Ludum Dare 29 — April 25th-28th Weekend — Theme: Beneath the Surface

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this is kevin

by hbocao - Jam Entry

Our team was composed of 3 programmers with little to none experience in game making.
So, yeah, no art guy nor sound guy. Programmer art FTW!

Since the initial brainstorm we agreed on not taking the theme so literally. I like to think that we did a good job on that.

Well, the game is really simple and short. It can be a little tricky, though.
We had so many ideas and we kept changing it that now it can seem like a little odd game, but we would love if you could try it and give us some feedback.

Standard input keys (ARROWS and WASD) and SPACE to skip the dialog.

Tip: If you get stuck, click on the reset button in the upper-left corner.

Tip 2: Since we didn't included in-game instructions, you need to push *things* around to get across some *other things* to move forward.

Semi-SPOILER: There are 2 endings.

PS. The game has only one sound effect. You're not going mad. Yet.

The game was made using:
- C#
- XNA (Sorry Linux and Apple people)
- XTiled library
- Photoshop
- Tiled Map Editor
- Sound effects from
- Music from MINOR2GO (

Have fun!

The Team
* Fernando (
* Filipe (
* Henrique (

Downloads and Links




blahoink says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 2:02am

story not quickly engaging enough, i was bored and frustrated on the first two levels. after that the atmosphere and sound was amazing for a 2d game. the first "hell world" thing surprised the shit out of me.

tylerb1 says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 2:09am

Was sometimes a little frustrating, because I stink at games like this, but it was very fun overall! A lot of quality content for only 72 hours. Keep up the good work, guys!

TTFTCUTS says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 3:41am

Some neat puzzles, especially the last one - seems simple at first but really makes you think about the moves.

hbocao says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 1:01am

@blahoink Glad that you got "scared". It was supposed to be a "WTF" moment. :)

@tylerb1 Aww... too bad it's not your cup of tea. Thanks for the kind words, sir!

@TTFTCUTS We didn't tried to make them all hard because it would be too frustrating if needed to reset every time. So I guess it's good news if the last one is the annoying one hehehe.

lajos says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 1:29am

Fun game, it took some time to figure out that you need to push the wooden pieces to make bridges. The art looks really nice, and you guys also made good choices with the audio. Congrats!

hbocao says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 2:04am

@lajos Yeah. After we finished and submitted we figured out that we never explained what to do in game. Not even controls. Shame. The art is OK, but for us programmers is beyond our limits. haha The piano loop is amazing piece by MINOR2GO, so we can't take any credits for, but the choice of using it. Thanks for your comment!

HybridMind says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 1:08am

Tried to play but the app crashes immediately. Win7 Home Premium 64-bit. "APPCRASH in KERNELBASE.dll"

hbocao says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 1:37am

@HybrindMind Odd. Do you have the latest version of XNA and .net Framework? I tried google it but it seems such a generic error. If you don't mind, can you check your event viewer for more information?

trueyomic says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 1:44am

It was a bit slow, honestly, but despite that I beat it twice for both endings. I didn't like that the 'good' ending was the easier way to get through the last level and the 'end' ending was the long and harder way. Still, the puzzles required some thought so I did enjoy solving them.

dalbinblue says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 1:59am

That was pretty dark. I think the weirder part was as I went though the game rooting for the person escaping, only to be hit with what he did. Having lived with neighbors with similar problems, all I could says was... that was interesting.

hbocao says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 2:03am

@trueyomic DUDE. SPOILERS. hahaha Did you get the "good" ending first? We tried to induce the player to help the "other guy" and miss the "good" ending. Glad that you wasted time on us :)

hbocao says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 2:48am

@dalbinblue Thanks for playing! I'm sorry, but I'm so happy that you "fell" for it. That was our main goal! Interesting good? hehe

HybridMind says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 2:59am

OK, after installing the XNA framework link you sent me, it worked! I managed to get to one of the endings. It was a good amount of challenge. I only had to restart a few times on certain levels. I think the only confusing thing I found was when moving between the two worlds. I kept thinking I was the boy on the other side, and I wouldn't understand how I moved back in the normal world. I eventually figured it out, but if that could be made more clear, that might help. The ending is very dark in mood! Nice work though, the levels were well designed.

Shide says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 2:36pm

It was interesting and fun sometimes, the idea is good and music is cool. It gets boring later on though, so I didn't get to the end

Empyrealhell says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 9:13pm

Not bad, but you really needed a longer sound loop. The character moved too slow and the puzzles took to long to execute once you figured them out. I was curious about the second ending, but after how long it took to get the first, I didn't really have the drive.

I see what you were going for with the theme, but I don't think it worked how you wanted it to. I see the mirror to bipolar with the hell world, but it felt like it was sort of tacked on for shock value more than a real exploration of the illness.

hbocao says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 10:27pm

@Emppyrealhell The music was added with 15 minutes remaining on LD clock.
I agree with you about the movement speed. I was thinking about implementing a option for the character to run, but you know, TIME happened. hehehe
About the "other dimension"... it was supposed to mean something like an angry state of mind and not shocking with "oh this is hell" (because it really weren't). And also it was supposed to confuse the interpretation of the theme and to mislead from the main story. Maybe it didn't work out as we planned. Thanks for your feedback!

Fritzendugan says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 10:55pm

On the final level, my character didn't appear until I hit the reset button, small bug. Also, by making the mistake of pressing up on the last portal, I had to completely replay that whole last level, even though I had practically beaten it (in order to save the other personality that is, there are a bunch of ways to skip most of the level and not save him, obviously), which made it that much more tedious without really adding any more challenge or fun.

The levels generally just felt kinda tedious, too. I think it's mostly just because of the movement speed of the character (I would prefer whole tile movement so I could rapidly press the arrow keys and move a lot more quickly). I enjoyed it enough to complete it twice, but it was definitely getting tedious and by the end I was forcing myself to play just to say I had beaten it.

I really enjoyed the dual endings and the story being told there, but I'm not really sure how it fits the theme other than some really abstract interpretation. I like the dual-worlds thing going on and the feeling of trying to help someone else just as lost as you (although in much more danger). There's some realy desperation and engagement going on there, I genuinely wanted to save him, and I felt really bad on the final level when I left him behind.

I would've loved to see some more puzzle mechanics besides the simple block-pushing thing going on here, but understandable with the time-constraints. Some simple key-grabbing, or ice-sliding or something. Think "Chips Challenge" if you've never played it:

Overall, solid entry, good story telling, but it's a little lacking in the fun department as described above. Nonetheless, good job guys.

reheated says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 11:31pm

It's a beautiful little game and the last level was a work of art. [SPOILER] Yeah I got surprised by the ending switcheroo, that was a really weird experience.[/SPOILER]

reheated says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 11:34pm

Also I had the same experience as Fritzendugan with my character disappearing once. I think there is one place where you can walk off the bottom of the screen, making it look like Kev's vanished.

hbocao says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 11:36pm

Bugs! That's not good. Sorry about that.

Hmm.. you're the second to be annoyed by the movement speed. And your idea it's actually better than make the character sprint. And the feeling would be better too. Makes sense.

You're kinda right with the theme point. We played with it a little bit. We tried to not be obvious while at same time show obvious things (like the "hell world"). The theme was used as like beneath the surface of our flesh, of what we see at first sight, of what lies deep inside of us, which was supposed to be our mind. Maybe we stretched it a little bit? We're expecting a low rating in theme category, so... your comment just prove that we should be "concerned".

Yup, we planned on to do so, but you already guessed. No time.

Thanks for the feedback!

hbocao says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 11:42pm

@reheated Thank you for understanding our intentions! haha We know that the game is kinda "messy", so it makes hard to appreciate it but it's good to read your comment.

Same bug again? Dammit. Let us take a look.
Thanks for the feedback!

rojo says ...
May 2, 2014 @ 12:38am

I'd say you guys did pretty well in the art department, considering what usually passes for "programmer" art.

hbocao says ...
May 2, 2014 @ 1:33am

@rojo haha Thanks! I was the chosen one to "draw". Well, I think it's not terrible.

Fritzendugan says ...
May 2, 2014 @ 4:34am

@hbocao: It's all good. I kinda figured that's what was going on with the theme, makes sense. Sometimes I'd rather see the theme stretched too thin than see the same repeated interpretations over and over so nbd

mechabit says ...
May 2, 2014 @ 11:14am

I actually like the use of the theme and the artwork is not bad. Well done all round.

hbocao says ...
May 2, 2014 @ 4:25pm

@mechabit Thanks for the feedback. We appreciate it.

Gabriel says ...
May 2, 2014 @ 5:50pm

Really liked it! The Sokoban mechanic never gets old, and I liked the twist of bridge building that gives rise to new ways of exploring the possibilities of block pushing to create puzzles.

Still in that department, I was amazed by the quality of the level design! How long did you guys take conceiving the levels? I always wondered what the process is like to conceive puzzles - I guess that's an ability I'll never have! The last level, in particular, is ingeniously evil! The first approach obviously goes by ignoring all the other islands and trying to go for the shortest way, only to find out that you actually don't have enough crates and have to start over through the long way. Brilliant level design, honestly.

On what some dev fellows are complaining (about you only touching the theme too lightly), I tend to disagree. I see the theme pretty much as a general guidance and a mandatory element that adds fun to the competition, and you guys *DID* include it (actually in a smart way!). You're getting more points in that category from me than games that are *just* about digging or diving. I like games which have more than a single layer of meaning. :)

Finally, the two endings. I only got to see the 'bad' one (from what I'm reading in other folks' comments). Not fair! I went that extra mile to solve the last puzzle in a way per which I'd have that spare crate! I do understand what you guys aimed for (not all sides of our personalities should necessarily be nurtured or saved), but from a player experience standpoint, it sounds unfair. I wouldn't remove the mechanic, though - instead, just add a message that says "you got the bad ending" and let the player play the level again! I would do that to see the good ending if I didn't have to play the whole game again.

Still, one of the most complete and enjoyable entries I have played in this LD. You're surely getting high grades from me. Congrats! :D

hbocao says ...
May 3, 2014 @ 2:27pm

@gabriel Oh thank you! I'm glad that you noticed our intentions. We're beginners with no experience in the field, aside from playing a lot of videogames, so we know that we could made it more fun, more engaging, but we're still learning. And we're getting a lot of awesome feedback and that's what it's important to us. Thanks again for your words!

May 3, 2014 @ 6:05pm

The game doesn't grab you very fast, but the puzzles are well designed, especially later in the game. Also, nice job for "programmer art"!

Keehan12 says ...
May 4, 2014 @ 4:55am

controls felt kind of weird but I enjoyed playing this game! had a fun stradegy.

shasharala says ...
May 4, 2014 @ 9:33am

Interesting. I like the take on "Beneath the Surface". The graphics were not too bad for a group of programmers as well.

kibertoad says ...
May 4, 2014 @ 10:13pm

Some of the best puzzles I ever saw in a ludum game. Great job with the plot. Graphics are a bit bland, but everything else is pretty much superb.

May 5, 2014 @ 12:34am

lovely puzzles

caranha says ...
May 6, 2014 @ 3:13am

Hey Hbocao! Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I could not run your game under Wine.


Penguincat says ...
May 9, 2014 @ 6:43am

I like the puzzle nature of it, but I felt like the story didn't have a good enough hook to convince me that it's worth it to keep going once I got stuck.

ChuiGum says ...
May 10, 2014 @ 2:49am

Very innovative! I really like the puzzles. I love the graphics too, nice music as well.

shadow64 says ...
May 10, 2014 @ 11:57pm

I think I agree with Empyrealhell a lot. The combination of really large maps, slow movement, and the tedious nature of the puzzles themselves makes the game feel very long. Add the very short sound loop and you get a game that feels like it's taking forever even though it's not. :\

I understand the desire to put in some music, but honestly I think the game would have been better off without it. It's a nice bit of piano, but the looping made it really take focus and distract from the fun of the overall game.

I think the story is interesting, but I don't have the desire to get the other ending since it sounds like it would take more work and seeing all of the sharp corners in the last level made me say "No thanks."

I think you've got a better handle on puzzle creation than I do, but I'd be interested in seeing what you could do with a smaller landscape. There was so much to the map and so little of it was used.

Overall it was still a good experience and a creative story/take on the theme, but those were the things that I felt limited what you were going for. Nicely done and thanks for sharing!

May 11, 2014 @ 10:16pm

Nice and polished game! Reminds me about good old Sokoban. :) God job!

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