It's not often that Australia wins things internationally when it comes to video games. And when it does, we should celebrate. Particularly when it's a stage as jam-packed as the Ludum Dare, one of the most established and largest game jams in the world.
The theme for the latest Dare, held in the middle of April, was shapeshift. It wasn't exactly a popular theme, but then as the organisers revealed, nothing was.
— Ludum Dare (@ludumdare) April 16, 2016
When the winning theme gets hundreds of downvotes, it's probably time for a revamp of the system.
In any case, the organisers behind the online extravaganza of rapidfire development announced the winning entries today. And the #1 game overall came from a team of 6 developers in Melbourne.
It's called The Maitre D and it's a little platformer about getting diners to their seats.
Trick is, you're a bit like a worm.
The WASD keys control your characters basic movement, while the arrow keys, Q and E are responsible for the contractions and extensions of your, uh, waiter.
The game was put together by Adrian Vaughan, Barney Cumming, Dave Lloyd, Jon Murphy, Louis Meyer and Paul Dal Pozzo. If some of those names ring a bell, it's because some of them also worked on Powerhoof's other games: the multiplayer asymmetrical dungeon crawler CRAWL and the unusual local multiplayer title, Regular Human Basketball.
The Maitre D will run on a potato, and there are builds for OSX and Linux as well. If you can, play with sound: the voice overs are weirdly entertaining, while the extensions and contractions are modelled on various balloon noises.
In a lot of ways, it's almost the ideal model for a game jam project. It's a simple idea done really well, although it's possible to crouch (which prevents you from moving) without receiving any prompts from the game.
But for a game developed from scratch over the course of three days, it's an impressive endeavour. I have an incredible amount of respect for those who put themselves through game jams, and the amount of games that go on to have a life of their own afterwards is staggering.