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Dissonance - Our game for Indie Speed Run 2012!

What's up, folks? Have you seen our new game, Dissonance?

Brother Bernard with his tools of trade

Dissonance is a free game, you can download it straight from its Indie Speed Run's page, or from the download page here at our blog! :)




About Indie Speed Run

As some of you know, since last year we became game jam addicts and already participated in two editions of Ludum Dare. Then in December, we heard about this new, totally awesome game jam: Indie Speed Run! It is very different from other game jams: each team participating receives its own combination of theme and mandatory game element, and each team is allowed to participate on a date of their preference, as long as it is inside the entry period and that they meet the 48 hours deadline after their specific theme is revealed. So cool!

The superstar panel of judges: Dino Patti, Vander Caballero, Ron Gilbert, Jason Rohrer, Yahtzee, Kelee Santiago, Trent  Oster and Notch.

What probably drew most attention to Indie Speed Run was its superstar panel of judges, which included Minecraft's creator Notch, Ron Gilbert (creator of Monkey Island), and other equally legendary game dev heroes! Each and every entry submitted in Indie Speed Run was played and evaluated by one of these guys. They were 7 judges in total, each one promoting one game to the finals, which together with another 3 games chosen by the public through votation on the ISR's Free Play site, will compose a list of 10 finalists. Out of these lucky 10, Zero Punctuation's Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw himself will pick the one he finds the best! Having their games picked by people that important in the game industry will surely be super-awesome for these games' creators, but as with any game jam, the most important part of it really is participating, being able to complete something and showing it to the world - and in the process, improving yourself as a game designer and making friends with many talented developers! If you are planning to start creating games or have started recently, I strongly recommend participating in jams - really, it was literally life changing for us!

Back to our ISR's game, Dissonance: at the very end of the entry period, we developed this little game about a monk who suddenly finds himself surrounded by ghosts when he goes out at night to pick more wood for his fireplace. As he makes his way through the monastery with nothing more than a torch and his lumberjack axe, he struggles to find clues in his memory about what is going on. For about one month now, the game is being featured on The Escapist Magazine together with some really cool games developed by other teams. As we anxiously wait for the revelation of the three finalists chosen by the public in a few minutes from now (as we weren't picked by the judges), I'll take the chance to write a brief post-mortem telling what worked and what didn't.


Post Mortem

For you fine lads who've seen our past games, I can tell Dissonance is much more like Tiny Shard than Singularity. It is a platformer that focuses on mood and storytelling, with a few different levels, progressive difficulty, flashbacks and a boss fight. I'm highlighting this because our previous game, Singularity, didn't feature most of these items (it had procedural levels instead, which took many hours to implement). In Ludum Dare, since we participate in the jam category, we use to have 72 hours to develop the game. In Indie Speed Run, it was only 48 hours, so as much as we love prototyping new technologies in game jams, we really had to simplify the idea and focus on the things that we felt were more important to our design! Still, we tried a couple new things: dynamic lighting and waving vegetation. We felt both things were important to the design: the limited sight provided by the torch added to the suspense and helped to differentiate the present from the flashbacks; and the waving vegetation contributes both to making the monastery feel more "alive" and menacing, and also to make the game more polished! Our past games used to have very static backgrounds, and even the Journey of Eko just recently received its own waving vegetation - actually, just after we saw how much it helped to improve Dissonance (thanks, Indie Speed Run!).

Dynamic light and waving vegetation - well, this is a static image, so the plants won't really wave here (unless you're drunk like me)...

Because of the huge amount of things we included in scope for 48 hours, we once again had a very real risk of being unable to complete the game in time. We slept like 1h each in total during the weekend, worked franctically all the time, and still we barely managed to play the game a couple times and fix bugs before submitting it at the very last minute. But phew! We made it! :D


Conclusion

Overall, we're really proud of Dissonance! I think we managed to create a tiny but complete experience with decent graphics, carefully picked music, a rewarding sense of progression and a proper ending. As I said, I have no idea if we'll even make it to the finals on Indie Speed Run, but I'm glad to have participated, and I think we made a cool game. We don't plan to expand Dissonance any further - we think it is far from perfect, but still it is complete as it is right now. Also, as most of you know, we're focusing on finishing The Journey of Eko. But who knows, maybe you can find some elements of Dissonance in The Journey of Eko! Maybe Brother Bernard will be in a random encounter? Who knows to where those strange, procedurally generated roads might lead? ;)

Now the vegetation waves in The Journey of Eko too! But this is just a static image... You know the drill...


Finally, we want to thank everyone involved in organizing Indie Speed Run. The judges that volunteered their very precious time to play our games, the players who were very generous when rating Dissonance, and ISR's organizers who made it all possible! Most specially, our sincere gratitude for Michael Kayatta who made time out of his crazy schedule of organizing everything to personally help us a couple times, and to all other developers who submitted games to this jam - seriously, guys, it is by jamming with you and learning from your wonderful insights that we grow as developers.

Cheers!

Gabriel (30k) and João Pedro (NecroToad)
@pixel_cows