Making an entire game in a weekend is a daunting affair. I vaguely remember attempting Ludum Dare (opens in new tab) once, before disintegrating a couple of hours later after drawing one terrible platformer sprite. If only we could program an AI to design - and create - games for us. Mike Cook (opens in new tab) has been doing just that for his PhD project. For her first Ludum Dare, his AI game designer ANGELINA has come up with the unsettling, albeit basic To That Sect, which you can play here (opens in new tab) . As a game it's awful, but it's worth exploring to see what fascinating design decisions ANGELINA went for when confronted with the theme 'You Only Get One' (opens in new tab) .
The goal of the game is to collect the things (in this case, floating ships for some reason) and reach the stage exit, while avoiding revolving tombs along the way. The revolving tombs constantly clip through the ground and walls, so if ANGELINA - I enjoy typing that in uppercase - is looking for feedback, I'd say...work on that. The really strange part, however, is the presence of giant statues, which appear to function as the game's oddly grandiose decoration.
As I said, it's basic stuff, but for a game created by an artificial game designer, it's impressive stuff. ANGELINA wrote the description herself (based on a template), and it's probably the most haunting part of the whole endeavour:
"This is a game about a disgruntled child. A Founder. The game only has one level, and the objective is to reach the exit (the yellow cylinder). Along the way, you must avoid the Tomb as they kill you, and collect the Ship.
"I use some sound effects from FreeSound, like the sound of Ship. Using Google and a tool called Metaphor Magnet, I discovered that people feel charmed by Founder sometimes. So I chose a unnerving piece of music from Kevin Macleod's Incompetech website to complement the game's mood.
"Let me know what you think. In future I'll put more levels into my games, and also make the mechanics more interesting."
As stated by Cook in an interview with New Scientist (opens in new tab) , ANGELINA took the word 'One' in LD28's theme to mean 'Founder', after scouring through an online database. The game's weird imagery seems to spring from that word or from resulting metaphors, though I'm a little confused how the collectible ships fit into her interpretation.
You can play or download To That Sect here (opens in new tab) . As mentioned in the above interview, Mike Cook recently got hold of an Oculus Rift - I'm looking forward to seeing how ANGELINA makes use of it in future games.
Thanks to Polygon (opens in new tab) .