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2018-08-14 01:29 - Events

Ludum Dare #42: my (dark) entry

Last weekend it was the Ludum Dare game jam: the idea is to create a game in one weekend on a given theme. Like in multiple of the previous editions, I took part in the event and spent my weekend working on shipping a game in 48 hours.

The Ludum Dare includes two competitions in one: the traditional Compo lasts 48 hours, is done alone, and all the game content has to be produced during the event. The Jam, created for the 21st edition, can be done in teams, in 72 hours, and can include content that has not been created during the event. The competition has achieved some fame because many developers in the indie scene have taken part in the past or still do (and even devs that went far beyond the indie scene, like Markus Persson (Notch), the creator of Minecraft).

I took part in the Compo competition. Here is an article about my entry.

Game jams, a story of love and hatred

Game jams give me many reasons to hate them:

  • not enough time to convey meaning or create emotions
  • the lack of time can be frustrating because even with low ambition you don’t get to finish what you’d like to
  • I often don’t like the theme.

But besides that, they are good occasions to:

  • force myself to create something quickly (as a perfectionist, it would take me 10 times to do the same thing if not for a game jam)
  • experiment game genres I wouldn’t use on bigger projects
  • experiment new techniques and game engine
  • experiment new visual styles.

So, overall, the Ludum Dare is a kinda game dev sandbox. And there’s definitely a social aspect as one plays to the games of the other contestants, can participate in a team, has friends taking part too.

Explanation of my concept

My concept for this game jam is quite surprising, specially given that I’m not used to represent violence in my works, and even less that kind of violence. The idea is that, as a robot, you have to identify and exterminate the human beings in a building. I will try to explain how I developed this concept.

On the theme “running out of space”, I thought about overpopulation as that’s a real issue that makes me wonder (our world cannot sustain a growing population of 7 billion people).

The different ideas around that notion that I came up with are the following:

  • space colonization to escape an unsufficient Earth
  • social tensions created by overpopulation
  • destruction of wildlife and world heritage
  • eugenics.

I ended up choosing social tensions while mentioning the ecological issues too, and decided to project the player in a future where robots have progressed to the point they’re identical in almost every aspect to human beings, but still with less rights.

To represent these tensions, I decided to create an artificial separation by making the difference between the groups blurry and showing differences between individuals, even from a same group. The player is in the uncomfortable position where they speak with these characters, become aware of their individuality, and yet have to kill some of them arbitrarily

The goal of the game is quite strange and unprecedented: talk with characters and guess if they’re humans or robots, ask the opinion of their neighnors… a kind of reversed Turing test.

Implementation of this concept

I wanted already beforehand to do a drawing-like graphics style, because I’m learning how to draw. The visual style goes well with the experience I wanted to create as it gives it an unreal aspect, and allows a symbolic treatmentof violence and blood (the only color except for shades of grey is the red of blood). This representation of death prints the instant and makes you wonder.

About technical aspects, I was working with a quite basic game engine so there was quite a lot of code to write, and I had to sacrifice sound, animations and the quantity of content for that. But at least I came up with a finished game which doesn’t seem to have many bugs (oor I’ve not encountered them yet).

The code of a jam game is often more specific than modular (i.e it’s not intended to evolve and be extended), but still I improvised some interesting systems like the dialogue system which is quite flexible even though I improvised without any proper design.

Create a game in 48 hours, how does that happen?

Doing everything in a game is terribly time-consuming, from graphics to code, script, sound, levels, etc. It’s a lot of work and implies to sacrifice completely the weekend for that. I slept only a few hours during the whole weekend, and ate the same noodles cooked in one time with more than enough for two days. I didn’t waste any minute.

Although I pushed my body to its limits, I have the feeling it went better this time than on the first times. Maybe I found better balance between coding and drawing, the latter being a good alternative when my brain stops working. Also my few hours of sleep on sunday morning proved useful in terms of productivity in the afternoon and evening.

Play my game

You can play the game online at https://nyrio.github.io/LD42_RoboCoup/
The source code is available at https://github.com/Nyrio/LD42_RoboCoup

Controls:

  • WASD or arrows to move horizontally, and vertically in the elevator
  • T to talk
  • K to kill
  • SPACE in dialogues and 1-2-3 when there are options (A-B-C if you don’t have a numpad).

That’s it, I would be interested in getting feedback because it’s a special game that I made and I don’t even know myself what to think about it. I speak about it like if everything was well thought but the truth is it’s mostly experimental.

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