Morning Is Broken: My Splash Jam Efforts

Unfortunately we didn’t get anywhere close to completing our Splash Jam game, tentatively entitled Morning Is Broken. We did finish most of the assets, so I might try and finish creating it myself, but I wanted to write up my narrative work in the meantime, in a vague attempt to prove to myself that I didn’t just spend two days gawping at the troll-infested beautiful mountains.


The rough idea for our 2D side-scroller was that the player would repeatedly wake up in a dream, and that things would be different every time they awoke.

Everyone’s dreams are different, of course. One teammate apparently has anxious dreams about rooms full of doors. My dreams tend towards me having to fill a swimming pool so that the giant inflatables are all floating but the chest of drawers on the pool bottom is not completely submerged, or trying to buy a train ticket only to be told that it’ll be delivered on CD in two working days.

Horses for courses.

Anyway, my team-mates initially fancied that the dreams should be quite nightmarish, but we ended up working on a more surreal angle. We all agreed on a setting so that the artists could get on with making the scenery and I ditched my laptop in favour of the pen-and-paper approach.

Mock-up of part of the Wood Room
Mock-up of part of the Wood Room. Art by Marianne Lerdahl & LaLi Ka.

The 3.5-level outline I came up with was riddled with vague references to our Norwegian jaunt and looked like this:

— LEVEL 1 —

– Awake in Bedroom

(A round analog clock is on the wall, reading midnight)

– Corridor

(A row of doors, bedroom left-most, right-most door locked)

– Theatre Room

A monster attacks you. He is the scariest monster. You cannot fight him successfully.

– Wood Room

An old man asks you a riddle relating to strawberries, prompting you to collect all the red herring in the wood.

Doing so unlocks a chest; you receive a mirror.

– Theatre Room

Showing the monster his own reflection in the mirror scares him; he cowers and drops a key.

– Corridor

The key unlocks right-most door. Cut to…

— LEVEL 2 —

– Awake in bedroom

(Clock reads 3am. There is a stuffed bear in the room.)

– Corridor

(As before)

– Wood Room

(The old man wears a red hat.)

Mirror immediately available from unlocked chest.

– Theatre Room

Monster attacks. He stops when shown mirror and admires reflection, but realises he’s lost his hat.

– Corridor

(Wood Room is now behind a different door. The old door is an inevitable broom cupboard.)

– Wood Room

(The old man has a herring on his head, not a hat.)

The old man has hidden the hat, but it is not hard to find hanging on a nearby tree.

He admits he’s bad at hiding things. He’s a bit weird.

– Theatre Room

The monster says he asked for his herring, not his hat, but it’ll do.

You ask him if he has a key. He points out that you already have one.

The mirror is now a key. Of course.

– Corridor

Key unlocks right-most door. Cut to…

— LEVEL 3 —

– Awake in bedroom.

(Clock reads 6am.)

– Corridor

(As before.)

– Wood Room

The monster is here, but thinks he’s the old man.

He’s lost his teeth.

– Theatre Room

The old man is here, but thinks he’s the monster.

He is too weak to attack you.

Some of the footlights are actually teeth; collect them.

– Wood Room

Give the confused monster his teeth.

He attacks and kills you.

Cut to…

— LEVEL 4 —

– Awake in bedroom.

(There is no clock, but instead a porthole with a view of the sea.)

– Corridor

(As before, though right-most door is not locked.)

– ‘Wood’ Room

(Porthole, green curtains, pot plats, steamer trunk, painting of herring.)

An old man is looking for his room key.

– ‘Theatre’ Room

(Porthole, red curtains, mirror on wall, man in red hat with small dog.)

A man apologises for his yappy dog.

– Corridor

Exit through right-most door to…

– Exterior

(A ship’s promenade.)

Walk to the front of the ship and watch the sunrise.


Splash AssetsRetrospectively, this was a tad ambitious, even though I had tried to keep all the mechanics simple and reuse the assets to minimise work there.

Compiling the asset list itself was new to me, as so much of what I’ve done to date has been text-based. I quickly skimmed through my outline, underlining nouns to create the asset list. One problem with this, it turns out, is that if you’ve written ‘wake up in room’ instead of ‘wake up in bed’, you tend to forget the bed artwork required. Lesson learnt.

It also hadn’t really occurred to me that I was actually designing the levels, because… trolls I have no idea. Idiocy, I suppose.

Dialogue and Other Waffle

The ensuing script is quite long as it accounts for various states (i.e. herring collected vs. not enough herring collected) so I shall just post some excerpts. You can find the rest as a text file here if you’re interested.

— LEVEL 1 —


PLAYER [If tries to exit to outside through right-most door without key]:

Locked? I’m pretty sure that’s a fire hazard.

There must be a key here somewhere.


PLAYER [If tries to open a ‘fake’ door, there is the transition and they exit from another ‘fake’ door on corridor]:



OLD MAN [on first meeting player]:

Answer my riddle and I’ll give you the key:

How many strawberries grow in the sea?



[herring can now be collected]


OLD MAN [when player has collected all the herring]:

As many red herring as grow in the wood!


I can’t believe you forgot.


Of course!

Your reward is in my chest.

[chest unlocks. player can now collect mirror from chest]


OLD MAN [if spoken to when player has unlocked chest, whether or not has mirror]:

Don’t forget to look after your teeth!


MONSTER [player has no mirror]:


[monster attacks]

MONSTER [player has mirror]:

AAAAAAAAARGH! A scary monster!

[monster cowers and drops key (maybe runs off to the right)]

Mockup of Theatre Room. Art by
Mockup of Theatre Room. Art by Marianne Lerdahl & LaLi Ka.

— LEVEL 4 —



Good morning, Amadeus.

Do you have anything planned today?


Hello! Yes, I do.

I’m going on the fishing excursion in half an hour.

That said, I need to find my room key first.

I’ve probably hidden it under a jumper or something.

I’m always losing things these days!



Morning Erik, how’s Frank finding the trip?


Oh, he’s a little monster, as usual!

He was barking at his reflection earlier—I hope we didn’t wake you!

Will you be coming to the performance later?


Of course! I’m looking forward to seeing you play.



All in all, Splash Jam was a really useful learning experience for me when it comes to writing for games, especially regarding level design and assets.

I hope I’ll find the time to make the game in the near future, even though I’m sure it’ll be quite a challenge with my meagre coding skills. I might try building it in Stencyl or GameMaker if Unity doesn’t pan out.