Neverending Nightmares developer Matt Gilgenbach spent four years working on his rhythm-based side-scroller Retro/Grade only for it to sell so poorly that it didn't recoup its costs. However, during that time the indie dev created a game that was far more successful. It didn't make him a penny, but it did land him a wife.
Developed in 2010, A Mobius Proposal is a co-op puzzle game that ends in a marriage proposal to Gilgenbach's then girlfriend - and now wife - Joanne. The game misleadingly calls itself Hammertime and sees two players navigate opposite sides of a Mobius strip, each armed with a hammer that can be used to push blocks back and forth to open up a passage for the other player on their side. In the end the players unite, somehow, and an error message comes up asking player two to replace the batteries in their controller.
Of course, this was rather odd in Gilgenbach's case as the controller was plugged in. Confused by the message, Joanne opened the battery pack anyway only to find a ring inside. The clever dog.
Furthermore, Gilgenbach had set it so when he unplugged her controller (after getting down on one knee to allegedly check the connection on her USB cable) the game progressed to a proposal screen with the prompt: "Joanne, will you marry me?" Thankfully, she chose the "Heck yes!" option rather than "No way!"
The whole scene was captured by Gilgenbach on his webcam, which he's now released as the following video.
"I'm not really sure how much my wife enjoyed it," Gilgenbach said in hindsight in a Neverending Nightmares Kickstarter update. "I was mortified she would get frustrated or bored and suggest giving up, which would have rendered months of work a waste. Because of that, I tried to explain the puzzle solutions quickly to ensure she would progress through the game. (I had to pretend like I was coming up with them on the spot.) In hindsight, I'm not sure the game was best suited for my wife's gaming interest. However, I put a lot of work into it, and I did the best I could."
That being said, Gilgenbach is proud of the game - if not enough to further develop it into a commercial product. "Despite A Mobius Proposal's lack of polish, I think it is a good game and definitely has some interesting ideas in it," he explained. "While the main purpose of the game was to express my love to my then girlfriend (now wife) and my feelings about marriage, I think more people can enjoy it than just her."
As a result, Gilgenbach is giving it away for free. It can be downloaded here.
This version of A Mobius Proposal is slightly altered as it doesn't end with the proposal itself, but rather a developer commentary of sorts in the form of a description of how the proposal went down. It also contains info about Gilgenbach's current Kickstarter for Neverending Nightmares.
Speaking of which, that could use some support in its campaign. Despite its PAX booth drawing in crowds whenever I walked by it a couple of weeks ago, the actual Kickstarter has only raised $36,243 of its $99K goal with 17 days to go before its 29th September deadline.
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