A game I made with my dear friend Loren Hernandez for the Pulse-Pounding Heart-Stopping Game Jam. We call it a “physics-based dating sim.” It was important to me that we toss the idea of what’s typically considered a “dating sim” by the wayside; I didn’t want a lot of text with multiple endings and torrid affairs. I wanted to make something that accurately portrayed the feeling of dating— the frustration of trying to find someone who fits with you, the twitchy anticipation of trying to read social cues on a first date when you don’t even know what to look for, the process of finding out how you and your partner are both different people than you assumed. I hope that comes across. Rock Paper Shotgun thought it did:
While a lot of the entries I tried out ended up being – at least, to some extent – fairly literal, How To Be Happy dove headfirst into the bracing waters of gleeful abstraction. It is, however, quite excellent for it. Admittedly, it’s not the hardest metaphor to crack (over the course of history, relationships have been equated to puzzles nearly as often as they’ve been tied to teenage vampire drama), but the various stages of this one are what make it. Gentle sound effects, nerve-wracking uncertainty, frantically mashing your mouse to hold it all together. In some ways, How To Be Happy nails the feeling of dating/being in a relationship better than any dating sim. Which, I suppose, is why it’s often unfair.