Images courtesy of Infinite Monkeys Entertainment Ltd.

Life Goes On:

Done To Death

Last modification: 28 Aug, 2017
Duration
10 mins

Four years ago, some game-loving programmers met,
At a local Edmonton Global Game Jam event
They sought to craft a game about life and death
But had only two days before the game was put to test
Although the game was plagued with bug and glitch,
The programmers received such praise for it!
From then on, the programmers set on the quest
To create their game Life Goes On: Done to Death

We talked to Erik and Ian from Infinite Monkeys Entertainment about how their ultra-fun platformer, Life Goes On came to be and how they got to the morbid but hilarious idea to use dead knights as part of the gameplay.


 
 

 

 



How did Infinite Monkeys Entertainment get started?


We all attended a local meetup for a local Global Game Jam event- an event where you make a video game over a weekend based on a theme that’s given to you. The theme for this Game Jam was the Ouroboros- an image of a snake eating its own tail. It’s a symbol of life, death and renewal and so that’s where Life Goes On came from. We really wanted to make a game that incorporate game play mechanics that reflected that theme.


Can you tell me about your creative process?


We read up on it and tossed ideas back and forth within the group; the different aspects of the theme, the different things you could do with life and death and what happens in a video game when you die. It kind of grew out of there.


Life Goes On: Done to Death, Infinite Monkeys Ent.Life Goes On: Done to Death © 2016 Infinite Monkeys Entertainment Ltd.



How did the game build up from there?


The Global Game Jam was in 2012. That first weekend led to a very buggy and broken prototype demo of the game and development work continued from there to a more polished demo. We then showed that demo to people and they were excited about it so we started building up the game. This eventually resulted in a release on Steam for Windows, Mac and Linux in 2014.


How is Done to Death different from Life Goes On?


We’ve been working on Done to Death for the last two years. It’s a major expansion and rework of the original release. We’ve added a fourth world and it has a bunch of new levels, extra challenge levels for people who really like hard puzzles. We’ve roughly doubled the play time of the game. There are new mechanics for doing crazy things with the knights including portals that let you pop up around the map and zombie knights that get up and walk around. We’ve added new unlocks for the game too so if you complete certain challenges in the game, you get rewarded with hats and weapons that the knights can randomly show up wearing. You can even spawn a knight that’s using things like a battle axe or mace or even crazier things like a guitar or rake. We also just put in a ton of polish and extra features and filled out the story to explain what’s going on. It’s actually kind of hard to talk about because we’ve been staring at it for two years and so much time and effort’s gone in to it. *Laugh*


Life Goes On: Done to Death, Infinite Monkeys Ent.Life Goes On: Done to Death © 2016 Infinite Monkeys Entertainment Ltd.



Is there a philosophical meaning behind the game?


We had a lot of fun creating this contrast between a goofy setting with cartoonish look and feel and at the same time adding a fairly serious and grim topic. We explore what it means to have these video game characters dying all the time. In Life Goes On, every knight gets their name written out in the scroll which means the video game character that just died was a real character. It’s sort of goofy but on the other hand, we ask the player to take a step back and consider the life of the character they are about to throw into a pit. We definitely had fun exploring that.


Where do you get all the names of the knights?


We did two different things. Firstly, we wrote some code to create a generator. There’s a list of first names, last names, titles, and adjectives to describe the knight. The generator can randomly pick Sir Louis the Noble or something like that. The second thing we did was to take suggestions from people that are subscribed to our mailing list. If one of our subscribers has a funny knight name or if they have something that they think is clever, we would put it in.


Do you guys have a favorite knight name?


I don’t know if it’s the best one but this one makes me chuckle. Someone at GDX suggested "Knighty McKnightFace" and I thought that was pretty funny. There’s also a special event that can happen in the game where a knight can spawn with the name ‘Sir Wilhelm’ and when Sir Wilhelm dies, you hear the Wilhelm scream.


Life Goes On: Done to Death, Infinite Monkeys Ent.Life Goes On: Done to Death © 2016 Infinite Monkeys Entertainment Ltd.



What is everybody’s role in the team?


IAN
: A lot of things. Primary I’m an artist, I have a programming background. I do modelling, animation, FX work, tools, and design.

ERIK: Similarly, a little bit of everything. On Done to Death, I’ve done a fair amount of programming. Ian and I have roughly split the level design and content in the game and I did a lot of business-related things.

David is our producer so he tries to keep things on schedule by scoping and planning. He’s done sound, sound FX work and a little of level design. Dave takes care a lot of the business side of things. He’s also done a little programming. We all have a programming background for some reason. That’s what you get when you get a team of strangers meeting at a Game Jam- you don’t really plan your role that carefully.


What does your pipeline look like?


I do modelling, UV work, and animation in 3ds Max, pop it over to Unity in FBX and start working on it from there. There’s usually some back and forth when I realize things aren’t working in Unity and go back to Max to try something else.


Can you talk about the design challenges you had in developing Done to Death?


We didn’t want the player to hit a reset button because we felt that it was, in a way, cheating.

We found it was tricky to make puzzles without these game mechanics because eventually, progress gets locked in. We ran into this tricky question of how to make interesting challenges and how to get players to think about these challenges because you can’t make a mistake and start over. It became this gameplay challenge and we had to learn a lot about how our mechanics worked and that resulted in us creating all sorts of things like taking advantage of checkpoints. You have checkpoints and that determines where the next knight is going to spawn and so in the end, we made all these crazy puzzles that involved setting the checkpoint you want and having to avoid the other checkpoints and things like that.


Life Goes On: Done to Death, Infinite Monkeys Ent.Life Goes On: Done to Death © 2016 Infinite Monkeys Entertainment Ltd.



What about modelling or animation problems?


In Done to Death, we wanted to get away from the art design issues that we had in the original game. We wanted to try something that wasn’t quite as dark as the caves and didn’t have the issues with legibility. We also wanted something that was clearly different so we settled on the idea of ominously floating islands in the sky with ancient ruins on them because that seemed interesting.

We also had this design constraint that we recognized fairly late that tools were going to be really important to us in terms of making our workflow not incredibly painful. For making our artwork, our original approach was to take a set of premade rocks and then arrange and put them together in Unity in whatever form was needed. We would also have to manually place a ton of other pieces as part of the level art process.

Doing each one of these individually was labor intensive and it was also difficult to make any changes once they were put down. So at the end of the project, we started building tools that that would allow us to make common structures like roadways or pillars procedurally assembled wherever we needed them.


What games have influenced you?


I was playing Limbo at the time, which, for me at least, was part of the whole thing with spikes. We obviously took a very different approach and a very different tone than Limbo. Also, Super Meat Boy has a couple of interesting elements that were on my mind. For example, when you’re running around in a level in Super Meat Boy, levels get covered with blood and even if you’re replaying the level, that blood sticks around so when you beat that level, you get to see all of your tries. When we were originally started talking about Life Goes On, those were the ideas that were on my mind. I think those are fairly common influences.


Life Goes On: Done to Death, Infinite Monkeys Ent.Life Goes On: Done to Death © 2016 Infinite Monkeys Entertainment Ltd.







Life Goes On: Done to Death was made using 3ds Max, the Unity game Engine, and a great sense of humor. The game is available today on STEAM and on PS4!

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