Ludum Dare 25: Field Report

I made another thing in Twine last week. It’s called Field Report and it was made for the 25th Ludum Dare Game Jam. Ludum Dare is a tri-annual “48-hour game making frenzy!” competition with an additional 24 hours for Jam entries, which have more relaxed rules and allow teams. This round’s theme was “You are the Villain”, which felt rather gimmicky since it immediately invokes lots of old and overused ideas, but that’s of course no excuse for not making a game.

This time I collaborated with my buddy Matthias. He did the artwork and I did most of the writing and wrestling with Twine, though we both sat down and kind of wasted an entire day throwing ideas back and forth until we found one that motivated us to actually try and implement it.

The basic premise of Field Report is that it’s a reverse dating simulator. Dating sims being an old and often highly misogynistic genre of games (but still very popular in Japan), with the protagonist being a lone loser trying to impress girls with gifts, requiring the player to grind through enough minigames or find the correct dialog option to win the girl’s love (“achieve a romantic relationship”) and/or virginity. The player then gets rewarded in form of ecchi pin-up art or actual hentai pornography, depending on the explicitness and type of dating sim. As I said, highly misogynistic. But also easy to mock.

The game uses this genre convention of the player being the male, desperate protagonist and turns it around – by giving the player the choice of her answers to his cheap pick-up lines, essentially turning him into the game’s antagonist. We decided to take this one step further by prompting the player for a name at the beginning of the game, which, combined with the rather cruel dialog choices available (there is only one ending though) twists the theme even further by questioning who’s the real villain in the end.

I like how people actually picked up on the title being a dig at the language of self-titled pick-up artists from the so called seduction community. A warning on following the link to that Wikipedia article, it’s I-don’t-want-to-live-on-this-planet-anymore level stuff, especially if you like me, for research, decide to read actual “Field Reports” in these forums. Trust me, I’ve… seen things.

Sadly though, because we wasted about two days IRL and spent about 8 hours all in all, maybe, on the actual game development, the story isn’t really what I’d call finished. As mentioned above, there’s only one ending and little variation, and to be honest I think the whole idea could use a little work. Maybe providing more complex systems with actual disposition values, you know, like actual dating sims. But it was fun nonetheless, we learned a lot and the game gets nice comments on the Ludum Dare site.

I also learned some cool tricks with Twine and am currently contemplating if I feel like writing them down, into a guide, maybe. We’ll see.