Gods Gonna Cut Em Down: Post Mortem

April 19th, 2015 10:21 pm

Ludum Dare 32 or the story of how I inadvertently completely ignored the theme.

The first day of the jam was spent entirely on looking at visual references. The second was spent on making those visuals. The third was spent on making the story. This is the hardest I’ve ever worked on a game jam — and the game is maybe five minutes long.

smoking

God’s Gonna Cut Em Down (GGCED) is my first foray into the visual novel, using an engine called Tyranobuilder. All of the art is done by me, through an over reliance on the Photoshop Blur tools.

The game is a short vignette — think of it as the first chapter of a larger work. It is, in essence, that. After working all weekend on the art and design for this game, I’m looking towards continuing to work on it.

What Went Right

IMG_20150418_175548

In my opinion, the best thing about GGCED is the art. All the art in the game is made by me, from the background images, to the title screen and finally all the character art.

The character art is based off of photographs from a variety of different sources, heavily altered with Photoshop. The process is incredibly simple, if time consuming. All in all there are about 15 images, which took around an hour apiece. If I could figure out a way to automate the process, I would, but to my standards this was the best way to go.

The style was cohesive and complete, and for that I am incredibly excited.

Outside of the art, I’m happy with the mood the piece evokes. I was originally going to go with a more pulpy kind of story involving Grace Jones fighting a Tyrannosaurus Rex with a sledgehammer. That’s actually not a joke.

Here’s the still:

Trex

It ended up that I did not go that route, which is frankly for the best. I’m honestly not very funny — and something like this would need a bit of humor. The scenes, all of which were written throughout the final day of the jam, tended towards the dark and the maudlin.

With that in mind, I’m actually quite happy with the mood of the piece overall. It’s consistent, even if it’s dark, and it’s thematic. It makes me want to keep working on it, and for me, that’s the strongest thing to come out of a jam game.

What Went Wrong

I like the art, but I spent way too long with it. I should not have spent 75% of my time constructing the art for a game that was not finished. I was hoping to streamline the final day process, but ended up making half of my images on the final day. In lieu of having a completed game, I have a demo of a shorter experience and that’s unfortunate.

The game is currently a bit too linear. Part of the reason for this is that it’s my first time working with Tyranobuilder. I’ve never worked with that engine before. It’s a great engine, honestly, very visual and I enjoyed playing with it for the jam. But learning how to use it took up some valuable jam time that could’ve been spent on other materials and other projects. Linearity is the sacrifice.

I was working based on a Jon Ingold talk he made at GDC about the nature of choice — you give your readers the experience of choosing, but sometimes all roads lead to the same place. Unfortunately too many of my roads led to the same place. There’s branching, and there’s a lot of content there if you’re looking for stuff, but there’s not a different path. You’re always going to end up in the same place, even if you take a different journey.

Where to From There

I fully intend to keep working on this. I’m  having a lot of fun (that might not be the right word) writing the story and creating the graphics. It’s a totally different experience from my past work, which is mostly in Twine. It’s exciting to work with and it’s a lot of fun.

If you’re interested, you can play the game here. You can find me on Twitter.

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