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Bareback

barebackTranquilise warewolves and bring them back to the safehouse in this moody driving game.

Use cursor keys to drive around and the mouse to aim/shoot. Use the minimap to navigate.

Postmortem:

This game was written to promote a novel called Bareback, about lunes (warewolves to you and me). It has nothing to do with what you’ll find if you google for ‘bareback’, which I don’t suggest you do if you’re in the office!

The premise is that there are various people out there who turn into wolf-like creatures by night. It’s your job to drive around in a pickup truck tranquilising them and locking them in a safehouse until the morning. It’s got good ingredients: Driving, shooting, dangerous creatures. Unfortunately, the overall effect just doesn’t work in this game, as you’ll see if you play it for a few minutes.

I think the core problem here is that there’s too many concepts mixed together. You have to drive around in the dark, slowly, navigating. Then you have to do shooting and dodging and collection of knocked-out-animals. Then you have to get them back to the safehouse with more dodging/navigating/driving in the dark before one of them wakes up.

Another problem is that none of the tasks ended up much fun! The van is slow so that you can keep it on the road. What’s fun about driving a slow van? Might as well do it for real and earn some dosh for it. Navigating is hard, as the mini-map is small and whilst the zoom works well, a lot of the time your attention is entirely focussed on a tiny part of the screen. The roads are dark and colourless, meaning you’re squinting endlessly to see what’s happening. That’s an eyetest, not a fun pastime. Shooting is difficult and restrictive, so isn’t very rewarding. Then when you do get a vanload of warewolves all sorted, you probably won’t make it back to the safehouse in time before the buggers wake up, undoing all your hard work.

This game went through a lot of itterations before it’s final state. We spent much longer than we normally would on trying to get it right. We knew at each itteration that it didn’t play well, but no matter what we did it just didn’t improve much.

Lessons:

  • Sometimes, the core concept is just broken. Give up on it already!
  • There’s truth in the saying: Throwing good money after bad
  • Games must be fun. MUST
  • If it feels like work, it probably isn’t fun
  • They can’t all be hits!

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