As teenagers, we often act rashly, without a care about the consequences of our actions. However, small provocations do add up over time and will strain even the closest of bonds. Our families truly mean the world to us and we would never want to drift apart from them. In an effort to be more considerate and caring, we decided on the concept of our game, to hopefully encourage others to truly cherish the people who care about them, before it's too late.

However, a second equally important message focuses on regret and what can be done to combat it. Dwelling on the past is of no use. It's far more important to use that energy to mend your mistakes and carve out a better future for yourself.

What it does

Our game centers around a theme of regret and making an effort to make amends to your future, as you can't change the past. If Only is an interactive story game that is hopefully educational as well. It's a complete gameplay experience, with serious topics, detailed art, and fun minigames to keep the player's interest. While playing, you will live through someone's major regrets twice - once the way it happened and another the way they wished it happened. The vast difference in endings may be surprising, yet the final scene is the one that brings the point home.

Although we were born into our families, that doesn't guarantee that we will die with them by our sides. Our actions, words, and intentions all contribute to the overall relationships we have. It is so important that we wholeheartedly cherish those who care about us, from our families to our friends and anyone else dear to us. It's too easy to let "life" get in the way - our careers or even material goods like money oftentimes cloud our judgement. It is critical for us to be able to evaluate each of our decisions carefully, considering their potential long-term effects.

However, the final message that we wanted to convey was that all of the regrets we have, the "if only's", won't go away by wishing for the past to be undone. That is impossible. We want others to realize that the only way to move on is to seize the moment and take the necessary steps to have a better future.

How we built it

If Only is coded completely in Java and all of the pixel art was made in Aseprite. The 4 of us spent nearly 30 out of the 36 hours working on this game and definitely wouldn't have pulled it off otherwise!

Challenges we ran into

First, we had a tough time deciding on our idea, as we only started brainstorming when the hackathon began. It wook at least 2 hours just to find a general direction that we wanted to go in! Next hackathon, we will strongly consider having more brainstorming sessions before going into it, so we have at least an inkling of where we want to go.

Second, the pixel art was just too time-consuming! 3 out of 4 of us had to work on graphics, as there were quite a few detailed backgrounds and a lot of props that had to be drawn. Fortunately, we already had some experience working with pixel art, or we wouldn't have come close to finishing.

Accomplishments that we are proud of

200 is a big number. Yet somehow, our team managed to design and create more than 200 pieces of pixel art for our game within the 36 hours provided! Each of us put in so much effort into every single detail of If Only, making sure everything was well-shaded and had the right saturation. This hackathon, not only did we create more backgrounds, but we also created many more characters than our previous hack!

Additionally, we are super proud that we made a game that actually meant something to us and not just for the sake of making something. Working on a project you like feels vastly different and is relatively new to us. We will continue to seek consequential projects and causes to work on!

What we learned

When compared to our experience at our first hackathon, Hack the North went much smoother and we were more sure of ourselves throughout the process. This showed us that practice really does make perfect and that if we want to get better at something, we have to keep trying.

Another important thing that we learned is that there really is no harm in trying. We came into Hack the North with little to no expectations but ended up creating such a meaningful and detailed game. This was utterly unexpected and we couldn't have asked for more. This was a priceless experience and we all learned so much from it!

What's next for If Only

All of us plan to show the product of our hard work to our families, the true intended audience of the game. We hope that our message reaches everyone who needs to hear it and changes their lives for the better. As for our team, we will continue to participate in more hackathons and perhaps create more impactful games!

*Full walkthrough: *link

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