Post Mortem – You Only Die Once

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December 28th, 2013 9:41 am

I have finally sorted out my thoughts as to how I went about making my ludum dare entry and what I wanted to achieve with it. If you haven’t played it yet, then check it out here, as spoilers follow.

It was my first ludum dare, and I had little hopes for it as I had other responsibilities on Sunday, and I was drawing blanks for hours after reading the theme. Finally I decided on a small and simple text based adventure involving a shipwreck, two convicts and only one of each item in a small set of supplies. Also I suck at every form of art, so the choice of a text-adventure helped :P.

My main motive behind the game was to create a sort of role playing mechanic, in which we build up our character’s personality by the actions that we take, thus changing the paths that will be available to us later on. So if we attempt to drink the water by ourselves, it shows that we are greedy and we won’t share the life jacket with the convict or stab ourselves later to let him survive, or if we say that we had murdered someone, then we can’t stab the convict later on due to guilt. I was also aiming for some minimalism in the writing in the hopes that it would increase immersion as the player could fill in the rest according to her own imagination. It also decreased the amount of writing I would have to do. Yay for less work by design :).

I chose the XNA framework to create the game in, as I did not know at that time any game engine that primarily supported text based games. Also I didn’t know html 5/javascript well enough, and wasn’t entirely comfortable with unity’s guitext, and reckoned that I could port it easily to unity for the web later since both use C#. I had initially created many scenarios with a lot of items, but after spending most of Saturday creating the story and writing just the introduction for the game and then wasting all of the Sunday on life stuff, I had to cut down to only two major scenes involving the knife, the life jacket, and some conversation. I finally completed writing and coding with around 7 hours to go which were spent on testing, bug/typo fixing, adding some fade effects, and finding the right music.

So to top it all off:

  • I found the perfect musical score for the story.
  • The writing wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
  • I did manage to create some instances of the role playing mechanic I had wanted, even though the number of scenarios and items had to be cut short.
  • I really liked one particular ending (in which we kill our-self to try to let the convict survive), but it’s inclusion cut out a lot of other possibilities in the story as I couldn’t find a way to fit them all in the limited scenarios that I had created.
  • I decided the name of the game while submitting it.
  • I had a lot of soup in the last 12 hours of the jam.
  • The “Fun” rating in the ludum dare rating system should be changed to “How Engaging is the Game”, because a lot of other games that i’ve played in this jam are more about an experience that is not inherently “fun” due to the subject of the game, but they are still highly engaging. After all games can include interactive art too.
  • I should have paid more attention in my web development classes in college.
  • Thank you for playing my game!



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