About David S Gallant (twitter: @davidsgallant)
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The Toronto Star Memorial Award
Awarded by PoV on January 30, 2013
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During September’s Mini-LD for “no-games”, I started working on The Call. I didn’t finish it in time. Then came the October Challenge.
A brief side story – around the time I started making games in 2011, I had picked up a copy of the HD re-release of Ico & Shadows of the Colossus. I was eager to play (I have never owned a PS2, and thus missed these games when they first came out). However, I decided to keep the game sealed as a form of personal motivation: I would only be allowed to open this game once I made my first dollar from a game. It was my own personal October Challenge, made well before I discovered the Ludum Dare. I failed 2011′s October Challenge – and unfortunately I failed 2012′s as well.
Well, let me amend that. I think I’ve won the 2012 October Challenge. I just won it two months after the fact. That still counts, right?
“The Call” eventually grew into I Get This Call Every Day. Writing the script became a very personal endeavour, and what I thought was going to be a simple comedy game became a very sick representation of one of the little ways my day job was grinding the humanity out of me. I determined to sell it not just for the October Challenge, but in the hope that sharing this experience could also afford me a way out.
I Get This Call Every Day went up for sale on Friday, December 21st, 2012 (or late night on the 20th, depending on your timezone). It’s available for as little as $2, though the option is available to pay more than that. One person paid $100. He later emailed me to tell me his story of two years being stuck in a call centre job like my own. He’ll soon be opening a game store in Columbus, Ohio, and I wish I could meet him so I could hug him in person.
I expected to make a few dollars from friends and family. Instead I have made over $800, and the game has only been on sale for about six days. This isn’t a hefty sum compared to other success stories, but for me it represents so much more. It’s a brand new fucking world for me, now. And I can finally play Shadows of the Colossus.
I wouldn’t be here without the Ludum Dare community. Thank you, each and every one of you.
So I’m working on a point & click “adventure” titled The Call. As you might guess from the name and the included screenshots, it’s about working in a call centre. It’s actually just one specific call, but it’s such a common call for me; a relatively mundane request that is actually fraught with all kinds of complication.
There is no winning The Call.
These screens are technically mock-ups, as they aren’t fully implemented in-game. In an uncharacteristic twist, I completed art before even touching the game’s writing or programming. I was originally going to do this in Adventure Game Studio, but I’ve never used it before and I found it very difficult as a first-timer to make something non-standard with it. So I’ve refocused for Flixel… at least this way the game will be playable in a browser.
I’ve only got a few hours left to write, voice, and program this sucker, so there’s a real good chance I’ll miss the deadline. But who cares? I’m actually having fun making this piece of crap!
During the last Ludum Dare, I made EscapeOut (which has been updated to v1.1, available on my website here). It’s been the source for many good things for me. First, it was included with the 2012 IGF Pirate Kart. It blows my mind that, in a small way, my second game ever is currently under IGF consideration. Second, I got to watch a whole mess of people play EscapeOut at Gamercamp Lv3, including Seth Cooper of the Foldit program. These are some of my proudest accomplishments.
So, of course I’m in!
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll state up front that the main reason for this post is because someone told me I couldn’t get trophies if I hadn’t written a blog post. I have no idea if we’re too late for any awarding, but what the hell.
I haven’t really felt the need to talk about my game, EscapeOut, because it wasn’t a particularly interesting process. Relying on a 20-min show-off video by Photon Storm about how to make a brick breaker in 20mins, I stumbled my way through Flixel and came up with something that put a little spin on the core concept. The theme of LD21 was Escape, so how else does one apply that to a brick breaker? Easy: something on the screen has got to try to get the hell out of dodge. From there it was a simple leap in logic to the eventual core mechanic. I won’t say what that is because I don’t like to spoil the game. In fact, I really liked setting friends down in front of EscapeOut with no instructions to see if they can figure it out. The game has no instructions for a very intentional reason.
Judging by the comments on EscapeOut, forcing players to discover the game’s mechanic paid off. I’ve been a very bad LD participant: haven’t blogged, haven’t played many of the entries, haven’t used the IRC channel except for a couple technical questions. Mostly this has been due to time; I only managed to spend half of the 48 hour timeframe coding, due to oversleeping and family obligations. So, I was quite surprised to log on today and see the comments and ratings left for EscapeOut. A few people really seemed to like it, more than I ever could have imagined. Even more shocking, the game was rated #54 in humour. Seriously, a game with no instructions, no words other than “YOU HAVE DIED” and “YOU ESCAPED”, no characters, no narrative, and even no sound effects or music, ranked within the top 10% of humourous games in the entire Ludum Dare 21!
I guess this really goes to show that an intriguing mechanic can turn a relatively bland experience into an interesting one, even if only for a few minutes.