Recurrence - "Groundhog Day" mixed with social engineering [download + update!]

Discussion in '2014 Indie Game Maker Contest' started by Tommy Gun, Jul 2, 2014.

  1. Tommy Gun

    Tommy Gun ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

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    Here's my submission! This game will be expanded and enhanced! While this version is a “full game” in that it has a main storyline and an ending, it was always my intention to fill out the rest of the city with people and quests, upgrade the graphics, and release it as a FULL game. Please comment and share if you like it!
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    Update: gameplay video at bottom of post!
    Update 2: I just made a huge update to the game and added TONS of music (multiple songs in the intro, and a 15min megamix while you walk around, as well as background sounds). I wish I had had time to do that for the contest, but at least it's there now for anyone who hasn't played it. You can get it from my site (includes an RTP-less version):

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    Vote here: http://contest.rpgmakerweb.com/game/view/id/558
    DOWNLOAD HERE: http://crackedrabbitgaming.com/recurrence-igmc/
     
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    On the day of your brother's kidnapping, a malfunctioning wrist teleporter sends you into a time loop, forcing you to repeat the same day over and over again (in the vein of "Groundhog Day" or "Source Code"). Master skills, gather information, and socially engineer your way to his location. Can you break the cycle and save your brother's life?

    Note: Despite being set in the future and using a time loop, this has absolutely nothing to do with the new movie "Edge of Tomorrow" (as far as I know; I haven't seen it).

    I have been working on this game full-time this whole month (June) just for this contest, and I can prove it! I have been recording vlogs every few days to show my progress, which I will compile into a "making of" video at some point soon.
     
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    • Open World - explore at your own pace, and see things in the order you choose.
    • Time Mechanic - rewind (restart) the whole day at any point. People will forget your mistakes!
    • Social Engineering - experiment with different dialogue choices and socially engineer your way through!
    • Single Open City - most of the game takes place in a single large city map. Enter a building and the roof disappears with no loading!
    • Integrated Hint System - call or talk to your uncle for help at any time.
    • Memories - when you rewind time, the only thing you keep are your memories. As you gather information, these will open up new dialogue choices.
    • Learn Skills - what do you do when you have all the time in the world? Become an expert.
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    Please see my site, or the included readme file, for a full list of credits.
     
    UPDATE: 
    I made a video showing the intro and a little bit of the gameplay of my game (NEW VERSION OF GAME HAS MORE MUSIC):
     
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 15, 2014
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  2. Deleted

    Deleted The Champion of Uncertainty :D

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    Played the game, it was enjoyable.
     
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  3. Tommy Gun

    Tommy Gun ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

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    Thanks, KingDanner! 

    I just made a huge update to the game and added TONS of music (multiple songs in the intro, and a 15min megamix while you walk around, as well as background sounds). I wish I had had time to do that for the contest, but at least it's there now for anyone who hasn't played it. You can get it from my site (includes an RTP-less version):

    http://crackedrabbitgaming.com/recurrence-igmc/
     
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  4. Alkorri

    Alkorri Proofreading Penguin

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    Hi there, Tommy Gun,

    I'm surprised this game doesn't get more notice! Stayed up to play this when I should be in bed, and oh man, was it worth it.

    I love the concept of having to restart each day armed with new memories and secrets to get you past to the next stage. This must have required a ton of switches and stuff!

    I like how you started the main character pretty much in the action, although I wish you could have established some kind of relationship between the main and the brother so that we, the player, could see how close they are. Perhaps brief flashbacks at key moments when the player learns a new secret or some such? Just my two cents. Judging by how the main character must have restarted the day for A YEAR to learn martial arts, you managed to at least communicate the love the two brothers have.

    At first, as you probably expected, there was some blundering around because I didn't know what to do or the steps I was supposed to do them first. It didn't help that:

    • the map takes a while to walk from one end to the other
    • even running, I felt the character was s l o w
    • I wish the connecting bridge could have been in the middle part of the map, and not the far right
    Luckily, you provided a map and an immersive hint option through your uncle (I ended up calling him a LOT, let me tell you, when I was stuck).

    A few minutes of frustration in the beginning melted away when I realised that the key to progressing was to get to the waitress before she left the bar, and that's when the game opened up for me. I love the little things happening as I became aware of events, like the thug dropping off the ransom note and my being unable to get to him because that navy(?) dude kept getting in the way (ARGH ;) .

    I'm amused that you have to be evil or, okay, a bit immoral to progress in the game (necessity rules!)

    I like how you streamlined the Distracting Sheila process, but why can't we have the same for the beer part too? I'm only saying this because I've had to buy three rounds of beer so many times it became a little tedious ;D Would have helped if the bartender allowed you to buy three drinks at a time. (Come on, what bartender doesn't let you buy more? ;D )

    Sheila's assistant doesn't seem to mind me rummaging in his desk right in front of him. For a moment I thought you were meant to and I was supposed to pick up some secret.

    If I know martial arts, why couldn't I take out that lone thug and get his weapon? After all, you hinted that you could get a weapon from "police or thugs". I didn't come across that police officer who sold guns until later, so naturally I thought I had to get it from that lone thug (since he was there). Nope. Back I had to go to the beginning >_<

    I really like the bust art for the main character! But what about the Uncle? Just wondering :)

    Cool endgame scene of the main kicking ass and rescuing his brother. I just wish I saw something of the thugs getting punched up, for all the frustration they gave me.

    I found no game-breaking bugs, so congratulations!

    Number of Days Restarted: 418

    Time taken to play: 1 hr 30 minutes

    Three words: "I know kungfu."
    Thank you again for that amazing experience. I hope to see more work from you!
     
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  5. Tommy Gun

    Tommy Gun ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

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    Thank you! There have been a few reviews in other threads, but they haven't posted them here.
    Here is Jesse's:


    http://forums.rpgmakerweb.com/index.php?/topic/29619-jesses-2014-igmc-reviews/?p=284748


    There are also reviews on my contest page, and I've put some on my site: http://crackedrabbitgaming.com/recurrence-igmc/


    Responses to most of your points:

    Yup. :) It's funny because this whole time I've been learning how to make games that DON'T reset when you re-enter the map, and this time I had to make it reset!

    Yeah, I definitely intended to at least have more dialogue about their relationship, but ran out of time. Will add it!

    The bridge was on the right because it was easier to make the cars disappear that way. :\ All of those problems will be solved in the full game I intend to make because there will be an autodrive system that will fast-travel you around, and there will be WAY more buildings to enter with more quests.

    Did you ask the bartender about her? That dialogue should have clued you in (Nathan says "I'll come back earlier", meaning that day, but maybe it's not clear?).

    Hehe, I had to test that part a bunch of times to make sure you couldn't get to him. That's why there's also a park bench in the way if you go around the shed.

    But it's all in the name of saving a life! :) I want to add more dialogue to the end, like having Nathan mention that he needs to go pay back the bartender.

    I will add that. I added the Sarah "skip" after the contest, and want to do that in more places. Depending on the way you play the game, you only need to do the beer part...once? You can get credits from the safe, to learn self-defense. You only need the bar to get enough for the gun, I think, which is only at the end. But since you may learn about the bar early on, you may do it more than necessary.

    *****Sheila's assistant doesn't seem to mind me rummaging in his desk right in front of him. For a moment I thought you were meant to and I was supposed to pick up some secret.*****


    He's supposed to be really lazy, which is why he doesn't call security on you, and if you call Lambent after Sarah leaves, he doesn't even answer the phone! But yes, I'd like to add more stuff there too.


    *****If I know martial arts, why couldn't I take out that lone thug and get his weapon? After all, you hinted that you could get a weapon from "police or thugs". I didn't come across that police officer who sold guns until later, so naturally I thought I had to get it from that lone thug (since he was there). Nope. Back I had to go to the beginning >_<*****


    Aw, sorry. Well that lone thug didn't have a weapon, but yes, I should let you knock him out (or add more thugs). I ran out of time (this is a common theme). The hint was supposed to mean that obviously you can't get into the Boundary, so you need to get a gun from a cop. But I wasn't thinking about that lone thug, so yeah that's confusing. :\


    *****I really like the bust art for the main character! But what about the Uncle? Just wondering :) *****


    I had to pay my artist for the bust art, and we didn't have time/money to do the rest, so I settled on just one. I want to at least get bust art for all the major characters for the full game.


    *****Cool endgame scene of the main kicking ass and rescuing his brother. I just wish I saw something of the thugs getting punched up, for all the frustration they gave me.*****


    Ran out of time (that would have required a bunch more animation). In fact, that whole section was going to be a big puzzle where you need to take them out one-by-one, and you get to do it yourself (not a cutscene). It will be in the full game! And it'll have multiple endings.

    I'm so glad you liked it, and thanks for all the feedback! As mentioned, I intend to expand this into a FULL game with tons more quests, and fixes for all the things that bugged you!
     
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  6. Alkorri

    Alkorri Proofreading Penguin

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    I started going to the bar in the early part of the game when I was still blundering around trying to figure out how the game works. So when the main character said to 'come back earlier', I might not have been paying attention. The multiple "beer buying" part is part of the blundering around because you're still new to the game (at least for me).

    It sounds like you've got a lot planned, so I'm looking forward to the expansion. Congratulations on your submission :)

    Edit: Your signature doesn't actually link people to your contest page, only to your webpage. It might be easier for people to give you votes if you had a link directly to the contest page.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2014
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  7. Tommy Gun

    Tommy Gun ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

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    It used to, but I changed it -- votes don't really matter (except to show other people it might be a good game), and I would rather have people download the newest version so they enjoy it more! I couldn't update my contest page to let anyone know about the update, but they just changed that. My site has a link to my contest page. I guess I could put both in my signature.
     
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  8. Matseb2611

    Matseb2611 Innovate, don't emulate

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    Heya. Decided to try the game out, because the concept is really awesome and I think the way you've executed it is really nice too.

    I'll have to agree with Alkorri though in regard to the map being a bit too big and takes a while to walk to each location. But the plot is interesting and keeps you resetting each day to try out new options. One thing sort of stood out to me concept-wise. When you learn the martial arts, it says it took you a year to learn it. Wouldn't reliving the same day for a year and doing exactly the same things drive someone crazy, especially when his brother is in danger? I mean, in theory there's nothing to worry about if you can relive each day, but emotionally this is going to be quite heavy on the person.
     
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  9. Alkorri

    Alkorri Proofreading Penguin

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    Wow, Matseb2611, I never thought of it that way! It sorta tied in for me when in the endgame, Nathan angrily mentions that he's seen that man always shoot his brother so many times. That was an awesome scene, I felt.
     
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  10. Tommy Gun

    Tommy Gun ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

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    I intended to have fast-travel in the game, but ran out of time, so decided to just put it in the full game. But actually I think I'll add it to this version too.

    Absolutely. At some point though, he knows his brother will be alive again when he restarts, so he's motivated to become the best he can in order to save him. I didn't have enough time to really express that in the game.


    Nathan isn't doing *exactly* the same thing each day...the martial arts lessons are different each day because the Master sees what skill level Nathan is at, so it's kind of like learning something in real life. You can play guitar every day, but you're not playing the same song, so you don't get tired of it.


    One of the bust images of Nathan has him looking disillusioned, and I really hoped to use that more. He does get worn down, but his love for his brother, and his hatred of the thugs drives him (as Alkorri mentioned, there is a bit of that in the ending).


    Have you seen Groundhog Day? Bill Murray's character goes crazy and eventually tries killing himself in every way possible to break the cycle, but it doesn't work. Eventually he accepts his fate and focuses on helping other people. Nathan goes a bit crazy, but he's really focused on saving his brother and he knows he can (also, he's not *trapped* in the time loop, which may help a bit psychologically). Unlike Bill's character, Nathan actually has a very specific goal.
     
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  11. Matseb2611

    Matseb2611 Innovate, don't emulate

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    Yeah, I did watch Groundhog Day ages ago. That's kind of why I was wondering why Nathan wasn't going crazy from all this. Because it's not just the martial arts, it's also all the stuff prior to it. If we assume he had to do the same thing to earn a free lesson each day, it could be exhausting on the person, but you do have a good point about his drive to save his brother and hence putting up with it. Hehe. I guess whenever games or any other media introduce huge time lapses during the story, I always end up placing myself in the characters' shoes and imagining what it would feel like to experience all that time. Because for us, the audience, it's only a few seconds, but for the characters it's a lot longer.

    I'll continue playing tomorrow. Hopefully will figure out where to get the second half of that huge code.
     
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  12. Tommy Gun

    Tommy Gun ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

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    Great -- if you have any trouble let me know (or call your uncle! ;) .
     
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  13. Matseb2611

    Matseb2611 Innovate, don't emulate

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    Completed it! It feels satisfying to get to the end after managing to pull all that off. I'd say it was a pretty rewarding experience. I really like how some of the minor details are done, like the code being changed and so you can't use it on the same day but instead go back in time and use the knowledge to activate it before it was changed. Some parts did feel a bit on the trial and error side - mostly the dialogue choices, and at times those would escalate beyond what you intended (like I remember if you asked Sarah if you could wait in the office and she says no, your character instantly says he will get her fired, which is not something the player would expect from the simple option alone, but overall it was nice to try out various options to see which one worked and I generally enjoyed the game.
     
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  14. Tommy Gun

    Tommy Gun ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

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    Yeah, some of that seems unexpected (and I'll probably change a lot of it later), but the idea is that Nathan is just trying lots of different things to see what works, since he can always restart. Maybe some characters would respond to him being nice and flattering, while others would be intimidated if he yells at them. So *some* trial and error makes sense, and in the longer game it will work better because you won't just restart instantly since there are more things to do, and even if you did the fast-travel would make that less annoying. Thanks for playing!
     
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  15. Kgummy

    Kgummy Warper

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    I'm unsure of how to

    learn martial arts. I can't seem to get there before the student. And the student doesn't seem to want to leave. I've waited until after 6pm in game.
    Offering the cash doesn't seem to work, since I just get told to wait until the next day.

    There doesn't seem to be any way of getting the student to leave.

    Asking Nathan's Uncle doesn't really help since the only relevant information is "You should learn a few moves." Anything else I can talk to him about is either about puzzles I've solved, or he doesn't have anything to say about it.
    Also I came across an interesting bug.

    Getting banned from the building by trying to go further in, and calling afterwards to get Sarah out of the way results in Sarah somehow calling security whenever you enter. Despite being elsewhere.
    A more minor bug is if you cancel out of talking to Nathan's Uncle about specific memories, he has 'nothing to say' about canceling out.
     
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  16. Alkorri

    Alkorri Proofreading Penguin

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    @Kgummy

    Hint on how to learn martial arts - You have to talk to Sarah on the phone and ask about a certain family member. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you need to speak directly to Sarah and chat with her. There are several dialogue choices when speaking to Sarah, either face to face or on the phone. You just need to find the right one on a path that will eventually lead you to learn kungfu!
     
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  17. Kgummy

    Kgummy Warper

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    I've gotten to that point.

    I can get her out of the building. She won't talk about that family member outside of talking on the phone, and the only one at that is the one to get her to move. If I go over to her new location, she doesn't say anything at all. Other than "Don't bother me."

    If there's anything I can do to ask her about this family member in person (outside of using that one memory to get name/age/name of dojo) , or to do anything over the phone other than trick/ask for an appointment, I can't find it.

    I can get a weapon, I have the coordinates for the boundry teleport. I can't use said weapon to get kung fu lessons, as far as I can tell. I can't get 3k, not that it matters since bribery doesn't seem to work.
     
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  18. Alkorri

    Alkorri Proofreading Penguin

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    @Kgummy

    Okay, you don't have to get Sarah out of the building at all. What you need to do is speak to her and get her to tell you the name of her family member. Once you do, you can speak to two children near a school and there will be extra dialogue.

    Edit: Make sure to exhaust all conversation choices with Sarah and, of course, restart the day when you have to.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 14, 2014
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  19. Tommy Gun

    Tommy Gun ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

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    Alkorri pretty much answered this for you, but if you're wondering: 
    When you talk to Sarah/wait in Lobby, even without finding out her kid's name, you learn that her son is into kung-fu. If you ask about lessons, you learn he specifically goes to the Academy. Both of those are hints that he can help you get in (and if you follow her, you'll know the location of her son). I am going to adjust this part a bit, though. I also didn't add as many hints to the uncle as I wanted to.
    Sorry you waited around! I intentionally did *not* put anything in the game where you need to *wait* a long time for something to happen. Waiting isn't fun.

    Oh, good one! These are the weird combinations I tried to account for, but didn't think of/try them all. Thanks, I fixed it. Will be in the next release.

    Ah, yeah, I knew about that one and just didn't get around to changing it. Fixed it. Thanks for the reminder.
     
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  20. Indrah

    Indrah Megane Berserker

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    (link for info on why it's so short and all that jazz)




    +Neat context


    +Good writing.


    +Good concept about asking stuff from certain memories.


    -Can’t save unless you reset the day? Why?


    -The death in the intro is not dramatized much, comes across as a bit weak.


    -Some of the “steps” you have to take are not that interesting.


    -Mapping of the exterior places is hit and miss. Too many buildings with doors you can’t open, vast spaces full of nothing and overall somewhat bland design. The interiors work fine, so I assume it’s a somewhat lack of mapping experience on exteriors.


    To the developer: I can’t judge this game too much because I did not actually witness much gameplay. It seemed promising with some problems, but nothing, I think, that was dealbreaking. I liked the smart, simple characterization humor. It’s the sort of game I would have kept playing (only stream, so I’d rather not).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2014
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