Obolos – Post Mortem

Posted by
May 4th, 2014 9:50 am

Beneath the surface is where it started, Obolos is where it ended. I’m still not sure how you pronounce it (we’re dutch), but that doesn’t matter :)

We had a blast, again. A team of two, from hating the theme’s guts to coming up with an exploration story-like (think Dear Esther meets Journey) game with multiplayer (because we felt like it). We almost ended up ditching the multiplayer altogether after one of us was already working on it for two days with almost no result.

Gameplay video

Spoilers after the break so make sure you finish the game before reading the rest.

What went wrong?

We both wanted to do something with multiplayer, we didn’t want to use photon or unity’s drop-in solutions because we wanted to save state ourselves on our server to be able to have some kind of persistence in the world. We first tried a socket.io + unity lib approach, which seemed to be buggy. My friend then burned a lot of time on trying to get his Haxe server-client code compiled to C# to use in Unity, and just trying to get some messages across. Eventually we found another socket.io unity library which did work properly and got it working on sunday evening.

We should’ve had something working before ludumdare on the server – client part, to avoid wasting 50% of the resources which could’ve been spent on the game itself.

Want went right?

Everything else basically, I could start on the boat rowing mechanics on the first day then pulled together some assets from the asset store (since we lacked an artist). I wasn’t really motivated on the 2nd day after messing around a lot with the buoyancy not doing what I want and having no clear purpose with where the game was headed until on the 3rd day when it all came together.

You were lost, on the river Styx, trying to get across by yourself since you couldn’t pay the fare. Since we went with the story/exploration like approach I wrote a short poem of which you would find parts in these crates drifting in the river. Slowly uncovering what was going on. The first idea would be finding a word at once but we realized that would take you quite a while, so we just split it up in 8 figuring the ludum dare audience would then be patient enough getting them all to get the full poem and hopefully figuring out what was up.

Now the multiplayer had to have a purpose, I mean, it’s cool to see other boats without anyone in them just rowing around but why are they there? We solved the visual ‘lacking a person in the boat’ by adding particle effects that would represent a ghost, also hinting towards the fact that you are also one and thus dead. Thinking of how to incorporate communication which isn’t just a chat that would pull you out of the experience we came up with representing every part of the poem that you’d find with a sentence or a word that you could then also speak by pressing the corresponding numbers (which other players would hear). I think it very well adds to the experience, except for the occasional player who just keeps spamming one voice 😀

As regarding to the theme, we started with the usual ‘monster beneath the sea’ but once we swiveled into the river styx direction we figured the ‘beneath the surface’ part would be you. In the real world, being dead. Buried, beneath the surface.

See you next ludum dare, if you want, you can play and rate Obolos here.

Bonus: google Obolos or Obol 😉

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