PLAY THE GAME !
Here are on the right the results I got, almost made it on the podium in the Humor category, and ranked top 100 in both Audio and Fun. Ranked #263 overall, I’m proud of my first Ludum Dare performance !
Year : 2014 Context : Ludum Dare #30 48h Compo
A Tale Of Words was my entry for the Ludum Dare #30. If you don’t know what Ludum Dare is, you can check out their website, but basically it’s a contest where you have to make a game on a given theme by yourself in 48h, from scratch. Everything you use in the game (code, art, music, etc) must be done by you within the 48h. This time, the theme was “Connected Worlds”. I took a little spin on it, and removed the “L” from Worlds, and went with “Connected Words”, mainly because I wanted to go with something text-based, as my graphical skills are awful. It was my first Ludum Dare ever, and I’m very happy with the result. The game isn’t very well balanced, but it’s fun and challenging to play, and feels polished.
A Tale Of Words is a Memory-like board game where you have to reveal and combine tiles and clear the board in a limited amount of actions. Unlike Memory, the goal isn’t necessarily to combine identical tiles to remove them : the core principle of A Tale Of Words is that each pair of tiles is a unique combination with its own (positive or negative) effects. Some combinations will reveal tiles, others will give you extra action points, or kill a specific tile, etc. There are a lot of different and surprising effects, and each combination is accompanied by a silly voice effect and a short text telling you the story behind that combination. The storytelling part is not relevant at all in terms of game mechanics, but it adds some immersion and some depth to the game universe, as if the player is unfolding a story as he’s chaining combinations.
The gameplay revolves around getting to know the different tiles and learning the combos to be able to clear the board, so it has some kind of strategic depth. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to balance the game, and it’s currently more luck-based than anything else, mostly because there are not enough ways to reveal tiles to give you choices rather than blind picks. It’s fine though, the game is funny enough (thanks to my stupid voice effects !) to be enjoyable.
It was my first Ludum Dare, and it’s been a very challenging, exciting and tiring experience. I was initially worried about not finding the right idea early enough, but I got the idea of a Memory-like game where you combine words to tell a story pretty rapidly, so it was just matter of making a game out of it fast enough. The big advantage of that concept is that it’s actually fairly simple to code : it’s just a tile-based, turn-based board game with a bunch of different effects to implement. No physics, no real-time, no controls. And most importantly, art is completely optional. Although my complete lack of graphical skill is obvious when you play the game, I think I still managed to end up with something fairly simple and polished.
Coding the game was very easy, and the one complication I ran into was the actual gameplay and balance. It was a lot more complex and time-consuming than I thought to create a set of tiles and combinations that made the game interesting and challenging to play without too much work. I got away with something playable and fun, but I wish I’d made some things a lot differently. The good surprise though comes from the audio. At first, I didn’t want to have any, because I’m terrible at that too, but I tried a couple of voice effects, and I instantly loved it so I added more. And as it turns out, it’s one of the most appreciated features of the game !