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The Theme! Sticky

A topic by StandOffSoftware created Sep 13, 2020 Views: 2,644 Replies: 45
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The theme of the jam is A Delusion

The protagonist's main objective must be based on a belief that is clearly and obviously false (within your game's world).

The player must know from the beginning (or near the beginning) that the belief is false. ALSO, all the other characters in the story can clearly see that the belief is false. Yet the main character stubbornly keeps the belief despite all evidence and reason to the contrary.

The main character could realize the belief is false at the very end (but not before), or could not and continue believing it through the end of the game.

A classic example of this is the story of Don Quixote, although there are many other different ways the story could go.

nice theme

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Seems rather specific. As in, apparently it requires active non player characters, excluding myst-likes. But we'll roll.

Does this include stories where whether the delusion is a delusion is ambiguous? (E.g. Fran Bow)


There is actually no requirement that there be any other characters. Just if there are, they also know the belief is false

And no, there is no ambiguity, the belief is very clearly false.

right, so no "the character is you". Thanks for the clarification.


so our game must adhere to the guidelines provided? I have ideas which fit the theme of "a delusion" but was hoping I could take it in a different direction than those you've suggested.



Yes the game must adhere to at least this much

-The protagonist's main objective must be based on a belief that is clearly and obviously false. The player must know from the beginning (or near the beginning) that the belief is false. ALSO, all the other characters in the story can clearly see that the belief is false.-

Ah, thank you for the clarification. May I ask why the theme is so specific? Is it purely to combat people from starting early?


Partly but also to jumpstart creativity.

I love it! Sounds great, there's a lot of well thought out scenes to this story that just pop into my head when i see the description.


I REALLY like this theme


In the case of multiple main characters, do they all need to be under the delusion?


Yes, I would say if there are multiple playable characters, they all need to have the false belief. Otherwise, why would the others who don't believe it keep working toward the goal? If they know they are operating under a false premise?

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That's what I'm struggling with. By the guidelines, the player DOES know they are working under a false premise. The character believes something the player knows to be false, yet in the shoes of the character is required to play along. It's a terrible dissonance.

And it's entirely possible for multiple playable characters to have concurrent or even opposing goals...

Must it be self-delusion or could it be deception, e. g. Total Recall or The Matrix? 


It can be deception for sure. It just must be clear to the player and all other characters that the character is mistaken. Only the character thinks they are right.

Do you accept full-screen lag?


I don't know what that means.

Like a game that takes up all the screen, except it's laggy because of the resolution it's taking up. Also I think I'll be submitting a demo game, and then maybe release a full game after the jam.


I still don't understand what you mean. You want to make a game that's full screen but so badly optimized that it slows down your computer??

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Sorry 馃槀

No, I mean like when I package a UE4 game, when you run it, the game will be a full screen window game. You know what I mean? And then it lags a little  (like my Project Parkour game). It won't slow down your computer, I don't think.

Also sidenote here, I am going to be making assets for my game, especially modifying some assets from the web. I'll also make a credits txt file, is that fine?

Host (1 edit)

a credits.txt file is fine if you don't have the time to make in game credits. It's a jam game after all, so there is some leeway on crediting. As long as you do it.

I really don't know what you mean about a laggy full screen game. But of course the game can be full screen and you can use any style you like as long as it's an adventure game. So what you're talking about is probably fine.

Also to be sure, will my game get reviewed and will I have feedback from you and the judges? Thanks!


The judges are not required to comment on your games, although in years past, most actually do. I always do. Scumm and Villainy will be streaming all the games.

Ah, thanks. But I realized I don't have enough time to do this jam, maybe next time. But thanks, I appreciate your help. Thanks!


I was going to participate in this jam, as I love adventure games and making adventure games, but I think the theme is a bit to specific. If the theme was just A Delusion it would be fine, but your description of that is more like an actual games interpretation of that theme. I wanted to make a first person game like Myst, since that's what I'm good at and I consider Myst the best adventure game of all time, since it practically started the genre, but now I don't know if I'll be able to do that since the only way to make your character seem to have a different idea to the player would be to have them speak. And I don't know about everyone else, but that is quite a bit of work for a jam and I don't just have some free voice actors readily available. Maybe next time the theme can be a bit less specific? The best themes for jams are when they are very broad, but still specific enough that you have to only start making the game when the theme is announced. A short phrase usually works well. Some examples of themes for jams I have participated in are "All's fair in love and war", "On the other side of the coin" and "Myths and Legends: Far away and lost". Those are very specific, but allow the game dev to interpret them in a lot of different ways and yet still be specific to the theme. Your theme seems a little restricting to the game that you can actually create, meaning a lot of the games may have similar ideas.


Yeah some people think the theme is restricting. It's actually not. I have already heard so many different creative ideas for this theme I never even thought of

Oh and Myst did not start the genre. Myst was toward the end of the golden age of adventure games. Nowhere near the beginning.


I meant to say that Myst made the genre widely popular with the general gaming community. It was the best selling game in the world for 10 years.

Host (1 edit)

Some people would say Myst is not an adventure game at all. It did not make the genre widely popular. The genre was already widely popular with games like Maniac Mansion, Kings Quest, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Day of the Tentacle, Monkey Island, etc etc etc way too many classics than I can list before Myst was even a twinkle in its designers' eyes

From Wikipedia "Myst is a graphic adventure puzzle video game". No offence, but if Myst isn't an adventure game, then I don't know what is.


Sorry I didn't mean to confuse you. Myst is.. an adventure game. Not the best example of an adventure game. At all. But it does qualify as an adventure game.

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I take the liberty of intervening here to clarify that Myst was indeed one of the first graphic adventure games with mouse gameplay, and especially the best-selling, on all possible media, becoming one of the greatest references of the genre to such point that a classification bringing together the characteristics of games in the first person, via exploration, reading and solving puzzles is officially called "mystlike".

Indeed, the genre of adventure games is divided into several categories, such as "point & click", investigation simulations, text games, and mystlike. If Myst is in no way representative of Point & clic "LucasArts or Sierra - style", it is nonetheless the largest representative of a category, and therefore remains one of the best representatives of adventure games in general. It is not a negligible game in the history of Video Games, but on the contrary an indisputable iconic cultural benchmark.

And for the rest, the last but not the least : THANK YOU for this very captivating gamejam with a strong and original theme. The challenge is there, and I couldn't imagine a better and more motivating challenge! I can't wait to see all the games made for this gamejam.


Thanks for the good clarification on that. Yes, I was mostly joking about Myst not being an adventure game. I didn't think about the fact that people less familiar with the genre might take me seriously.

But yes, Myst is definitely an adventure game and a very popular one. All I really meant to say was that Myst did not start adventure games or even make them popular. They started way before Myst and were already very popular. But I did not mean to imply that Myst was not a popular game. It certainly was. And again, yes it is an adventure game.


I like the theme, but the fact that the player must know that the character is wrong is... strange. I think it's difficult to have a player "fight" for the character if they feel like it's useless.

So, how blatantly false must the belief be? Must it be to the point that there's no chance of twist ending? Because I, as a player, would probably still keep the hope that in the end the protagonist turns out to be right.


Maybe we can leave the ending open ended?


The character cannot turn out to be right. They are clearly wrong. But there can still be many opportunities for a happy ending. There are also many opportunities for twists, just not about the character being right. The character is wrong.

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Yes, but does the player know this?

I mean, suppose I make a game where the character believes his friend is still alive despite seeing him die (and the player saw it too).

If you were to play a game where the protagonist wants to discover the truth and prove everyone that his friend is still alive, wouldn't you think "yeah, maybe in the end we discover that the friend faked his death"? Even if in the end it's clear that the friend actually died and the character was wrong all the time.


I am in total agreement with you on this. How can the player be completely sure? Even if the character sees a pig flying and everyone tells him that pigs can't fly - can the player be sure that the game is not taking place in a world where they can? Wouldn't it be natural for a player to think that the character is on to something? I do not believe that these thoughts and doubts can be avoided. The player wants to relate to the character. (in most cases at least)

"Wouldn't it be natural for a player to think that the character is on to something?" 

Not if the game makes it crystal clear that the protagonist is wrong. What you have to do as an author, is come up with a story where going through the motions and letting the main character take you by the hand and following his deception, is really interesting.


I actually based my game off of this. It's turning out well.

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I understand that the protagonist is wrong, that's fine. 

Can the protagonist know that he or she was wrong towards the end of the game?
Can he/she have that epiphany kinda like 'oh, I was wrong all this time and you guys were right'?

I think that would make for a nice redemption arc for the character, and the player would feel rewarded for 'helping out'. 


Yes, the character can find out they are wrong at the end of the game. Just not before.

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I have an idea, but the fact that "other characters must know the player character is wrong" is really hindering it. It'd be better if they're also under the same delusion.. But, you did say there's no need for other characters? Can those characters be illusions?


Very interesting theme. I now have an idea in mind. The main character is obviously wrong but he still insist that he is right until the end...thank you.

at least somebody got the idea.

Like a lot of people ;)