[SA Game Jam 2019] Vida

edited in Online Competitions & Jams
An alchemical life simulator.
Diversity, Overall
72hr entry

Game here, html5 build, please let me know if there are any issues:


I wanted to create a game about life being what you're given AND what you do with it.

Spoiler below for more thoughts on the game, but I'd prefer if you tried it out before reading the spoiler!

The framework was a simple one - the alchemy games where A+B = C, and you just keep going from there. But hoo boy simplicity is damn, damn hard.

I wanted to tackle the idea of privilege and hard work. I wanted to include aspects as gender, race, orientation, generational wealth, etc. But again, WAY too overambitious. Maybe I can whittle away at this little experiment in future, but today, we have a little janky toy that threatens to make sense but not quite :p

I spent most of my time thinking about the writing rather than programming, just as I set out to do initially, but this was definitely an overambitious project for someone who can't write. This being a 72 hour entry is pretty embarrassing in terms of how much work was done. But my brain has melted and I have to concede that writing is still too hard for me, despite having tried several writing-centric jams. I just need to do it more. Or give up :p

Even though I consider this a fail right now, I'm super grateful for the idea that has bubbled up while taking part in this jam, that would otherwise never have come to me. And THAT to me, is a big fat win. Thanks Free Lives as always for keeping this amazing now-tradition up! Here's to more jams! <3
Screenshot 2019-09-23 at 18.09.43.png
960 x 599 - 63K
Thanked by 1ashashza


  • Great concept. Tricky to grasp the relation between the inputs and result but I found it quite introspective trying to decipher and find meaning in the resulting words. :) Not a fail at all IMO. Reminds me of the game Roy from Rick and Morty.
  • Cool concept dude! Jams are all about trying out weird and quirky ideas, and I totally enjoy the more different games out there. Personally, the game didn't quite click with me, I didn't quite get what I was doing. But hey, the game doesn't have to click with everyone obviously. I would say that if you enjoy the writing portion of making games, then don't give up! Just keep going at it :P!
  • Good job on getting something out there. Thats a good step to success.
    Its a nice idea, seeing how different combinations lead to different outcomes.
    Nice minimal interface too
  • 4t0m1c said:
    Great concept. Tricky to grasp the relation between the inputs and result but I found it quite introspective trying to decipher and find meaning in the resulting words. :) Not a fail at all IMO. Reminds me of the game Roy from Rick and Morty.
    Thank you!

    Roy is a really good metaphor, so yes in a way it's like that but simplified to the Nth degree, but also with zero time, budget, or writing talent :p

    What of the story is your agency, and what is your own attribution/imagination?

    Right now the rules in the game aren't nearly tight enough to give a genuine sense of living a life (a lot of duplicate words are quite immersion-breaking, I have found, but didn't have enough time to work that out of the system) but that's like the idea!
  • Hey, I found this entry super interesting for a few reasons.

    Firstly, it felt quite satisfying to combine the boxes. "They're just 2D buttons" I kept telling myself, but there's something magical in the combining and seeing an extra thing pop out.

    Also, I found playing this with others pretty illuminating. Seeing which items people chose to combine and hearing them justify out loud why they think "spoilt" and "homeschool" are a good fit. The worlds build a story, not just within the game but also about the person we're watching play. I learnt something new about my friends playing this, that's certainly not true of all games.

    I was also surprised by the humor that emerged while playing this. At one point someone combined something like "homework" and "homework" and got "trauma", giggles followed. It was cool to see something not designed to be outright funny, with serious undertones, cause a laugh because people are in a playful state while engaging with it.

    You said "threatens to make sense but not quite" and I feel you put that really beautifully. This echoed my experience, that we were sufficiently intrigued by what was presented, it felt satisfying to play and combine items then we wanted to try understand why certain combinations produced certain results and how that tied into the lifespan / age. Ultimately we just couldn't get there but that didn't stop us trying a few times each. My intuition tells me that if you solved that last part of the puzzle, you'd have a really compelling experience.

    I really enjoyed playing this and wouldn't deem it a failure at all.
    Thanked by 1Tuism
  • @ashashza you've put into words pretty much exactly what I felt I wanted from this thing! :)

    The emergence that seemingly random words afford can be amazing. That's partly why I put the spoiler tag on my words, I noticed that not knowing how it popped out things made the experience very different. But I also wanted to acknowledge that this wasn't magic by any means, and that it's really thinly veiled if you poke at it :p

    I really wanted to refine the system and make something more robust and make sense on a tiny scale, but realised that even starting tiny, the system would be SPRAWLING. So what we have is... What we have :p

    Thank you so much for trying it and trying it so well! <3
    Thanked by 1ashashza
  • What an interesting experience!

    The game was unpredictable and I felt like I didn't really have control over the life story that was unfolding from a few blocks of text. That was part of the fun though :) I was just exploring. Some of the combinations did make a lot of sense, others much less (and they were quite funny).

    Very nice concept and the game was easy to get into (a bit harder to understand). Only minor suggestion would be to add a sound effect when blocks combine (everything looked nice and smooth though).

    Aaaand I can play it in my browser :D
  • I've briefly gone through some of the comments in this thread but thought perhaps it would be better to express my thoughts of my experience before reading too much of what's already been posted here.

    This was actually very thought-provoking and reflective for me; I found it interesting monitoring my own thoughts on the game as I played it several times through, and seeing how my internal dialogue developed. My initial experience was one of feeling like I had to discover some type of connection or figure out the answer. It kind of mirrored some of the feelings I've experienced in life of "Ok, so what must I do now? What's the 'most correct' choice to make at this time/under these circumstances?"

    I realised that after a few playthroughs I adopted different positions - having noticed the age counter right at the beginning I started from the perspective of feeling like I was raising a child and had to make the right/best choices. It felt a little confusing and sometimes a bit.. stressful even?.. seeing some of the outcomes.

    After a few playthroughs - and having read a little more of the backstory, I guess I took up a more forgiving posture. It felt more like playing through from my own perspective and coming to accept that I didn't necessarily have control over the outcomes and made me wonder about how much in our lives are we really in control of.

    After a while it did feel fairly random, sometimes ending up with many of the same buttons ie school, combining them and yet receiving different outcomes. I feel like there's a million ways to view that though. I want to say that I would have remained intrigued for longer if there were other factors introduced, such as the screen changing colour, or set combinations changes to the font - either randomly or predictably.

    Either way, I found it interesting! Great work!

    Thanked by 1Tuism
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