A play based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe

The Black Cat

The Black Cat is a game made during the Lugano Global Game Jam of 2023. The theme of that year’s jam was “Roots.”

Unlike other years we wanted to make a video game with a dark and mysterious theme, and to do so we decided to interpret the concept of root as “Root of a problem or fact,” this immediately allowed us to break away from the common imagery of the word and interpret it with a certain philosophy.

Taking a cue from Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Black Cat,” we imagined a story in which a man found himself soiled with blood, but did not know why. Thanks to the game mechanics of Memory, the protagonist could have remembered everything or failed to do so and consequently decided to hang himself, causing the game over.

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The game of Memory revisited

We had only 48 hours to carry out the project, and for speed we decided to rely on a simple game mechanic, but one that we could extend through our imagination. I am talking about the famous game of “Memory,” a game in which you proceed to place pairs of cards randomly, and with each attempt you try to find all the pairs again.

To make the game more anxiety-provoking, we introduced a time bar that would mark the maximum time to find a pair.

Whenever the player found a pair, the system would ask the player a question, which would allow the player to trace the facts that led to our protagonist being completely soiled with blood. The player initially could have only guessed, but by being careful he could have guessed the next answers.

If the player got the answer wrong, the system would place new cards on the game board, making it more difficult to complete the game. In addition to this disadvantage, a strange figure of a hanged man would slowly appear more and more as the player got the answer wrong. On the third wrong answer the game would sentence game over, having to start the game over again.

Artistic side

We wanted to make a game with a dark and mysterious art style, and to do so we decided to adopt the “Noir” style, a style that would allow us not only to be able to achieve the desired feeling, but also to be able to realize all the art elements in only 48 hours, since this style allows us to play on light and shadow and keep the degree of detail in each image contained.

There were multiple steps to reach the final result, and below we can find most of the material produced.

The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe

Making a story in 48 hours is certainly no easy feat, and added to the difficulty of creating an actual game, we could not afford the luxury of starting from scratch. These are the reasons that led us to choose a story that had the right mood for the play we wanted to make, an apt choice being Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat.”

A stark story that flows into homicidal madness, giving us the right mix to be able to set our character. Of course, including the story as told by Allan Poe was not possible, so some aspects were readjusted in order to maintain consistency in the final product.

Unlike the original story, our protagonist finds himself completely soiled with blood and cannot remember why. This and other small differences were applied to match the needs of Design.

The Global Game Jam 2023

The Global Game Jam is a worldwide competition in which you only have 48 hours to be able to make a game. These kinds of competitions are characterized by a common theme, which is unveiled each year through a video presentation.

The Global Game Jam is not a real competition; in fact, you don’t win anything at all. We can call it a competition in that it is a challenge to oneself, because making a game is no easy feat, but in 48 hours it is almost impossible to create something sufficiently complete.

In the following video Lucia Gambardella, our artistic director, will tell us about all the stages of production of this project and how the team was divided in order to achieve the result.

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For Studio MACACO, the Global Game Jam is a time for fun, learning and lightheartedness. We do not live in the moment with anxiety or frustration. Working all together, meeting new people and challenging ourselves is really important for us.