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October 22, 2014, 06:19:02 PM
TIGSource ForumsCommunityTownhallSave the Date. It's a game about having dinner.
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Author Topic: Save the Date. It's a game about having dinner.  (Read 6525 times)
Montoli
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« on: May 27, 2013, 12:19:28 PM »

Hello again TIGSource.

I (finally) finished another game.  And I think it's pretty rad.  (Like really rad, honestly.  I think I'm more proud of it than any other project I've worked on.)  But I'm admittedly biased.

It's called "Save the Date", and in a major departure from the sorts of things I usually make, it's a dating sim about having dinner.


That's actually a lie.  Or at least a half-truth.  But it's also one of those games where I don't want to really describe what it's about in advance, because that kind of ruins the experience.  So for now, if you could just believe me that it's about having dinner, and that, in spite of that fact, it is still really cool, then that would be awesome.

It's available for free from my website for windows/mac/linux, and I think it is very much the sort of game that people on TIGSource would enjoy.  (Especially the crowd that hangs out in the Design forum, that I so love to argue with. Wink)

Anyway.  This exists!  I think it's neat.  You guys should all play it and tell me your thoughts!

http://paperdino.com/games/save-the-date/
« Last Edit: May 28, 2013, 11:41:50 AM by Montoli » Logged

www.PaperDino.com

I just finished a game!: Save the Date
You should go play it right now.
Jubjub
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« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2013, 02:27:18 PM »

This game is amazing.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2013, 03:06:45 AM by Jubjub » Logged
GoLarisa
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« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2013, 02:07:39 PM »

I am breaking my lurker status to tell you how humorous and enjoyable this game was. Great job!
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Pandara_RA!
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« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2013, 02:59:01 PM »

At first I was like, I really am not a fan of dating sims.
Then it invoked every possible feeling I've had during certain movies or day dreams
and I was completely blown away and ecstatic about showing my brother the game, leaped from my chair and rushed to his room to remember hes at work =P.

This game is brilliant
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Alevice
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« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2013, 04:16:43 PM »

Yey, I reached the ending!

SPOILER:




She didn't get the lottery tho.
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John Sandoval
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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2013, 04:17:58 PM »

Got the super secret Hacker ending! Not sure if that's all of the possible endings, but I'm assuming that I've gotten most of them.  Really charming, but I think it would have been much cooler if the help file invited you to actually write out the ending on your own.

Anyway, really interesting game.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2013, 05:31:45 PM by John Sandoval » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2013, 04:37:20 PM »

Maybe I have missed the final true ending (super hacker ending aside),  but I think this game pulls the same trick than Spec Ops: The Line, where the player has to fill the gaps and has to close the game to win (minus a sense of congratulations). I have been always at odds with those kinds of moves. It feels like the author couldn't come up with a solution to the problem and opted to sidestep it while leaving the problem to notable still. Maybe its just me. Reminds me also of an old Game Maker game, where you played some sort of executioner, and saw a guy tied to a pole. If you shot the guy, the game ended and it berated you. Then if you reopen it, the charcater remains dead - while the berating was kinda unwelcomed (which Nicole kinda does too), it still instilled a great feeling seeing your actions have a consequence - the solution was just as cheap tho, close the game before you kill the guy - he remains tied tho.
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mushroomized
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« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2013, 04:58:48 PM »

Finally, a realistic dating game
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Blademasterbobo
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« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2013, 05:29:17 PM »

I hope I'm just missing the real ending, and the hacker "choose your own ending" bs is a red herring. if you really believe all that bull, then why would you even bother making the game in the first place? it's just a (pretentious, somewhat self-righteous, definitely overdone) cop-out. and why would you write the hacker ending so sarcastically if you really believed all that bunk about choosing your own ending? i really hope you're not that dum, and i'm just too dum to find the real ending.
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« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2013, 05:53:30 PM »

Fuck you peanuts, I could've scored.
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« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2013, 09:58:14 PM »

My first playthrough I opted to not go out and she lived a full and happy life

I feel like that's the best ending, of the ones I've seen
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mr.zippycrow
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« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2013, 11:51:43 PM »

Just wanted to say this game is awesome and hilarious. I love how the options are updated with your experiences from previous playthroughs. Thanks!
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Montoli
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« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2013, 12:09:35 AM »

Oh man, this is fun to come back to after a frustrating day at work!  I'm glad that people seem to have been enjoying it!  It was a lot of fun to make!

Some spoiler'd responses, to some of the spoiler'd comments:


@John Sandoval:
Yeah, making the hacker ending fully customizable was actually on the to-do list for a while, since as you say, it fits in really well with whole theme of taking responsibility for the story yourself rather than blindly following what the storyteller tells you happens.  It fell off the list for a couple of reasons.  (I'll admit that one of them was 'it had some weird file-path issues to do right, that were causing problems', and I didn't want to deal with them.)

I'm still on the fence about it, honestly.  I can think of a couple of reasons why it would be rad, and one or two (non-technical, pretentious 'art') reasons that make me a little bit leery.  If I push a bugfix release, there is a reasonable chance that I'll slip that in though.  Also, grats on beating it!


@Alevice :
I haven't actually managed to find time to play Spec Ops: The Line yet, (it's on my steam list, unplayed!  Story of my life...) so any similarity is accidental.  While (due to the theme of the game) I don't want to get too far into pushing "my" view of what the right ending is, I do want to say - my aim was definitely not to berate the player for any of their choices.  I don't know how well I succeeded at that, but my goal was more along the lines of "give the player a system, let them play with it, and hopefully reach conclusions."  I DID have a fairly specific point/conclusion that I was trying to get across, but if I failed to convey that, then that fault is probably squarely on me.

@Blademasterbobo
There we go.  I knew SOMEONE had to call it pretentious.  Which is fair, since it kind of is. Smiley)

The hacker ending is... an interesting piece.  One of the interesting things about the game is that while there are 3-4 of what I consider "good" endings to the game, almost everyone I watched playtest managed to find exactly one of them.  (And most of them were fairly incredulous when I told them that there were other endings besides the one they found.)

I'd prefer to not go on the record about what I consider the "best" ending, but I can tell you a few things if it helps:
- The hacker ending is not what I consider the "best" ending.  It definitely qualifies as one of the "good" endings, but yeah.  The tone was not entirely accidental.
- I do, actually, fully believe in the message that I'm trying to convey with the game.
- A lot of the game depends on me making good guesses about how the player will react to various things, and responding to what I think they're thinking at that moment.  Bottom line, I'm not going to guess right for everyone.  (Honestly, I figured when writing it that if I guessed right even 25% of the time, I'd call it a win.)  So if I didn't do a good job of getting my point across, well... take comfort in the fact that it probably just means that I'm bad at guessing what you're thinking, and you would totally take all my money if we were playing poker.



Anyway yeah!  Thanks to everyone who has played it, and specifically, thanks to everyone who has taken the time to tell me things they liked or didn't like about it!  That is always super helpful for me to know, even (and usually especially) when it's the things you didn't like.

Keep being awesome, TIGSource!
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« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2013, 05:30:47 AM »

This was really fun! Loved how the game looked and the humor was great.

I guess this was based on your experiences?
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Blademasterbobo
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« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2013, 08:54:22 AM »

can you at least let me know if the other "endings" are just quitting the game? i'd maybe try to hunt them down, but if it's just more cop outs, then i'm not sure i feel like bothering. the problem with stuff like that is, imo, that you're pushing the message that your message / story isn't worth listening to. if you genuinely believe that me fantasizing about my own ending for the game is equally as valid as anything you write for it, then what's the point of even playing your game? why even bother publishing the game? i might as well just look up story prompts and live in my own little self-created fantasy worlds. plus, the sarcastic hacker ending gives a lot of what the game says elsewhere a sort of cognitive dissonance. (unless you're not actually trying to speak through the girl in the hogwarts area. i assume it's the author speaking through a character, due to the way everything is phrased, but hopefully i'm wrong?)

i really hope this isn't as cliched and boring as it seems to be right now. it was so promising before the hogwarts area, but when she went into the whole relativism-hippy-everything-is-equal ranting, it made me sad.

i hope it's just me focusing too much on this one point, and that you're actually trying to convey something more interesting / comprehensive than this one point. i'm tempted to believe that the hacker thing is just poor writing, but i'm hoping you'll tell me that i'm missing something. game devs are very rarely that subtle, though, and if you weren't here to tell me otherwise, or if you don't say otherwise, i wouldn't / won't bother with it any more than i already have. because again, at that point, you're basically telling me that you think that your story wasn't worth the effort of reading in the first place.

edit: i guess i should also mention that i really liked how this uses the saving / replaying visual novel tropes (replay the game 200 times and reread the same shit to get the true happy ending blahblahblah!) i enjoyed most of the rest of the game, too. i'm mostly just disappointed with the one aspect i've been going over, but i guess i like the game, overall. i just hope the one thing isn't as dum as it appears to be so far. i tend to fixate on things i'm critical of / that impact me negatively over things that i enjoy. in this case, partly cuz i want to be proven wrong.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2013, 01:23:31 PM by Blademasterbobo » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2013, 11:07:18 AM »

Haha, this is freaking awesome! (The music is really catchy too!)

One suggestion though, there should be a little mark for options you've tried already in previous runs. Sometimes it's hard to remember what I have and haven't already seen.

Still a fantastic job, it's been a while since I've laughed this hard playing a game!
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Montoli
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« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2013, 10:04:31 PM »

@blademasterbobo
You know what?  You've made me realize I'm being a little bit silly.  Thanks for that.
   
There is a definite danger and temptation, when making a game like this, to want to play "guess the message."  To not answer when people ask perfectly reasonable questions like "have I seen everything yet, or am I missing something obvious."  To instead waggle one's eyebrows suggestively, and make exaggerated shrugging motions.

I was doing that.  I'm sorry.

What makes it especially silly is that I made this game because I DID have a specific idea in mind that I wanted to convey.  There was a conversation that I actually kind of wanted to have with people, either through the medium of the game, or after.  So it's kind of the height of absurdity that when someone wants to have that conversation now, that I try to act mysterious and vague.

So.

I'm not pretending that my interpretation is any BETTER than the ones people come up with on their own.  (As you might guess from the game, I'm tend to think that what the viewer feels is more important than what the artist intended)

I can, however, at least talk about what I was thinking when I made it.  Obvious spoiler warning.  To anyone else in the thread reading this, definitely don't read this if you haven't played the game yet.  And to anyone who HAS played the game yet - I can't promise that reading this will give you any closure.  All I can promise is that it will give you some insight into what I was trying to do. Smiley


First, the bad news.  It might be as boring and hackneyed as it seems.

There are basically 3 things that I consider "good" endings.  They are:
* Close the game, and think of your own ending.  (There are a lot of variations on this one - people pick vastly different places to end it.  Popular ones include "when she's chewing you out for not making your own ending yet" and "after saying goodbye before the aliens arrive."
* Hacker ending - modifying the files to get new options.
* Not going on a date at all.  (It's the only ending where the game gives you a game over, without killing her.  And if you go there after you've seen the aliens, you get a slightly different version.)

So.  If you've seen all those, then yeah.  Sorry, there isn't anything else.  If you want to call it pretentious wankery, I won't really stop you.  (Although I question 'cliched' - maybe I just play the wrong sorts of games, but I haven't seen this done before.  Although I missed 'spec-ops: the line', so if I'm unintentionally copying that, that might explain it.)

That's WHAT I did.  Now let's talk about WHY:

The theme of the game is "Storytelling is cooperative.  You, the listener are not a passive content sponge."  Especially in any sort of game, where the player has any kind of meaningful interaction at all.

It's easy to forget, but we already mess with the story ALL THE TIME when we're playing.  I'll be playing ninja gaiden, for example, and the game tells me the story of "the ninja on a mission of justice, who totally hit a bird while jumping, and fell in a pit and died, the end."

And I'll be like "no, this story is balls, I want to hear about the one where the ninja totally kicks everyone's ass, including that bird who is a total dick" and so I hit continue.  I'm actively rejecting the story the game told, and trying to get it to tell me another.  Any time you reload from a save game after dying, you're doing that.

I wanted to try to make a game to highlight this, and to remind people that they change stories all the time.  And that this is a GOOD thing, and that they can do it on purpose, to try to get the story that they want.  So the way I did that, of course, was to give them a story that I knew their gamer instincts would make them want to change.  ("your friend dies.")  And then gave them even MORE tools than normal, to try to change things.  (i. e. persistent knowledge across save games, and the ability to sort of do a 'reverse 4th-wall-break' and act on it.)

And then I made the ending refuse to budge anyway.  No matter how cleverly you used the tools I provided, you still couldn't really get around the fact that she dies at the end.  Every time.  As long as you play by the game's rules, and don't question the assumption that I'm the ultimate decider of how the story goes, that is going to happen.

The goal, of course, is to nudge people into realizing that they only have to listen to the parts of what I'm saying that they like, and that they can change whatever they want.  The hacker ending is one expression of this.  It is a little sarcastic though, because while it's still a variation of "changing the story by rejecting some of the rules of the game", I'd rather people not need it.

(Not going on a date at all is another facet of this - she lives, but the game presents it like it's a bad thing.  But if your goal is to keep her alive, it doesn't really require much effort to get yourself to believe that it's actually a good ending, since you did in fact set it up so she lives happily ever after.  And if the game tells you that you're unhappy and should feel sad, well, there is no reason you have to believe it.

You ask "aren't I basically just saying that I'm not worth listening to?"  That's a reasonable question, but I would say that I'm actually saying "Hey, don't forget, you only have to listen to me as much [or little] as you want to."  It's a small distinction, but I think it's a crucial one.  You can take the parts of what I'm saying that you like (the first half of the story, for example) and ignore anything you don't like.  (Bad endings.)


Anyway, that's what I was trying to do.  I realize it doesn't really work out for everyone though, and if you still find it boring, cliched, hippy-esque, or portentous, well, that's still your prerogative.  I might even deserve some of it. Smiley

But I'm still pretty happy with how it ended up.

Anyway, thanks for playing, and double-thanks for the feedback!  It's always hard, listening to people describe what they don't like, about something I'm creatively invested in.  But much like eating my vegetables, it's still totally worth doing.  So seriously - thanks for taking the time to write out specifically what parts you didn't like.  It helps a lot.  And even if I can't promise that I'll turn this project into something that you find more interesting, you're helping whatever my next project is get better.

Cheers!
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« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2013, 10:49:58 PM »

Thanks for explaining your ideas behind the game. I reached all of the "good" endings before reading the spoilers and concluded that the hacker ending was probably the intended ending, even though it felt flat. I played a few more times after getting the hacker ending just to see if I missed anything or if anything else changed. I really enjoyed the writing and humor, but I would have liked the game to go deeper and tell more of a story.

It would have been fun to have several more endings where she doesn't die, maybe one where the player dies instead or where the player mcgyver's some way to save her. I liked being able to save her from the first death at the restaurants but it felt shallow to be unable to save her from the subsequent catastrophies even after the player knew about them. What happens when you tell her that a plane will hit her house if she doesn't leave? Maybe its unrealistic but it is satisfying to find a way to beat the system without hacking.

 Beer!
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Klaim
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« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2013, 04:47:06 AM »

I just got into few branches, replayed a lot without saves and I must say this made me laugh so much! This is very good! Will read the thread once I finish the game, I got some interesting progress.
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« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2013, 05:00:52 AM »

I loved everything about this game and I enjoyed every moment of playing it. Awesome work.
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