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Game Jolt


Glorious Trainwrecks

Crawl across the ground of a bizarre garden, trying to locate piles of torn up trash on the ground. Once you've found one, take a picture (a.k.a. a screenshot), and then paste it into your favorite graphics program to develop it... which may involve putting everything back together or decoding a message.

I'm not entirely sure how I first got the idea for Flashbulb Litter Survey. It could have been that I was messing around in Graphicsgale and I thought I was using white when I was actually using a color that was one touch darker than white. I noticed that if I was looking directly at the picture, I couldn't see anything, but if my monitor was tilted down, I could see a ghostly image in it. I thought this was cool and that it would be interesting to design a game around discovering these types of images and "developing" them. It's all coming back to me now - there's no "could have been", I'm pretty sure that's how it happened.

The problem came in that if I just drew a picture and left it at that, anybody else could tilt their monitor down to immediately see what it was without any further work. In retrospect this isn't such a horrible idea, but at the time I wanted there to be more. It was unavoidable that tilting the monitor down would show SOMETHING, but there needed to be some mystery. That's how I decided the pictures should be torn up, or the messages scrambled, and the player had to put them back together.

It's a really cool game mechanic, in my opinion, that would be perfectly at home in a survival horror game or a game where you were playing a detective, etc. I don't think it could be the CENTRAL mechanic of a game like that, but bits here and there could be compelling. So that's what this ultimately is, exploring a game mechanic that could work elsewhere. A game that exists to provide ideas for other games. That makes it almost sound as if Flashbulb Litter Survey doesn't stand on its own - it does, if only for the weirdness I tried to instill in it.

I have all of the full pictures and messages intact on my hard drive, and I gave them a look before I wrote this post. I found the pictures to be pretty amusing in contrast with what the game's sort-of-creepy nature implies. A kind of punchline for anybody who goes through with piecing them back together. Is that considered a spoiler?

I had fun creating the weird garden (whose true appearance isn't shown in any .gifs or screen shots). The soundtrack was composed of me just making random sounds in Audacity and throwing them together. And I'm fond of the freaky little person crawling around the ground in their suit (which is supposed to have a camera attached to their face like goggles but I never got around to drawing it); it reminds me of the period of time where sites such as freeindiegam.es were popular and everybody seemed to be making weird alt-games. It seems that now, when there's more options than ever when it comes to sites that host games, those kinds of games don't get boosted as much as they used to except when Ludum Dare rolls around. What gives? Maybe I'm just not looking hard enough either.

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