You're a dad
I'm making a game called You're a dad. It's a small thing that has become a big undertaking. As a maker interested in multiple crafts, also a lot of fun!
The important part first: can I play it?
Yes, if you have access to me and my computer. Talk to me for a super early test. I will add links to this page when I'm ready to publicise the game further. Check out the status page for small status entries.
What are you building?
I'm building a text based multiple choice adventure. It's based on my experiences of becoming a father. It was a very weird time in my life - my child became my sleep-addled brain's everything. Mixed with goofy day dreams and impactful life events, it was quite a thing to navigate. I hope to convey some of that in an enjoyable package.
In You're a dad you'll navigate an apartment and the surrounding area. You need to prepare for a family dinner while taking care of your child. Will you prepare a nice healthy meal? Or get sidetracked by opening a vegan café? End up in a monster battle with your siblings? Or even find out the truth? You control the action!
The structure and delivery is heavily inspired by Kyle is Famous. It's a brilliant little game that I highly recommend checking out. The main gameplay loop is this:
- You have a set amount of time to navigate your day.
- Whenever you do something, time is deducted.
- When the time ends you're taken to a final scene, where different things happen depending on what you've accomplished.
- Each time you finish the game you'll get an ending. You can collect these endings.
- Each run takes 2-5 minutes.
There are no financial goals with this project. It's done purely for me to explore a new creative medium and get a story out into the world. My initial thoughts for distribution is to make it available for free via itch.io and paid via Steam. It costs to publish a game via Steam so I'm unsure if I want to throw money that way, but it would be fun to have a project there. We'll see.
The writing is what'll carry this game, so I've focused most of my initial effort here. I started by creating a few initial scenes to navigate between, and then began exploring the script. I've tried out different tonality, dialogue length, and after some intense beta testing (read: had my wife give critical feedback) I went with a style that came natural to me and that I enjoyed.
Here's an example. This is the absolute beginning of the game.
I've divided the game into locations that you can navigate between. Each location has a series of steps, which is basically dialogue coupled with potential actions. Each action shows other locations, steps or give you pickups. If we store the state of what you've done so far and conditionally make locations, steps and actions available based on that, we can actually create a really interesting and interactive narrative.
Building something like this is a first for me, but it already feels like I can freely explore the game world. Really cool.
The hard part is scoping it all. Since there is so much we can react on, and since it's such a loosely defined project, there's the potential for it to never end or become incoherent. To combat that I've put together a notion document with things I want in the first version of the script. Once I've got that I can focus on proofreading and building out the other parts of the game the tech and the design. Then, if I feel the game needs more meat, I'll return to the script once more.
I've been working with code and tech for most of my life, so I wasn't going into this project blind from that point of view. But there were considerations to be had. Should I build it with tools I already know? That would probably mean using web technology. But games are generally built differently than other, more static, applications - so I decided to expore game engines.
Long story short, I found Godot. It's open source, fast, had a programming language inspired by Python (which I've dabbled with and enjoyed), so I decided to take a week to explore it. I didn't need a week - it started to click after a few days, and I've been having a lot of fun exploring what it can do. I'm even having thoughts on other things I could build with it. Very happy with the choice so far.
But for all its virtues, one thing Godot is not is a nice word editor. Godot is great when writing code or piecing together the technical parts of the game - it's basically an IDE. And IDEs are definitely unsuitable for creative writing, which I need to do a lot of for this project. I knew I'd never get it done if I had to do it in Godot.
So I created a companion software I simply call Game Edit. It's a web app that makes it easy to generate configuration files. These configuration files holds the entire adventure, and are read by my Godot application. This way I can create and edit the adventure in an application that makes it as easy as possible, build automated tests for it, extract all the words and run spell and grammar checks, and so on.
As the game grew, I noticed I had a hard time keeping track of how the different parts were linked. But no worries, I could easily use a library to generate a mind map, and then get back to writing.
So far I'm really happy with both Godot and the choice to extract the script from it.
One area that is tightly coupled with tonality and feel is game design. It's the area I know the least about, and probably one of the harder things for me to do well in this project. I'm really eager to dig into it and explore it once the main script is feature complete.
I intend to break it down into two parts: graphics (animation, UI, and so on) and sound (music and effects). How to tackle them, and what the end result will be, I'm not yet sure. I'll update this section when I know more.
And that's it so far!
It's a lot of fun to explore this. I'll update this page every now and then. Stay tuned!