Machine at the Heart of the World
It’s never too late for announcements, isn’t it? A few weeks ago Evidently Cube has participated in a gamejam organized for projects made in MonoGame. We made an experimental puzzle game inspired by a work of Roger Zelazny, The Witness and some other things called Machine at the Heart of the World.
Machine at the Heart of the World‘s world has stopped in an inexplicable way. The protagonist, a researcher who spent possible years trying to understand what has happened finds himself at the heart of the world, where a strange contraption is ticking silently. The walls in an enormous cave are covered in stone tablets with strange symbols that, in his hope, will help him restore the world or the universe to how it was before.
If you ever had the chance to read the excellent book by the late Roger Zelazny called Jack of Shadows you’ll spot the similarities immediately. It’s the first book of his that I have read, found it in a used-book shop, pretty old and in bad shape. The reason why I picked it up was that I knew Zelazny’s name from Zangband, which was a Zelazny-themed variant of Angband, a classic roguelike. The reasons for why I chose it as a theme is something for a longer post which I intend to make soon (sharing the design and development process) but, to make the long story short, I love Zelazny’s works (Amber series and Lord of Light the most so far) and for me it was an honor to be able to put “In memory of Roger Zelazny” at the beginning of my game.
I discovered the jam by a pure accident while taking a lazy look at a random email from itch.io and considering the amount of trouble I have with finishing Trans Neuronica I immediately jumped on the opportunity to make something. But I didn’t to just make a half-assed attempt at making a throwaway game that I had no feelings for (does anyone even do that?), the goal from the beginning was to make a production-ready, finished game that could potentially be shipped to customers in a week.
A tall order, but I had the benefits of:
- actually doing paid websites (fully featured CMSes to be more precise) in that amount of time;
- actually making games in a week in the past;
- huge motivation;
- an idea.
That last part was kinda a killer. The same day I saw the jam announcement I knew what game I want to make, regardless of how much it will or will not fit the theme. In that sense, it was an advantage I had over other people who participated but it also was a double-edged sword due to the theme constraints. I also knew this type of gameplay can maybe work, because I had a similar prototype written in DROD scripting years ago.
If you’ve played the game and paid attention to the story you can see the commentary about change being good on at least two distinct levels. But I’ll refrain from spoiling you the ending!
Either way, we kind of won! First place in 5 categories out of 8 – Overall, Controls, Story, Audio, Graphics. Second place in Fun and Originality and fifth in Theme (which is more than fair, I agree there were games that tackled the theme way better). I’ll want to make a short post about the other entries soonish.
Catching up with life
Two weeks ago I wrote the first post in the series about game optimization and since then failed to produce anything new. There are two reasons for that. One is that I am a dad of a 10-week old kid and he has been very attention-demanding recently, which when coupled with a tiring day job makes me completely deflated at the point of the day when I can actually sit down and write something.
The second reason was I wasted 5 days trying to research how to generate nice API documentation from C# sources. Yep, five days.
The upside is I’ll hopefully be releasing a couple of C# libraries for game development which are framework agnostic so even if you use Unity, FNA or whatever else there is in the C# world for game development, you’ll be able to use them!