SubWars – LD29


Subwars start screen

SubWars is a game I made for Ludum Dare (to give a game). A contest where people around the world create video games within a weekend. Or otherwise, a lot of coding, drawing, music making, stressing within 48 hours.

This was definitely not my first LD nor my first game jam, since I already did quite a few of those. But it was the first time that I worked with a good friend of mine, Illia Awakimjan. And the theme of this year was ‘under the surface’. Which was not the best theme I had ever seen or read about, but still OK.

We started brainstorming for a few hours, throwing ideas around about submarines and drug dealing (the game my partner ended up making). Until we came to the idea of making someone feel claustrophobic and only make them play on a single screen with as little direction as possible. The job of a submarine captain.


The goal of the game was pretty simple. Destroy all the other submarines before they sink you. However, the catch was that you could only use your trusted radar, your Morse code button and your map. And if that wasn’t enough, you also had to figure out if the other submarines were allies or enemies by figuring out their alliances. Quite the game indeed.

So complicated in fact, that no one understood our game despite its fancy graphics and sound engineering (done by Swen van Laanen, great guy by the way). We had to do a post-mortem (after death, but in this case after release) patch to include a manual what the screen was supposed to tell you.

The game flopped. Which was a shame since we had one of the most original game mechanics in the whole competition. But we learned a very important lesson that weekend. Make sure you explain your game well to your audience! And make that your first priority. Because people are easily frustrated and eager to move on to the next thing. Users are relentless. And they make us understand that we need to be better designers in the process. I am prepared!

Link hopefully coming soon!

Gameplay screenshot