April 2013 saw Ludum Dare's 26th iteration, with the theme 'Minimalism'. I chose to spend as much time as possible polishing the visuals and audio for this competition, and chose to keep the gameplay as simple as I possibly could.
'Unessential' is a simple game of 'Rock Paper Scissors' dressed up as a Bushido sword-fight. The player moves automatically between battles, and the choices in combat are limited to three moves, 'Overhead', 'Thrust' and 'Riposte', corresponding to the three choices in Rock Paper Scissors.
The game is played on the keyboard, using U for the overhead attack, H for thrust and B for riposte. I fell into the novice gamedeveloper trap of trying to implement novel controls where simple, more familiar controls would have been a better fit. Various players bemoaned the 'terrible controls'. Novel controls might work in certain situations, and where the player is motivated to spend some amount of time with the game, but for a gamejam entry where the average player is spending a few minutes with your game at most, keeping to the standard controls would have been a more sensible choice.
Rather than making the opponents choices random, each enemy character has a preference ratio for each combat choice, which is presented to the player in the event that they lose to the opponent. Here we see that 'Uhf' has a strong preference for Thrust (scissors), and almost never uses the Riposte (paper), indicating an obvious strategy for defeating him on the next playthrough. This extends the gameplay slightly beyond the base RPS mechanic, and hopefully adds some motivation for replay.
Unessential only ranked #223rd overall of 2344 entries, but did place an acceptable #23rd in audio. Obviously I need to work on my impression of a Kabuki theatre actor (heard at the start of the video below).