I few weeks ago I decided to enter Game Chef 2015 and make a game. Sadly I didn’t make it through to the finals, but I’m not surprised - I spent maybe 6-8 hours in total on it because I just didn’t have any more free time available.
It was a really rewarding experience, even without making it past the first round. The community around Game Chef is amazing, encouraging and helpful and I got some excellent feedback both on my game and on how to get over my insecurities about entering at all. It was good to be seeing advice from game creators I recognise and was extremely validating to be welcomed as an equal into a space I’ve never really entered before.
For those unaware, the idea behind Game Chef is quite simple. You take a theme, 1 or more ingredients and attempt to make a game out of them. This year the theme was “a different audience” and the ingredients were “dragonfly”, “abandon”, “stillness” and “dream”.
I decided that to achieve “a different audience” I’d try two tactics. The first was to build the game around the concept of acting on behalf of a higher power, of judging and being judged. The second was to try and incorporate roleplaying mechanics and shared narrative into something focused more towards the board game audience. I tried to use all the ingredients though some of my uses were a bit weak. Dragonfly became my judges, the characters/players. Some research revealed that dragonflies have a mythological connection with claiming souls for satan and other strange and sometimes mildly disturbing folk tales. The ingredient “abandon” made me think of sadness, another thing not seen very often in games, which I wanted to try a focus on as another attempt at satisfying the “a different audience” theme. “Stillness” implied to me contemplation and together with “dream” and the other ingredients put me on the path to an idea about the afterlife, and judging the attempts of a person to fulfil (or abandon) their dreams.
At some point in the process, I realised I was building something with similarities to both Microscope and Tokaido. Not the most obvious combination! That game became White Light, a game of competitively judging a departed soul’s life, deciding it’s fate (heaven or hell) in order to win a chance of becoming human and getting freedom from your duty as a dragonfly to serve as a gatekeeper to the afterlife.
The game needs work and I’ll be revising it based on some of the excellent feedback I received in due course. In the meantime though, if you’re interested, the game as it was submitted can be found online via the link above.