DYSTOPOLIS is a run n’ gun shooter set in a minimalistic cyberpunk metropolis, where you have the ability to redirect bullets using an ability called the “Gravity Well.” The game is available on itch.io for free here, so please try it out and let me know what you think!
Coming up with the Idea
At the time of the game jam, my brother and I were obsessing over the latest co-op indie game we picked up, Broforce. We were a fan of the different ways you could play the game, whether by going rambo and lighting up the landscape with machine gun fire, or by using stealth to sneak behind the simple AI characters and hit them from beneath the ground. No matter how you decided to play, this game was a difficult arcade shooter, where a single mistake would cost you your life. So while we were thinking of ideas for the game jam theme “rigging” we thought we could give making a shooter a try for this game jam, where you could instead “rig” your bullet trajectories through an in-game mechanic that we called the “Gravity Well.”
However, before we could get started on the game, my brother had to go on a vacation with my family, so I was left alone to work on the game solo. This gave me a great opportunity to practice some skills that my team usually handled such as the art design.
There has been some interest in the style of White Rose, so we would like to share the creative design process behind the game.
Synesthesia, an Audiovisual Experience
Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which different senses are linked together. Our character is a blind boy who has audio visual synesthesia and sees a plethora of colors with each bump to the beat. You’ll first notice this when you pick a song and press play. The layers of warm color fade in and suddenly give depth (parallax scrolling) and life to an otherwise dark and empty world.
Unfortunately, due to time constraints we couldn’t add in the rhythm mechanics where you can combo to the beat of the song and be rewarded with more spectacular visuals. We noticed in your comments that this was exactly what was missing, and we love how you guys totally get it! We’ve been listening to your feedback and are working on a rhythm-based combo system. It’ll be available for fun as a post-compo version (not to be rated for this jam), so stay tuned!
Paint Splatter and Particles
If a blind person has audio visual synesthesia, what do you think he or she sees when music is playing? I don’t know myself since I don’t have the condition, but I imagine it being a vibrant, abstract painting on a black canvas that continuously bursts with more color to each beat. To signify that, we used paint splatter sprites and particle effects that exploded out in the direction of each punch.
You can never have too many particles… until the FPS drops and the game crashes… then it’s too much… But until then, particles are just so amazing and easy to implement, and add a lot of extra satisfaction to every punch.
3D Character vs. 2D World
If you pay close attention, you’ll notice that the boy is a 3d model while the monsters and the rest of the world are 2D sprites. From a technical development perspective, animating the run cycle for a 3d model takes less time than drawing enough sprites to account for 8 directions of movement in a 2D isometric view. From a design perspective, we wanted a clear distinction between the “real” him and the abstract painted environment that only exists in a world created from music. What better way to distinguish that than with a 3D model and 2D sprites?
We hope you enjoyed the game and good luck with the next 2 weeks of Ludum Dare 34! Feedback is always greatly appreciated!
In a world created by sound, play as a boy with synesthesia as he fights the ever growing darkness with music and his fists, painting the world in color with every damaging blow. Destroy the monsters before they spread the ever-growing darkness. Turn up the beats and enjoy the visual experience.
White Rose was actually one of the first concepts we came up with when we got into game development, so we were really excited to be able to turn it into something playable. Unfortunately, due to time constraints for this jam we couldn’t implement all the features, such as combo-ing to the beat of the music and adding a rhythm element to it. Check out the game and have fun!
Two days left to vote for the Itch.io Loading Jam, and our submission has been rated an UNBELIEVABLY AWESOME 2 times so far. Yea! Fingers crossed.
In case you haven’t see it yet, check out submission Paradigm at the Itch.io Loading Jam page. Paradigm is a mystery visual novel with thrilling, alternate endings and it features pixel art, puzzles and nerdy humor. This time around we wanted to test ourselves and make something different from what we’re usually comfortable with. We stayed true to our studio values of integrating deep underlying meanings and created a game that was less mechanic-centric and more story-driven. Admittedly, we broke some rules from our “How to Make a Game in 1 Week” post—specifically not to waste time learning new skills—but we wanted to spice up our creative juices.
Unfortunately, writing a mystery visual novel game turned out to be a lot harder than we expected. Branching dialogue (storyline changes depending on how the player responds to questions) requires a dialogue manager, which also needs to initiate sprite animations and cinematics. The more branches our story had, the more complicated the coding got.
In regards to the story, writing a text-based adventure requires well-paced dialogue that develops the characters’ personalities and makes reveals without revealing too much. Guy Hasson’s Gamasutra post on how to write a mystery was extremely helpful. The following picture shows our brainstorming of possible story routes, with each smaller post-it being a sub-mystery that builds up suspense for the final reveal.
For two engineers who haven’t done any creative writing since high school, writing dialogue was… quite a challenge! It ended up taking us 4 days to fully flesh out the story, leaving us only 3 days left to code, write the dialogue, and draw the art. You can imagine the smiles on our faces when the jam was extended 3 days.
I [Kenneth] personally used to be kind of… anti-pixel art. Not in a bad way. It wasn’t until I tried it this past week and saw how much potential it had that I became fully converted. I was inspired by Hyper Light Drifter and Doko Roko and wanted to take advantage of this short break from Mind the Traps to try it out. It turned out to be so much fun.
I just put together a pixel art tutorial on the basics and tools you need in GIMP to get started. It’s a 3-part series (the other 2 are still in progress).
Getting Back to Work on Mind the Traps
This past week was a lot of fun, but it is time to get back to work on Mind the Traps. We’ll be completing a couple mini-games by the end of this week so stay tuned for screenshots!
One and a half weeks later, this game jam has been conquered. You can find the download link here. You can support us by playing the game, giving us feedback, and rating us on the jam site! It’ll be greatly appreciated. In the meantime, check out some screenshots below.
Paradigm is a visual novel, mystery thriller with alternate endings. It features puzzles, humor and pixel art.