I finally participated in Klik of the Month again. Here are the fruits of my labor.
As I usually do when I don’t have any ideas coming into a game jam, I grabbed random assets from the internet (space ghetto is my go to place) and program whatever comes to mind. I suppose it’s an attempt to get some kind of equivalent to “automatic writing” for digital game creation. It’s still a very conscious and logical process (for programming it might have to be?) but the results end up seeming somewhat subconscious, even if it’s largely a hoax.
I divided my time into two, one hour for gathering non-interactive resources, and the second hour for making the interactions.
NON INTERACTIVE PART
I grabbed the images from space ghetto. Images on space ghetto can be separated into a few categories: Porn, gore, and art make up perhaps 70% of the content on average, with cute, funny, cool, and weird images making up the rest of it. The exact ratios vary with the psychological weather, and whether someone is dedicating their day to posting gross stuff. Porn and gore I decided weren’t appropriate to put on a place as respectable as glorious trainwrecks for some reason, and I felt bad about appropriating the art, since I didn’t know anything about its context. I found a lot of images of cute dogs and cats that I snatched up, and some good animated gifs after I remembered that those can be imported straight into game maker.
It’s important, when choosing images, to get ones where the focus isn’t occluded by anything. Bad pictures often make the best fodder for assets- having the focus of the picture so front and center is fairly dull compositionally. Cropping out the background is fairly quick when you get into the flow and aren’t being particularly anal about it. The gif of the trees was a totally sweet find since it already had the background alpha’d out.
In art 101b (flash) I played a bit with layering music on top of each other. The result was cacophonous and disorienting, but mesmerizing. With headphones, especially, your mind will latch onto the threads for moments a time, and you’ll create patterns that aren’t there, as the mind is wont to do. In that one I mashed up Ke$ha, Cibo Matto, some music from Space Funeral that I can’t remember, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I think. This time I started with “Battle Against Clown” from the Akira Soundtrack, then I mixed in the Space Jam remix from Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden (which I wrestled with- I didn’t want it to become ‘lol random’ but it fit so well), and then topped it all off with “Rubies” by Destroyer. Terrifying, Comical, and Pretentious. There was a lot of blank space since the Space Jam remix was twice as long as the others, so I duplicated and reversed the Akira song, and placed it at the end of the forward facing song. Rubies I reversed and played simultaneously with the forwards song.
The music I wasn’t as happy with- this particular mix didn’t work out so well, I feel, and I didn’t include the panning and volume modulation that the flash project did, but playing the forwards and reverse tracks on top of each other is really interesting. Dan Bejar’s burbles are very recognizable even backwards.
The pug, being the most unique and most square asset, was the protagonist. As I was finding assets I decided that they would be spaceships. My first thought was to make them like paper cutouts in a diorama, and to make an easy faux “shadow” effect by darkening and squishing their sprites (which you can see on the dog, I never took it out- that weird line that follows him around).
Making these images that come from different sources work together visually is an incredibly difficult and involved process, and giving them a setting like that would help immensely with the visual unity. Unfortunately, when it came time to actually start coding, I didn’t have any ideas for how to make an interesting interactive work based on a diorama, so I went with spaceships instead, and threw visual unity out the window.
I thought, as I was programming this, that I needed a plan for what to make before I made it. Now I’m not so sure. I didn’t try winging it as hard as I could have. That’s my next goal. Wing it and don’t rely on tired game tropes. Spaceships! How cliche. I’m embarrassed with myself, honestly.
The rules grew pretty much like you’d expect- it was an effort to expend the assets I created in the first section. First I made a dog that could fly around. The trees and Hunter S Thompson (I think that’s who that is in the background) pretty much only served the purpose of showing you that you were moving. Then the circular fractal became a mothership and launched box cats. Then the trees needed a reason to exist, because I hate having objects that cannot be interacted with, so they were given a precious natural resource, “leaf” that the box cats were to mine and bring back to the mothership. The dog can also eat leaf and go fast.
The factional conflict between the skeleton women and giant adonis men was included to provide a sense of dynamism and tension in the game world- every character in the world has their own place and their own story to tell. Also when they collide they produce kitten bullets for the dog ship- the only source of kitten bullets in the game. If you blow up the spawners you can get the factions to fight against the mothership.
If the mothership gets too much leaf it gets big and swallows the world or something. At this point I was just painting by numbers, really. Game needs antagonist, losing condition, winning condition. You can kill the mothership with cat bullets by shooting it. The game will crash afterwards and I didn’t fix it. Ostensibly you could get the cats to mine all the leaf and deforest the world. That would be really a drag, huh? The box cat spaceships make you slow but they can’t kill you because dying in games is for chumps. If you stop on the center of the mothership where the cats come out though you’re kinda hosed. You don’t recover health very fast.
Then I named it “rainbow dogs or something, i don’t know” because I didn’t have a name for it. It was uploading really slowly so I got bored and started thinking. One of my pet peeves is when people start their artist statement for a game with “most games are like this, but my game is like this” and that’s exactly how Ian Bogost started his A Slow Year book so I transcribed that first paragraph into the description of my game. Someone though my game was about the Atari VCS. It’s funny because most art games are about nostalgia and/or not doing anything, but my art game is about dog spaceships. Then I added Karawane, because if my game had words it would be dada poetry, then I dropped a little hint of Tuna Fish Sandwich Piece I think it’s called, for some fluxus cred. Games is fluxus recontextualized.
Here are the images that didn’t make it into the game!