What Happened to Dad? - Followup

2014-07-20 22:18:35 by ItsTheAshtray

Hey. Thanks to everyone who played and reviewed What Happened to Dad? Also, huge thanks to Tom and NG for having it featured up on the front page. 

Wall of text incoming, sorry.


First off, some people guessed that the story was based on my Dad and my life. That's true. I'm not exactly sure what I was thinking when I started working on it. It seemed like a good idea at first, and the more I worked on it and figured out which parts of the story to use, things got weird.

My dad shot himself 12 years ago. It usually doesn't feel like a big deal anymore, but working on this made me think of a bunch of depressing shit and by the time I finished the game I was totally emotionally worn out. I thought that maybe the process would be cathartic, but instead it was like I was poking old wounds.

Not just that, the idea of sharing this with other people started to seem ridiculous. When it was finished, I was embarrassed of it and didn't want to post it. I called up my buddy and explained how it felt that I was about to share this stuff with a bunch of strangers that are probably going to write stuff like "FAGGGGG" or "EMO!!!" or "THIS GAME IS GAYYYY AND SO IS YOUR DAD", and for the most part that didn't happen, which was cool. He said fuck it. Why would you care about what a bunch of strangers think?

There was something about how personal this game was that I didn't know how I would react to any review, good or bad. I started checking for that stupid star next to my username every hour. It became an anxiety inducing obession. That star meant that someone was potentially telling me that I'm a stupid asshole for complaining to the world that my stupid dad did a stupid thing. I started getting pissed that the game was still on the front page. It's one of the coolest experiences to have a game featured on the front page, but it also means that more people are going to play it. That was scary. After all, before I posted it Sunday night/Monday morning, all I wanted to do is let it rot on my hard drive and forget about it.

The Game

But, I said fuck it. I was tired and posted it. I played it the next day and read some reviews. I still didn't know how to feel. A lot of people pointed out that it wasn't a game. It is a game, but I know what they meant. It requires almost zero skill to play and there's no real win/lose condition. I wanted to have puzzles and stuff and more areas to explore, but I ran out of time. In the end, I like it just how it is.

I stayed in a depressed headspace and told the story. I make mostly joke games, and was worried that it would come across as trying to be artsy or just plain pretentious. I wanted it to be honest and I was incredibly relieved when I read the overwhelming amout of good reviews. It was crazy. I had never really made any 'art' before and wasn't really trying to do that. The fact that some people could feel what I put into this...it's unreal. So, spanks you skanks. Some people said they cried, some people said they were sad, and even most of the negative reviewers were trying to be respectful to whoever's dad that was. It was really sweet.

Also, sorry. I didn't want to make anyone sad. I also didn't want to mislead people into playing something that isn't a fun, action-packed game. I understand why you'd be pissed. If I went somewhere to play cool games and got some dreary pixelated thing where all you can do is walk, I probably wouldn't like it at all. 

Plot Holes

The game is about the 12 years or so after the suicide until now. I spent about the first 7 years isolating myself. Just kept my head down at school and played video games afterwards. It was gross and unhealthy. The rest of my family wasn't coping well either. For some reason, nobody every thought of therapy, and we're still dealing with a bunch of issues that developed from not dealing with the dead dad - the popped pops.

So, over those years I spent a bunch of time thinking about my dad - who he was and why he did what he did. The game is a metaphor for that. The character is me walking around trying to fill these holes in the story of my dad's suicide. That's what the holes are in the game - the main events that led to the big bang. The cutscenes were written in present tense through the perspective of myself as a child viewing the events. Presenting in that way was like reliving the events for me.

I think that's everything I wanted to say about it. It was a weird but awesome experience. Most of the time when making games I think: 'How will I finish this and is it worth it?' or 'Is this a stupid or unoriginal idea?'. So, the jam was perfect to shut my brain the fuck up and just make something.

Help, Please! - URL Rewriting with ?PHP?

I'm making some updates on my site - mostly SEO stuff. I was wondering if anyone had any good resources for URL rewriting. My site uses PHP to grab post data from a database and the url ends up filled with PHP stuff like:


And I'd like to create an automated way to change the URL to have the name of the post (from the database) in the URL so it would look something like:


I've played around with some stuff but can't quite figure it out - .htaccess? What the hell? Does anyone know about this kind of stuff?


I'm making a game about how celebrity news has invaded every level of our culture to the point that it's even distracting people that want nothing to do with it. But really, the game's just about climbing Jon Hamm's huge dick.

Also, follow my twitter. I have an embarrasingly low amout of followers and it'd be nice to tweet stuff that people see.

Here's a happy song after this sad week:



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2014-07-21 20:28:29

what? no comments? =o

ItsTheAshtray responds:

hai there. Yeah, I donno. Maybe this was the wrong place to leave something like this. Maybe I should have just let the thing be more mysterious. I shared so much in the game I figured I'd share about the process, too. Despite most of this being about the game and story, I was mostly interested in getting some help with the URL rewriting. OH WELL.


2014-07-21 21:45:34

You've been at Flash and animation for roughly ten years. I'm a follower of yours, because you put your heart into your work. After I played your latest game, I didn't think this story was based on true life, let alone yours. Becoming your own person, is what life's all about. Maybe by creating this game, you can go forward a bit more...

ItsTheAshtray responds:

Thanks, man. There's definitely something about putting this out that removes some barrier of fear about putting other things out. So, yeah. I'm excited about working on other stuff, more fun stuff.


2014-07-21 22:21:26

I loved the game. It was done well, though I'm tired and was irritated at first having to walk around I quickly changed my mind.

It symbolized the feelings around the situations greatly both visually and audibly.

At first I found myself sad, half way through I found myself regretting thoughts I've had, finally toward the end I found myself thankful for what I do have. And thankful that there are still people like you around to share your experiences, in ways that I could likely never manage myself.

ItsTheAshtray responds:

Wow, that was nice, thanks! I think people are pretty adaptable. Nobody would want to go through something like that, but I think most people would end up okay. Not great, but okay. And you make a good point about gratefulness, which is something I often forget about. I'm grateful for the internet. Happy Thanksgiving.