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A jam submission

At The Break Of DawnView game page

Magical Girls Gina and Sakura are back in a new adventure!
Submitted by XCVG (@xcvgvcx) — 2 days, 14 hours before the deadline
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At The Break Of Dawn's page


CriteriaRankScore*Raw Score
Magical Girl Concept#53.8304.000
Theme Interpretation#93.3073.455

Ranked from 11 ratings. Score is adjusted from raw score by the median number of ratings per game in the jam.

How does your game fit the Magical Girl Genre?
Several girls with magic, and we play with the notion of a "proper" magical girl

Which theme(s) did you pick?
Phantom (primary theme)

Various references to other themes.

How does your game fit the theme(s)?
The antagonist is stealthy and mysterious, and not seen in full until the very end of the game.

Were the graphics/audio assets for your game made during the jam?
A mix of new, old but original, and third-party assets. Elaborated upon in the README file.

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Much more substantial than the first one (I know you've made another game in between, but I never got around to that one, sorry). Sakura's grown on me now, I've always enjoyed characters who stick to relentless positivity but aren't totally naive about it. Much more exciting story events this time, too, now that the setup is out of the way. Flipping through Jane's diary and learning about her was pretty interesting. The final gauntlet and confrontation was a pretty cool environment too.

For the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to shoot magic this time. I definitely pressed Q in my attempts, but nothing came out. Well, sorry creepy guys, guess you had to die. I definitely could have used some better signposting in the levels. I couldn't find the hospital for a long while. Even just a pointer to Sakura's position would have made that a lot easier. Fighting the phantom archer was also pretty frustrating considering how rapidly they changed position. I just had to aim where Sakura was shooting. But overall I had a good time!

You know, off topic, but have you ever thought of making a Deus Ex style immersive sim? It would take a LOT more work, obviously, but your level design and gameplay style makes me think of them. It's fun to imagine one set in this world.


Thanks for playing!

A Dream Of Valhalla does have Sakura and Gina in it, but it's ambiguously canon and doesn't have any important plot bits in it, so you're safe skipping that one. It was really more a dry run for the mechanics which will be in Shattered 2.

The story worked out better than I'd expected. I figured it would be pretty good, but maybe not to everyone's taste, but almost everyone seems to speak positively of the story. The diary was a bit of a gamble- I was worried in particular that it would kill the pacing- but it was a ton of fun to make and worked out well.

You're not the first one to report issues with the controls; I suspect I shipped an incorrect or incomplete control map.

I had a lot of ideas on how to make objectives clearer, but didn't implement any of them mostly because of time. I tried to make things as clear as possible with the tools I had available.

The phantom archer suppression sequence just didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped. It's aone of those things where you try something different in a jam, and sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't.

You're not actually the first one to suggest something Deus Ex like. I don't think it's likely, however. I prefer smaller projects these days- I tend to lose interest when they get too big, and it becomes stressful to have it in the background- so I don't see a large project in my future. Even Shattered 2 has grown into something bigger than I'd like.

Submitted (1 edit)

i have rated the game long time again, but to make a comment , i play it much longer and watched your playthrough twice. It's a very unique game, so unique that it's hard to figure out a viewpoint to judge this game.

As i mentioned in discord, i like the FPS magical girl game idea., and sometimes think about making one. But after staring your characters again and again, i feel your concept is more like Super Sentai (Power Ranger) than magical girl. Those kind of character designs usually have a full gear armour (but transformable like magical girl), serious weapon(guns, sword etc), and fight scene looks more painful. And magical girl usually feminine. It's just a personal view. Sometimes creativity is about breaking existing rules. Besides, my game is also one example breaking rules.

For the art style,  i like the Doom-like style. I actually paid money for some indie games like that. It's a good style that keeps things in indie scale while pushing the art and gameplay to limit. i know in normal standard, it's not pretty. but for indie game, it's more about finding an unique style to stand out. So hard to tell it's going to work or not.

For the gameplay part, I think your game's FPS mechanic is solid. the control is smooth and zero learning time for me. It will be great if there is visual/audio to make me feel i am damaging the enemies.

There is a problem i can see in this game (you also mentioned it in your playthrough),  lack of develop time. Therefore some element are not polished. As i see, your project is more like story-driven. it seems everyone like your narrative, so it is good, but it also has a drawback that it requires workload more than you can offer. For my own project, I tried to keep it resource-driven. I estimates how much work i can surely do on time, and then write a story based on it. For your game, if you change your story so it starts from protagonists finding the diary first, and merge the first section to the begining of second section. You can save your time of building one whole 3d scene.

Overall, it's a good job, especially for a game jam.


Thanks for playing!

I've been making weird "magical girl" games since the first Magical Girl Game Jam, when I started out with basically no idea about magical girls at all. This one is definitely off base in regards to mahou shoujo conventions. The closest thing to a magical girl anime that I can definitively say directly influenced it is RWBY. I've tried to work in elements that I've picked up through osmosis but it's still kind of its own thing.

I like this style but it's divisive at best, and sometimes a lot more work than you'd think. Both Takagi and Shattered 2, both already in progress, will be much the same, but I'm looking at doing something different for some future games.

I hear you about the enemies' lack of reaction. Both enemy types are kind of lame. I was somewhat limited by what I had in mind for the series in general (I think I elaborated on this in another comment) but I'm looking for ways to make things a little more interesting in subsequent games.

Even with perfect hindsight, I don't think I would have cut the first section. One of the biggest disappointments with In The Middle Of The Night (my MGGJ2 game that this one is a sequel to) is that it was hilariously short. I really wanted the game to be a decent length this time, and although the end result isn't super long I'm a lot happier with the length this time. If I was to cut the first act and merge elements of it into the third, I think the game still would have ended up too short. I'm also not sure if the story would flow as well, but I wouldn't really know that until I tried to rework it.

With that being said I knew I was pushing it for scope from the beginning. The story and concept I had in mind I felt were doable within the timeframe given, but only just. I really wanted to do this specific thing because it's a keystone for the series and I really wanted to get this one out before Takagi. Without that consideration I probably wouldn't have attempted it, and would have come up with something smaller that I knew I could comfortably finish within the timeframe.

I honestly don't know how some folks in this jam manage to make games that are long, polished, and complex. I've only ever been able to hit one, maybe two. This time, polish definitely took a backseat to length and complexity. Next time, I don't think I'm going to do the crazy genre crossing here, maybe just a visual novel. I definitely want to do more experimental stuff next year rather than mostly continuing existing things I've started which I did this year.

Submitted (1 edit)

Well, my submission this jam may have been your least favorite to date, but I can say without hesitation this is my favorite of yours to date! Not only that, but it might be my favorite submission of the jam so far! (I still have 4 left I think)

I'm a little biased toward games with story, so that may be part of it. But I found the story super engaging. I really liked the diary section, reminded me of some of my favorite visual novels. I enjoy getting to poke around, trigger dialogues, have the characters comment, etc. The story as a whole was well put together, and felt like a complete package... tough to pull off for a jam! If i had one writing criticism, sometimes the swearing and stuff felt a little overboard. But it wasn't enough to dampen my enjoyment. Also the ending I got maybe was a tad abrupt in it's redemption too (ice cream time!) but again, didn't really harm the game overall for me.(I want to note I love the SPIRIT of that ending, but maybe going straight out for ice cream... well...) I enjoyed the epilogue a lot!

Audio-wise, everything worked well!

I'm pretty used to your art style at this point, so I won't harp on it too much. I'll just say that was the low point for me. Overall, the visuals were still good enough to do what they needed. I liked the Doom-style turn arounds on the sprites! The environments were decent overall, though some of the models stuck out style-wise. (The super-shiny cars for instance)

I encountered a few small bugs, such as my character strafing off to no-where when I reached the hospital, Lily running in circles or into walls, and at one point (after picking up Lily) it felt like i was stuck staring into the sky or something... took me about 30s to find my bearings and start walking properly again. All of these didn't really cause a big issue, as the game still progressed. The one that almost got me though was in the farm house. I went into the upstairs room with the crystals on the table, and got trapped in the room by Sakura. I thought I was going to have to check my autosaves (if they exist) or start over! I ended up hitting her with the hammer (and felt bad about it) and managed to squeeze by. Not sure if the hit actually moved her or if I just finally got lucky.

One last note, I did see another comment mentioning that maybe this should have been a walking simulator or a visual novel. Honestly, I whole-heartedly disagree... I LOVE it when visual novels mix in other gameplay. In a way, this did feel like a visual novel to me, but with the added bonus of bits of action, investigation, etc. It all helped pull me into the story and events, and I think I would have liked it less without all the pieces in place.

Anyway, a long passage of text to say: Really awesome work, I loved it! Looking forward to the Xmas special! I know you're planning other things this coming year, but I do hope you pick this series back up again at some point!


Thanks for playing!

I think is probably my strongest entry to this jam (although Shattered still has a certain magic to it), so I find it reassuring that it's your favourite so far if that makes any sense. That it ranks high among the entries you've played so far is high praise I did not expect.

The story seems to be the best received part overall. I was surprised how well it came together and how well some of the later changes worked. Then again, story and storytelling was a focus area this time around. The diary was an early idea I had, but making it central to the game was something that kind of came about later. I had expected it to kill the pacing, to be honest, but that turned out not to be the case.

Although I didn't see a problem with it myself, I've heard a few complaints about the edgy, coarse language filled dialogue. I'm not going to promise future games will be milder, but the overall style and tone will vary from game to game and with it, the style of the dialogue.

The ending is abrupt because it was kind of written and implemented in a hurry. It should have been longer, it was going to have more options, and some of the dialogue was not quite there, but the clock was starting to run out by that point.

My audio is always a random mishmash of stuff from Freesound, OpenGameArt, and some other free and commercial packs. It's usually done in a hurry and works pretty well, but one of these days I'd like to do a game with exceptionally good audio.

I do wish the environment models were more consistent in style and polycount. I could probably have thrown some money at the problem, and maybe done a little better with more time.

Lily's pathfinding and getting stuck on Sakura are known issues. Pathfinding is basically nonexistent but usually okay in open-ish areas; one of these years I'll solve that general problem (knock on wood). Getting stuck on Sakura I thought was rare enough that it would never happen in practice... I forgot about Murphy's Law. I thought I'd fixed the continuing to move when hitting the hospital, but apparently I'd missed that. I'm not sure why the staring at the sky thing happened, but it certainly could. I don't actually remember if the hammer thrusts things, but it could put Sakura into her Hurting state and she might move when reentering her previous state.

Back in the first MGGJ, I spent the first week on Shattered without any plans on anything but the story sections. I knew I wanted some sort of other gameplay, though, because it seemed like such a tease to describe awesome magical powers without actually letting the player use them. That being said, I'm considering doing a more pure visual novel for MGGJ5 so I can focus on improving the dialogue system without having to worry about making the rest of the game.

I have tentative plans for a third entry in the series (not counting Takagi), though I still only have very vague ideas on what the game will actually be about. I am trying my hardest not to become Valve.


Fantastic work honestly. I was really engaged throughout, and came to actually think about the characters as interesting and involved. The diary in particular I think did a lot to bring them all to life. Though the dialogue and overall concept is perhaps a bit more like, "Image Comics takes on magical girls", I think the end result overall worked out well, especially with Sakura playing the naive one and Gina as the more down-to-earth what-the-fuck-is-going-on person (with some experience). I'm not in love with the perhaps gratuitous usage of various insults, etc, which sort of made me think the story was going to be edgier than it turned out, but I think Sakura does a lot to take the sting out of it with her unending optimism. The ending was... a little pat (I honestly thought there would be a dialogue battle or something) but the scripted sequences and the way the story was overall set-up was fantastic.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure why this was set up as a shooter; I think the style of game would have worked better almost as an adventure game or walking sim without the guns in some ways (combat aside). The interesting part was the interplay between the girls for the most part; I was perhaps the most bored when I was fighting characters, not least because they don't really flinch or have hit reactions and there's no real tactical element to that part of the game. I wasn't entirely sure what triggered the game to move on after 'firing on the archer in the forest', and I didn't figure out what the magic key was (or what the melee key was) until the farm. That said, the FPS controls and the gunplay worked relatively okay for the most part - this is coming off playing Deathloop for nearly a week straight - so I didn't have any particular issues with it either.

I have to be honest though, I really think you would benefit from teaming up with an artist. I came to enjoy the sprite rendering style in-game (it brings back memories of Duke Nukem 3D actually) but honestly, the portraits, background art, UI and suchlike was very distracting in... well, how amatuerish it looked. I was quite impressed with how much the drawings worked functionally, if that makes any sense, as backdrop or to convey certain impressions etc; but they absolutely did not work aesthetically and I think they sort of hold back the game from being as appealing as it could be. Obviously I don't know your workflow or the Unity workflow in general, but my guess is that a lot of stuff implementation wise would be pretty much 'drop this PNG in here' and a dedicated artist would do a lot to lighten that load.


Thanks for playing!

I've been honestly surprised by how well the narrative has been received, and the diary section in particular. I was very worried that the story would fall flat or come off as overly narmy, and I was concerned that the diary would kill the pacing of the game. 

The tone and manner of speaking isn't really out of line with my own experiences. I guess I associate with extremely acerbic individuals. Note though that this is somewhat determined by player choices, directly and indirectly.

A lot of the shortcomings you describe touch on things that were meant to be, but were cut for time.

I originally wanted to have a boss battle at the end, but I had to cut it for scope reasons. I really didn't want to do this, but there was just no way I could squeeze it in within the time I had left. I hadn't even started planning it and was still on the "okay, how do I make this interesting" stage. I had some ideas I felt were maybe good, but it was already I think the third week and I had a pretty long list of other stuff to get done.

There are also a few ending variations that didn't make it. You would have had a few more options in the good ending, and depending on your positivity (basically karma) may have been able to force a certain outcome regardless of Sakura's choice (keeping this intentionally vague to avoid spoilers).

In short the ending really was rushed and all of the possible gameplay in it was left by the wayside.

I realized about three quarters of the way through the jam that there was really a dearth of combat sequences and that the combat sequences that did exist were pretty uninspired. By this point the levels were built, the story was locked down, and there was little I could do about it. I wasn't happy with this, but decided to just accept that this one will be a little lame and try to do better with Takagi. It didn't cross my mind to just remove it entirely, but thinking about how the game is put together I don't think it would have been practical at that point since most the sequences were already built.

Elaborating on that I'd kind of written myself into a corner with the setting in terms of having interesting enemies. The Shades (purple ghost guys) were meant to be the main enemies but I don't find them interesting at all. I wanted human enemies, but who they can be, how powerful they can be, how many I can have, and where I can put them is pretty heavily constrained by the mostly down-to-earth setting. For instance, if I'd made the handful of skinheads into a swarm, that would raise questions like "where did these guys come from" and "why don't our protagonists get arrested for 60 counts of murder".

Takagi has a way around it, and if Suckerpunch 3 (Big Team Heavies) ever comes to pass that won't really be an issue.

The shooting into the forest section was one of those ideas that you think is interesting when you come up with it but just didn't work out in practice. During playtesting I found it tedious enough that there's a specific console command to skip it, and most of the other folks who tried it just didn't get it. I think it could have been made interesting or replaced with something more interesting, but (are you seeing the pattern here?) it was too late at that point.

The magic key is in the README and help, unless I botched the default control map which is possible. There is no melee key. I had planned to do either a kick (yup, like Duke Nukem 3D) or a weapon bash (like Halo or any modern shooter), but- surprise!- didn't have time to do it. Unfortunately I left some confusing references to that in the game.

Despite all the stuff that didn't make it in, I'm pretty happy with the stuff that did and the overall result. While it still has shortcomings, it's an improvement over its predecessor in almost every area in the way a sequel should be. Story-wise, this game is really critical for setting up the rest of the series, and I was able to get all the important plot points in. I would definitely agree that the biggest shortcomings are the abrupt ending and sparse, uninspired combat.

As for the art, yeah, I know. I'm under no illusions of it being amazing; it ranges from utterly terrible to so bad it's good at best. Thing is, I am completely hopeless when it comes to bringing people onboard on my projects, and I gave up on the notion of actually having an artist a long time ago. I do have some options available to me, but I like drawing weird janky programmer art. With all that being said, while Takagi and Shattered 2 will retain this art style, I'm looking into doing something different for some other games next year.


This was really fun to play through. The music fit the gameplay well and I loved the quick time events. The story was really engaging and searching through the diary made me feel like a detective.


Thanks for playing!

I had a lot of fun making the diary. The investigation part of the game is something that only really came together just before I started implementing it. I knew I wanted the park and farm sections but was stymied for a while on how to connect them.


Pretty good game, i enjoyed the story it was very emotional, the gameplay was fun. Good job !


Thanks for playing!

The narrative worked out better than I though it would, although it's also the part of the game that was conceived first.

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I have been following your game since your earlier entries like Shattered. The jokes and narratives are unique and has a special scent that bring me back. Nice entry overall! Enjoy every endings and got emotional in some.


Thanks for playing!


Well, this is epic. A magical girl retro-style FPS with a complete and interesting storyline, multiple endings and a good 30+ minutes of runtime. The game was relatively easy to pick up, and I was able to get through the whole story without any issues or inconveniences. That's seriously impressive for a jam game. It isn't quite as streamlined as a typical console game though, feels more like a PC game, with its README files and extensive graphics options. Bonus points for 144Hz support :)

The narrative style quickly grew on me. There's a lot of character in how the characters speak. Much of the story is really interactive (and I'm not talking about QTEs, not that they were egregious in this game). The gameplay is good, having played a few FPS games I felt right at home with the controls and most battles felt fun and not too drawn out. The story is so good that I won't talk about it, you should just play it yourself.

Visually, there is a lot of care put into the world, with tons of props, good level design and even visual gags. The characters and especially faces might be an... acquired taste. I think many people will not be able to get over the faces, and that's probably what's hurting this game the most. So that's the one thing I suggest working on.

I had not played the previous games, but I got the good ending. I enjoyed it and I'm happy to have played it.


Thanks for playing!

Overall presentation is definitely more geared toward "PCMR type who will twiddle with all the settings" with a dash of "mid-2000s freeware". This is deliberate on my part because I don't know how to do anything else.

I'm kinda surprised you were able to get 144FPS; my games tend to be shoddily coded and I really only target "60FPS on a good computer". Then again, I avoided having big swarms of monsters this time, which is usually what tanks performance on the CPU side.

The narrative turned out a lot better than expected. I've had the broad story beats in mind for a while now, but I wrote the dialogue by the seat of my pants and made some pretty late changes to the specifics of the story.

I wish I could have had more combat sections, but I ran into two issues. One was fitting it into the plot and setting: murdering 50 people will get you arrested, even in Surrey. The other was simply time. I really, really wanted to have a boss battle, but I realized that wasn't realistic in the time I had left and had to cut it. With that being said, I'm glad the combat that was in the game worked well.

I love detailed worlds. It's time-consuming, but even with a rough visual style having all those bits and pieces just makes it feel a lot more real and alive. One of my favourite old games is Duke Nukem 3D, which did this sort of things with its levels and contrasted dramatically with a lot of other games of the era.

The problem is that I really like drawing despite being terrible at it. In all seriousness, I'm well aware that the programmer art style is divisive at best. I personally like it enough that I'm not willing to abandon it, but I am planning to branch out a bit and not do every game in that style.

I'm hoping to get one more game in this series by the end of the year, a Christmas special. After that I have tentative plans for a few more, but who knows if or when they'll happen.


I'll follow up on a few points:

For a "shoddily coded" game there weren't any bugs that hindered the experience. I did bump down the settings to "Medium" I think, but it ran smoothly at 90-120 FPS which is what I consider excellent. It's definitely not very optimized, there are plenty of games with higher graphics that run way better.

As for your art, I don't think you have to abandon your current style to improve it. Study some of the basics and practice drawing from reference. Yeah it's not easy, but you can do it!

Looking forward to the Christmas special!