The year began with a visit to Georgia, where I met my old friends from the gamedev community. The end of the week-long trip was marked by participation in Ludum Dare. The theme was "Harvest", we participated separately in the Compo category. I got a nice game called "In The Rye". There will be spoilers ahead, so I strongly recommend that you play the game: it will take about 10 minutes, strictly 18+, link to itchio (play on the web from a computer browser).
After the topic was voiced, the word "ergot" quickly popped into my head - a fungus that grows on crops, and even in ancient times caused hallucinations and other unhealthy effects to people who ate it. Along the chain, images of a story about a peasant family began to appear in my head, where the father of the family is forced to commit ignoble deeds - he kills his pregnant wife, copulates with a cow, and also observes the scene with his son. At the end of this post, I will touch on the topic of how such topics were chosen. In my head, it was more like a theatrical performance in the genre of psychological body horror. The scene with the cow on the tree, remembered by many, appeared quite spontaneously, by the way.
When I already had an approximate scope of the project in my head, I quickly decided on the visual style and aesthetics. I really wanted to make a kind of homage to the era of flash games, when adult themes and black humor were very common. I originally wanted to draw sloppy graphics in flash itself, but due to difficulties in importing, I decided to draw everything in Gimp, deliberately increasing the pixels. I recorded all the sounds through the laptop microphone. Simple melodies made in GarageBand and I tried to diversify the pitch changes in different game situations, immersing the player even more into the atmosphere of a hallucinogenic thriller. In my opinion, the visual and sound design turned out to be very complete and consistent, which is rarely possible within a 48-hour jam.
Personally, I was very pleased with the result. By sending the game to several twitch streamers, I got the reaction that I roughly counted on: laughter, surprise, wtf-moments, shock, and "aha!" moment in the end. But by creating a game with such controversy themes, I was prepared for the fact that it could scare many people and cause real disgust. However, this turned out to be the case: despite the general lack of polish of the game and the fact that the game as a whole is addictive to the very end, the final rating of voting on LD turned out to be very low; a negative emotional response from just a few people can significantly ruin the final grade. Emotionally, it upset me a little, but I knew where I was going. I'm much more satisfied with this game than my previous LD games, which received significantly higher ratings.
Even the day before, before the topic was known, I tried to decide for myself in which direction to go with the game:
Quite consciously, having chosen a disregard for ethics and reputation, I made the game not for high ratings, but contrary to the normality that has become established today, to indulge in a bygone era. When the flash died, all the games that had unprecedented freedom and emancipation in the choice of topics died with him. The first few years of my independent career before I switched to Unity are gone too. And this game for LD will remain for me a reminder of all this.