Things went pretty good during my second Ludum Dare game jam. I did have hard time nailing down what I wanted to do for the “You are the Monster” theme, though. Friday night I was brainstorming skeleton armies, serial killers and even a combo of both! It wasn’t until Saturday morning when my wife and I were eating at a pancake house that it hit seemed to hit us both at the same time… Title Loans!
You see, I live in a coastal border town in the United States (between North and South Carolina). The town has been having major ups and downs since the 2008 economic collapse with businesses opening and closing at a fairly rapid pace. North Carolina seems to also have stricter rules in regards to how title loan offices can operate so a lot of them setup shop in my town in South Carolina to attract NC residents to cross the state line. Needless to say, the small town has drawn a lot of title loan offices to set up shop and as you can see I’m not a fan of their business tactics.
The next challenge was “how would the game actually play?” What could I do with the subject of title loans? It didn’t take long to come around to the game Papers, Please as gameplay inspiration. I felt like this was the easiest and smartest way to get my subject across and there aren’t that many games like that out there anyway.
What went right?
I feel like I nailed the graphics, theme and sound. When playing the final version of the game I could see my initial vision come to life more so than any other game I’ve made in the past.
What could be improved?
One obvious thing is the game needs more of a challenge and things to do. A big gameplay aspect I cut was the use of the PC. It was going to be a fully working PC which you could search for things and even do more of your “office work” on it. Those features got cut due to lack of time.
Another improvement is in regards to the story. I felt like I didn’t have enough time to fully nuance the fact that you were “becoming a monster” so I made it a lot more obvious in the end. If I go back to this game in the future I will definitely rewrite much of the dialogue and story flow.
Overall it was yet another fantastic game jam experience. It’s becoming the only time I make games now because the time constraints and forced theme make me buckle down and actually finish something!