This will be a short post about the result of a game I made for Ludum Dare 38 last weekend. I will basically cover why did I decide to participate and how did I come up with the idea.
Recently I’ve been very busy working on other projects that are planned to be released this year. However, after the theme was unvelied, I decided that if could find something that had a message I could transmit somehow (I want to make a full educational game in the future), I was going to participate.
In this case, I focused the brainstorming in two topics: what’s going on in Venezuela (my country) now and global warming. I decided to go with the first topic because this is how I feel can contribute to what’s going on there, we can all contribute to a cause from different perspectives and my perspective is from the game development side.
The Jam lasts only two days and there was not a lot of time to decide what to do. As always I try to keep things as simple as possible and concentrate on a small idea.
important points for the game
- Choose a message
- Communicate the message clearly
- Make something dynamic
- Try as hard as possible make it fun
- Polish as much as possible until the Jam is over
As message, I just wanted people to be aware of what’s going on in other countries, make people think about what’s happening in other parts of the world. I wanted people to understand that despite the fact that we have different cultures, live in different places and have different ways of thinking, we all belong to the same planet and should care about each other.
I said earlier that I wanted to focus on what is happening in Venezuela and it’s true, however I also think it’s important to take a look at other countries because people are suffering everywhere.
The message is communicated not only in an explicit way in the end of the game but also the whole mechanics are based on the idea of caring about others, helping and cooperating.
The rules of the game are:
- Beat the aliens: To beat the aliens, members have to combine the power of their colors to attack
- Stay alive: You need at least one house in your territory to respawn
- You can attack any alien
- You can give one of your houses away
- You can repair your or someone else’s house
The game is made in a way that these rules are not explicitly taught. From the game you know you can move, grab and place houses, you can shoot and you can repair houses, but I don’t tell the player “to beat the aliens you need to cooperate”. The idea was that the player understood the rules by looking at the NPC or just using common sense.
The NPCs have different behaviors:
- Attack an alien in my territory
- If someone helps me, I’ll help too
- Stay alive
- Give the player a house if he is out of them
Since I didn’t have enough time to make things smoother, I included a condition to randomly decide to help someone sometimes, so the player could understand easier what to do.
The game is really simple. Since the theme of the jam was a small world, I just decided to make everything in a very small world created from four different parts. To add a fast pace, the aliens attack non-stop in a random way. In addition, all the NPCs work very hard to attack the aliens and try to stay alive too.
The focus here was trying to stay concentrated on the main message and make something enjoyable.
After all the basic elements were complete, I just focus on trying to add things that improved the experience of players.
I think that when time is very limited like in a game jam, one should focus first on adding important feedback after finishing the basic mechanichs of the game. Shooting, receiving damage, reparing a house and subtle details to explain how to play were the core of this part.
Also the planet reacts to what is happening in the game, if it’s attacked, everything shakes and when something good happens (like defeating an alien), it winks.
These things are very small but they improve the experience of the game as a whole. I really wanted to put more efforts here but… not enough time.
This is it, I wanted to make a small post and I feel it’s very long already, so to wrap up, this jam for me was different and interesting for the following reasons:
- First time I base everything on communicating a message
- First experience using Unity for a game jam
- I tried to make simple but pretty graphics with a different palette of what I use to
- Programming the NPC was a challenge but really fun
So if you have any questions, let me know.
You can visit the Ludum Dare 38 entry here and play the game online or download it in your computer.
By the way, I’ll still think about the idea for the global warming game, I think it’s an important issue.