Psychopomps

About

The Something Awful forums run a one month game development challenge every summer. The rules are pretty simple: build a game adhering to the theme within the month of July. No working on design, code, or assets prior to the first day. This year the theme was ‘Death and Taxes’ and there were over 40 entries, including some really phenomenal games. I worked with a team of two others — Jordan Roherty for the audio and Tan Teck Weng for the visuals. The game is heavily based on Metroid and Cave Story and is designed to be non-trivial. When the Messenger recommends you seek out extra heart containers, you would be wise to listen.

Design

The operative mode for the team was release quickly, release often. Unlike my other projects, I had a very narrow window to assemble a game and still fulfill my obligations to work, friends, and my family. We settled into a spiral pattern for development — designing a few new features, implementing them, tweaking them, and moving on with the ultimate goal of being feature complete by two weeks into the month. Though that date turned out to be optimistic, we only slid by a few days, allowing us about a week and a half to polish and build levels.

Results

Psychopomps took 3rd place in the gamer’s choice award, which was open to voting by all the members of the Something Awful forums. It was also picked up by two indie gaming blogs — Jayisgames and DIYGamer.

Challenges

The obvious challenge was the deadline. Going into the competition with only a few concepts and coming out with a completed game required coordination, planning, and giving up on more than one Warmachine night.