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

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And the Moment Is Gone

by Mike Mezhenin - Jam Entry

An experimental conversation & internal monologue simulator. I tried to do a Eternal-Sunshine-of-the-Spotless-Mind-esque game, something I've been thinking about for a while, but finally did it over the weekend (that's what jams are for, right?).

- Left-click on thoughts to say stuff.
- Right-click on thoughts to reword phrases. Try not to overthink.
- Avoid the dark thoughts, they will mess you up.
- Listen to your mind (bottom-line thought) and say what (you think) she wants to hear.

--

Why did she sit near me? There's plenty room on this train. God, she looked at me! Did she just smile? OK, relax, just calm down. Why do I fall in love with every girl that smiles at me? Do not overthink. I should say something. There is inifinite number of ways to make a conversation (at least in my head). What should I say? Why did she sit near me?!..

If you think the game is frustrating and you can't win - congratulations, that's how most of us feel on public transport every day! (Just kidding, you can win. Kind of.)

Subway sound by blastwavefx from http://freesfx.co.uk/
Indie Queen by Hollie Tudor and graffiti fonts from http://dafont.com/
Phone icons by Stephen Hutchings and Rokey from https://www.iconfinder.com/

Downloads and Links


Ratings

Coolness100%
#9Innovation(Jam)4.19
#66Mood(Jam)3.89
#89Overall(Jam)3.71
#137Humor(Jam)3.26
#225Theme(Jam)3.46
#260Fun(Jam)3.19
#266Graphics(Jam)3.65
#334Audio(Jam)3.15

Comments

Apr 28, 2014 @ 10:01am

Love this game.
Great idea.
theme of the game was something I can really relate to XD

jsmars says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 10:11am

Really interesting and well made! I like how way too many thoughts fly by without being able to think them through, just like the real situation. I like games where you can't see past the "ai" logic at the first glance, it gives you the feeling that it's not just a code logic but that there is some intelligence there.

baboum says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 10:52am

Really well made!

Pierrec says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 10:56am

I LOVE IT!
This is a really clever way of narration. The game is both nice and creepy, like...why don't we let this poor girl alone? I have mixed feelings about all this and this is what makes the game so great.

Did you record the sounds yourself?

Maniulo says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 11:17am

Pierrec,
The subway sound recording and the font are not mine. Thanks for reminding me to put a proper credit for them!

Zolkren says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 11:24am

well made game.

Zolkren says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 11:31am

Nice game.

lorancou says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 12:02pm

Very nice! Although I'm not very gifted in flirting apparently, I can't manage to "win".

allurious says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 12:46pm

Loved the game, great idea. I often run out a load of scenarios in my head when in a stressful situation, so this is very relatable. :p

local minimum says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 3:00pm

I'm really hoping there's no way to win. Not for the sake of any pride but for the sake of the inevitable creepy aspects of how the actions you force me to make builds into a narration that says that as long as I have the magic string of phrases whichever girl on the subway will find me attractive. Like they are locks to pick. Only reflecting your actions, no volition on their part.

Nice graphics, style, effects and interactions with the texts.

Norse Games says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 3:04pm

Really great interpretation of the theme, good graphics, simple and effective.

Maniulo says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 3:28pm

local minimum, I thought about that too, and that's probably the first thing I'd change given more time.

On the other hand, since all of this game is just a fantasy in a troubled boy's head, I'm not surprised he's only making up her responses to his lines.

Hyoga-3D says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 3:30pm

nice mood! I fell bad about the guy...

zinfandel says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 4:13pm

Loved this game. One of the best entries I've seen yet.

CupcakeMedia says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 4:30pm

This is VERY interesting! I don't know how well-thought out it is, but it plays really well. It's a really cool concept and you did it perfectly. It maybe helps that it's not all-over the place, the focus is what makes it so sweet.

Apr 28, 2014 @ 5:30pm

Very interesting gameplay.

Hayawi says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 5:47pm

At first I thought the reactions were all the same, but as I kept playing, the game went more and more in depth. Also, I can relate with this poor Tom fellow, poor guy can't seem to find his words. Anyway, nice game, and really good use of atmosphere.

Thomas Ingham says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 5:56pm

Like life. Hard to play. :) I'm terrible with small-talk.

ThisIsDave says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 7:08pm

Very nice, I like how the game plays with the concept of overthinking

burgerdare says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 7:51pm

Excellent entry. Really interesting take on mechanically representing how people make conversation.

dook says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 8:44pm

I really like this idea. The dark thoughts never really played a part unless I touched them on purpose, though. They were easier to ignore than in real life :P

Apr 28, 2014 @ 9:24pm

Can you ever win? ...lol fun game and fun idea!

pancakecity says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 9:27pm

I would enjoy this game more if it was from the woman's perspective, like she's trying to read or something but his speech bubbles keep getting in the way... I kept thinking, she should be getting up and walking away by now! Anyway, his thoughts were really funny.

skymen says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 10:33pm

Good overall for this game. Not really fun or humoristic but pretty cool

tschery says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 11:40pm

this is awesome! I guess everybody can relate to that problem and you used a wonderfull way to make turn it into a game mechanic =) thanks for building this

Katamori says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 11:47pm

Can I "win"?

Apr 28, 2014 @ 11:52pm

Fantastic game. I could see this form of interactive story telling the forces the emotion of the character through game play really taking off.
Would love to see a longer version.

monika says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 6:01am

I felt bad for the girl. She clearly didn't want to talk to me. I should have just left her alone.

Apr 29, 2014 @ 7:16am

The ambience of the metro is really well done. I really like the whole thoughts mechanic. It also feels natural in some sort of way, her responses don't feel all too random. Really cool graphics also! Great game! (:

Pierrec says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 9:39am

I have to change my audio rating then ^^
I wrote a review of the game on oujevipo.fr but it will be published later this week (I say it now because I might forget later)

donan says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 2:18pm

Wow. Best idea i seen on this compo. Good sound and good graphics. Congratulations :D

eufrik says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 4:57pm

I really can relate to this. Good job!

iambored2006 says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 11:49am

This is almost as frustrating as real life! Good job! I'd love to see a version with voice acting, maybe even for thoughts.

Apr 30, 2014 @ 5:17pm

NIce art, good concept. She finally agreed to go on a date with me <3.

terraco says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 12:35am

That's deep. Great work.

VictoryGarden says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 1:51am

Ignoring other people's boundaries: the simulator

Or perhaps:

Street harassment: the simulator

I disliked how random the woman's responses were. Playing the game, I'd make the same choice multiple times and we'd have completely different conversations, often where one moment she was fine (or furious) and the next moment she would completely change mood.

For such a sensitive subject, this only serves to vindicate people who play off women's responses to harassment as irrational, hysterical, etc. Social anxiety is a pain in the bum. Social anxiety does not force you to repeatedly escalate your pickup lines to someone who has shown they're not interested in your attentions, lest you be overcome by doubts.

hyouko says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 2:50am

Playing this on public transportation (specifically, commuter rail on the way home at night) made it all the more effective.

One suggestion: make the characters remember conversation points they've already gone over. If I ask her about her music *again* she should probably get annoyed if she didn't respond favorably the first time.

VictoryGarden says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 6:46am

Feedback: I ran into situations where it was really tough to guess what I was supposed to say (I didn't know what to say when I was supposed to Be Myself, etc). Also, when she was interested in hearing about interesting facts (hottest Spring day), I was surprised that talking about the Library got me called a Nerd... it didn't seem like I was talking to a human being, and lacked consistency that would make it easier to play.

It's tough to simulate the complexities of conversations between people, but I really liked the way the conversation bubbles worked... interesting way to simulate avoiding intrusive thoughts, or finding the right way to word something. It'd have been funny to say what was in a black bubble you rolled over... blurting out "My fly is unzipped" or "Will you marry me?" to someone you are barely acquainted with, and maybe a steeper penalty for the black bubbles could be brilliant.

In a longer game, I'd like to see more hints about personality, maybe the ability to pick who you talk to from among a crowd; take coercing a stranger into a date by telling her what she wants to hear, and expand it into a simulation of how to talk to and get to know strangers on a subway. Let them talk to get an idea of who they are, and talk about things you think they might be interested in, maybe make a friend, whatever. Interesting and pretty well-made jam game, nonetheless!

Maniulo says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 8:27am

hyoko, the point of the game was to show how he tries different combinations of an imaginary conversation in his head, over and over; so every new conversation after a black screen is effectively a new scenario in his head - so the girl doesn't 'remember' anything from the previous playthroughs.

Maniulo says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 9:35am

VictoryGarden, thanks for the feedback! I appreciate such a thoughtful response.
Yes, I was thinking about simulation of personality traits, but wasn't able to do that in time, so I had to scratch that and replace them with the guy's random thoughts about 'what he thinks she wants to hear'.
This does lead to a situation when we have to say something intelligent one turn, and on the next turn intelligent response is not what she wants to hear which causes her to call us the nerd. This could seem random, but I prefer to think of this as a poor's guy not actually knowing how a real girl would react to his lines - remember, all this dialogues are just scenarios he's running in his head. Maybe I should've stressed that better.

Ellian says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 10:36am

Hah, interesting game here! Very well made, and very... deep I guess? I mean it's the kind of stuff you go through all your life - thinking back on what you should have said to people. And making it a game... it's strangely compelling.
Very good work here!

May 2, 2014 @ 12:13pm

Nice art! I liked how you represented being overwhelmed by thoughts. As for the game itself, I found it difficult to read her emotions. Her lines were a bit random. It's hard to simulate emotions with a few lines of text but maybe there could be a way to identify whether she's feeling uncomfortable or she doesn't mind some friendly chat

May 4, 2014 @ 9:20pm

Great idea! I dont know if it's possible to win but only making her answer something feels pretty rewarding... Just like in real life!

Snoother says ...
May 5, 2014 @ 8:41pm

I love games like this. Games that I can relate to. Games that depict the stress and exhaustion of conversation that people seldom notice. Thank you for making it.

A very interesting take on the theme too, with a mechanic that could definitely be taken further in a longer, more extensive conversational game.

I agree with some of the other comments that question the women's responses. There doesn't seem to be much consistency and her character seems pretty empty because of it.

And some of the suggestions were a bit too subjective. "Be myself" or "say something interesting" -- one of which is hard to guess and the other will likely vary from player to player. Though, it the latter's case, that ambiguity is arguably part of the stress and confusion of the conversation.

I'm almost tempted to argue that not being able to win would have made it a better game. Maybe a more true game. Though there's nearly-always a way to overcome social anxiety, so I suppose "winning" is suitable. God, I'm going to be thinking about this game all night!

Anyway, overall it really is one of the top games this LD.

Meedoc says ...
May 6, 2014 @ 11:14am

The gameplay really fit to the situation;
I love the mood and how you make the player feel introverted!

Congratulation !

GarethIW says ...
May 6, 2014 @ 7:43pm

I feel creepy now.

Anoarith says ...
May 6, 2014 @ 11:51pm

The game is well-made but I dislike the patriarchal aspect :/ it looks like a "soft-Galge" to me. VictoryGarden already said all.

Anyway, the black bubbles apparition to create stress was a great idea and the graphics was amazing :)

mcapraro says ...
May 8, 2014 @ 12:47am

really interesting take on the theme

stvr says ...
May 9, 2014 @ 5:58pm

As nerve-wracking as talking to strangers is in real life!

Ithildin says ...
May 10, 2014 @ 10:53pm

Great idea, and interesting execution!

I've toyed with the concept a couple of times in the past, but I haven't managed to come up with anything decent for a game yet. You've managed to nail a very nice game out of it, congrats! =)

Also, kudos for the nods to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It's my favourite movie <3

MokuJin says ...
May 11, 2014 @ 2:42pm

Very nice, and so true.
Very good AI, i didn't manage to get to her like in the real life :)

The sound is amazing, i'm really in the metro while playing.

The graphics are simple but effective.

joe40001 says ...
May 13, 2014 @ 6:07am

I am from loserville and I find this game highly offensive. :P

Nah, interesting concept, but where do I click for "she seems to be enjoying her music, she would probably not want to be bothered, particularly by somebody like me?" Also there is a "bug" with this game though... because I won the game and if it were an accurate simulator I would not have won.

I could make jokes about the theme all day, but it is innovative and well made, so good job.

Maniulo says ...
May 13, 2014 @ 8:10am

joe40001, sorry, but you didn't win. Even if you managed to get her number, there was a black-thought screen saying that this is just a scenario in the boy's head ("This couldn't have happened" or something like that). :P

Striwx says ...
May 13, 2014 @ 3:04pm

Very cool, the narration is great and true ! Perhaps it's a little frustration to not continue conversations (like talking about music and etc...)

mortus says ...
May 14, 2014 @ 8:05am

Great game! I'm not sure I understand how it works, though, because sometimes I'm doing better when I'm just clicking random phrases (or maybe I'm just such a creep?). Also, does it have some sort of ending, except black screen with some text? I've got a positive message few times, but mostly it was window escape and such. Anyway, great mechanics (gotta remember it and use in a dialog in a game some time), great mood and quite fun game!

Mike Mezhenin says ...
May 14, 2014 @ 10:35am

mortus, no, the only ending you can get is a black screen with a more (bad ending) or less (good ending) depressing thought. I didn't have time (or skill, for that matter) to make proper animations. :)

neekobus says ...
May 14, 2014 @ 2:18pm

Super idea. Like the overthinking mecanics.

It's really frustating (yeah as in real life). Sometimes she react strangely : looks happy then agressive (while talking nicely - i think).

Maybe you should add information about the progression (remove the headphone, getting closer, looking at you).

Good idea & work ! Curious to see how you make the tree of the discussion.

Foshay99 says ...
May 17, 2014 @ 11:07pm

That was awesome

Blanky says ...
May 18, 2014 @ 4:55am

Nice concept

Diptoman says ...
May 18, 2014 @ 10:57am

That was really interesting. Well, I figured out that she gives a good response if you select the correct thing to say according to the situation written below, and then it became more of a remember-match thing. The conversation wasn't fully coherent due to that. Couldn't figure out all the matches, however. Overall, a very well polished entry- and the idea is seriously innovative. I'd love to see this concept expanded.

Jeremias says ...
May 18, 2014 @ 8:07pm

Makes me feel uncomfortable but I think that wasn't your intention. Anyway, very interesting concept!

JavadocMD says ...
May 19, 2014 @ 5:41am

A fascinating concept and well executed. A game like this is hard to pull off under a time constraint, but I think you captured the soul of the idea very well.

Lucariatias says ...
May 19, 2014 @ 4:05pm

I want to like this, but it feels very repetitive and very little way forward. Perhaps if there was a general hint as to how to continue, and more variety in situations.

illugion says ...
May 19, 2014 @ 7:05pm

Wow that was really cool! It made me try repeatedly and I got really addicted to it haha

May 19, 2014 @ 7:22pm

Nice idea!

misterwalter says ...
May 19, 2014 @ 7:43pm

This game was physically painful. Beautifully done.

SK16Games says ...
May 19, 2014 @ 9:22pm

Very interesting game :) Is there a way to win? (or maybe I'm just very poor at flirting xP)

Mase says ...
May 19, 2014 @ 11:09pm

This was good enough to be replayed a few times. After several failures I wondered if this was an unwinnable game but eventually I figured it out and "kind of won." yay!

The changeable thoughts are cool and it felt good when I found something clever, and frustrating when I clicked past something.

I liked the mechanics but I thought the fairly mundane scenario was a little overly dramatized, particularly the darkening screen which seemed like a cliche way of representing despair.

Interesting work.

GFM says ...
May 19, 2014 @ 11:13pm

Aaaaarg. >_<
If you hadn't said it's possible to win in the description, I wouldn't have tried it for so long... And I was able to get further in the conversation, meaning it can have an end point (different than getting messe by your thoughts).

This was really interesting. And kind of a simulator of how I feel lots of times. XD (though I always keep quiet)

P.S.: After reading your response to VictoryGarden, I see this game in a different light. At first, I thought the game was resetting, not that it was a scenario in his head... This just went from "great game" to "this is way too awesome"! =D

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