Fugue Lounge is a narrative adventure game where you play as a gas pack bartender in a gladiatorial combat arena in an alternate nuclear 1970’s. The player talks to fighters and mixes performance-enhancing packs that will help or hinder combatants, followed by betting on their matches to make as much money as possible. It’s up to the player to decide what’s more important: helping the characters they know with their problems or getting as much money as possible.
Role: Solo Designer and Programmer
Development Cycle: 6 months, July-December 2018
Team Size: 1
Purpose: Personal project
Target Platform: PC
Includes game and preliminary documentation
Fugue Lounge is a personal project that I worked on between classes and work in my free time. I was inspired while looking at a photo exhibit titled Paris Protects its Inhabitants Against Gas Attacks by Lucien Aigner that depicted citizens of France casually shopping for gas masks during World War II. I wanted to know what a society of people might look like if gas masks were required, and I was also very inspired by the 70’s lounge aesthetic, so I decided to mash them together and create an alternate nuclear 1970’s in America. Besides an artist who did one piece of concept art for me before dropping off of the project, I was fully alone for its development.
This was my first real foray into world building and dialogue, but my goal with the project was to give the player the choice between a more fulfilling narrative or monetary success by having players guide the success and failure of the recurring characters. I wanted a game as casual and deep as VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action but wil a heavier emphasis on actual gameplay driving the player’s decisions, as money was meant to be kept tight to really force some tough decisions. The complex ingredient orders and various documents to read over were also meant to evoke the pencil-pushing minutiae of Papers, Please.
As said before, something that I learned from this project were good techniques on how to world build and write character dialogue. It’s clear that my writing isn’t great in any sense, but for a first attempt, I’d say it does its job well. I also learned how to program the game in a very data-driven way through text files, which was messy but a very satisfying sequence of events. Finally, I’d say my best skill I picked up was learning how to keep myself motivated and goal-oriented on a project that I was pushing myself to create, rather than for an assignment. I think I will work even more proficiently in independent settings after had this experience.