Are You Good Postmortem and More...
Thank You for Playing…
Are You Good? Was developed under one of the worst episodes of depression I’ve come to wrestle with. The game demanded the player not stop playing, because I had to demand that of myself. I was selfish enough to make a game to save me from my own self-destruction.
I wanted to make a game that would kill itself.
Are You Good? Ended up being a much more rational, accessible, and an emotionally healthier project. I’d wanted the game to reflect my own incredibly pain stricken mental state back at me, but experiencing such a thing in early iterations spun me even further out of control to the point I could no longer develop anything for a period of time.
As I stared at fourth fresh project file, I realized I needed to show what I needed to see.
Are You Good? Became more about exploring the perspective of self than a reflection of raw pain. I needed to stop making a game that would hurt myself. There are twenty different statements the game randomly pulls from as the player, “plays the game.” After easily getting through several specifically harsh statements I heard echoed in my head for months, I made sure to include a few neutral and positive comments. Depression hadn’t completely prevented me from performing my roles as a student, worker, or friend so it was important that they be included.
There was also the part about talking to yourself.
Being the incredibly lonely only child that I am, I grew to talk to myself often. I wasn’t lying when I said this game was a real conversation. In some cases it still is. In fact, I had a moment where I needed to revisit the game just to remember that I love myself.
It's good to know the game’s primary function was a success, to save me from myself.
I woke up the morning after the game’s release and read a positive review, stating someone had a strong emotional connection to the point they were moved to tears. My own tears soon followed. The few instances of people sharing their emotional playthroughs meant everything to me.
I was also touched by those simply playing to to explore. I was eager to answer any questions and reveal some of the magic behind the game. Scripting everything took several painful weeks, but the word stamping looked great, proudly complementing the glitch shader that was used. There was quite a bit of trial and error in finding a look that held a strong frayed aesthetic while still being legible. Interestingly enough, the red buttons had a much stronger reaction to the shader. From what I could gather, it was from how the shader distorted the red color channel, adding more visual noise whenever red was used.
I called on my own support system of friends for development help.
My good friend Ryan helped me explore what Window details could be automatically pulled, and they even motivated me to develop another option for the player to input their own preferred name when we couldn’t find a good solution. Another good friend, Bryan, slaved with me over the refresh executable which does in fact delete the game. It’s meant to prevent the player from accessing it again if they demand the perspective they’re speaking with to delete itself. However, such an executable required me to utilize a third party plugin to automatically run it outside of the game. I still don’t know exactly how Bryan coded it, but he eventually found a way to make the simple program in Java then convert it to a proper executable. After spending hours back and forth testing our poor C++ skills, his Java skills really saved the day.
For those still confused and interested in a TLDR, the game was a metaphor for life and the voices in our head that help us to perceive it.
I really appreciate everyone willing to play it and ask that anyone reading this download Are You Good? if they haven’t had the chance, or share it with someone you think would appreciate it. I’d love to hear your stories, and thank you for taking this journey with me.
Link to Game: https://thatguyrudy.itch.io/are-you-good
Remember, You Are Loved.
Before wrapping up, I promised on twitter to reveal details of my next tiny game project…
Spelling Bridges is an educational platformer that helps kids learn vocabulary through tracing words, and hearing them sounded out as they platform over letters. I’m developing the project for my mom’s bilingual first grade class. Hopefully it’ll be a great teaching aid, but the focus right now is to make the best game possible.
I’ll be sharing progress as I continue making it over the next few weeks before diving back into the turbulent development of Ningun Sombra, the action adventure game about Mexican Abolitionists, Slavery, and the communities that were forged through such a tragic period of Texas History.
Take Care, and Be You.