The epicly short adventure: Post mortem

Posted by (twitter: @@JajabenGames)
April 30th, 2013 11:52 am

A little bit of background information first, I’ve been working on an RPG on my own for over a year now. It’s going well but it’s taking a really long time to finish (obviously.) I guess my dream this Ludum Dare was to make a simple, solid, polished game that I could port to touchscreen devices without too much effort, just to get a taste of the whole commercial thing.

Well, that didn’t happen, but I think the game I ended up making is still a great portfolio piece. Especially in combination with the timelapse.


What went wrong

It’s the same story, again. Every Ludum Dare I tell myself I should make something simple and solid, so I have time to test and polish. And I NEVER do. I always end up making something big and ambitious. I got so close this time too! The night before I had this dream the theme was going to be “afterlife” and I made this beautiful game where you played charon who had to take the dead to the afterlife in a beautiful greek vase art style.

But the theme wasn’t afterlife, it was minimalism. I did try to somehow connect charon and greek vases to the theme, as you can see in the timelapse. But I couldn’t.

I also had some problems with the theme. I do think it’s a good theme, but in my mind there was a difference between what I thought were good ways to make use of the theme and what the majority would think. I thought that if I didn’t make something super low-res or something with primary colors and basic shapes, it would get downvoted in the theme category. I thought the best minimalist games wouldn’t even get recognised as such, because they arn’t the games with the low res graphics and barely-enough gameplay elements, it’s the games with exactly the right amount of gameplay elements that make a real minimalist game. It’s about getting to the essence, not to anything less than that.

So in a way it was the perfect theme to make that simple, solid, polished game I wanted to make. But I let possible public opinion hold me back. It would have had comment after comment with “I don’t see how you used the theme.”

I discarded a first Idea because it was too complex mathematically (I wanted to make a game that created minimalist music through playing, with everything that happened in the game having a corresponding instrument/ tone.)

Then the theme made me think of a game I once made that started as a text adventure that was seemingly solved by just typing “go door” but turned into a visual adventure when you typed “look room” and kept introducing new elements from there (Its called secrets) But that game focussed on the fact that there was more than there seemed to be, which felt like the opposite of the theme.

So in the game I ended op making, it is obvious from the start that there is more. Collectables in unreachable places tell the player “There is stuff to collect! There are new powers to gain!” But you are stuck with a character that wants to do no more than is absolutely necessary (minimalism). Too bad for the character, because the player is in control of the game.

I thought – and still do – that that was a pretty interesting premise, so that’s when all my previous plans to make somethin simple, solid and polished went out of the window.

…Somewhere I also decided that I should hand draw everything… Do you get me? I don’t.



What went right

In the end I’m happy I made those choices, I don’t have a perfectly polished game now, but I don’t think that’s what Ludum Dare is about.

The fun of Ludum Dare lies in trying to do the impossible. And hand painting an entire game in under 48 hours? I am not supposed to be able to do that. Yet that’s exactly what I did.

I could talk some more about the fact that composing went great, sound design went right, programming went okay and it’s unfortunate you can get stuck in walls, but that’s not what I take away this time. What I take away is that I love to challenge myself, I need that every four months while I’m working on that RPG that seems to take forever to finish, and it’s unlikely that I’ll ever make a simple, solid, polished game for any ludum dare yet to come, even though I may try to do so again.


Play my game here

2 Responses to “The epicly short adventure: Post mortem”

  1. rogueNoodle says:

    Nice to read this – it was such a great game :)

  2. Daid says:

    I love your hand drawn artwork. It’s great!

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