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A jam entry

xkcd - The BeginningView game page »

Step into Randall Munroe's shoes and build an empire on comics.
Submitted by Aron Soos (@aronsoos) with 1 day, 14 hours before the deadline

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Visit xkcd - The Beginning's game page

Results

CriteriaRankScore*Raw score
Audio#14.3754.375
Fun#14.6884.688
Overall#24.5634.563
Visuals#34.5004.500
Innovation#64.1884.188
xkcd-ness (how well it matches/interprets the comic)#184.3134.313

Ranked from 16 ratings. Score is adjusted from raw score by the median number of ratings per game in the jam.

Link to xkcd comic / 'what if' article the game is based on
https://xkcd.com/862/

Please list any pre-made art/music/other assets that you used.
Music and Sounds are licensed CC0, taken from freesound.org.

Team size

1

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Comments

(+1)

Why have a download option if it's just a link, not a file?  It would be cool to have a browser version here on itch.io sometime.

The comic it's based on is an interesting one--let's see your take on it. :)

First off, this game is gorgeous.  The pixel art is downright beautiful.  I also love the little xkcd tribute with the password.

Another clicker game in this jam!  It's actually the first one I've been able to fully complete without cheats or very long waiting, so that's nice. :) The progression is pretty steady, making xkcd bigger and bigger with various things.  You make money and become more famous with ideas; things that give more ideas give you more fame.

The clicking is odd in this game; you can't just press the mouse forever and that's it.  There's a meter on the bottom, and you need to click so that the meter fills before you click again.  It's about a second's worth of delay.  It's . . . weird, and I don't know if I fully like it, but it also creates a certain rhythm as you click and progress (especially with the music, which is a nice enough track), and I do like that.

At a certain point, it becomes much more optimal to stop investing in fame altogether and just keep making "cheap" 3-idea comics for the same amount of money as a 25-idea What If that has more fame.  And that point where investing just in money comes very quickly, so I put fame by the wayside and just focused on getting money to keep investing into xkcd.

Which brings me to my biggest problem about this game: it frames itself as a narrative about Randall Munroe, the creator of xkcd.  It is about a real person, and shows how Randal slowly built xkcd.

Unless they're a heartfelt tribute/thank you, I'm not comfortable with games about real people to begin with, or media that contains a completely fictionalized narrative of a creator (unless it's by the creator themselves, of course).  At first I thought this game was going to be a tribute to Randall Munroe's work, or something like that.  But then the actual gameplay started, and revealed that you play as Randall to build up xkcd, and then  . . . let xkcd go?

I'll ignore for a moment that this interpretation is a completely different spirit than the original comic it's based on.  We'll get to that, but here's my biggest problem with this.

The ways in which you build xkcd (the "progress clicks" you get along the way, the amount of ideas you "spend" on certain things, etc) and the fact that the game is framed as playing as the creator of xkcd, and the fact that at the very end you spend a million dollars to let xkcd go (sell it?)--well, that says something about the real Randall Munroe, even if you didn't intend to.  

What are you saying about Randall Munroe when you frame his xkcd strips as the cheapest things to create?  What does your game say when some of the ways you increase in fame is by drinking with Elon Musk?  When you frame the creation of xkcd as mainly a growing business, what commentary are you making?  When you say at the end the xkcd was created in this game by "combating procrastination", what does that say about the real xkcd?  And so on.

I'm sure this isn't what you intended, which is why I want to make you aware of it.  By putting the player in the shoes of a real person trying to grow a real comic, you frame things in a certain way and comment (somewhat negatively) on the real Randall Munroe in the process.

Other than that, the game is very different from the comic.  The comic supports letting go of the distracting, instant internet to focus on greater, more meaningful things (at least, that's how I read it).  Your game says that when you're bored and read vapid internet things, create something meaningful in both a business and a creative sense, and then let it go for a million dollars?  It's very confusing, and I find it hard to tell what you were trying to say here.

Overall I enjoyed this game, but the subtleties underneath it raise eyebrows for me.

Oh, and the fireworks at the end are nice.

Developer(+1)

Hi Naomi,

Sorry for the late response. I have read your review so many times by now, it really is astounding. Thank you so much for putting it together and taking the time to analyze the game. It is my pleasure to learn from your points. :)

Regarding the clicking: I wanted to add a straightforward explanation of the game mechanics but unfortunately I never managed to. Right before the meter fills, it turns green and if you click in that zone you get double rewards (fame or idea). This takes very little time to master and shortens the click delay while speeds up the game. This is accompanied by aural and visual feedback as well.

You mentioned the diminishing returns of fame. I failed to communicate this one too. I wish I had put a sign that says "go with fame, trust me". There is a cool unlock at 1000 fame and it is more benefitial than farming money plus it has a graphical feature as well. I imagine this was missed by so many players since there was no hope of getting anything meaningful out of fame.

Let's move to the narrative which is your main concern. What's 'Let Go'? :)

That is the title of the comic, and the alt-text explains that Randall stopped his urge to visit some sites using his impatience and laziness. After that, his computer usage was more productive. This is what I called 'combating procrastination and starting execution' since the comic justifies it.

In the game, that is the last purchasable. What does it purchase then or what does it do? I did not want to provide any explanations - I wanted the player to recognize the inverted narrative (beginning of comic, end of game) and to come up with their own theories. I do not know it for sure either. If I were asked, I would say it was the moment to realize fulfillment and accomplishment and let go of the hard work for a moment.

Lastly, a minor nitpicking: Randall is not using Elon Musk for fame. That unlockable gives idea instead, and a loooot of it, as in 'this happens when 2 geniuses sit together'. :)

I do not want to change your opinion though. I wanted to clarify some of the points but I do understand and agree with your message. I will do things quite differently next time I do a narrative. Thank you. :)

(+1)

Cool clicker mechanics, although I'm not sure what to make of the intro section with guessing the password (some reference?).

Developer(+1)

Thank you so much! The intention was to add a small explanation to the game instead of jumping in to the clicker part directly.


The password itself is indeed a reference to Randall's comic where he criticizes the password requirements and calculates that random dictionary words are much harder to crack than something that has special characters, upper case letters and numbers in it.


Another role of the password mini-puzzle is to teach the player the importance of sounds, as in the beep does something positive whilst the buzzer comes with a penalty. This is important later on with the progress bar mechanics.


All the words on the password screen are related to Randall's work, so it should set the xkcdness mood a bit.


Finally, since you log in as Randall ("Yep, that's me") this makes it obvious that the player is in Randall's boots.


Hope this explains. :)

(+2)

This game surprised me, as it was a lot more than I'd expected it to be. The art, music and plot balance was top-notch.

My video review:

(+2)

Hmm I liked it and it was INSANELY POLISHED, which I loved, buuuut the themes seemed to clash. Your taking a comic about avoiding procrastinationand turning it into a clicker game. You even acknowledged the time wasting trope usually set with clicker games by saying  "you beat this clicker game which is rare for most clicker games" I liked the music and the whole experience put me in a chill vibe and it is neat top learn someones story through basically making their decisions.  I liked it a lot yet I feel like it would be much better if you cut out the part about combating procrastination in the beginning, but overall well done! Anyway one thing I do want to mention is I'm doing a review of design on the games in this jam so here's a shameless plug to my channel if you want to be notified of the vid when released: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7Vj46GGL9VMUvd4YTMtjXg

Developer(+1)

Thank you very much for your comment! I am sincerely glad the game managed to get its messages through and that you have liked the overall experience.

The beginning is very similar to the actual comic the game was based on. I decided to take a turn and instead of showing how addictive social media is, I wanted to criticize web monetizing and advertising with their inevitable bad user experience.

The Reddit screen presents a lolcat that goes viral - something very trivial and barely serious, right? We have all seen cats before, what's the big deal? Yet the post becomes popular and if done right, it can be monetized. This should be ridiculous to Randall - he is wasting his time on the Reddit, while others simply upload a picture of their cat and make a living of it.

Bitcoin is another trigger. A currency that technology has given birth to has its questionable value skyrocketing. The opportunity has been in front of Randall the whole time, he could have come up with that - or at least realize the potential and invest in early.

Finally, the news site shows how unprofessional the wording is in many of the articles we see today - they would always catch your attention and break their promise in terms of the content. In addition, the sites are polluted by ad placements everywhere. The people behind it are not even trying hard, it is a terrible user experience, but it is not an issue anymore - they are getting paid per impression of the bazillion ads shown.

The idea was to motivate Randall by showing poor examples which are still success stories, and to justify Randall's decision to go with an online business with its infinite potential.

Cheers!

(+1)

Ok guess I misinterpreted it anyway still liked it and thanks for the reply!

My XKCD game jam analysis is out!

(+1)
Starts drawing comics...
In less than 5 minutes has earned enough money to buy SpaceX...

Just if life were that easy... Good game though

Developer(+1)

Thanks SIGSEGV!

Well, this is what happens when Elon Musk is a huge comic fan. On a serious note, the game would probably get way too boring without this exaggeration.

(Edited 1 time) (+1)

Agreed! I guess it's better this way

Developer

Are you participating too?

(+1)

Yes!