Here we go, folks. The last prototype of Amnesia Fortnight 2014! I've been looking forward to this one, so let's jump in!
[Spoiler warning] There is one spoiler in this article, in the form of a screen shot. You've been warned.
Little Pink Best Buds was one of four games pitched by Pendleton Ward.
Ward is actually a bit of an inspiration of mine and his game pitches were the deciding factor into me spending food money on Amnesia Fortnight.
So before we get into what LPBB is, let's take a look at the other three games Ward pitched.
Cupid, You Fat Little Scamp!
Cupid, You Fat Little Scamp! is a side scrolling puzzle-platformer, with possibly a little stealth involved.
This game looked hilarious and potentially very challenging. As Ward explained it, I saw this game as a bit of a mix of Gunpoint and Scribblenauts. The pitch made head buzzed with ideas of how you would need to make people fall in love with the right sort of things, to complete levels, all without getting seen or hurt.
Cupid, You Fat Little Scamp! was my third choice out of Ward's pitches.
Dammit Jerry is a game where you play Jerry, an athletic fat man who is hated by everyone but his mother, and the king.
In Dammit Jerry, the people of the kingdom are tasked with forming human pyramids for the king's pleasure. But, as we all know, the king's number one rule about human pyramids is that Jerry has to be on top.
The game seems interesting, and something I'd like to see fleshed out, but even so it was my fourth choice of Ward's pitches.
No More McDonalds
This was my top pick of Ward's pitches. Like him, I love zombies, and I loved where this game was headed.
No More McDonalds is a Human vs Zombie survival MMO, where players get to play as both sides.
The game involved features such as drastically different play styles between humans and zombies, noise radii from your actions, baby makin', construction, farming, destructible environments, dynamic quests involving real players and the ability to regain your humanity after becoming a zombie.
Even though I knew this pitch was way too ambitious for the game jam, I voted for it. I've never found a zombie MMO I really liked, and even if this game didn't hit all the ideas I've had for this sort of game, I still wanted to see it get made.
So as you can see, three crazy pitches, all with that unmistakable Pendleton Ward bend to them.
But these aren't the games we're really here to talk about. The community spoke, and the winner for Amnesia Fortnight 2014 was Little Pink Best Buds.
Prototype 4: Little Pink Best Buds
Little Pink Best Buds is a first person mystery game. I'll do my best here to keep the mystery hidden, so you can enjoy it for yourself, but what I do reveal I'll try to keep towards the end of this write up.
LPBB opens with immediate questions.
The first thing you see is a car trunk, and the objects scattered around you. Clearly you weren't its first visitor. Adorable vocal sound effects for the car's engine, breaks, footsteps, and you being removed from the trunk, accompany the scene.
As you're removed from the boot by your masked captor, you're tossed onto the ground, and watch the car rocket off into non-existence.
You look down at your gloved hand, and the controls of the game are explained to you.
This was a really cute way to explain the game to the player. It's a small touch, but I really liked it.
Left click is used to point and poke, right click lets you crouch and pressing the spacebar lets you begin typing. More on the typing later.
You push yourself to your feet, and see where you are for the first time.
Hey! Not bad! If you had to be tossed in a trunk, and thrown out into a mysterious place, at least it's pretty. Idyllic grassy hills running into the horizon, nice fluffy clouds floating through the clear sky. It could have been so much worse!
Just as you start to take in your picturesque surroundings, you hear sounds behind you…
What the… Little pink creatures? And they're coming towards you! As the titular characters approach you, they begin to call out. It seems they all want to be your best bud… Strange…
These are the Little Pink Best Buds of the game. Each bud has a unique quality. One has a heart shaped hole through their chest, another wears a pointy red hat, one is very tall, one has a big head and floats around, one is dead and another carries around a boombox playing rad tunes.
Each of the 17 unique Buds (if I counted right) is voiced by a different person. Since this is a prototype made during a game jam though, there's only one bud that you can really get into the game with.
That bud is Big Leg. And what a bud he is!
Part of why Big Leg is so awesome, is because he's voiced by Razmig Mavlian, a Double Fine vet and the person whom the main character of Psychonauts is named after. Raz works at Double Fine as an artist, animator and musician. Add to all that amazingness, his crazy cool voice and laid back personality, Raz seems like one of the coolest persons to ever be.
I'm expecting that we'll hear Raz in future episodes of Adventure Time and or Bravest Warrior. If not, I'll be sorely disappointed.
Raz brings great life to Big Leg. The character is clearly down on himself, after being treated poorly by the other Buds for having one big leg. Underneath all that is a really down to Earth (or whatever planet you've been tossed out on) Bud, who just wants to relax and have a good time with you, his new best friend.
In LPBB, you can interact with the Buds by poking them, and talking to them. The development goal of the game, in regards to the dialog system, seemed to be to implement an advanced chat bot of sorts so as to allow the Buds to respond to your written words appropriately. Similar to Façade.
Obviously we've made great steps towards artificial intelligence with things such as Siri, Cleverbot, NELL and Watson, but we're still far off from trampling the Turing Test, though we have some of our attempts beat it.
Team LPBB attempted to use the decades of research already poured into these fields, instead of trying to build a proprietary system from the ground up. However, due to the limitations we still face with computing and artificial intelligence, the implementation in LPBB isn't what we'd all want it to be.
The experience is still well worth it, even with this scientific shortcoming, and I'm still on board to hang out with Big Leg.
Chatting on with Big Leg, the other Buds seem to back off a bit. They can tell you've made your choice. Though they'll ask you to be friends with them still, if you get close to them.
Big Leg is a cool guy, ya know? He just wants to show you his cool patch of grass, which is probably the softest patch of grass around. He's cool with talking about his favorite color, and the problems he faces with his leg problems. He even cares about you, and asks if you've had any leg problems of your own. And I mean really, who hasn't?
Big Leg mentions that we can go stay in the house, since we're best buds and all. Before we do though, I want to see the rest of the world, maybe find someone else to tell me where I am, who I am, why I'm here.
We'll just go straight this direction, until we find something.
Okay… We've been walking for awhile… Still nothing…
Wait! I see something! Is that… The same house..? Why yes… yes it is… I guess this world is pretty small, and I'm here all alone with this little pink buds. Well, I guess we'll check out the house with Big Leg.
Yeah man, this house is pretty cool. I mean, it's got a stove, there's a fridge with some eggs in it. This is great.
Big Leg and I get to chatting. He's pretty chill, and the other Buds seem harmless, aside from having a little argument over me with my Bud. Big Leg cooks us some delicious eggs, and we have some juice. It's a pretty great night, we're really best buds man. I mean, I get him man. I even know his favorite color! Big Leg starts to open up, and tells me something he's never told anyone else before…
Whoa… That was really heavy… I mean, it was an accident, right? And it's in the past now… Friends tell each other about things like that… Right…? Maybe it's just the juice…
Oh well, it's been a good night. We'll see what's going on in the morning, see how the other Buds are.
[zero-context-spoiler image approacheth!]
Or maybe not…
This is where the game gets really interesting, and one reason I really love Pendleton Ward's work. Ward's love of cute and comical art styles and childish jokes, mixed with dark and mature stories and themes is always great. It's the very reason I love Adventure Time.
Adventure Time takes place in the post-apocalyptic land of Ooo. After The Great Mushroom War, the world is devastated. After a thousand years, one human remains, Finn the Human. He lives in a world now filled with talking animals, mutant candy people, magic, demons and relics of a world long forgotten.
Adventure time can get very dark at times. So much so, that there are a number of episodes I wouldn't let young children watch, if I had any.
I love art like that presents you with something seemingly inane, and then throws you for a spin as it deals with serious issues like nuclear war, love, death and Prismo, the two-dimensional wish granting being.
LPBB clearly has more lying beneath its colorful surface. These Buds are more than the chubby little cuties they appear to be and as you figure out how to reach the game's end, you see that your own personal story has some odd things going on with it.
I enjoyed the small amount there is to do in LPBB, and I'd really love to see the game expanded upon. I'm sure Ward has many more ideas on how things would play out depending upon which Bud you pick, and I want to see them all.
The LPBB team did a great job, and I hope we get to see them refine the game in the future.
And there you have it, folks. My Amnesia Fortnight 2014 series is over! I'm going to take a few more shots at landing some interviews with the leads of each game, but other than that I think it's a wrap!