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Game Jams

Week 7: Thoughts on the Itch.io Loading Jam; Getting Back to Work on Mind the Traps


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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.

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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.

Story

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.

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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.

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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.

Art

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!

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Game Jams

Game Submitted for the Itch.io Loading Jam!


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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.

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Games

Week 6: We’re Participating in the Itch.io Loading Screen Jam!


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Hey Everyone!

It’s been a couple weeks since our last update and we hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. We took a little break this past week to spice up our creative juices by attending the Itch.io Loading Screen Jam.

Do you every wonder why loading screens are, well, just loading screens? Do ever wonder why you just sit there and watch a spinning circle as you wait for the next level to load?

Well apparently, Namco filed a US patent 5718632 back in 1995, which forbid interactive loading screens. It’s 2015 and the patent has finally expired, so the theme of this jam is what creative things can you do that involve leading screens.

All we’re going to tell you for now is that our game is going to be a mystery visual novel with small puzzles, humor, and pixel art. Staying true to our studio values, we took the theme to a whole new, deeper level that will delight fans of the thriller genre.

I know we broke some rules that we mentioned in our “How to Make a Game in One Week” post (specifically, don’t waste time learning new skills), but after playing Undertale last week, we just couldn’t resist. So for this jam we picked up some tips and skills on how to write mystery stories and draw pixel art. Here are some screenshots: