At the weekend was the latest iteration of the three-times-yearly competition Ludum Dare, in which participants have 48 hours (or an extra 24 for the Jam version) to make a game entirely from scratch, with all assets and code being made by participants in the time limit. This time around, the theme was “An Unconventional Weapon”, so naturally I chose a gun that fires hugs, love and affection.
The story of the game is that you’re in a city full of overly-negative inhabitants, and you’re sick to the back teeth of hearing their sulky, albeit comically-high-pitched, comments. You decide it’s high time someone put a stop to this madness, and you strut into the city centre with your arsenal of happiness-inducing munitions.
You have five guns to hand, each with slightly different mechanics – one fires a single hug, while one is a shotgun that blasts a cone of affection in the face of enemies. The Rainbow Blast is your get-out-of-jail-free card, as it eliminates most enemies in all directions in a flurry of colour, but only has two shots. My favouite part of the game is the voice acting – I just recorded myself saying stuff in the very highest voice I could muster, then stuck it in Audacity and pitch-shifted it even higher, resulting in the Worms-meets-Croc kind of voice in my game.
The character select was another cool feature too. Rather than the player be forced to choose one single (probably straight white male) character, I opted for a way to let players have at least some choice I how the player looks, and made the enemies’ appearances choose randomly from these colours too. All people in the game are also somewhat gender-neutral too, as they are way too featureless to really have a gender, however I may add options for hair or hats in the pot-competition version.
Hitting enemies with weapons felt pretty responsive, with a satisfying ‘bang’ sound and some screen shake. The enemies’ quotes did get annoying at times as there were too many things being said at once, although this could be helped by introducing a variety of new sounds and controlling when enemies speak in a different way.
There are many things I will add and change for a post-competition version – first of all, I’ll introduce enemies that try and shoot you with hate. One thing players seemed to notice is that the game is too easy, and enemies that shoot back will totally help with that. Another thing is that the enemies seem to congregate on top of each other, but the game would work better if they formed a horde of pessimistic city-goers.
There’s a few other features I’ll add to make the game a bit more varied too – combos, more scenery, new weapons – but I’ll try and focus on fixing the problems in the competition version first of all. You can play I Will Be Happy on the Ludum Dare website. If you participated, then please vote and feel free to leave comments, ideas and criticism!