Crap! I’m Broke: Using Real-Life Experiences as Inspiration

Being broke and desperate for money isn’t the most enjoyable experience a person can have. Yet here at Arcane Circus we took this all too familiar situation and ran with it in our latest game. When Erik moved out of his mom’s house, he had to find a job immediately and he remembers wandering around desperately looking for “wanted” ads in windows. This is just one of the real-life experiences which defined the identity of Crap! I’m Broke: Out of Pocket.”

Recalling real life events is one thing but incorporating them into an engaging gaming experience is another. This was the design challenge of Crap! I’m Broke.

The overall feel we were looking for in the game was: funny, light-hearted, hectic and all in a universal and relatable setting. These core values influenced every aspect of Crap! I’m Broke such as art, gameplay, sound and music.

Hectic Feel

Having a foundation for the overall game experience allowed us to look back at our real-life experiences with direction. Having to do jobs to pay the bills in time was a direct inspiration for the core gameplay whilst the choice to turn the jobs into short mini-games came from wanting to emphasize the hectic feel of the game. We had to scrap lots of ideas because we couldn’t see the idea fitting the core values. Maintaining these core values was important to us throughout the creation of the game because we knew it would lead to a more unified and consistent gaming experience.


Christmas Lights

We made thorough use of both our own and our family’s job experiences for inspiration. Molly’s dad has done pretty much every job in the world. That was very useful when thinking up jobs to do in the game. He once had to untangle loads of Christmas lights in Australia in the middle of summer. The Factory mini-game in Crap! I’m Broke was directly influenced by Molly’s father. He worked in a pineapple cannery for a while. He said the noise was deafening and the pineapple juice melted his shoes. Up until this day he won’t eat pineapples because he’s still mad about the shoes.

Because we drew from common real-world situations, the subject matter of our game spoke to lots of people during testing and showcasing. Players would often talk about how they’re broke at the moment, or have been in the past, and how well the game captures that experience. The abstract art style and setting of the game meant we could focus on creating a game about the general experience of being broke, rather than a specific scenario about an individual person.

It may still suck to be broke in reality, however, the approach we took to develop Crap! I’m Broke transformed a negative real-life scenario into an engaging gaming experience.

Molly Heady-Carroll & Erik van Wees
Molly Heady-Carroll & Erik van Wees
Molly Heady-Carroll and Erik van Wees are the founders of Arcane Circus. Heady-Carroll is the artist and Van Wees the designer/developer on Crap! I'm Broke.

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