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.
We’re excited to announce that we’ve been accepted for the Indie Prize Showcase for our game Mind the Traps! woot! The 3-day event takes place as part of Casual Connect in SF, where attendees will have the opportunity to demo their game, sit in workshops, and network with industry professionals.
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.
Woo!!!!!!! Just finished up the design for a new level of #WispyWillowsGame. This one caused me some especial pain. Lots and lots of unseen bugs came up during testing. I’m quite happy with the layout. All art are placeholders at the moment.
Sarcasm aside, Picnic Day was an exhausting but really fun day. Having only slept 3 hours the night before after watching 4 episodes of Game of Thrones (GREYWORM NUUUUUUUU!!!!), I got my ass up early to meet my brother on campus. In fact, we got there so early all the booths were empty; so we set up right at the corner near the hallway where we could get the most attention.