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

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Beneath the Surface

by Snoother - 48 Hour Compo Entry

Violence, hyper-masculinity and North Korea: a game to make you hate gamer power fantasy.

Surprisingly, I completed it well within the time limit. I'm pretty happy with it, and even managed to write an original score. So please do wear headphones.

The tools I used: Twine, Sibelius 6, Cubase 5 and GIMP. The source code is included in the zip file.

Downloads and Links




PaperBlurt says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 8:34am

So I had to download this one.
But I did it!
Easier to just play online, when you do Twine games.

Like that you worked with the graphics, and implemented something more than just text...

Snoother says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 10:55am

Thanks for playing.

There were some some major problems with the audio in the web version, so I took it down. If I can fix it I'll put the web version back up.

Zed says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 3:42pm

Neat. Like a text-based FPS. The music and sound effects were amazing. Really high quality production for a twine game. Good stuff.

idovingx says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 3:44pm

upsetting, though i guess that was the point

tehryanx says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 3:45pm

I've played a lot of fun games this time, but if it was up to me this would win in a few categories. Great game!

ccglp says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 3:46pm

I don't feel like I won... :(
(Good game xD)

bzizizi says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 3:50pm

"You have won." Oh have I? I feel like crap now... Great audio and mood. Contrats.

renatopp says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 4:09pm

Man, I have to tell you, I played your game two times. The first one I closed in the middle because I was feeling bad. Then I regretted, because I was feeling that I was losing some message! Damn, I'm feeling terrible right now.

So, my considerations about the development. You could upload the game to let us play it online, there is no reason to make a zip of a html file! I know that sounds have big size, but they are pretty simple, you could make a low quality version of them.

I also wished more options, I mean, not options to change the story, but to know more about the people there, the place, or even me. I would like to know more why I am f***784ng doing these terrible things, however, I think knowing more about myself would spoil the experience.

Good job, I think is the best game I've played here so far.

renatopp says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 4:10pm

And by the way, thank you for this experience.

Snoother says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 4:20pm

Your welcome!

I'm working on trying to get web version up, but it looks like it isn't going to happen -- Twine really doesn't make it easy to confidently set up the audio stuff online.

On the story questions... I'll probably do a post-mortem at some point that will likely address that. I don't really want to do it in the comments for fear of spoilers.

baboum says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 5:17pm

I usually don't like text-based games, but I have to admit yours was truly amazing. I felt so weird as the story kept going, and the music had a lot to do with it. Congrats for this wonderful experience you made! :)

thx4nothing says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 6:01pm

The soundtrack and sound effects are really nice. The story was a bit confusing but a little bit funny :D

Khopa says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 6:11pm

I won ....! :(

The music, the writing, it's really great. Nice experience.

SonicRaptor says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 7:41pm

Very good game, a little too dark for my taste but still good.

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

Wow, what an experience!

okkolobr says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 7:52pm

I'm feeling bad to have won. Well done.

CDK says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 8:08pm

This was really great. this was really a touching story, which i hope was the plan. The music was what took it to that level, without it, it would just have been 'another boring text adventure'. really really great job. i'm going to save and share this one!

CDK says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 8:13pm

oh btw: the ending.. it feels.. so.. i .. feel.. so bad.. :/ omg :/ nothing i would want to have changed. it is a masterpiece thinking of the time you/we had..!

CDK says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 8:14pm

Last comment.. i swear! do you have a soundcloud? the music. i want to hear it.. more! MORE!

Snoother says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 8:20pm

No, sorry. It's actually the first time I've ever distributed my music. Glad you like so much.

And thanks for the extremely nice comments. Really made my day.

mihaivdev says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 9:09pm

Never heard of twine before but now that I looked it up, it's awesome. And you made very good use of it. Love the atmosphere, the feelings, and especially the music and sounds. Great game!

vilya says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 9:50pm

That's kind of disturbing. Great sense of atmosphere about it!

Seraphina says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 10:24pm

That was some dark shit... Well done.

terraco says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 8:35am

Well that's fucking dark and depressing!

Spotline says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 10:49am

Haha the text-only Fps :D makes the actual Fps seem a bit absurd

RikardKarlsen says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 4:31pm

Very atmospheric! 5/5

AmmoreChicks says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 6:40pm

"This is almost getting tedious. Almost."
Ah, ah, ah! I feel powerful...

Lucio says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 8:04pm

And this is why games are not only about ultra hd graphics! Man, that second music! You have great talent. Congrats

Apr 29, 2014 @ 8:49pm

Brilliant and painfull to play, and there's an important message in there about the glorification of violence. One of the best games I've played this LD!

Crazi456 says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 8:50pm

The audio was amazing! Great work!

Snoother says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 9:11pm

Thanks for the lovely comments, especially (but of course not exclusively) from Linus Lindberg whose game is still lingering fondly in my mind.

KayZ says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 9:23pm

Interesting experience. Textual description of what you do triggers quite some different feelings than just shooting a bunch of people in a FPS.

Apr 30, 2014 @ 7:45pm

Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww D:

One of the best Twines I've played.

MSaul says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 8:01pm

WOW the feelings, really well done. Nice audio btw.

LandoSystems says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 8:04pm

Good story, great concept. I like the choose your own adventure gameplay!

LandoSystems says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 8:06pm

Intense story, great concept. I like the choose your own adventure gameplay!

Kep says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 8:54pm

That was an interesting experience. Well done. Mood++
I'm gonna go take 7 showers now...

badlydrawnrod says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 9:58pm

My jaw dropped. I don't think I've stared open mouthed at the screen like that. Those choices. This was not a game to play before going to bed. I don't think I'll sleep well tonight knowing what I've done.

May 1, 2014 @ 6:43pm

So deep.

Dominator_101 says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 9:41pm

Is this really the kind of game you play...

Or is this the kind of game...

that plays you?

Did any of us really win?

benmcnelly says ...
May 2, 2014 @ 6:33am

"your muscular arms are now pressed tightly against the wet stone..." - your writing and some of the choices had me cracking up or slapping my forehead, but it was all well done. Nice entry!

Techblogogy says ...
May 2, 2014 @ 5:48pm

Very different game, but I really enjoyed it!

GagaPete says ...
May 2, 2014 @ 9:23pm

On the one hand awesome but on the other hand disturbing as hell. Feel bad now, even though I tried to kill not a single one. I would give 6 out of 5 for mood.

XenosNS says ...
May 3, 2014 @ 12:40am

Wow, wrenching

Xaychru04 says ...
May 3, 2014 @ 9:16pm

Wow, awesome experience, I first thought I wasn't going to like the game because of the "graphics", but I was wrong. The sounds and the narration made it an excellent journey, I almost felt like I was dreaming, being forced to kill people in an horrible way, soo cool! :D
"This was not a game to play before going to bed. I don't think I'll sleep well tonight knowing what I've done." Haha me too! ><

HybridMind says ...
May 3, 2014 @ 11:26pm

Very dark. Not quite sure I get the message (if there is one.) I hadn't read your notes on this page before playing so without reading about "a game to make you hate gamer power fantasy." I wast thinking you were being earnest in wanting to glorify all this killing and wounding. The writing was well done, but that just made it more disturbing to play. I guess it is not clear to me why this game exists. The purpose of it. I feel it is easier to make something disturbing than to make something with a similar but subtle message. Not sure. At least you made me want to shutdown your game on multiple occasions yet I kept playing. Just in case there was some kind of meaning to be found. In the end, I just "won".

Crowbeak says ...
May 4, 2014 @ 3:57am

Well, that was dark. Well done.

Snoother says ...
May 4, 2014 @ 1:00pm

@HybridMind I've written a post-mortem that may help to explain things:

Thanks for playing!

HybridMind says ...
May 4, 2014 @ 3:59pm

@Snoother Read your writeup, thanks for linking that. Good to hear your thoughts behind it.

radmars says ...
May 4, 2014 @ 8:14pm

Wow, this is fucking heavy. Damn.

mcapraro says ...
May 5, 2014 @ 12:19am

i played for a bit, but it was hard. its hard to fight the urge to just stop playing and close the window. its a gruesome game so far but you have elicited such a strong emotion, so kudos on that.

ZYXer says ...
May 6, 2014 @ 2:13am

This game is horrible. I don't want to question the morality of what I'm doing. I want a game to present what's right and what's wrong in black and white.

One of the best games I've played. Brilliant atmosphere and great sound. The perverse and nearly erotic descriptions are perfect. 5/5

nonentheless says ...
May 6, 2014 @ 7:53am

I have finally played your entry and indeed it's dark and atmospheric. Nice job on the audio, but shame it creates problems online. If it was web based more people would try it for sure. Great job.

JavadocMD says ...
May 6, 2014 @ 9:10pm

I can appreciate what you said you were trying to do here -- to ridicule the "hyper-masculine" violent nature of video games -- but I don't think you pulled it off here. When satirizing it is important not to become the thing you're ridiculing.

Snoother says ...
May 6, 2014 @ 10:08pm

@JavadocMD that's a good point. But I'm afraid you misinterpreted my intentions: it's not quite satire. It's more a compilation of what I hate about violent video games, giving my (I think) valid criticisms some exposure in a (hopefully) engaging way. If it were satire it would have to include (quickly does an Oxford Dictionary search...): "humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule". It's not meant to be the first two or indeed the last. And I wouldn't call it exaggerated, though you're welcome to disagree.

It's also a bit more than just the hyper-masculinity of violent video games. It's intended to more broadly depict what lies beneath the surface of an FPS: themes of enemy powerlessness, vulgarity, absurdity and, yes, masculinity. (If you want you can read the post-mortem, if you haven't already, though admittedly it may not be the most riveting of reads.)

I hope that doesn't come across as defensive; I just wanted to clarify a few things. And goodness knows there are things I'd like to improve about it.

Anyway, thanks for playing and taking the time to provide some criticism. When I get a chance I'll check out your game -- it looks fun.

JavadocMD says ...
May 7, 2014 @ 11:25pm

Thank you for the thoughtful reply and I enjoyed reading the post-mortem. Understanding your intentions in your own words is helpful, and I can identify with your aim. I still question as to how successfully the piece itself carries your message. Perhaps it has something to do with the continuing absence of real choice presented. Killing or wounding makes little difference. There's nothing I can do to "fail". At no point am I able to question if I want to proceed. (I don't consider closing the game a real or interesting choice, personally, though I'm sure there are well-reasoned people who disagree.)

Making the player powerless to control the unfolding story, I have difficulty laying the blame for the carnage on anyone but the game designer. I don't personally feel culpable because I didn't know what I was getting into. While I certainly think the FPS industry has its share of blame in the culture of violence-worship, the players definitely know what they're getting and clamor for more. Ultimately if I felt complicit with you in how the story unfolds, I would feel more affected by the horror.

In any case this may be nothing more than "one man's opinion", but I've tried to articulate it as best I could. I certainly laud any attempt to tackle a serious issue in a creative way.

May 8, 2014 @ 3:36am

Interesting text adventure! I included it in part 14 of my Ludum Dare compilation video series, if you'd like to check it out :)

Snoother says ...
May 8, 2014 @ 6:59am

@JavadoxMS thank you! A very interesting and thoughtful response.

I have to admit I had to limit agency because I just didn't have time to write various methods of kills and the like. It is something I'm considering improving upon in a post-compo release. Consdering it's a game about powerfulness, the lack of agency is certainly a problem, and I don't think this had quite occured to me until your comments

JavadocMD says ...
May 8, 2014 @ 7:23pm

No need to explain: I know all about running low on time! :)

In any case I hope you do expand on this idea because it is really compelling. Feel free to ping me on Twitter (@JavadocMD) when you do; I'd love to check it out.

May 9, 2014 @ 12:04am

It's amazing that you can make someone feel uneasy for "winning" a game, with just text!

misterwalter says ...
May 11, 2014 @ 2:09am

Felt a bit ham-fisted, I think you could have been more effective if you had reined in the blatant masturbatory nature of the violence a little. Perhaps bring it...Beneath the surface? *Dons sunglasses*
Still excellent though, really well done.

iambored2006 says ...
May 13, 2014 @ 1:06pm

Before I write my actual feedback, I'd like to say that this is a very good entry. I'm pointing this out because it may not be obvious from my feedback.

The game feels unfair. When I played it, I wanted to quit, but not because I was disgusted, but because I felt like I was being punished for doing things that I wouldn't have done if I had a real choice. I was being punished by my conscience, by reading a horrific paragraph detailing my atrocious acts, just because I chose the kill option instead of the wound option. On the one hand, I wanted to kill these people, thinking of their crimes against humanity, but then, I don't want to kill a ten year old! Why can't I choose to spare him?! As you can see, this game had a very negative effect on my. If there's one thing your game failed at, it's invoking guilt. I could continue playing the game because I knew that I had no responsibility for my avatar's actions, thus creating a disconnect.

Snoother says ...
May 13, 2014 @ 4:09pm

Thanks for the feedback!

Yeah, the lack of choice is something other people have criticised too. It's becoming obvious that it's a bigger issue than I initially thought. How can I expect a game to

Snoother says ...
May 13, 2014 @ 4:18pm

Woops, accidentally clicked submit.

So, where was I... oh yeah: How can I expect a game to elicit a strong moral response when the player feels no responsibility for the actions? At the same time, I don't want there to be a way to evade the vulgarity of it. Somehow I have to make the player feel as if they had a choice without actually giving them one, which is really damn hard.

Plus, I ran out of time. I kept abstracting ideas so that the game could be made within 48 hours. And the result was the "Kill" and "Wound" choices that are nothing more than grotesque flavour, I admit. The scene prior, with the guy in the bed, is more towards the direction and level of agency I had initially intended.

Anyway, your criticism is really helpful. And it's something I definitely want to address in a post-compo version. Who knows when I'll actually get one done -- so many other projects to complete and so many school essays to write -- but I'm determined to revisit it at some point.

udo says ...
May 14, 2014 @ 8:22am

The "Fun" rating seems woefully inappropriate with this kind of game, but if you interpret it as "engaging" I'll give it high marks there as well. I get the underlying message, but I also feel dirty for having walked through this ;)

On the technical side, since the download is just for playing in a web browser anyway, why not host it somewhere so people can play it directly?

Snoother says ...
May 14, 2014 @ 10:53am

@udo i'm glad you found it engaging. And I must admit I'm curious to see what rating I'll get uder "fun" ;)

I had big problems with audio syncing whereever I hosted it online. I actually may be on the verge of solving the problem (not a programmer, so I'm really slow on the technical stuff), but there's only, you know, 5 days left. Regardless, over 70 people have rated and mostly all commented on te game, so it hasn't been too much of a problem.

Pitoum says ...
May 14, 2014 @ 8:35pm


joe40001 says ...
May 15, 2014 @ 7:31am

You accomplished what you wanted to do, but most times I play games I try to subvert what the game wants me to do with what I want to do, so idk, the point of this game was more or less "let's all feel bad about violence and the glorification of masculinity as celebrated evil in video games" but why? You know?

I'm giving you full points for mood, because it's only fair, but this game (like Notch's game) felt like "let's make a feel bad game" and I just don't get the purpose of doing that. If something is going to be dark/depressing it needs narrative weight and this whole game was a game to educate me on a lesson I and many others don't need to learn, and because it had such a deliberate focus to that end it just felt frustrating for me.

PS: Most people don't appreciate the value of a good font, I've done enough video work that trust me I do, so credit there and with the music. Writing was fine for what you were going for, but overall I'd say not my cup of tea (even keeping in mind that it's supposed to not be fun so much as illuminating)

Snoother says ...
May 15, 2014 @ 1:31pm

You've hit the nail on the head, to use a God-awful cliche. For my next game I really want to try conveying an idea/opinion but make the player come to the conclusion themselves rather than show them very obvious messages. I think if this game were any longer the reception would have been a lot more negative, because it is too preachy. And if you're the converted, I guess it is even less engaging.

I do think there's merit in purely making the player feel bad, but that's something I can only backup subjectively.

And thanks for taking the time to make some really helpful points! I really do appreciate it.

Caridorc says ...
May 15, 2014 @ 5:50pm

#(This is not a comment on your game actually but...)
Thank you very much for being honest about my game! (The figth beneath the surface), I loved some sincere feedback on it, and yes I know I could have put 5-10 times more work into it. Your comment was one of the very best that I got on my game, many others are just nonsense or cheesy. I wanted to thank you again because you spent a lot of time writing the review of my game, (it's so long :) ), it seemed a professional review, well done, fight ipocrisy!

jsmars says ...
May 16, 2014 @ 6:42pm

This is what those moody stars are for, wow! First impression was a bit slow, but it really picks up and it's impressive what a the right text and some sound can do.. Really difficult to play actually. Nice job, hard to rate as "fun" :O

Lucariatias says ...
May 19, 2014 @ 5:28pm

I feel horrible! ;_;
Wondering why there was no options to leave some people be, killing everyone felt pretty brutal.
Well written and beautiful atmosphere. Well done.

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