This is how I’ve made a game I’m not very happy with :
What went right/What helped
Ritual Hot Chocolate
This was my third Ludum Dare, and as usual, just after I discoverd the theme, I went to my favorite café and ordered a hot chocolate. That’s how I got my ideas on LD21 and LD22, and that how I got it on LD23. Honestly, there is nothing better than drinking a hot chocolate under the sun in the morning, far away from your computer, with a sheet of paper and a pen, to find the inspiration.
Three weeks before the Ludum Dare, I decided to warm up and to start working on a new game. My objective was to finish it before the LD, and I failed, but I don’t care because I’ve tried my tools, discoverd new way to code, improved my drawing, did some researches for audio tool…to put it in a nutshell : I was ready !
Various inspiration sources
It’s pretty impossible to create something totally new. I know that. So I always look for things that I like to be inspired by. This time, the game was inspired by a Garfunkel and Oates’ song, I Don’t Know Who You Are, in which a girl is embarassed because she doesn’t know who is the guy speaking to her, and a scene from Human Traffic in which two characters meet in the bar, have nothing to say to each other, and imagine what this scene would be if they were both honest to each other.
The girl who doesn’t recognize a guy + the bar + the difference between thoughts and acts + the akwardness…I got my game !
Watching/listening these inspiration from time to time during the making of the game was helpful to remind me what I was trying to do.
IRC french chanel
We were around 20 french jamers on a irc chanel during the whole LD, and it was great to share our ideas, our problems, our prototypes. I didn’t ask for much help (except trivial details like : which color should I choose for her shoes?) but it is always great to feel you’re not alone.
I’m starting to be very familiar with Adventure Game Studio and GraphicsGale. I exactly know what I can and what I can’t do. Useful knowledge of course because then, it was easy to know what game could be made.
On saturday night, I was invited to a party and was planing to decline to work on my game. But then I thought : Fuck it ! It’s saturday night ! I think I had the best meal of the whole Ludum Dare ( bruschettas, five cheeses tortelini, salmon spaghettis and tiramisu, with some pastis and wine of course…Thanks Jehanne) and I got the occasion to tell some non-gamers people what I was doing this week end. « -Wow ! Is it possible to make a game in 48h ? » « -Fuck yeah it’s possible ! And I’m gonna prove it ! ». I found A LOT of motivation there.
I got lucky because sunday, a friend came by to my appartement (to give me a crappy Cathleen Montana DVD…do you remember Cathleen Montana ? That show was awesome ^^!). So I asked her to beta test what I have made so far, and of course, it’s very helpful to actually SEE someone playing your game. You can see the smiles, the laughters, the boring moments…JUST GREAT ! (Thank you Gwen)
WHOA ! So many things went right ! How could it be I don’t like my game then ?! Let’s see…
What went wrong
I made something in 48h. I made something that might be funny, well-written, immersive (according to what I read in the comments), but I didn’t made a game. I made a story, and crap, this is a game competition ! So…I consider I failed.
My previous games (Never Alone Hotline, Crow and Foxy) don’t look like game, but according to me, they are, because the player can set his own wining/losing conditions, there is actually something to DO, even if it’s only dialog picking. In this one, there is dialog picking as well, but it leads nowhere, it’s useless, the only reason to play it is to read some funny dialogs. That is absolutely not enough.
Being on the safe side
After the compo, I read Kaitila’s Game Jam Survival Guide and I saw the famous KISS rule (Keep It Simple Stupid!). I think this is a good rule most of the time, but on this LD, I regret I kept it too simple. I got a lot of ideas to make this story look like a game, but I droped them because I wanted to finish something. Well…I finished something…after something like 20 hours of work…there was SO MUCH time left ! I easily could have made something bigger, something better.
So yeah…KISS…but not too much.