Indie Speed Run: Sleepless Growth Post Mortem

After my horrible attempt to create a space adventure for the Ludum Dare earlier this year, I decided to give it another go in the Indie Speed Run, a Game Jam with actual prizes, in which you can choose when you want to start the 48h time limit by hitting on a big GO button.

 

The first day: Physical depression

As usual I already had a rough idea what I wanted to make before starting the timer. This is not very smart, as you get a theme and a mandatory element for your game as soon as you hit the GO button, so you most likely have to come up with something new anyway.
My theme was “Growth” and my element “Coffee”. While I really liked the theme, the element seemed kind of random. The first thing I did was thinking about how I could change the concept I had already in mind to integrate a growth element into it.
I came up with a physics game where you have to make objects bigger in order to interact with your environment. As I always wanted to do something with 2D ragdolls, I designed a scenario where you have to save a young man that wants to hang himself in his garage by making objects bigger.
It was really a dark and morbid idea, but I liked it so far, so I began doing the graphics with my graphics tablet. It took a few hours, but I was happy with the result.

Growth Screenshot

Creating the ragdoll physics was really simple in Game Maker, as it has integrated Box2D physics. Still it was already late in the evening and I decided to call it a day to be fresh for the second. As I got to bed, I had really big doubts that I would a) be able to finish it and b) create something meaningful and/or fun with this game. So in a kneejerk reaction, I scraped the whole game and thought what I could do the next day in order to save this chaotic game jam experience.
Before I fell asleep I only had a rough idea…

 

The second day: Alone in the Dark

As soon as I got up I started thinking about different ways to incorporate the growth theme in new and clever ways. This brainstorming session wasn’t successfull at all, so I began creating really simple graphics that looked like from an old Atari 2600 game. I liked the simplicity and atmosphere they created, but I wasn’t sure what to do with them.
In a burst of desperation, I decided to treat the development process like a mystery novel, where even I wouldn’t know how it would end. I implemented characters (a man, a woman, a girl, and a boy), objects (a hole, a seed, a watering can), enemies (plain and simple one type of enemy) and different terrain. To make things a bit more interesting I created all the graphics in shades of grey, so that I could blend any color over them while the game is played. This way the game looks different every time it is started and changes its color palette whenever something meaningful happens.

From there I let the concept grow (pun). The goal of the game – rescuing the family members from the monsters – wasn’t clear to me until the end of the development. I worked on the game for 24 hours in a row and especially the night hours created a great atmosphere to work on it.
To be honest, I like the game a lot. It is part having finished a game in 24 hours, part the symbiosis of simplistic gameplay and a creepy atmosphere.

You can play it on Game Jolt directly in the browser. Just click on the image below. Have fun!

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