Candied, crushed sago't gulaman
Here are the short hairs: Ludum Dare is an international indie gaming event. Game developers from pretty much anywhere can compete in a 2-day Iron Man codingpalooza. Craft a completely original gaming experience in 48 hours all by yourself! Iron out the kinks! Neglect loved ones as you obsess about details! Show the game to everyone and hope they love it!
Ludum Dare is slam poetry gaming–performance art and competition and cross-country convention of similar, beautiful minds pattering all at once. The theme changes each Dare, but the goal remains constant like a pagan mantra: microgameplay at its sharpest.
Ludum Dare games burn bright and fast–imperfect games made perfect by an incredibly good time. #YOGO is the byword of the last Ludum Dare. You Only Get One life, one minute, one take, one chance. What you choose to do with that one… thing is all on you. The bottom line, you make it matter.
In the past few days, I have played all of the LD28 big winners in the solo category. All of them. You should play them, too. They all deserve it.
One Take (Overall)
Camerawork is a difficult discipline. Like photography, countless calibrations and adjustments are required, favorable lighting is generated, golden means and rules of thirds are constantly kept in mind. Unlike photography where you seize perfection in a static frame, camerawork requires a constant eye on your subjects, as if they were shoplifting kids or impossible dreams.
Sheepollution’s One Take has you don the many-pocketed cargo pants of a B-movie cameraman. You get to zoom in and out, pan left and right, all the while following your director’s intimate instructions. Do everything right and you get featured in famous newspapers! Mess up and critics will attack you with withering put-downs. It’s a hard knock life behind the lens.
I think One Take won because a game about framing and camerawork is something rare and exciting. It feeds that lizard part of the brain that finds Pokemon Snap an enamoring experience. It is voyeurism rewarded–watching history in action without directly being part of it.
Old men battling loneliness have a direct line to my heartstrings. Alienation is a universal struggle, but there is something very potent about the elderly’s muted withdrawal. It’s almost always never their choice, being alone. People simply have this natural tendency to die, go away, or get sick.
Monochrome decides all that may be true but reveals that memory stays. When friends die and lovers leave, when mind and body begin to slow down, reminiscing about how things once were will be a primary solace.
Monochrome recalls Jason Rohrer’s Passage but in reverse. Passage is about how life is ultimately very lonely. Monochrome agrees but only partially. In Passage, lovers will die. Monochrome remarks that love, however, doesn’t need to.
by Shaun LeBron
Altered perception is interesting. Who wouldn’t want to view the world as rotating color swatches? Or borrow the senses of an autistic child who hears the joyous laughter of children as brain-piercing screams?
In BL1ND, you play the, well, visually-challenged daughter of a doting genius. Exposition reveals that your senses have been bolstered by a sort of proto-sight, signified by the eye-shaped UI. Distance and location are signified by colors spinning round the iris. The pupil flashes white when you bump against something.
BL1ND uses a single dimension to reinterpret a 3D space. Hold the SHIFT button when prompted to view the game’s trickery.
I’d like to doff my hat to the dad, though. BL1ND is an innovative game with heart. Dad’s joy at giving his daughter the gift of sight is genuine and charming. First thing he does with her? Play hide and seek.
Santa has one gift left and you decide who to give it to! As a game, it is on-point and rides on admittedly one joke so I will not spoil anything. Just remember this: Rudolph is your boy. He has your back! Play it! Play it now!
Last Chance Supermarket (Fun)
The frustrations of Christmas shopping have never really been known to me until last year. I’m not much of a gift-buyer as I prefer giving my friends handmade presents, like a bust sculpture made of discarded cans, or old books that have parts redacted so the visible words form lewd poetry. You know, thoughtful items they will cherish forever.
Last year, I had to buy a lady a Christmas tree. Buying a tiny Christmas tree on Christmas should be easier than it sounds. I did not expect the thousands of people grabbing on-sale items with desperate speed and murder in their eyes. A tottery old lady screamed at me to get out of her way. The mall Santa gave me the finger.
Last Chance Supermarket recalls the overwhelming tide of people ricocheting off the aisles towards whatever’s next on their shopping list. The game plays fast and loose! Danger lurks behind every corner. One hit from other carts spells death! Accidentally barging cartfirst into the aisles instead of smoothly coasting along them also spells death!
Last Chance Supermarket is a consumerist bullet-hell. There are no breaks on this doomtrain! Check out before you black out!
Shapes with emotions. It is the most basic level of video game characterization. Thomas Was Alone gave the world self-aware geometric figures and the world never looked back. Thomas Was Alone was a success for its clever treatment of humanization–shapes weren’t treated as shapes with human thoughts but as humans with shape-like bodies. So basically, the Aristocats of indie games.
Shifter is a square with a past. He was a warrior, an artisan, a lover. His entire story is told via musical beats that shoot him along the cartesian plane.
I’m unsure why I cared so much about this groovy green square. Maybe it was due to the upbeat synth percussions helped, booping and beeping in time with Shifter’s propulsion from node to node. His entire biography is told in simple captions, somehow managing to both mythologize and humanize him. He is not just a soldier or an ice sculptor or a devoted husband; Shifter is in the cascading beats, in the flashing colors. Shifter, the character, became real because of Shifter, the game.
Super Sneaky Sample Stealer (Theme)
by Nik Sudan
Man, I love free samples. I will be able to power through a monthly grocery run on just a few skewers of cold cuts, a couple of instant noodle taste tests, and a dixie cup of experimental cereal-milk to wash it all down. Essentially, they comprise my entire Saturday diet. Even more than that: they are a testament that free lunches do exist.
But sample restrictions are threatening our very way of life! One sample per customer? ABSURD. How can we combat this niggardly menace? Protests? Sticking up the, um, Sample Brigade that drop off, er, boxes of samples at the mall before it opens? A kind of miniscule portal we shoot right behind a person’s tongue that will transport all comestibles into our own mouths?
Nik Sudan’s Super Sneaky Sampler Stealer has a solution: disguises. But instead of fake mustaches and reattachable moles, SSSS would rather you shoplift clothing which is a great idea! Here’s how you do it:
1. Grab a sample
2. Change clothes
3. Revel in your trickery
4. Get another one!
Repeat steps two and three until one of two things happen. Either your moral compass fractures completely, or the wandering mallcops catch you in the act and throw you in the slammer! But the coppers can’t keep you in there. The pull of free samples. It is. Too great.
This game is mad mad mad mad mad. The chiptune music and bright colors are as infectious as the casual crime the game espouses. Play it for 4 minutes or 4 hours.
THUG LIFE YO
“I feel like I’ve been here before,” you say as you pass the exact same door fourteen times. You say it again as you see four copies of the door arrayed in a small alcove. You say it once more as you see your companion bounding at you with the exact same meow hanging from its muzzle.
Doubt is aptly named. You play a man. With him is a cat. What that cat is for remains to be satisfactorily answered.
Doubt mesmerizes with its deft use of particle effects. Fireflies (pixies? demiurges? ball lightning elementals?) dot the setting sky. Their glow is faint but persistent, visible even behind trees. Polished pixelwork. Incredible for only 48 hours.
Doubt remains open to interpretation. You could be dreaming or dying as you navigate a beautifully pixelated oblivion. Or maybe you are having a run-of-the-mill hallucination–the cat a spirit guide in your fugue state.
And there is a woman. There’s always a woman.
“I feel like I’ve been here before,” you say as you begin to fall.