Futility RPG – a HTML5 game in a month

Published on 21st September 2013 by Colm | Post a comment

For my One Game A Month August entry I once again decided to go for a one-day gamejam a couple of days before the deadline, since it worked so well last time.

One is the loneliest number..

One is the loneliest number..

This time I didn't have any other fellow 1GAM-Dublin jammers, so I proceeded alone. Tucked myself into my man cave for a long Sunday with our theme for the month ('GIVE UP') and got stuck in.

The Idea

Thinking about 'GIVE UP' and a brilliant on-theme idea someone else in 1GAM Dublin was working on (a Sisyphus / QWOP mashup) led to my own idea. I would make a game pretending to be an oldschool DnD style RPG game, except the twist would be that the character creation process just goes ON and ON til eventually you 'give up' … and the game reveals your score (and the fact that there really is no actual game after character creation..)

Always share your idea as you start to work on it!

Always share your ideas!

The idea was when you started character creation things seemed pretty normal as you chose your race, rolled for stats, picked a name and so on. However more and more petty details would be asked of you such as your background, your personality, your childhood pet, and so on in endless detail. At all times there would be a button available to let you skip to the end of character creation, with the idea being that you would eventually get frustrated and go for it!

I was even thinking of showing a slowly raising '% complete' bar that when you finally filled to 100% would then reveal that you were only finished Section A, and then reset to 0% of Section B, for maximum frustration!

First Prototype

Since what I was building was essentially a really, really long form I decided to build it out in HTML & Javascript (yes this is also sort-of HTML5..). I quickly set up a basic title screen with some simple CSS3 animations to both make it more gamelike and, cruelly, to slow progress down as things slowly animated in one by one.


The only way to win is not to play

I used the Twitter Bootstrap framework to get stuff like nice buttons and predictable cross-browser defaults & CSS resets, then applied some basic font & colour choices on top of it. By the end a very grueling first day I had a character creation framework where the game would automatically load in new sections as you completed them, and let you proceed to the next section once you made a choice (and usually, a sub-choice). However I had only written the first question (race and sub-race) and had none of the things necessary to make this work as a concept (such as the % completion updating itself, or a game-over screen). Still, with all the animations in I could see this was going to be at least 'OK'.

Mechanical Dwarfs always oil their beards.

Mechanical Dwarfs always oil their beards.

Fleshing It Out

I managed to spend another few nights before the August 1GAM Dublin meetup, adding different types of question such as a classic Strength/Dexterity/Wisdom section where you rolled 3D6s til you were happy with your stats, plus a game over screen if you got sick of it, and a nicely animated '% Complete' bar. At this point I thought what I needed was to write a Metric Shit Ton of content for it, in the form of convoluted and ever more pointless character questions. But first it was time to show it off at the 1GAM Dublin meetup!

Just as real an illness as Nevernudity

'Smelling Things', just as real an illness as Nevernudity

Here I got a fantastic suggestion from fellow 1GAM'er John Kelly (also the one working on the Sysiphus/QWOP game..) – namely to occasionally throw up an error in the form and roll back to an earlier section. BLAM. This idea changed everything! Instead of writing a ludicrous amount of content I could ramp up the frustration factor in a much funnier way! The next day I implemented rollbacks, threw in just a few more questions and I was ready to release!


The Necromancers are incredibly vain

The Necromancers are incredibly vain

Have A Play

You can try Futility RPG in your browser right now. Yes, it is possible to win without skipping. No, the rollbacks aren't pre-decided. Yes, this is all a bit much for a joke game!


Play Now!

Check Out The Source

The full source for Futility RPG is available right here, so feel free to have a look and use it in your own projects.

Some Hilarious Feedback

I decided to share the game to the Dungeons & Dragons subreddit since I imagined it would resonate with DnD fans. Quite a lot of people tried it out, with most (rightly!) wondering what was the point of the game. The very first comment I got was just the funniest thing I've read in some time..


Step away from the keyboard, sir.

I also liked this guy, who played right through without ever hitting the joke (the frustrating rollbacks!)

This game isn't frustrating at all!

This game isn't frustrating at all!

Posted in: 1GAM, Comedy |

Thanks for reading! Now check out Guild of Dungeoneering, a game I'm making where you build the dungeon instead of controlling the hero! \o/
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  1. Source code & more for my #1GAM HTML5 game 'Futility RPG': http://t.co/2MK6IpA48b

    Posted by gambrinous on September 21st, 2013 at 7:32 pm
  2. RT @gambrinous: Source code & more for my #1GAM HTML5 game 'Futility RPG': http://t.co/2MK6IpA48b

    Posted by AltNate on September 21st, 2013 at 8:03 pm
  3. RT @gambrinous Source code & more for my #1GAM HTML5 game 'Futility RPG': http://t.co/UT91J1Uohb

    Posted by OneGameAMonth on September 21st, 2013 at 9:00 pm