This week, we’re covering some games made for last weekend’s Ludum Dare 19, a game development competition wherein contestants try to make a video game from scratch in 48 hours. LD 19′s theme was “Discovery.”
Hey, you! Having a good Tuesday? Not anymore, you’re not. Distance is a game by 18-year-old indie dev Austin Breed about a long-distance relationship. This is one of those submissions that skews more towards being an interactive narrative than a traditional game, but that doesn’t make it anything less than great.
Breed is able to coax a tremendous amount of expression out of a handful of words and some (strikingly good) pixel art. The two characters’ facial expressions never once change, but they don’t need to: this is a game about loneliness, disconnectedness, and communicating what a long-distance relationship actually feels like.
And he nailed it. Distance is weapons-grade malaise and mopeyness, and if you’ve ever been in a situation like the one portrayed in this game, you’ll find a couple eerily relatable moments in the phone conversations between these two people.
I spoke briefly with Austin Breed on the phone about how he got from the Discovery theme to a game about long-distance relationships, and he explained that the idea came to him pretty quickly. “When I heard the theme, I was thinking about somebody coming to a discovery that changes the way that they live,” Breed said. “Specifically, a long distance relationship, and about what the relationship meant to the two people.”
Breed is a first-year university student in Missouri, and he took inspiration from the romantic lives of his friends. “A lot of my friends, almost all my friends, at college have long-distance relationships,” Breed explained. “And then one specific friend was telling me how it’s hard not to flirt with other people, and that’s sort of where the flirting bit came from.”
From there, it was just a matter of dreaming up the game. No, literally. “I had read [the theme], but it was the middle of the night so I went to bed. Then I woke up, and was like, ‘wow’. I’d had a dream about one of my friends who is in a long-distance relationship, and I hopped on Flash and started doodling it out and it just sort of went from there.”
By the way, if the gameplay of Distance reminds you of some of bentosmile’s visual novels, that’s no coincidence. “He was actually a huge influence on this one. My last game, Support Group, was like 100% influenced off of him, and that dialog-based style sort of carried over,” said Breed.
Considering Support Group was featured by Newgrounds and got over 120,000 plays, it seems Breed’s doing just fine. We can’t wait to see what he makes next!