Half-Bit Software

The World Is Alive - Summer Slow Jam

This isn’t exactly a postmortem, because most jam games feel kind of unfinished. (At least, mine usually feel that way to me.)

So when this jam was first announced back in early June, I got pretty stoked. The technical theme - I tend to do better at those - was Minigames, which seemed great! My mind jumped first to the kind of dinky little silly-ass Warioware games, with just ridiculous hooks and gimmicks and 4 or 5 seconds of gameplay per screen.

Which is why I got to work on all of that, basically. I got a whole system up and running where I could flip between a bunch of these minigames at random, got basically done with a high score logging webservice (that I honestly thought would be cool if everyone could register/post to), then had a week or two off before the creative theme was announced.

Once the theme (The World is Alive) was announced, I pretty much ignored everything I’d built so far.

I mean, sure, I could’ve shoehorned it into what I’d built, but it didn’t seem right, and I’m not sure I can articulate why. Doing something more specific seemed like a good idea, and I had a handful of things I wanted to try.

I always manage to get to games late, and I’d just picked up Hollow Knight, so doing something a little bit spookier and more atmospheric sounded like a fun idea. Unfortunately, this inspiration didn’t really strike me upside the head until, oh, Monday or Tuesday, so losing that first weekend’s worth of progress was kind of a bummer.

That said, I’m still pretty happy with how things turned out. I dragged over a lot of the stuff from Slower than Light, like the lighting and the little hover/highlight text, but ended up with something (I hope) that makes a little bit more sense. It’s a pretty straightforward little mini-metroidvania, minus the combat, which - if I had another couple of weeks - I might almost consider adding.

It’s a little tough to know what to do with it. Fighting and combat and conflict are pretty common in games, but this feels more like a mellow thing. There’s no real way to die in it, which I like, but there’s also not much in the way of real challenge. Navigating the world is pretty straightforward, so that’s probably the first place I’d look.

The story, such as it is, is a little thin on the ground, too. If I was gonna keep going, I’d try to refine the hell out of that, since I think there’s a lot of redundancy and what is there isn’t necessarily very clear. It’s fine if things aren’t obvious at first glance, but I’m not sure that players would come up with the conclusions I’d intend. (Sometimes that’s okay, and sometimes it’s just bad/sloppy writing.)

Overall, I’m still pretty happy with it. It’s fun tinkering, and I still really like making gloomy little games.