I did Ludum Dare this weekend and pretty much had a ridiculous amount of fun making a game. The game, Leaf Me Alone was a product of the first three hours of the jam me and David saying “I have no idea what to do that’s minimal”, and eventually collapsing into “fuck it, here’s a random idea I had, lets make this anyway”.
The game’s ‘minimalist’ qualities lie in it’s aesthetic, and it’s stripped down metroidvania form. ANY Ludum Dare game is minimal, that’s a given, which is why we were a bit shitty at thinking up ideas for this jam. We didn’t want to make a game about squares or shapes and saying “yeah, minimal yo” because that wasn’t fun or interesting to us. My main personal thoughts were “we need an idea that is interesting both as a game, but interesting to create from an audio perspective” since I had @autotwitch on board making the music and audio I knew it would need to take full advantage of this fact, because it blows my mind how good his work is – the end result of this jam proves that.
So we set off with a concept of “hey did you play wind waker? Well I think you could do loads of cool stuff with that leaf man”, and ran from there. We didn’t pay too much attention to the theme from this point, but really LD is just about making a game, and I was pretty happy to be doing just that.
I spend my time alone in my bedroom most days, drawing, programming and thinking, designing Chroma. I used to think Chroma was a lot like Fez until this jam. Fez is lonely, but open and loving and beautiful. When people saw LMA being made they said “FEZ FEZ FEZ!” which is true and fact, it was inspired heavily by Fez, although actually more by Melodisle! I learned a lot about color in this jam which is INFINITELY useful in my main project so I’m super happy about that. But Chroma is a grim place, born from rough times and sad thoughts; it has it’s core, I guess most of my game ideas generally come from the same place in my head. But Leaf Me Alone broke away from this as much as it could, I became a child again, 7 or 8 year old me just colouring stuff in in nice bright colours, in a permanent state of joy as I filled in each pixel, then each tile. I didn’t worry about puzzle layouts, whether it was difficult enough. I lay some shapes down and thought “that looks cool” and that was that. The design of the game was 50/50 split, David might not even think so but it was, and it was all the better for it. At one point making the tree area he just said “we need a throne at the top, and it needs an animal king, A SQUIRREL, GET A SQUIRREL IN THERE!” and child-like me just loved it, drew a tiny pixelly squirrel (although first time round messed up the animation and it was dry humping it’s throne, yikes).
This game was pure fun to make, and pure joy for me to go back and play through. I feel like a kid when playing and that makes me feel pretty good. It’d be nice to expand upon it, I sure have loads of ideas for making it bigger and more interesting, and it let me try out some cool ideas and to learn flash.
Basically this post is me saying that this weekend re-kindled my love for making games, and reminded me why I love it. It’s about the experience, good or bad, I can look back on why I wanted to do this in the very first place when I was 5 playing through sonic on my megadrive, and remember what games really can mean.