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Inconsiderate Climbers

non-zero-sum local multiplayer party game · By droqen

Some feedback on the game

A topic by mgiuca created Apr 19, 2019 Views: 253 Replies: 7
Viewing posts 1 to 4

I played Inconsiderate Climbers with my brothers the other day and had a blast. I really liked the slow discovery of both the mechanics and the social constructs in the game.

Mechanics: We didn't initially realise that the various machines were doing a specific thing; we thought random stuff was just happening all the time. Once we realised the machines were doing something, it became a lot more interesting because you had incentives to use someone else's machine, or block them from using a machine. We also had a discovery moment of how to use the arrows.

Socially, we started trying to block each other from getting points, but eventually evolved into a more cooperative environment, once we established the idea that you're not trying to be the first to win, just trying to win, therefore it's OK to let others get their points as long as you aren't hurting yourself, and they might reciprocate.

It brings up an interesting thought about the whole "non zero-sum game": it's more of a mindset than a mechanical difference (it's only "non-zero-sum" because it says it is). Technically, basketball could be said to be a "non zero-sum game" since scoring a goal gives you points without deducting points from your opponent. It's only "zero sum" because you "lose" if you have fewer points than your opponent. IC looks like any other race to the top until you get a mindset of "it's OK for the other players to get points, I'm just trying to win myself," and then that opens up the entire social game (not just pure selfishness). I guess the problem is, that concept is only really communicated in-game by what happens when somebody wins (the game continues). Before I see that life goes on after somebody wins, I feel an intrinsic need to be selfish. I'm not sure how the game would best communicate that.

It's also not clear what some of the machines do, even after a lot of play. Some seem fairly random (is the 3-white-balls machine literally just "do 3 random effects"?) And some of the "disasters" seem unavoidable. The beams of light sometimes fill up the entire screen, and the rising water similarly can sometimes go all the way to the top, drowning everyone. I think those disasters should be less lethal.

I like how the different machine goals effectively give players different personalities. If you've got the lightning machine, then you're trying to hurt people and I've got a natural incentive to stop you. If you've got the heart machine, you're just trying to keep yourself alive, but you're also in natural competition with everyone else who also wants those precious hearts.

The next-level arrows are particularly good design, requiring some degree of collaboration between players. I like how N-1 players can collaborate to thwart anybody's machine activation by simply agreeing to move onto the next level before they can get to the machine.

Sound effects would definitely be good. It feels weird to play a totally silent video game.

I'm not sure the game has particular longevity. I feel like we've sufficiently explored the mechanics and there doesn't seem to be anything left to discover. Perhaps there could be some different "levels" with different machines or layouts, similar to how a racing game has different tracks.


omfg! thanks for playing w ur brothers and leaving this incredible play-by-play feedback. i need to dig into it on another day but jst wanted to say something immediately because i have a tendency to put things off.

working on a new project that is sort of building off these same themes & i'm super excited you've mentioned the "personalities" derived from character motivations.

i'm also very interested that you've mentioned longevity -- it's not something i gave a lot of thought to! i didn't design it for a group of people to play through a bunch of times, but it's definitely something worth thinking about esp. if i'm going to put a thing onto or some other platform where i'm asking for someone to Invest In It.

again tysm for the social play-by-play and for putting your heart(s) into my video game <3 i love the idea of different levels -- that sounds very doable and rich space for new social constructs, mechanical learning, etc! and i do need to put some bleepy bloopies or something in.

Developer (1 edit)

oh, v quick comment on the disasters: they're meant to be unavoidable in some cases, acting as a hard timer that doesn't look like a hard timer. i've got to think a bit harder about the design in this particular case... well, in a lot of areas of the game, but i feel genuinely rejuvenated by your post!

my next game that i think exists in similar design space is a card game that must be ready by the 11th of may, so please look forward to that. and maybe i'll find some time to spice up IC afterwards -- with your suggestions as well as whatever i learn from this other thing :3

Hi droqen. I'm very glad to have "rejuvenated" your energy on this game!

>  i love the idea of different levels -- that sounds very doable and rich space for new social constructs

FWIW what I was thinking of was less along the lines of "you finished Level 1, now on to Level 2" and more like Mario Kart or Counter Strike where there are a bunch of different levels to choose in the menu, or they just rotate around after 10 minutes or so.

Since you asked about play-by-play, I'll tell you my favourite little moment: one of my brothers and I were stuck on the top floor of the tower with no ladders down, wall on the left, high drop on the right. One of us had to jump off to push the arrows. I had 1 heart and my brother had 2, but I was on the right so I had to jump off first. We had a pushing struggle for awhile and in the end realised that if I pushed him up against the wall on the left, I could squeeze past him and he could jump off non-fatally. But in all this time, the other brother activated some machine (don't remember which) causing the one up top with me to lose his second-last heart and now one of us was forced to suicide.

Looking forward to your May 11 game!


I agree, not levels you earn or progress through, I'm thinking more or less free access to different places with distinct differences so you don't feel the grind of the same generator over and over.

Hehehe those pushing struggles. Really good story.

> oh, v quick comment on the disasters: they're meant to be unavoidable in some cases, acting as a hard timer that doesn't look like a hard timer.

Hmm, if there's going to be some disasters that kill everyone and others that are avoidable, I think I'd rather know which one is coming. Perhaps the one that's going to kill everyone should be called a "catastrophe" so that way everybody knows a big one is coming, changing up the social dynamic to "we need to get out of this level now".

As it is, I think we largely ignored the disaster timer, just reacting when they happened but not really taking any action while the timer is counting. Whereas if we knew a "catastrophe" was coming, maybe some people (with lower HP) would be more inclined to cooperate to exit the level.


Iirc you can't really escape disasters.  It's not a hard timer to keep you exiting a screen before it's up, it's a timer to more generally add pressure. The timer sticks around between screens, I think.

But still, the social dynamic of disasters could stand to be sharpened a bit :)


(Oh! And to answer one of your questions: the three dots machine activates every other machine on its floor.)