The game focuses on Chester K. Hobblebottom, the conductor of a newly created, fully automated, super luxury – steam locomotive. The only thing is, the train is no more automated than a self service line at a grocery store.
Chester is tasked with keeping the illusion of automation up during the maiden journey of the locomotive. To do this he must tend to the furnace, maintain the electricity generator, keep the entertainment for the guests rolling, and provide food and drink to the patrons of the train. It may sound simple, but this is no easy task. Chester is only allotted 4 breaks during the trip during which time he only has time to gulp down his favorite soft-drink – Moxie Sarsparilla. The sugar high Chester gets from drinking the fantastic beverage is enough to allow him to supercharge his abilities for a short amount of time.
Players must utilize puzzle solving along with time-management skills in order to complete the journey without being discovered by the train’s passengers.
Interested in attempting the journey yourself? Play Transcontinental Hustle on Kongregate.
Being our 2nd Ludum Dare game Paul and I went into the weekend with a better understanding of the task at hand then we did with Memento Mori. We started the project by brainstorming ideas for the topic of the dare – Ancient Technology. We discarded many initial ideas as low-hanging fruit and finally decided to think of what the term “Ancient” means in today’s society. We realized that ancient doesn’t have to mean something that happened hundreds or thousands of years ago but rather, anything that is no longer in use.
I remember Paul mentioning that rotary phones (which I grew up with) would be considered ancient by most people today. That understanding led us to our technology, which we decided was going to be a steam-locomotive.
With our technology decided we began thinking about gameplay ideas. We knew that we wanted the player to be controlling the steam-locomotive but we weren’t sure how. So, like any good designer does, we began talking about what exists, what works, and what is within the scope of our project. We discussed titles like Lovers in a Dangerous Space Time and we decided that the player was going to have to platform in order to reach the station they wanted to manipulated. We then took a page out of our own book and decided that we wanted the game to require skill, timing, problem solving, and some pattern recognition.
After that we discussed controls and player feedback. We decided to settle on a simple 6 button control scheme. Standard platformer controls, and left and right click. From there we realized that each station could have two separate actions. The complexity was there, the gameplay was there, and we were hopeful that the fun was there. So we began prototyping.
12 hours later we had a fully functioning prototype and from our initial tests, it was not only fun, it was challenging and engaging. After two days of art passes and debugging we were finally ready to submit Transcontinental Hustle.