The Making of Ritual

The Making of Ritual

Have you ever had a day where it seemed like everything went wrong?
What about a day where it seemed like everything went right?

We’ve all had those days.

Ritual is your interface with Kaltrath, a mythological spirit who can bless or curse your day depending on how you perform his rituals. Do well, and you may receive his blessing!

When the theme for 2016’s Global Game Jam event was announced, I was in the Quantum Nano Centre at University of Waterloo, along with all of the other jammers. I was excited to get started. What could we build along the theme “Ritual”?

My first thoughts were to build a game that would be a mashup between Spy Party and Simon: Around a campfire several tribes-people would be performing a dance under the scrutinous eye of their god. The player would take control of one of the dancers and have to follow along as best they could, lest they be discovered as a fake and dispatched. It reminded me of how poorly I personally do when I have to follow along, two examples being a step class I once attended and later, Tàijíquán. The game would be harrowing but rewarding if you managed to pass under the radar.

As cool as this idea sounded, it still didn’t seem big enough. It felt gimmicky. Couple that with the fact that I wanted to work solo and I had no real way of building and animating dancers before the weekend was out, I went to bed with the intention of building something, anything, else.

ritual-kaltrath

Suddenly, it struck me: What if I got the player to perform a ritual for the game? Instead of playing a game, they themselves would be played!

I invented a god called Kaltrath. He requires time from your life, which you donate by opening the app on a schedule he demands. If you’re early or late, you are cursed. If you’re on time, you’re blessed. With Ritual, the game play actually affects your life: it breaks the fourth wall. Instead of bringing players deeper into the game, as is the intention of almost every game, this one does the reverse: it comes out of the game into reality.

Players must open the app once per day to receive their blessing. This, itself, is a ritual.

Blessings.

Ritual has been released for free on the Google Play store.

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