Monstr and Ludum Dare 33 – Notes

I did Ludum Dare for the first time this weekend!

Kent, Rosstin, and I organized a team for the Jam section of Ludum Dare (the compo is for solo submissions; the jam is the part of the event that allows team work). We found a bunch of friends who were willing to do art, and the final result is pretty amazing.

The theme this go-round was “you are the monster,” a theme I was admittedly not a huge fan of. (I predicted that a lot of people would just make sprite-swap combat games where the player character was a dragon or something, and boy, was I right!)

We decided to make a game where you are a monster seeking other monsters on a monsters-only dating service similar to OK Cupid or Tinder. We cranked out a randomized game with 60 different monsters in it, 52 of which you can fall madly in love with. Like the other two projects I’ve made with Kent and Rosstin, this game was primarily focused on humor, and used randomized text snippets as a good way to divide up the work and make the project approachable during the limited time of the jam.

Anyway, the final result is here! It is called “Monstr.” We plan on making a polished web version AND an iOS-based Tinder clone out of this project. Stay tuned! The final version will make you cry with joy, I bet.

And if you participated in LD33, please vote here!

Some additional, meandering notes:

  • Ford (the guy who composed the song with whale music in it for Slaughtertrain) did the music for us again. The track for Monstr contains ACTUAL HUMAN SIGHS OF UNREQUITED LOVE and it is absolutely 100% amazing
  • I grow increasingly convinced that the only reasonable kind of text game to make for team jams is one consisting entirely of short randomized text snippets. I want to write a Gamasutra blog about how wonderful these jams can be, someday. It is very easy to incorporate many team members into a game based around randomization. So long as you have a competent core coding team, everyone else can engage to the extent that they are able without screwing up the rest of the group. It makes the jam more relaxed and makes the final project better, too.
  • Games about sex seem to do MUCH better in my twitter sphere than games about literally anything else. I’ve been joking for over a year that if I only wrote sexy stories I would get a lot more attention, and LO AND BEHOLD, it’s true! Please don’t mistake me, I’m not bitter about this– it’s just that Monstr seemed to strike a nerve in the same way (but at a much smaller scale) that Verified Facts struck a nerve several years ago. Some things align with the stars to magically become Internet Candy, and other things do not. I struggle to get even five retweets for interactive short stories about space aliens, but I got a shit ton for an OKC clone full of ridiculous sloppy jokes. It’s a good thing I enjoyed writing all those sloppy jokes, though. 🙂
  • We used @mrfb’s Twine port of Tracery, a javascript library for making randomized text. It’s super easy to use and very rewarding to work with. Give it a shot!
  • This was probably the eighth or tenth game jam I have done. Not all of them ended up on the internet so it’s hard for me to make a final list, but I’ve done a LOT of game jams recently and they are definitely making me a better developer. I was talking to a writer at another games company about five months ago and when he revealed that he’d never done a jam, I think I scared him with the force of my enthusiasm. Game jams are GREAT. They make you better at working in teams, better at scraping yourself off the floor after a failure, and more confident in your abilities. Game jams generally make me feel great about myself, even if I don’t do so well. Relatedly: I can’t believe my alma mater still doesn’t do them! They have a games lab/tiny games company there and people who worked for it told me as recently as last winter that they had no idea what jams were. What?? As far as I’m concerned, the most important thing a games program can do for its students is build their confidence and give them shit to put on a resume, and jams do both.

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