at the cafe 2

First of all : here’s my entry, since this is what I’m going to talk about.

Now : How the fuck did this happen ?

Warning, it turned up to be a long story (but there are pictures and all, so it might be fine)


Chapter 1 : The « Awesome » idea


Usually, on Ludum Dare (it’s my 7th), I go to bed early on Friday, then wake up early on Saturday to discover the theme and think about it in a cafe (I’m in France, so the theme is announced at 3 a.m). This time was a bit different though : instead of going to bed, I went to the bar and had some pints. Then some wine. Then some more pints. Maybe a wee too many pints.

I was feeling the theme would be « 10 seconds », so I started thinking about it…and then I had this awesome idea :


What about…10 seconds…in the life of a ROCK ?!


Uh oh…

AWESOME, isn’t it ?You know…because rocks live a long long time…so what they would consider to be 10 seconds would be a much much much longer time for us….like a whole lifetime…so I would make a very very long game, while most of LD entries would be very short…funny…

…at least when you’re drunk.


I eventually went to sleep at 2h45 (to avoid spoilers), woke up, and saw I was right : 10 seconds was the theme indeed. Haha ! It was 9 am and I already had my game idea (and what a great idea!) This Ludum Dare was going to be piece of cake ! (sarcastic laugh from future me)


Chapter 2 : Hit by a rock, in the face


some mocks-up mixed together

Seriously, my « 10 seconds in the life of a rock » idea wasn’t THAT bad. It wasn’t that much about a rock, but about what was happening around it, and what was happening was the whole lives of two human being, meeting on the beach as kids, playing around the rocks, growing up, falling in love, having quickies behind the rock, having kids, whom would play around the rock, getting old, remembering when they were playing around the rock, dying, mourning, dying. And that would be only 10 seconds in the life of the rock. A way to show that our human lives aren’t that important after all, or on the opposite that they are important after all…I don’t know.

No, this idea wasn’t that bad…



But I still think this scene was kind of cool

First of all, I wanted to write 50 scenes for the games : 10 time period (each seconds) with 5 points of view. 50 FUCKING SCENES IN 48H ? Was I still drunk ?!

But yeah, in the end, I could have lowered my ambitions and wrote less scenes, but there was an another big problem :
– A game is supposed to be interactive.

– The player is supposed to be a rock.

Do you see it now ? Is there anything less interactive than a rock ?

Believe it or not, it took me a whole day to realize this.


Oh noes! What I’m making is all fucked up!

At the end of the first day, I stared at my computer screen, full of graphics, full of dialogues, and realized this wouldn’t go anywhere. I gave up, for the first time in my Ludum Dare history, thinking nothing was still better than a shitty unfinished « game »(which is totally wrong by the way).

I went to the bar, drank more pints.


Chapter 3 : The providential tweet


I spend the next morning trying to convince me that it was ok, that failing at a Ludum Dare didn’t mean I was the worse loser, that I didn’t even care after all…and it worked. I had given up on my LD game and it was Ok. That is precisely what I wrote in a tweet at noon. Then I had several kind answers telling me « come on ! Make something anyway », « try something else », « I want to play your game », but I didn’t really care because, as I said, it was OK now.

Until @leafthief replied to me



I don’t really know leafthief, I only played one of his games and really enjoyed it, but the day before I told him off (not seriously) for not making a game for this LD, telling him a wedding during the week end wasn’t a good enough excuse (when, in fact, it is). And now, he was telling me he eventually started working on a game ? Ooooh I felt very bad. If he could make a game in half a day at a wedding, I could make one in half a day in an awesome LD real life gathering filled with awesome people. (But now, in the end, I’m sad to see Leafthief didn’t submit anything)


Chapter 4 : Still too ambitious

At the cafe

I wonder if they’re really reading…


So I started working on something totally different, from scratch (or almost from scratch : I kept the characters’ faces). The scene would take place in a cafe where two strangers meet and, maybe, eventually, fancy each other. The player would play the boy, of the girl, and all he’ll have to do is to control his looks with WASD (looking up, at his journal, at her, away from her). I wanted the player to create his own story, by catching the other one’s eye, staring at her, or avoiding her eyes. I wanted the story to be totally mute, and the player totally free to imagine it. The ten seconds would be the ten moves of the player (no timer), then the game would be over. If you have played the submitted game already, you would recognise some similarities with the first scene, except I wanted the whole game to be the first scene, and I wanted it to have many path, many endings, and thus…many sprites.


“this will do for now”

For example : the boy could stare at he tits, then she would give him a dark look, then he would be embarrassed…or he could read his journal, be astonished by the news, and miss an opportunity, once again, I had many ideas, and felt it would be great. But once again, I was too ambitious. I only had like 12 hours left, and even if all the sprites were already drawn, I didn’t know how to create a good system to manage every stories. 10 moves x 4 possible moves…that’s a lot of possible path, more than 1.000.000 in fact. Once again, I was discouraged, and once again, I gave up.



Chapter 5 : Don’t. Think. Make.


…but this time it only lasts a couple of minute. I had to make a game. I transformed the original idea in a cooperative multiplayer game, each player playing a character’s eyes, I didn’t script any « story » except the characters blushing then smiling when they look at each other, I decided this was the way to win…and I still had some hours left.



So I transform the whole game idea in a warioware-like game, I created two more mini-games, still happening at the cafe (lighting a cigarette, taking each other hands), and added a twist in the end to make it funny and fit the theme a bit more….aaaaaaaaaand it was done. Just in time (except there was an awful bug, but hopefully Laelien helped me to kinda fix it at the last minute. Play his game and cry  )



Epilogue : What’s left


In the end, I’m very proud of At the cafe. Partly because I managed to finish it in time when everything seemed lost, and partly because I think I nailed something, and this is the first scene. The scenes 2 and 3 are shitty, I was just filling the game with content. The 4th part is funny, but it’s just a lousy sex joke. Overall, the game isn’t very good, and for many reason, but that first scene…I think there’s something strong in it, it might not be very well made, but it’s there. And the comments I have so far tend to confirm it. I think the second idea I had, the one with the looks, was the best one, by far, way better than the mini timed games I submitted. I wish I’ve had it at the beginning or the 48h, maybe I would have made something great with it. For the first time, I want to re-work on my LD game, I want to explore this path I might have open, and who knows, maybe I will do (but I’m already very busy with projects)


I know At the cafe won’t be as well ranked as some of my previous LD compo games , and I know why, but I like it much more than most of my previous ones, because it taught me a lot of things, and the most important one is :


Don’t get drunk before Ludum Dare, you stupid !



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