Don’t Drown: Drowned

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I have a bit of a backlog of games I’ve made lately that I haven’t written anything about. I always feel guilty about that link on the Games page that implies I’ve written something thoughtful about the game, when I haven’t written anything at all. And so.

The funniest thing about Don’t Drown, I think, was the way it kind of continuously fell apart while I was making it. The game started, actually, as a game called “Don’t” of which “Don’t Drown” was going to be one level in a series of Warioware-like minigames focused on not doing things. (As I type that I kind of want to go back to that idea, so maybe I will, so don’t steal my idea please. You probably won’t, you don’t even care, ideas are like assholes.)

Anyway, I intended to make “Don’t” but then lost steam completely on the idea of multiple games. It was also going to be for iOS, but I became (and remain) increasingly disillusioned by the thought of making platform-exclusive games like that, even though I like the conceptual shininess of having a thing on the app store. So I ended up moving over to JavaScript/HTML5 and in the process “Don’t” got lost and I just kept “Don’t Drown” as something of a manageable scale.

In fact, the point of Don’t Drown became to just make a super simple game that had a different aesthetic to my “usual” (Sierra or Atari) style of game. So I was going to explore all sorts of hand-drawn styles, but then somehow I drew a crappy drawing using the marquee tool in Pixen and proceeded to never get around to changing it. So it’s sort of horrible, but it roughly worked, particularly when the colour scheme came together. But again, a falling apart from “nice hand-drawn aesthetic” to “crappy marquee tool aesthetic”.

I had been working with the assumption that a key thing that would make the game funny (to me) was that there would be a leaderboard. So that people would find themselves (hopefully) in this position of competing to waste time not drowning for the longest. I really enjoyed the kind of mental image of that, so cast about for leaderboard implementations in JavaScript. Turns out this is not so easy because JavaScript is super hard to secure from anyone who wants to mess with it, kind of invalidating most leaderboard solutions unless I was prepared to dive headfirst into serious security code. Which I was not. So: no leaderboard. (Although this was what led me to make Leaderboarder, so not at all a bad thing as it happens.)

Thus the game ended up crumbling down into this ultra-simplistic interaction (though nice looking in its way, I think) with no real acknowledgement of your efforts except the ability to “tweet it” to the world. Though of course that’s absurd because you could just as easily tweet whatever score you wanted. (Have to admit I kind of liked that angle, but I didn’t play with it enough in this game for it to actually be of interesting, maybe later.)

And that was Don’t Drown. A game, when I think about it now, that, to make, was a bit like constantly struggling and drowning and struggling and drowning. Until I just let go, let the game be on my website, and sunk beneath the waves and out of the frame.

10 May 2014
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