…Was the theme for the 26th and latest Ludum Dare, which came and went last weekend and which once again I participated in. Minimalism is certainly a very useful theme for a game jam in that it encourages you to drop the baggage of detailed artwork or superfluous features, but I could see it being dangerous in enabling excuses too…
I’ve threatened to make a roguelike a couple of times before. In fact one previous effort got quite far before I abandoned it. So what better time to finally get one out of my system than a game jam about minimalism? Roguelikes have always gone for a minimalist graphical approach anyway, right?
My fourth game of the year, then, is Pyramid: a minimalistic roguelike. Things went quite well on balance: I actually went with my first idea, which is often a bad move but it allowed me to get good and focused early on. The pyramid motif comes from the level progression: level 1 is merely 2×2 squares, and indeed looks very minimalistic! Each subsequent level expands the size of the layout by 1 in both directions. Gradually a vision fog comes into play more and wandering spirits (the coloured blocks) appear and will attack you without a second though.
I’m quite pleased with the clean visual style. It certainly helped having the simple graphics (although getting that highlight on the top and right edges of the squares took far more investigating than it ever should have… there’s always something).
So now we’re into May already! Four games in four months achieved, but my day job is going into overdrive this month leaving me with concerns over what I can do. I have this fishing thing in the works, hopefully I can find enough time to make it a game. We shall see.
Play “Pyramid” here
And I almost forgot – I’ll stick a timelapse of development up soon but I just haven’t got around to compiling it yet. Busy busy…
And now for something a little different! After mentally exhausting myself in February I took it a bit easier this time around – at least on the code/art side of things – and took some time to learn Twine and write myself a little story.
The convention in a lot of text adventures is to address the player in the second-person as “you” – “you are faced with a choice”, “you walk North towards the badger sett” and such. So my little twist on this is a sort of role-switch: the story mainly consists of a dialogue between two characters; your character is the one addressing the other in this manner. You suggest to him which choice to make, and you hear his response to these instructions.
This is structured within the setting of a hypothetical hypnotherapy session, where you are able to heavily influence your patient’s dream-like thoughts. There are three endings, although they don’t differ hugely. Three months in, three games out: going to plan so far!
Play “Mr. Eck”
It would be fair to say I over-reached a little with my February concept… For the shortest month of the year I started late due to my January effort overrunning and then chose to make an art-heavy game. I’ve never produced this much art for a little game before and I had planned to do more! I only just about had time for the absolute basic story scenes with no animation beyond the player walking and a couple other frames.
The concept is one I came up with some time ago – really enjoying the way I can revisit concepts with these monthly games – where you find a guy waking up hungover in a house and by searching around you recover his memories of the night before. I would have put a lot more fluff items in, and more secondary characters, but yeah: time.
The art style is something specific I’ve tried out: I imagined the game looking like a picture from one of those school textbooks we used to have, which creatively seemed to only use one ink colour per page. So I’ve got solid outlined, filled vector art with those gradient backgrounds. I think it’s quite consistent if not beautiful (art remains my weakness as a developer).
Needless to say I will be mindful of the time-consuming nature of such art in March, and as such I fully intend to make some interactive fiction with Twine. One extreme to the other!
Play “(The Morning After) The Night Before”
Okay so technically I missed January, but as the entry system over at onegameamonth.com was relaxed for the month I’m definitely still claiming it! As you may or may not know I have pledged to release one game every month of this, the year 2013. So without further ado my first game is here, and it is yet another hybrid curiosity – I’ve had a few efforts at mashing RPG mechanics into other styles of games, and this one takes most of its cues from Minesweeper of all places!
Warden of the Planes
This is “Warden of the Planes” and is a sort of stripped-back dungeon-crawling RPG, but as if played on a minesweeper board. Not mines, monsters! There is some clunkiness and imbalance to it, but feedback has been quietly encouraging. I certainly haven’t ruled out further work on this to get in some much needed accessibility and prettiness. One for another month perhaps.
Now I need to get onto something for February already, which could become my first look at making a graphical adventure game in Unity, something I’ve been planning to try for a while.
I’d be delighted if you’d try my little game out: the title screen comes loaded with a block of text hints to hopefully help a little (e.g. start by exploring around blank tiles to not die immediately). Any feedback is welcome!
Play “Warden of the Planes”