JMAA

Nijousatsujikenriron

Last weekend, 13-15th April 2018, I participated in Nordic Game Jam, a yearly gamejam set in Copenhagen. I did not enjoy the trip at all, but was very satisfied with the resulting game.

Most of this post is a rant about trains, the jam, implementation details, etc. If you just want to play the game, then you can skip right to the game.

Transport Purgatory

I had planned to see Robert Yang's presentation on sex in video games, and had planned my train journey to Copenhagen with time to spare. When stopped at some random small-town station, we're informed that a tree fell on the tracks, and thrown out of the train. Together with hundreds of other confused people, I waited 3 hours for a train-replacement bus that never came. The tracks were cleared, and trains were running again before a bus towards Copenhagen came. Good job DSB.

The remaining journey to Copenhagen was spent in a stuffed train, where even first-class passengers were standing. After arriving in Copenhagen, I still had to walk an hour to get to TAP1, the game jam location.

Friday

Similar to in 2016, my friend Sketchwhale and I had already talked about some game ideas before the jam, and just like last time, we ignored the theme completely.

The idea we settled on was murder-mystery dating-sim, set in an elevator, which Sketchwhale had called "This- This is awful- It's not even a real mystery". We would focus on the dialog between the main character, detective Dave Monaghan, and the other characters. The joke was that the murderer was obvious, but the real game lie in becoming friends with the characters. We used a pretty awful custom built 3d engine, I'd made earlier in the year (2018).

A lightly-clothed girl, with pink ponytail stands in front of a blue
and black background.

The jam started late, somewhere around 21:30, and so the progress after day one was pretty rough, as can be seen above. We had a sprite for one character, Miko and some very colorful walls. The dialog options on-screen was baked in, and there was no interaction beyond rotating between different clones of Miko.

Saturday

Since 2017 Nordic Game Jam has been a vegetarian event. I have no issue with vegetarian food, I can live fine without meat. What I don't care for, is being served skyr natural for breakfast, when a bowl of cornflakes or havregryn would have done just fine. Why go for extreme variety, when something so normal and cheap is already vegetarian?

The same girl as before, standing in the corner of two walls,
colored in triangles. The girl is saying "...Yes?". On the left side,
the player can choose a question to
ask.

Most of the game was implemented on the second day, Saturday. Sketchwhale drew the remaining characters, and wrote the dialog for Miko and the dog. I implemented the dialog system, including all of the Miko dialog.

The 3d engine is, as previously asserted, a bit rough. It calculates texture coordinates wrong, so the act of looking around will change how a texture is draw, when the texture fills a large amount of the screen. This is obviously incorrect, but I couldn't be bothered with fixing it before the jam, and didn't have time under the jam.

The picture of a guy patting his head with a towel, projected onto a
surface in 3d space. The camera is looking at the picture from an
angle. The projection is weird and
distorted.

Above is an example of the stretching bug. Compare it with original image. Notice how large his head is on the projected surface, compared to how large it is on the original.

One way to avoid extreme stretching of the texture, is to split one triangle into several. The distortion is limited, as each triangle fills less of the screen. Unfortunately the entire engine is such a mess, that all my attempts failed with weird warping textures.

Sketchwhale had drawn a great wall texture, but due to the stretching bug, we could not get it to work properly. Instead we made the walls randomly colored triangles, which looks alright.

Sketchwhale knew a musician at the jam, Mikko "Mishicu" Aaltio. Although Mishicu were already working with another team, he was convinced to make some music for us, based on that one scene from Drive. Mishicu did a great job, and I encourage you to play the game through, if only to listen to the music.

Sunday

The third day started with incredible pressure to get the game finished. We started work around 10:00, with a deadline of 13:00. Sketchwhale mainly worked on a bit of promotional material, like a video, while I implemented the dog dialog, and implemented an introductory scene. A fun change was to shorten the dialog options when not selected. This was to accommodate some long dialog options pushing other options off of the screen.

A cybernetically enhanced dog sitting in a corner of the elevator.
The player has several options when talking to it, some of which are
cut off, to save screen space.

We didn't have time to finish the following, during the jam:

The presentations

After the jam, every group had to present their game, in front of 30 other groups, before voting on everybody's favorite. My favorite games from our presentation scene was:

All three groups were great at presenting, and displayed the charm of their games very well.

I didn't get to see the final presentation, or know who won, as I left early. I was incredibly tired, and just wanted to get home.

Post-jam

After the jam, I decided to fix some of the bugs and missing features. I added an ending, and fixed the score bugs. Furthermore a proper title screen was added.

The introduction sequence was heavily modified, to make it more intuitive. The doors were made actual 3d objects, and the light flickers in a more realistic manner. A fun change was for each character's name to only appear once the player has spoken with them.

Elevator doors are open to an unusually large elevator. Each of the
four characters are standing in their respective corner of the
elevator.

Nijousatsujikenriron

We live inside a dream. What is up, what is down?

Nijousatsujikenriron is a murder-mystery dating-sim set in an elevator. As Detective Monaghan, you just had the worst, and probably last, day of your career. As you enter the elevator, you feel things are not going to get better. Can you solve the mystery? Can you find yourself? Can you move on?

Made in cooperation with Sketchwhale and Mikko "Mishicu" Aaltio

You can download the game for 64-bit Windows or Mac OS X. If you use Linux or similarly uncommon operating system, you should download the LÖVE file, along with the LÖVE framework.