GMTK Jam 2020. How we created “Date Under Control”

“Date Under control” is a game about the interaction of hot buttons in the keyboard in the GMTK JAM 2020. The article describes how the idea came about, what inspired us, and how we will develop the project later.

Jam was beginning: We are looking for ideas

Our team has put a chat together in anticipation of the Jam topic.

Ludum Dare Jam showed us how important it is to have a plan when we didn't have time to play along with the competition. Everything was almost ready except the game ... it didn't work. And then it turned out that it would work for about 2 more hours.

Now we have Katya, our project manager, who helps us not to burn out and meet deadlines.

We put together a to-do list with mini-deadlines for when art, music and working build should be ready. Although plans exist in order not to fit into them - it got better. Yes, the first discussion dragged on and the working build appeared later, but we got understanding of the concept  and guidelines. So by the deadline we had a working build and a ready beautiful page with screenshots, video and motion-banner.

The emergence of an idea

So, the topic is named - out of control. The description was about something out of control, for example, about "a car without brakes" or about something annoying with inconvenient control. The main evaluation parameters are fun, originality and quality of the presentation.

The first ideas, as usual, were obvious, but we understood that until we voiced them, something original would not come to mind. In three hours we went through all the ideas. We talked about uncontrolled weeds, annoying advertisements and bananas getting rabies. We had to start over.

We thought, “What if the name is not taken literally? And if, on the contrary, LITERALLY? " After all, Control means not only control or management, but also the ctrl key on a computer keyboard. But what if you make a keyboard without control?

We keep working: Keyboard City That Never Sleeps

Everyone liked the idea of the keyboard, they decided to take it and develop it. We envisioned the keyboard as a city where the keys live, each with its own personality and relationship with other keys. We were thinking about a noir detective story or an adventure, but we realized that it was impossible to do it in two days. We also thought of the keyboard as a rocking chair, where ctrl is the trainer who teaches the rest of the keys to squat)

We were interested in the fact that the control is not used separately, but only with other keys. We also remembered that ctrl is not alone on the keyboard - it has a double on the right, which is rarely used. This is how the idea of two brothers-control and anti-date was born, where one brother wants to upset the date of the other.

Ref: Game “Mischief To Couple” is an interesting idea, so-so implementation.

Dating simulator genre, and to be precise, anti-dating simulator allowed us to tell a story about each key and show how their superpowers combine with control. In order to make it in 2 days, we decided to do without text and show a narrative story through a plot.

Stories and characters

The first character arts were schematic: keys with handles and legs. We decided to show them in comics. Comics appear at the beginning and end of the game to briefly tell you the plot. This is how we clearly showed that these are keyboard keys.

Inside the game, they decided to make the characters more human and individual. In total, we got 8 characters + 1 that did not get into the game.

Early sketches

So, let's go, the left control is macho and the soul of the company. Right control is his brother who always stands on the sidelines. One day at a party, right control notices a charming girl Q and asks her out on a date. The left control is angry and upset: “How so? Why is the best girl going on a date with her brother? " He and a group of best friends - B, C + V, X - rush after the couple in love to stop them.

lCtrl - macho, leader, soul of the company

pCtrl – an intelligent and quiet geek

Q – beautiful and smart girl

C + V is a sweet couple who are always together. Superpower: "copy" and "paste".

X is a fun guy and a kleptomaniac. Superpower: "cut".

B – mischievous, can make any object or creature "bold".

Z is a girl who loves to sleep, but at a critical moment she will always help her friends get out of a difficult situation. Ability: "rewind time."

We also worked through, but did not take into the final version:

A – girlfriend of lCtrl. Superpower: “to unite everyone”.


At first, we planned 3 levels-locations: a park, a cafe and a street with shops. But they quickly realized that it was unrealistic to draw everything for one artist in two days. We decided to move the whole action to the park and make 3 levels in it.

1. A couple enters the park and sits on a bench.

2. A couple goes on a boat trip on the lake.

3. A couple goes to a picnic.

For each level, a script and options for right and wrong actions were prescribed. But only one level was completed before the jam - the entrance to the park.


Our composer herself created all the music and made the ambient sounds. We wanted something romantic on the one hand and naughty and fun on the other. We took the main theme of Angry Birds and Cut the rope as examples.

The first versions turned out to be very beautiful, but somewhat melancholic, which did not fit the theme of the game.

As a result, it seems to us, the ideal melody has turned out: romantic, and funny, and mischievous, as well as reminiscent of a rejected, but not forgotten idea - about a noir detective story.

In addition to the main theme, we made our own sounds for each hero's superpowers, as well as music for titles and menus. We also tried to sound every event in the frame: the sound of footsteps, the sound of a falling bump.

Jam Submit

By the deadline, we had a fully working version with one location and one level ready. This was our first GMTK and our first two day jam. Out of 48 hours of jam, we spent about 16 hours discussing and approving the concept, about 24 hours creating the game itself. We are happy with the result and plan to participate in the next GMTK jams.

We really like the history of the keys, so we plan to finalize the project.

What we plan to do:

- more levels;

- visually improve the location of the park;

- fix non-obvious points that you learned about from the reviews;

- finalize the ending.

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