Hello! I'm Tom. I designed a game called Gunpoint, about rewiring things and punching people, and now I'm working on a new one called Heat Signature, about sneaking aboard randomly generated spaceships. Here's some more info on all the games I've worked on, here's the podcast I do, here are the videos I make on YouTube, here are some of the articles I wrote for PC Gamer, and here are two short stories I wrote for the Machine of Death collections.
I was ill for a few weeks recently, and Ludum Dare happened during it. As usual I wanted the challenge of thinking up an idea to fit the theme, but couldn’t spare the two days to actually make something. The theme was ‘an unconventional weapon’, so I wrote up an idea but didn’t get around to publishing it at the time. Here it is!
Side-on platformer style view, very stark orange and black art style, rusty, nasty.
Your character and one other are slave labourers in a big, dilapidated factory of extremely dangerous machines. In a short, wordless intro:
The Switch is a slim metal cylinder with a simple lever switch on the end. It now has something attached to the bottom: the Tag, a thin disc with the feel of a fridge magnet.
Left click throws the Tag. It sticks to whatever it hits, but the Switch only works if it’s stuck to a human: the things it switches need to be similar in mass and composition. It’s light enough that they won’t feel anything if they didn’t see you throw it, and you don’t have to be nearby or in line of sight to press Right mouse and switch places with them.
Once the tag is thrown, Left clicking again teleports it back to you without switching.
So it’s a stealth puzzle game about quietly tagging enemies, then purposefully throwing or trapping yourself into fatal hazards and switching at the last minute. The factory is a complete deathtrap: you’ll stand under smashing pistons, throw yourself into grinding gears, jump onto rusty sawblades, lock yourself in trash compactors, drop onto conveyor belts too fast to run against, walk off sheer drops, and dive onto safety railings have decayed into javelins of rust. The idea is invert the idea of avoiding death, and to make you feel a little of what you’re about to inflict: that physical wince just before you die of something unsettlingly physical in a videogame, like a long fall or heavy object.
Your task is to escape, obviously, and along the way you’ll mostly be using the Switch to get guards out of your way. In some situations, though, guards can also double as ‘lives’: tag one before attempting to navigate a tricky part of the factory, and if you slip and fail you can Switch to put him in your place and get another go. In those situations and others, killing isn’t strictly necessary, and if you’re trying to minimise it you’ll have to decide whether you want to set up that murderous contingency plan in case it comes to it.
Obviously there are thematic similarities with The Swapper, but both the tech and usage are different: that game was about cloning yourself, the Switch is just a teleporter. It’s about doing horribly suicidal and reckless things to yourself and using your unconventional weapon to transfer the consequences to others. Which is also why it needs a nasty intro and a persistent reminder of your desperate circumstances.
Previously: I came up with ideas for 8 previous game jams, 3 of which I actually made – Scanno Domini, Jake and the Infinite Jerkbots, and Floating Point. You can read about them all and play those three by browsing the game jams tag here.
More Game Jams
Moritz: That sounds amazing! I think this would look great with a heavily pixelated art style like Crawl has it (http://www.powerhoof... ...com/crawl/), and blood splatter like in SuperMeatBoy.
If you ever decide to make a game out of this, I hope that you're not planning to add guns :P
If the guards had guns, you could switch places with a guard that tries to shoot you, and if you time it right, they'd be taken out by their own bullet. This in itself would be cool, but if it works every time, it would take away the need to creatively interact with the environment, which would be sad.
Tomas Sedovic: This doesn't resemble the Demon comic at all. No sir. (sounds like a pretty cool idea)
Marc Forrester: It's slightly more morally defensible than Demon. Maybe. Unless you end up worse.
Tom Francis: Moritz: Heh, I had exactly the same thought process about guns - cool idea, but if that trick works it undermines any actual puzzles. Might make a neat final encounter, though.
Daniel: That does sound like an amazing idea which could lead to interesting situations.
I would definitely buy this game!
Good for you for having such good ideas and imagination :-)
Valentine: ALL OF MY YES.
Shirow: Reminds me of "The Swapper"
Interesting story as well.