Creating intrigue and mystery in gameplay
1st Place in Humor - Ludum Dare 47
3rd Place in Theme - Ludum Dare 47
Originally made for Ludum Dare 47, Loop is a satirical critique of achievement hunting and hidden content in games. Players are tasked with completing laps around a circular test track while a narrator promises them additional content for continuing to play.
Aug. 2020 -
When brainstorming ideas for Loop, I found myself studying the meta humor of The Stanley Parable. A great example of this is the Door 430 Achievement, whose description reads: "Clicking on Door 430 five times".
Since The Stanley Parable takes place in an office, Players pass by hundreds of locked doors during their play throughs of the game. Additionally, Door 430 has nothing to make it stand out, making the achievement would almost impossible to earn accidentally.
In other words, Door 430 is specifically designed for players attempting to earn an achievement.
I used this technique in Loop to tailor content to achievement hunting players, writing many of the interactions to intentionally imply the existence of hidden content.
One example of this is the 1 hour timer in Loop. It appears 1/3 of the way through the game without explanation or acknowledgement from the narrator. The timer exists to create intrigue and make the player ask questions about what may appear in the future.
Taking the theme of "Stuck in a Loop" in a very literal sense, Loop takes place in a circular room that players walk around.
After completing a loop around the room, objects may appear / change in particular places. Since I knew exactly the FOV a player would see when they completed a Loop, I was able to change large portions of the room without the user noticing.
It's no surprise that player's reactions to Loop varied wildly. Those who understood the meta-level of humor thought it was a charming Stanley Parable inspired game, while others thought it was an utter waste of time.
Loop was an interesting exercise in making a game that alienates a specific type of player. By design, Loop is meant to make fun of the arbirtary hidden content that is sometimes added to popular titles. While there are players who enjoy searching for these minor details, Loop was designed to flip the hidden content genre on it's head, promising hidden content that never appear.
On the other hand, some players developed a comedic obsession with Loop, playing it for hours despite knowing that the game had nothing else to offer.