[Postmortem] The Story of Your Life

Posted by
December 17th, 2013 11:20 pm

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 下午8.36.51

The theme of Ludum Dare 28 is “You Only Get One”, the first word pump into my head is YOLO. I know its literal meaning, You Only Live Once. Well, that’s true, everyone only have one life, if not considering afterlife or something like that. So I made this text adventure game The Story of Your Life.

Ludum Dare Entry

How did I design it?

First I abstract human to five attributes

  • Mind
  • Body
  • Social Connections
  • Self-confidence
  • Property

In the game, all players’ choices can affect above attributes, and some choices only appear when player’s attributes satisfy the requirement. Mind and Body are random at born, Social Connections, Self-confidence and Property are connected with family.

There’re 4 types of families in this game : Rich, Middle-class, Poor, Abandoned. Character got more attributes at born in better family, but like real world, player can’t choose the family, which is decided by a spinning wheel. Not like the real world, the possibilities of each family is equal, so player can easily get different experience.

Property don’t exist in the childhood period, and there’re many differences among different families, for example

  • Rich family can buy luxury in childhood, and middle-class family only have this option in adulthood.
  • Better family get more choices, and get more attributes bonus. Poor families have more “Part-time Job” options and get nothing from it, but the same choice can benefit rich family kids a lot. The reason behind it is different goals, one for surviving and the other is for building themselves.
  • Abandoned kid has no social connections at born, for them, there’re only two choices “Gangs” and “Do Sports” can get such attributes, and I add more “Gangs” options to this type.

Before entering adulthood, game provides players 4 career candidates based on the attributes. Some good career like scientist need high self-confidence, which is poor kids lacking of.

Adulthood is more boring than childhood, it’s 3 times longer than childhood. Player receive paycheck every 10 turns. Many choices in this period need money, the choices player can’t afford are not in the list.

At the end of this virtual life, game generate a short description based on the attributes at born and death. One gifted kid may died as a gangster and a kid born with silver spoon may have nothing in the end. All of these are determined by 3 factors Family, Luck and Choices, this is what I want to express in this game.

The Bad Design Factors


I should admit that this game is a little…boring, the whole process is just pushing different buttons. It would be much better to give players some text feedback after they made the choice, I cut off this feature because the limitation of my English writing skill.

In the real world, it’s difficult to quantify ourselves, so I made the decision that not exposing specific attribute numbers to players, which is a big mistake. I was making game, abstraction of real world. Without specific numbers feedback, players can’t get a clear picture of what they’re doing, it’s really frustrating.


I cut off family and special event features for lacking of time and energy.

There’re only 4 options each turn, may confusing players. A better solution in my mind right now is listing all options with requirement, and only allow player choosing the qualified options, then players can choose what they want and know why some options can not be chosen.


Graphic is more appealing than text, and bad text (ex. text in this game) can easily ruin the atmosphere and fun. Something like below can be visualized

  • Avatar
  • UI difference between childhood and adulthood
  • Iconify : careers, choices, etc.

After all, I’m very happy and getting lots of fun in this Ludum Dare. I believe I can make a better game next time.

P.S. There’s an eastern egg in this game. In the adulthood of middle-class family, one option is Make Indie Game, guess what would be happened after you choose it.

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