First I would like to thank you for being able to participate in such a great event! This was my first Ludum Dare and I’m certain this will not be the last!
Now, I would like to explain the idea behind my game, it must have been extremely frustrating to play it without instructions but I think there is some satisfaction in learning to play a game that doesn’t hold you by the hand from start to finish. I remember when I played old MSX games and there were no manuals nor tutorials and you had that great feeling of discovery when you started to understand the game and how to progress farther and farther with each play. The only problem is that I think my game is way too complex for the player to understand it completely, sorry for that! For that reason, I’m posting these detailed instructions explaining the game mechanics.
When you start the game you are born as a random creature. This creature is composed of a series of sensors and systems that are used to give the player some feedback about what is happening around and within him.
One example are the different view sensors the game presents to the player. You may be born with ability to sense the distance of the nearest object (represented as a circle around the creature) or you may be born with the ability to sense the direction and distance of multiple objects (multiple lines coming from the creature center) or you may be blessed by nature and be born with the ability to “see” all the objects and their shapes and colors.
In some cases you may be born with a not so good viewing sensor but you may be able to “hear” other creatures. This is represented in the game by being able to hear different sounds for different creatures and in some cases you may be able to hear from where the sounds are coming for more advanced hearing sensors (positional audio). So if you sense an object but it is not making any sounds it is probably a wall or some kind of plant, if it is making sounds it may be a predator or a potential creature for mating.
Now, your creature needs food to gain energy to survive and for reproduction. The types of plants your creature can eat is determined by its digestive system. You may able to eat only red plants, or you may have a more advanced digestive system and be able to eat green or blue plants. If you eat a plant that is not suitable for your digestive system, you have to wait until it is “expelled” until you can eat a new type of plant.
In order to know if the plant you eat is doing you any good, all creatures have a nervous system. It indicates if your creature is losing energy, if it is ready for reproduction or if something you ate is doing you any good. All of these are represented by visual cues like green borders indicating a gain of energy, or yellow borders indicating you are ready to reproduce. More advanced nervous systems may even show you how many energy you have left.
This is all nice and good but it is all random and you may not have the luck to be a creature adapted to the cruel world of Awareness. But fear not, you have a minimal chance of evolving in order to survive this harsh world. The first thing you should do is try to eat something in order to be able to reproduce. Search for static objects (food doesn’t move) and try to eat it. Repeat this until you get a yellow border or yellow bar indicating you have energy to reproduce then search for mobile objects. When you collide with another creature you both die and you become their offspring. This creature inherits parts of the DNA of the parents with an additional mutation. This means you can inherit the viewing sensor from the other creature, or their hearing sensors, etc. If you have a good viewing sensor you may even choose your partners! Look at top of your creature and try to identify some kind of antenna. This is your viewing sensor. All creatures with the same view as you have this kind of antenna so if you want to get new features but you want to keep your view, you should find partners that have the same kind of antenna as you. The same is true for the hearing sensors (look at the ears), the digestive systems (lower body shape) and nervous systems (upper body shape).
If you feel you are evolved enough you may try to complete a challenge. In each corner of the world there is a trophy and a challenge waiting for you that you require that you are evolved enough to survive. In the top left corner, there are the Flyers, mask like creature that charge at you. It is a good idea to have good eyes and ears to avoid them. In the top right corner, there are Exploding Walls. It is essential to have eyes that can identify this kind of enemy because they will explode if you get too close. In the bottom right corner, there are no special enemies but there are only red plants there, you have to be able to eat them or you will not have energy enough to go there and come back alive. Finally, in the bottom left corner there are the three Ghosts. They cannot be seen but they are slow and you can hear them coming if you have good ears. Collect all the four trophies and you win the game!
Micro Post Mortem
For my game I tried to create a different gaming experience for the player and in some ways I think I succeeded but then I think this game was not suitable for this kind of event. My game requires too much investment from the player that must play it many times until he starts to understand the world and its mechanics. It is a complex game and I chose not to give any instructions because I wanted the player to learn from multiple plays. I wanted him to experience the life of many creatures and how easy or how hard was to be them in the game world. Sometimes you are able to see and hear the world and you feel like you are in familiar grounds but sometimes all you see are circles and you hear strange sounds coming from multiple directions. Even in these situations there is a small chance for you to prevail, to evolve and survive a little longer.
What went right: I managed to finish the game I envisioned in 48 hours! I used Allegro for the first time and it was extremely easy to reach the results I wanted.
What went wrong: The game is too obscure for the player to learn without instructions; I was not used to some tools and lost some precious time because I couldn’t debug my code