Hello there fellow game people!, im Edmund McMillen and i make
I was writing a postmortem for my recent game Time Fcuk, and
decided i try my luck and post it on here in hopes you guys might find it
Those of you who haven't played Time Fcuk please play it first
Time Fcuk Postmortem:
Time Fcuk was a game i took
on as a "weekend" project while working on Super Meat Boy and No Quarter.
William Good was a fan of the original Meat Boy and had been working on a
platformer in flash about a "bat man" who could kinda fly around a tile based
world. It was a cool prototype but the thing that really grabbed me was this
weird switching layers mechanic he had added to it. I instantly saw potential in
that mechanic and asked if this was something he would want to collaborate on.
I started to think more about multi dimensional themes in games, light
world, dark world and perspective changes. The idea has been done a million
times over but never seems to have any real subtext to the theme or message..
usually simply just a mechanic that's neato. I'd been thinking a lot about
perspective recently and how important it is to be able to see things from
different sides. You cant learn anything in life if you believe there's always
only one solution or one right answer, if you do you will eventually find
yourself stuck in a situation and break as a person.
I had recently
attended my high school reunion, it was a very strange and depressing event.
Lots of drinking, crying and sadness mostly from people who never seemed to
progress past that high school mind set, most complaining about how they felt
stuck in a situation they weren't happy with. The reunion was actually quite
disturbing to me and i drew a lot from it in Time Fcuk (especially the intro
I wanted to write about a man who was at war with himself
over his future, one side of him wanted "enlightenment" the other wanted
"comfort". and that's is essentially what Time Fcuk is all about. Every bit of
text throughout the game has substance and meaning to me, even down to the
William and I made Time Fcuk in about 9 weeks, i kept the art
very simple because i knew i didn't have much time to work on it, but i also
wanted to see if i could make a compelling game without using my artistic skills
as a crutch. It was a labor of love, and a very fun project to work on. If i
release another flash game before SMB it will be with William :).
were small things about development that i feel really helped the mood of the
game, namely the radio frequency theme. the theme came from buying new speakers
for my pc that picked up a local radio station very faintly in the background.
For the 1st month of development i believe i was actually hearing voices, and i
think that really added to the insanity factor of the theme. I was also able to
pull from the radio theme and play around with the idea of tapping into
realities that are all happening at once, different existences that are parallel
but can be tapped into by changing your frequency or perspective.
1. Mood. Im very happy with how the theme and mood came
together. i wanted TF to have a major feeling of panic, claustrophobia,
confusion and insanity. i think most people who play through it will leave with
at least one or more of these feelings.
The feel of Time Fcuk isnt
something that i can easily sum up and going into development i was a bit
worried about how id be able to execute something with the weird high and low
duality of self destruction and enlightenment. I wanted the game to be very
bleak, but also hopeful where one minute you were smiling and the next totally
creeped out. in the end i think the games ups and downs mirrored the feeling of
a mans inward fight against his own thoughts, a panicked war for his future
where the only thing holding him back from what he wants is himself.
Tech. William did an amazing job with all the online database stuff. the online
level submission was seamless and the editor very user friendly. it was a breeze
to make levels with and i think the customization of the editor give the player
almost endless ways to be creative with their levels.
3. The End. The
game ends with you having 2 options, take a pill you end your life and stay in
the box forever or find a way out. The best part about this ending is seeing how
people end it, there are the people who "get it" and right away attempt to find
a way out of the final level not listening to your future self telling you to
take the pill. but then there are the rest who simply do what they are told,
take the pill like steven tells them and end the game. I thought this was a cool
way to end the game and i think it went over really well.
4. Music. Ive
mentioned above why i thought Justin was the perfect fit for TF when it comes to
music, but really the music in TF was beyond perfect for the game. Justin did an
amazing job at understanding the theme and totally nailing down a musical score
that complemented it perfectly. i still get this weird sinking feeling in my
stomach when i hear the intro music start.
5. The Unknown. Enter the
known was a feature in TF that would allow a full game to be generated using
only user made content arranged by difficulty. William also added a feature that
would only have levels that had a "fun factor" of 2.5 or better to be chosen.
The result was awesome, not only did it give players an endless game, but also
made it so levels that might have been buried in the database a chance to get
rated and work their way up the ranks.
What went wrong:
levels. My biggest complaint about TF was a few of the levels i designed. The
game was a puzzle game, but i still felt compelled to add reflex based levels
because i thought they would add more variety, these levels became more of a
nuisance in the end and possibly took away from the puzzle/logic elements of the
over all game.
2. Alt levels. Half way through development i came up with
this amazing idea of having alt levels, so for each level you play there's a
chance you will play one of 2-3 levels, giving the game a more dynamic feel. i
came up with the idea late one night where i envisioned people playing the game
and then trying to look up hints on how to beat a level only to find no one had
played the level they are on, in hopes that they would feel "crazy". this of
course didn't have the effect i wanted, maybe a few people had a profound OMG
THE LEVEL ARE DIFFERENT FO EACH PERSON realization.. but really it was just a
lot more work for me that made things 2 times more confusing for us when trying
to fix the difficulty curve of level progression.
3. Awarding a medal
for submitting a map. This was the dumbest idea ever, within an hour we had a
few hundred maps called MEDAL GET! that consisted of a single portal. we cut
this feature out asap.
4. Pixels. Looking back i wish i had made Steven
out of pixles and not fake vector pixel art. everything else in the game is made
out of pixels so he just feels slightly out of place, but i made him before i
had a set theme and didn't have the extra time to remake all his animations in
the correct pixel style.
5. Flash limitations. This wasn't a huge issue,
but we did run into a few areas where flash just couldn't do what we wanted it
to, at least not easily. Moving platforms, turning levels and other
platforming/puzzle ideas just weren't that possible with the limitations we were
The positive side of this is the fact there are quite a
few major mechanics and ideas we came up with that could be used in a sequel.
That said, i wouldn't want to make a "sequel" to Time Fcuk, but possibly after
SMB its id like to combine it with another idea and kind of revisit it with more
of a "full game" theme.
In the end im very proud of Time Fcuk, like
Aether its one of very few games that i feel came out exactly how i saw them in
my head and actually had some personal substance to them. Time Fcuk was a
transitional game that was being written in a time where i was deciding to move
on from my current work situation because i realized i felt stuck and should
probably take my own advise and leave the box i put myself inside