Summary 2023

Despite my moderate involvement in indie development, this year I mainly worked on projects that are still far from release. Some of them, as always, can be seen on X where I sometimes post videos and screenshots. I hope to be able to talk more about these games in the future.

However, this year we managed to make 3 releases for all three Ludum Dare events taking place this year.

Ludum Dare 52 theme «Harvest» – In The Rye

I already talked about this release in a separate post at the beginning of this year. I can only add that this project, made mostly in a frenzy, remains one of the best in recent times, receiving a lot of praise from players.

I really, really want to repeat the success by doing something narrative-trash. Unfortunately, I still can’t find a place for such projects – neither among the players, nor among my other ideas. Maybe just doing something from the heart will work out, but I don’t feel the energy from space for it yet.

Ludum Dare 53 theme «Delivery» – Lo-Fi Pizza Delivery Guy During Armageddon Trying To Earn $10000 To Buy A Car

First of all, regarding the name: I tried to make the longest possible name that would fit the rules of LD and itch. And practically the only storytelling in this game. And a great reason to order pizza during the jam.

Despite the lack of strength and motivation, I managed to make a small game in which I was able to successfully test a couple of hypotheses and make a few mistakes.

The most important thing is that we managed to achieve a sense of dynamics from a turn-based game to a rhythm game through music. The beat, by the way, was simply generated in GarageBand by the Drummer tool. I also experimented with rendering, creating pixel art from 3D through a low-resolution camera. I screwed up a lot with the UX, especially at the end of the game, where many players simply didn’t realize how the menu worked. On a funny note: a small bug in the game, when some Armageddon levels occur immediately after the previous one, creates one of the most interesting moments in the game.

The best compliment the game has received is comparison to the game Into The Breach, which I am a fan of.

Ludum Dare 54 theme «Limited Space» – PUNCH

The best actual result was shown by the last release of this year, which received the award for #1 in the Fun category, as well as the top 10 Overall among a couple of thousand participants.

I have a mixed opinion about this game: I can't say that I put a lot of effort into it, but I do like some aspects of it. The most important thing is the recognition of the audience. The game still gets hundreds of views every day on itch.

There are currently a couple of ideas in work for further development of this project. It is possible that I will be able to release something next year. I don’t want to make any promises, because I know from experience that time can significantly change priorities.

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Otherwise, I’m trying to maintain my indie spirit despite the big changes in my life this year. The last couple of years have not been the easiest, but what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. I really want to fucking good release in 2024, which is what I wish for everyone. Happy New Year, good luck to everyone!


In The Post-mortem

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.