Futility RPG – a HTML5 game in a month
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.
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.
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..)
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!
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'.
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!
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!
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!
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..
I also liked this guy, who played right through without ever hitting the joke (the frustrating rollbacks!)