Monster

I have to admit it, I love speed.

Most creatives I know cower before the idea of an impossible deadline, but for some strange reason, I actually seek it out. That’s why I’m drawn to events like the 48 Hour Film Festival and the Ludum Dare Game Jam. The idea that you can create something from scratch in the same amount of time it takes to binge-watch a TV series is a rush unlike any other.

So, last weekend (after various permissions were secured) a team of three from Ponywolf stepped up to the plate and built an entire game in three days.

If brainstorming, designing and developing a game in a weekend doesn’t sound like fun, rest assured, there are thousands of game creators that love it. In this latest iteration of the Ludum Dare (LD33 for short) nearly 3,000 games were submitted. They fell in two main categories, 48-hour solo projects and 72-hour team projects.

The event is global and begins with the reveal of a crowdsourced theme that each game will need to incorporate. Voted on by the entrants, the theme is often a spin on a common game design trope—as it was with this year’s, “You are the Monster.”

After a Friday evening of brainstorming and mind-changing and sketching and re-sketching, we settled on the basic concept that our protagonist would be a costumed mascot named Jimmy. It wasn’t until Saturday that we decided that he would entertain at kids birthday parties with exploding castles and fireworks.

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By Saturday afternoon, the basics of the game functioned and we were able to do a short demo for some other local developers at a gathering of LD33 teams. We had stumbled on a game that played like setting up and knocking down dominoes. The puzzle had become pushing parts of the castle into place so the chain of explosions would destroy all the pieces. We had a long way to go, but our concept and engine were as strong as our team was sleepy.

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Sunday everything came together. We got a late start and worked separately (both of which you don’t want to do in quick turn game) but with each new feature the game started to take shape. Our working title, 1-800 Monsters became our actual title and a quick logo, title card and menu system were built. Tutorials were added to help the player learn the gameplay and we started to weave in story elements.

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The toughest part of these game jams is knowing when to stop. Should we add cake? Yes. Should we add kids? You bet. What about that bit where Jimmy overheats in his suit and has to take a break? Well, maybe not.

After leaving some good ideas on the coding room floor, and with a few hours before the submission deadline, 1-800 Monsters was published for PC and Mac. We also created a quick teaser trailer on YouTube and screenshots to entice prospective reviews.

The final result is without a doubt one the best game jam projects I’ve ever worked on.

Try your hand at 1-800-Monsters here if you’re feeling like blowing some stuff up and taking the cake too.