Set in the 1920s, Haywires is a puzzle game where you work as a switchboard operator frantically patching through telephone calls - only your patch cables are far too long and wobbly for this to be an easy endeavour.
Tasked with the challenge of creating a video game inspired by the theme of ‘Transmissions,’ fellow game developer and creator of Tokyo 42, Sean Wright and I took it upon ourselves to develop one of the most stress-inducing games we have made to date. Since it was only the two of us working on Haywires we split up the jobs with Sean tackling physics, programming and design, and myself handling music and audio, design, programming, and creating 3D art assets.
The aim of the game is simply to grab a coloured cable and insert it in a socket with the corresponding coloured light above it. When the wires are a tangled spaghetti in front of you, you are overwhelmed by countless patch sockets, as well as the rapidly increasing pressure of being fired, things quickly become hectic. As a result, I felt it would be appropriate to spur players on with a backdrop of some 1920’s themed electro swing music. For such a small game, I felt too much dynamic music rather than a simple loop would have only complicated the player experience. If I had more time on the project, the only change I would make would increase the intensity of the music as the level’s countdown timer is close to finishing.
In terms of sound effects, simplicity was key for the purpose of clarity in player feedback. This is seen in the sockets; you hear the small flick of a switch when a light turns on, and when you insert a wire into it, you are either rewarded with a satisfying ping of an old bell for getting it correct, or the punishing sound of an old buzzer for getting it wrong. As an extra little detail, you are also rewarded for successfully connecting calls with the soothing sound of their conversations, and scolded for failing to do so from the other end of the phone line.
See the video below for an in-game demonstration.
THINGS TO TAKE AWAY
Obviously, trying to tackle too much at once comes at a price, and the same thing is as true for a small indie game as it is for a big console title. It’s important to keep your ideas realistic and within scope in all aspects. As such, I’m pretty proud of this little project as it proved invaluable in training the skill of doing unreal amounts within a tight deadline. However, while I enjoy having the capacity to develop games in multiple disciplines, I’m not sure I will be tackling so many again, and will stick to doing what I do best - music and audio.