier in the day. Throughout the project there was very little re-work, almost nothing thrown away, and everything that I built was done in such a way that it doesn’t feel like a mess. The project code is actually pretty decent. Almost every LD48 that I’ve done so far, I’ve struggled with some stupid error in a feature that should be very basic and easy to do, and ends up sucking a lot of my time away from the project, but this time, I worked effectively from start to end. Only, I had just about 10 hours of work put into the project over the entire weekend.

The game itself, well there’s nothing much to it, but it does feel somewhat like one of those terrible shovelware titles that caused the Great Crash of ’83.

So, there it is, an homage to terrible games. Since that’s what it is, it somewhat excuses it from itself being a fairly terrible game. At least the programming is fairly decent, …beneath the surface.

Well, play it and see what you think.


Ludum Dare 29

I didn’t complete an entry for Ludum Dare 29, and am a bit disappointed in myself. Although the theme “Beneath the surface” is an excellent theme suitable to all kinds of ideas, I struggled to come up with a concept that fit well with the theme. I thought about under ground, under water, and digging a bit, and I thought about skin, and metaphorical ideas, but these didn’t inspire a core play mechanic or goal, so I never really got to a playable game concept.

I need to figure out how to get myself into a creative mind on demand.


Around 7pm, inspiration struck. I made a game after all. I made it in only about 6 hours, so it is not a very good game, but the idea was a fitting one, and I knew that I would be able to build it in under a day.

Alamogordo, my entry for the LD29 Jam, is based on the legend of the buried E.T. cartridges in Alamogordo, New Mexico, that were dug up over the weekend.