Warning: GAME OF THE YEAR: 420BLAZEIT contains oodles of offensive internet memes, so the gameplay video comes with a strong content warning.
Made in 7 days, for the 7DFPS game jam — where creators are encouraged to make interesting, introspective and/or outrageous games using (or subverting) first person shooter mechanics — GAME OF THE YEAR: 420BLAZEIT is a sort of postmodern parody shooter. Its full name: GAME OF THE YEAR: 420BLAZEIT vs xxXilluminatiXxx [wow/10 #rekt edition] - Montage Parody The Game, sort of says it all.
Created by Melbourne-based developer Andy Sum, it's a giant parody of FPS culture, consumerism, gamer culture, and ridiculous internet memes. It combines bro-shooter, hyper masculine empowerment tropes with weed and memes, and its stages are littered, literally, in Doritos and Mountain Dew.
Gameplay-wise, it's a relatively simple FPS where the player is comically overpowered. The stages are rooms filled with mountains of gold, cases of Mountain Dew (which you can use for cover) and hundreds of guns. Enemies randomly explode, and they're not smart. With every kill, the screen reacts with a meme of some kind — the dog from Duck Hunt, a poorly drawn Sonic animation, or a rather less safe for work variation. Sometimes, the screen erupts in utter chaos. There are flashing lights and conflicting sound clips, and the entire production is drowning in dub step.
I spoke with Sum over email, where he revealed that the game's genesis came from his time on Reddit's montage parody board.
"I just checked my game idea notebook," Said Sum of the game's origins. "The idea has been in there since June 3! I wrote 'Silly game inspired by /r/montageparodies. Silly colors and effects. Hit markers. An FPS Probably,'" said Sum.
"r/montageparodies is a sub-reddit that creates satirical parody videos, and this is where I drew most of my inspiration from."
The 7DFPS jam just happened to come at an opportune moment for Sum, who had just finished another title, Crossy Road. It was the perfect excuse to make his montage.
"When I make games I usually build them towards some kind of short movie that plays in my head," explained Sum. "And with this game, I knew exactly what I wanted it to be before I started, which was a FPS that felt fun to play, but on-top of that, [had] a whole lot of distracting, flashy, and silly graphics that made people laugh."
Calculating "Awesomeness" values
The way Game of the Year 420Blazeit works under the hood is actually fascinating. There's a lot going on to create the craziness of, well, a lot going on for the player.
"I developed lots of sub-systems and then mixed them all together to produce a somewhat procedural design that makes the game pretty crazy at times," said Sum. "For example there's a 'dubstep controller' which works out when to kick in the dubstep based on how many kills you've gotten in a row. It's linked to a few different dubstep songs which I've marked with 'drop' times, so that they kick in when the bass drops. If you haven't killed any enemies in a while, then it will fade back into some slower tracks."
Sum also created systems for movie players and text players — bits of video or .gifs, and random, meme-y text strings that pop up all over the screen at specified times.
"So with all these systems in place, it was just a matter of co-coordinating and triggering them so that they overlap in interesting ways. I use an internal "awesomeness" value which ticks up with the more enemies you kill. This is also linked to how much bloom and motion blur there is."
Deciding on Dew
The supply of memes is seemingly endless. I asked Sum how he decided what bits of internet humor he chose to put into the game, and which he left out.
"It was really just based on what I thought was funny and also what was popular at the time," said Sum. "I watched the latest montage parody videos and put in whatever made me laugh. Rainbow Frog is one of my favorites, so he went in straight away. But I also had to put Snoop Dog in last minute, because I thought it would be criminal not to include him in the game."
"I'm definitely not trying to offend anyone — apart from fedoras perhaps"
Sum described himself as a big fan of shooters, and said that he was going for a sense of laughing with, instead of laughing at the genre. "I'm not trying to make any grand statements about the genre," Sum explained. "However I do think this kind of humor as well as montage parodies are becoming more mainstream, which is perhaps why it appealed to a lot of people. And despite all the swearing in the game, I'm definitely not trying to offend anyone — apart from fedoras perhaps."
"When I make jam games I tend to base them around a specific feeling that I want to elicit in the player or a particular moment — that movie in my head. In this game I was aiming to simply elicit a "WTF" followed by lots of laughing."
GAME OF THE YEAR: 420BLAZEIT is available for free for Windows, Mac and Linux on the game's itch.io page.