See summary below.
Thoughts on the Itch.io Loading Screen Jam
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!