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Ludum Dare 41 - Numbness

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    Saad Tahir

What is Ludum Dare?

Ludum Dare is a game jam where people make games from scratch over a weekend. They pick a theme from a bunch of options and then have to use that theme in their game. Once the weekend's over, it's not like they just announce the winners right away. Instead, people share their games in the community, play each other's creations, and rack up Karma points. Plus, they get reviewed by other participants, which helps them gain popularity and score points to climb the leaderboard.

What does the winner get?

There's no cash prize or anything fancy like that. The real reward is the game you create. You've got three days to whip up something awesome just for yourself. Then, you can soak in all the feedback from the community, boost your confidence, and maybe even polish it up into something you could sell. It's all about the journey and the satisfaction of making something cool!

Did I compete?

Yes I did compete in Ludum Dare 41. Why wouldn’t I? I really like to come up with new ideas and challenge myself to create something new. The event started on Saturday April 21st to Tuesday April 24th, 2018. The theme was Combine 2 Incompatible Genres. Sounds confusing in the start but when you start brainstorming, you start to realize that this theme really brings out creativity. Just imagine a Rhythm Game + Battle Royale, FPS + Dance, Horror + Rhythm, Platformer + FPS. You might be making ideas in your brain right now huh? There are many possibilities. One person posted an idea generator that randomly picked two genres from the list and combined them. That was fun and I found my idea from it.

The Idea

I combined Platformer + FPS. Platformer games like Mario where a 2D character moves left/right, can jump and an action button. FPS game is first person shooting where you can see the player’s hands and the camera is on the head.

Ok so how do I combine it? Well, I will map the action button to the mouse. You will control the character with AD keys from the keyboard. It can jump with SPACEBAR. And you will use the mouse for actions like shooting with a gun. The mouse movement will move the crosshair in the game and you can aim for the things in the environment. LMB on the mouse will shoot. You can see the brainstorming that happened for the game.

Here you can see the brainstorming that happened for the game.

The Challenge

I know I can make games because I am a developer and it's simple. Then where’s the challenge? Since I was alone on this project and all my friends were busy preparing for the finals, I had to do it alone. From the idea, to storyline, to development, art, sound design and publishing, I had to do it all by myself. So this was my challenge. Make everything yourself even if it’s not spot on, even if you don’t know how to draw or animate or softwares to do. Just do it. If I were to complete this challenge, then I can do anything.

The Story

I had to come up with a story for my game before doing anything. At that time, I was playing horror games so I had to make it horror. Then I added a princess in that. There was some gun shooting involved and the princess is obviously stuck in a dungeon of her castle. There are some potions involved and fire pits, ghosts and dark environments. So I finalized a story.

A princess with a purple frock, pinkish skin and spikey hair. She gets stuck in a dungeon full of darkness. There are fire lights on the walls but the visibility is low. She is scared and we have to save her. She drinks a potion that makes her hands go numb and she can’t use them. You, as an FPS player, have to pick up a gun and help her get out of this dungeon, kill ghosts and solve puzzles. At the end, she is out and everyone is happy.

Here's what I finally wrote. You have to save the princess and get her out of the dungeon. Her arms get numb after drinking the potion of life. She quench her thirst after drinking it but the outcome was horrifying. She lost the feelings of her arms. Now she asks for your protection from the creepy monsters of the dungeons and puzzles to solve and get her out of the darkness.


The Art & Animation

I don’t know how to use photoshop and can use only Microsoft Paint. I needed something a little more advanced than MS Paint. So I used Piskel. It is a sprite editor and can make sprite animations. I created my princess from some ideas on Pinterest. I got inspiration from the Hollow Knight game. I had to make her cry because she is scared so I made an animation of her crying all the time with a sobbing sound.

To create the gun effect, I employed two sprites that seamlessly switched between each other, generating an animation. One sprite depicted the gun in idle mode, while the other showed it firing. Whenever the player clicked, the sprites alternated, giving the impression of animation. It's a handy little trick!


The Soundtrack

I used Bosca Ceoil, a tool made by a member in the community to create 8 bit songs. The soundtrack needs to be horror and emotional. At that time, I was watching Dragon Ball Super. There is a Vegeta God transformation when he fights Toppo and remembers his family and friends, he gets angry and a soundtrack comes up. I placed the notes and gave my touch. Came up with the following soundtrack.


Cool huh? It becomes horror when you slow it down.

Why Numbness?

When choosing a title for the game, I aimed for something that marked a pivotal moment within the gameplay. The title shouldn't give away too much upfront, but rather reveal its significance as players delve into the game. Take "The Last of Us," for instance—it hints at a world with few survivors. I came up with Numbness. Why "Numbness"? Well, unlike straightforward titles like "Princess in Dungeon" or "Save the Princess," which immediately reveal the game's premise, "Numbness" offers intrigue and unfolds its meaning as players progress.

Have you guessed the meaning of Numbness? If not then you have to play the game. You will get it in the first 2 mins of the gameplay.


Did I win?

After a week of playing and reviewing each other's games aka Karma Points, the results were announced. Out of over 3000 entries, my game Numbness achieved the following positions:


The Happiness

I was so happy of the results and at that time, I was only 21 years old. I still remember the feeling when a twitch streamer played my game live and she even finished it. I was so happy that I went out to my friend's house and showed it to him and his first comment was, "You are joking right?". Man that was awesome. I still talk about it because it was one of my first games. Now, after like 8 years, I am writing a blog of it. Just like admiring a paiting of the artist and listening to his story of what inspired him to make this piece, this game is just like that for me.

My take

My take after making this game is that it helped me gain confidence in my ability to create something. I know it has bugs and a lot of things are not polished but the reward that I got from it helped me through out my career. I was not scared anymore to compete in global competitions which most of the individuals are. After this, I went to like 5 more game jams and global competitions which I will share in my future blogs. I won 2 out 5 actually. But this was the start of my journey to create and design purely from my heart and imagination.

The Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed the story if you read it. I will keep on posting blogs in future as I am picking up this habit and I have a lot to share with you guys.


The Game

Following are the links to my game and the entry page in LDJam.