Final source for Intangible from Qiaochu (Mac) Li.
Final source for Intangible from Qiaochu (Mac) Li.
You’re trapped in your own room. Do you have what it takes to leave?
WASD to move, mouse to look around, click to interact.
(The Mac build is untested, and might have graphical bugs.)
You wake up in the middle of the desert in the middle of the night. You have no memory of how you got there and nothing with you but the images in your mind.
Use WASD keys to move
Use trackpad to look around
Hold down space to run
Press R at any time to restart
Artist Statement: Our piece looks to explore the heightened anxiety and stress that comes with searching with searching, uncovering but being unable to find. In addition, we want to explore how identity is pieced together by the world and people around us. As the player interacts with the strange and familiar faces lingering around the board walk, they being to uncover the identity of the child and the character they are playing it.
Z – see wallet
X – show wallet
GOAL: find the boy in the wallet, talk to others for clues – you have five minutes!!!
by Bryce Summers
Controls: Use WASD or the arrow keys to move about. Press’q’ and ‘e’ to change scenes. I might replace the q and e functionality with ‘space’ to change scenes in the future.
Description: Explore ideas and intentions as concretely manifested in 3D parametric functions of two parameters. Explore the manifolds dreams are made of. Find the center where the irregularities smooth out. Have fun. Enjoy the beauty of functions, mathematics, and movement.
From Christian Murphy,
Dear Friends! Welcome to the Beta of my new video game Stimulated: Study Drugs Kill
You have just been admitted to college. As an incoming freshman you hear school is very hard, fortunately you have your study medication! Unfortunately, everyone at this dystopic school is addicted to study drugs… and they want yours. It seems like you always have enough study drugs to hand out… but if people get close to you they will steal your entire script. Use your study drugs to stimulate them to death, so they stop asking for pills.
If you are reading this you have been chosen as a Beta tester for this project.
WASD Move your character in the various directions
CLICK Throw pill
SHIFT + WASD Run in the various direcions
!!!!! Key Mechanic: Shift + S runs backwards, to escape
SPACE (JUMP) when in air use SHIFT + WASD to glide
!!!!! You can’t sprint jump, only jump then glide in air
After your drugs have disappeared you can still explore the world, but nobody will care about you.
Hit ‘Respawn’ after all your drugs have been stolen.
If you click ‘Quit’ you will only be able to walk around campus without drugs if you play again.
CHANGING TIME OF DAY:
Because you are always awake, you can control the time of day when you do things. Simply look up to the sky by moving your cursor to the slider on the top left of the screen.
The edges are morning and night, while the center is afternoon.
HOW TO PLAY:
Use the fact that you are on drugs to your advantage. With the proper stimulation, anything is possible:
Repeatedly jump to climb mountains!
Sprint backwards to outmaneuver your foes!
Climb on top of buildings and climb the computer pieces of your mind…
…anything is possible!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
HOW NOT TO PLAY:
Look in one direction and focus on one enemy. People will sneak up behind you and take your drugs. Make sure to constantly look in all directions.
Downloading the game:
Please email me any comments or concerns …..Thanks for playing!
The Advanced Interactive Artificial Intelligence (AIAI) is a really, really mean floating red robot eye with a penchant for being mean. Attempts to destroy your belief in humanity. If you have have a soul you want to keep, don’t interact with the robot. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
How to Play
Interact with the robot by pressing little buttons as they show up.
A point-and-click adventure game (chapters 10 and 1) centralized around dialogue. It is about a child who lost their face; they end up in an unknown region to get it back. On the way, they are helped by others who lack human faces in exchange for listening to their stories.
How to play: mouse to interact, r to restart, esc to quit
This is an ongoing project. Feel free to leave feedback below so I can continue to improve it! 🙂
Who was Sal? is a tabletop game focused on collaboratively determining and writing the story of Sal, a figure whose story is yet untold. Players take turns portraying Sal and various other supporting characters in conflicts of character in Sal’s life, and through this “roundtable” storytelling, Sal’s story emerges.
The full instructions, as well as PDF files for the deck, are attached below. In short, players either control Sal or a 3rd party whose job is to influence Sal along one of two poles as the story builds to a player-defined climax.
To The Top is a 2D multiplayer platformer which allows players to compete by seeing who can get to the top of the level. All you have to do is jump up platforms. Of course, you’ll need to pay the cost of living for being a cube, as well as for any jumps. Fortunately, the world is full of opportunities to earn a living, that anyone can take advantage of. To The Top is an exploration of the idea of opportunity, and how you can succeed and win if only you work hard.
Goal: Reach the door at the top of the level.
WASD to move and jump.
M to mine.
R to reset the game.
Base jumps are available for the low, low cost of ¤20.
We also offer premium upgrades:
2nd Jump: ¤40
3rd Jump: ¤80
4th Jump: ¤160
5th Jump: ¤320
Income/Cost of Living:
Over time, you are billed for cost of living expenses, and also have income coming in.
Press H to dismiss these instructions (and bring back up if needed).
The Elevator is a reflective journey into space for a sick, old man’s dying wish.
me, myself, and I is a game about identity, sacrifice, camaraderie, loneliness, selfishness, and selflessness.
Mouse and left-click to proceed the story and choose options.
For my final project, I delivered a continuation of two previous projects, with revised scripts, dialogue, and new aesthetics from prior feedback.
Kristina Wagner and Matthew Kellogg
In this soundscape, users are invited to play a MIDI keyboard. The game takes this input and detects whether it is major or minor, pitch changes, and more. Those changes are made a part of the landscape the player explores in real time.
For example, when the user starts playing in minor, the landscape turns dark, the textures change to snow and the weather gets worse (the clouds increase and the sky darkens). By contrast, when major is played, the landscape turns into a three dimensional version of the Windows XP “Bliss” wallpaper, with bright grass and and blue sky.
Please feel free to download Windows version of the game. Regrettably, we don’t have a Mac version or a 3D printable MIDI keyboard. However, in a regular computer keyboard, the keys
ASDFGHJKL map to
BCDEFGABC and the the row above maps to the corresponding sharps and flats.
Open/Shut Case explores the narrative consequences of spatial arrangement. Play as Cora, a woman incarcerated, as she tries to reconstruct the story of her arrest and the murder of her husband. Construct your appeal, or your confession, by pinning the documents surrounding your case to your cell wall. Link important information to other important information, and discard the falsities. Uncover and form your identity in relation to your family and friends, as you recall your life before the murder.
Escape: Exit Game and Return to Menu
Click: Pick Up/ Interact
Mouse: Move Camera
Both Mac and Windows builds in this Google Drive Folder.
A dystopic College Experience For Windows and Mac:
(Sorry I couldn’t upload earlier, my computer decided to stop booting up)
This provides a demo of the current leveling, jumping, and mining mechanics. It also experiments with creating cycles, where if you reach higher levels earlier, everything else becomes easier for you, and it gets easier to level up.
I also really like the rendering/lighting style of this animation, especially the way the characters are rendered.
Here’s a link to my in-progress production schedule.
Attached is the Alpha ruleset for Sal. The goal for this week: Should be playable start to finish by an audience with minimal prodding.
Alpha includes finished world with bounding boxes, water, skybox, and terrain textures.
Simple AI: A bullying script for a pill where if you see it, it charges after you and pushes you around the map…bullying you. Will apply to many pills so that the character must always run away from the evils of drugs
Violent AI: This enemy sees you and attacks you. If you damage it, it becomes more angry and charges faster and over farther distances.
Melee: A sword attack for close range encounters.
– animation on sword swing is broken
Shooting: A bullet that travels and pierces the enemy. Causes blood spurts and damage.
Enemy Health: Allows me to change the health of the various enemies.
Lens Flare on camera
cross hair for sword and gun
PC Build: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B-oiAcuwx5Zrb1NEbmxCbmJxclk&usp=sharing
What is there: grabbing documents, posting documents on the red wall, examining documents closeup(press space to enter and exit this mode while hovering/holding document), moving documents around the wall, “flushing” documents, document’s unique subtitle commentary that is revealed after you read the document up close, lines drawn between documents.
Familiar and realistic, but with an overwhelming sense of sterility and uncanniness.
The graphics have already been made, and the mood is to be tense, sinister, and dark. This is not your average happy family robot.
AIAI possesses a movable eye, eyelids, and petals for speaking. The graphical face responder is currently capable of speaking anything through a real time text to speech system, echoed and reverberated for maximum effect.
This is a robot designed to express emotion and evoke emotion from its users. Additional features to further exaggerate emotion include smoking particle effects, changing eye color, changing background color, and expressive eyelid motions to signify intent.
The neutral color palette consists of a saturated red for the eyes, and contrasting blues for the background. There is only one eye, with rotating platforms to further accentuate AIAI’s machine construction.
When complete, AIAI will have speech recognition and will be able to respond to its user via a natural conversation. An potential additional feature includes face tracking for maximum attention.
Here are some additional references used for inspiration:
HAL 9000 (2001, A Space Odyssey)
Wheatley (Portal 2)
Sentinel (The Matrix Revolutions)
All of the tests so far have (minus the obvious jokes and distractions) tended to a somber tone. As my idea was exploring the space of projection, this is in line with what I wanted, so I’m diving further into it and taking some of the examples of funerals, orations, and otherwise existential moments from select media, preferably focusing on searches for people and explanations.
Going for a minimal theme, oriented primarily around large regions of color, and simple rectangular or polygonal shapes.
Music that’s not sad, not too uplifting, but gives a feeling of perhaps making steady progress, like in puzzle games. It’s moving, but not excited. More towards classical instruments, but with some more contemporary elements.
Has a classical feeling. Both because inequality separates out people into a “higher class”, and because inequality is a phenomenon that’s been around for virtually all of human history, since perhaps the agricultural revolution.
Echochrome II: Primary reference
Some key words:
Sky, Building, Steel, Prison, Spacious.
Audio mood board:
We’re looking to restyle our game with the low-poly aesthetic. Although, I’m considering keeping the landscape itself higher fi, but adding low-poly elements (like the trees) to help cement that aesthetic. And also because the realism we’ve attempted to achieve with the trees makes it fairly evident there are really only 4 trees…
Really well lit — makes it look almost like 2D animation rather than 3D.
When I tested the prototype, I found that a logical way to explain the game’s auto linking between documents mechanic was that the links and documents form a mental map. I’ve decided to focus on this with a subtle color coding system in the documents that highlight what paths of possible truth pertain to it. For example, if one strand of truth in the narrative is suicide (yellow), and another is satanic sacrifice(red), then a document that hints at both paths will have some subtle shades of orange. This will be made more evident in saturation changes within each document. In contrast, the environment will be mostly grays, with simple, low-poly models with low opacity textures of concrete and worn surfaces.
Benis Wars: The Tail of Weenerdog’s Son
ArtBoard: Style and Clarity
Returning to the roots- I have decided to use much less sophisticated textures for the environment. I believe that this will be less visually distracting(too much high-def pixels were hurting the eyes and distracting from level design). After working on an Imagineering project I see that using reference imagery is better than high poly rendered trees. It allows them to have a presence but not look stock or situated in reality. The degradation of drug use will permeate itself in the animal characters having very damaged and decaying bodies related to what specific drug they abuse mostuse the most.
So far I have recreated the level from scratch focusing on telling a narrative through the players exploration of the environment. I got inspiration for this change when playing the beginner’s guide and seeing that every movement should be one with purpose. This story will be one where the player goes through an exploration of several environments. The drugs will be hidden i the environments and provide boosts for our character.
Scripting – Melee script added, object health script added
Art – Dirt, sand, rock, grass, ice, and cracked earth materials added. Sword created in Maya, needle grass textures, 2 realistic grass textures
Engine – Placing textures and terrain heights for project
For Next Update:
get placeholders for the various characters
include ‘collectibles’ in the game
Implement dialogue for characters
Put sword in the game
Create colliders for the walls of the game
Robin Hunicke is an American video game designer and producer, as well as a professor of game design at UC Santa Cruz. She is probably most known as the producer of Journey, and is also the co-founder of Funomena. She is recognized for her support of independent game development, experimentation in game design, and her research in dynamic game balancy. She is also known for her advocacy of women in the game industry. Hunicke holds a B.A. from the University of Chicago and is currently finishing a PhD in Artificial Intelligence with a focus on Games/Game Design from Northwestern in her spare time.
What I find interesting about Hunicke is that I believe she does (while she does not state explicity) support the idea that games can move beyond simply entertainment and into art. Hunicke aspires to make games that mean something to people, not just to those that are fans of the game, the “gamers.” Her work on the Sims, Journey, and her recent side projects Wattam and Luna really demonstrates the way that her work has been focused on how video games relate to life.
“I want games to be an event — I want them to be a social, fun experience if they can be,” says Hunicke. “Or, I want them to be a moving, emotional experience — like one of those really intense art films that you take your secret crush to, hoping that it turns into a really awesome date.That’s what I want games to be for people. I don’t want them to be just this pasttime on the train or a way to immerse yourself so you forget about your life. I want them to be a part of your life, in a way that helps you reach new places in your life.”
As an American living in Japan, Pope dealt with immigration in his international travels and thought the experience, which he describes as “tense”, could be made into a fun game. Before release, Pope had set up a name submission form for the public, where people could submit their own names to be randomly assigned to scripted characters in the game.
Lucas’s strong technical background ensures him freedom to create innovative and complex gameplay experience.
Iterations on details make Paper, Please outstanding.
“Game designer who I want to be when I grow up”
Unfortunately this post is somewhat inhibited by the fact that I don’t actually want to become a game designer, nor am I familiar with the work of any game designer at all. However, at an aesthetic level, I’m going to revert to my favorite game: Journey
In particular, I’ll focus on Jenova Chen / Chén Xīnghàn, the lead designer behind the game. Chen received his first degree in Computer Science in Shanghai then moved to California for their interactive media programme.
His intention at the time was to use the degree to get the kind of job he wanted back in China. At USC, he became inspired when he went to the Game Developers Conference, where he positively compared the games he had made in college with the student work present at the Independent Games Festival portion of the conference.
His first “important” game was Coud. Importantly, the goal of this game was to incite emotion in the player. (Cloud’s main character is a boy who’s mind flies around while he is trapped in a hospital bed — party based on Chen’s childhood history of hospitalization owing to asthma.) This was a student game. His game not funded by academia was Flower.
His thesis topic was flOw, and it deals with flow in a game: http://www.jenovachen.com/flowingames/flowing.htm which is a beautiful game. The goal is ultimately to evolve, but the character animation etc. is reminiscent of his most famous game, Journey.
TLDR; Chen presents himself as an “Expert in Emotional Game Design.” He is more interested in inciting emotions than any other aspect of gameplay.
Recently I’ve played Digital: A Love Story and Analogue: A Hate Story, games by Christine Love. I really enjoyed these games because they allow the reader to delve into complex stories by perusing through a surplus of textual documents (in Digital, the player is using an old computer navigating early internet chat boards, and in Analogue, the player is a detective accessing logs from a spaceship where everyone died.) The mysteries and connections between characters in these stories are revealed over time as the player delves deeper into the story. I really enjoy the way her stories unfold. Her work also examines compelling themes such as relationships, technology, and feminism.
She began making visual novels in high school, though according to Love, she never planned on getting into making games. She always thought she was going to be a writer. She was majoring in English literature in university and did mostly writing projects before Digital: A Love Story. She had been writing small visual novels (one a year) and had written a novel, but nothing had given her widespread recognition. She began working on Digital: A Love Story while in college, which became her first breakout success, but she thought of it as more of a writing project. Love says she didn’t consider it a game until people started calling it a game. She began working on more interactive narratives and ultimately she dropped out of college in order to work on Analogue: A Hate Story. She’s now working on a new game Ladykiller in a Bind, which will be an erotic visual novel about social manipulation.
John Carmack is a long-time veteran of Game Development, having won a lifetime achievement award, which at the time had gone to only a handful of people including Shigeru Miyamoto. He is best known as one of the founders of Id software, and as a co-creator of Doom, along with the equally well known game designer John Romero. I read Masters of Doom, a book chronicling the creation and development of Id Sofware.
Carmack joined the industry when it was a much smaller and less mature place. He founded Id, starting off as an indie developer. There are many different reasons to their success. One was the shareware moment: instead of trying to distribute their games through retail, they went through the underground world of sharing, and games. Free demos, pay for the full game.
His success was characterized by tremendous technical achievement, and putting in a ton of work in order to achieve it. He was willing to try out numerous approaches to any problem he encountered. This, combined with working with the right people, are the simple, but deep reasons for his success.
Instead of following a specific developer, I wanted to focus on Naughty Dog and their transition from making 2-D platformers like Crash , which—were simplistic in both a narrative and gameplay elements, to triple-A story driven works like Uncharted and the Last of Us. To me, Naughty Dog’s evolution into a character and story driven works was a radical departure from their initial beginnings.
In an interview with Gamespot, Even Wells, the new director of Uncharted spoke of the studio’s decision to move away from games like Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter.
“EW: It really is the motivational factor partly, and also because we develop a franchise to really take advantage of the hardware we’re making it for. And we felt that with Jak and Daxter–the way we were doing it on a PlayStation 2–was engineered to take advantage of the PS2.”
What I found interesting, was how their development first seems to stem from the hardware first and then to the story and characters they want to tell. While they worked with stylized characters and environments for Jak X (the last main title in the franchise they worked on before moving to Uncharted), they wanted to take advantage of the PS3 graphical capabilities and make human characters.
With Uncharted, they wanted to make a game that blurred the line between video games and cinema. Richard Diamant, the lead character artist at Naught Dog at the time of this transition, talked about how the responsibility of working on a the lead characters for the game.
Heather Penn is an artist/designer working on Overland. She makes her own personal projects on the side with Unity and Maya, as well as comics. She was part of the UCLA Game Lab for a few years and worked on the game projects there, developing her 3D skills as a game artist. There’s not much information to be found on her–how she broke into the industry, for one, but I’m assuming the UCLA Game Lab had something to do with that, and Finji was apparently looking to hire atypical designers in order to not create something derivative of the developers’ old works.
She basically has what I want short term: a solid following as an online artist, working on a unique game with a good team as an artist/designer, and doing personal projects on the side. I would say there are a lot of artists out there working like this right now, but she’s just a more recent example I’ve come across.
Robin Laws is a professional game designer and writer. He has both worked on RPG systems and created RPG systems, most notably DramaSystem, and believes that tabletop games, though they’ve been around since the 70’s, are still a largely unexplored area and have much ground to till.
Robin Laws started off interested in writing from the early age of 4. Growing up, he became interested in theater, and made his own writing program in college based on film and theater. At the same time, through high school and college, Laws became fascinated with tabletop RPGs. He wrote settings for the various tabletop games he played, and by publishing these he became known to the game design world of the time. Through the connections he developed as assistant writers in this capacity, he eventually expanded his influence, releasing games based on his idea of telling emotional stories rather than procedural ones. As he wrote up more theory, eventually people began to ask him to collaborate on projects and ideas. This eventually culminated in DramaSystem and Hillfolk.
Taken by the idea that tabletop RPGs could be used not only to keep a persistent character (as was the original motivation), but also to jump around and play various scenes, Laws designed Hillfolk. Unlike D&D and other similar tabletops, in Hillfolk, players take turns calling scenes and inserting characters into those scenes. Character creation is informed by “poles”, which relate to his idea of Grand Argument Theory (present in much of his writings) that states that characters are primarily defined by their support or opposition to themes and positions in a story. This system is only the start, Laws feels, of the emerging tabletop tradition of more story focused gameplay.
Laws’s interest in the tabletop space stems from the idea that they tend to be more closely collaborative than video game RPGs. Especially with the recent moves away from “couch co-op”, tabletop RPGs bring a measure of closeness that is often lost in video gaming. Seeing the continued development of tabletops and emerging popularity of more niche systems, Laws is also excited to see how technology will influence the tabletop space. He’s currently attempting to plan a way to use tablets and other devices to resolve the actions that are typically settled by dice to bring even more immediacy to the acts. Such a development could also be used to bring more people into the space as it would reduce the perceived complexity of tabletops while also reducing the “undefined imagination” that is often required by such games.
What I appreciate most about Theresa Duncan is that the intent behind her work was very straightforward. She was a feminist and she created alternative video games for girls in a male dominated field. She furthered her aim in a genteel and welcoming way for young girls. Aside from being a feminist visionary, Duncan was also multi faceted. She did not just work on video game creation, she was also a writer, blogger, artist, and filmmaker.
Duncan is probably most known for her early CD-ROM point and click adventures like Chop Suey. She created this game so that girls could experience something as intricate and interesting as mainstream audiences (male) do. My fascination with her stems from the accessibility and realness of her work (which animated and childish, it has a very grounded feel to it), the nostalgia I get from the old CD-ROM game feel, and the materials she used. I could make a game like that, but hers are imbued with expressiveness and interesting facets and meaning.
Her CD-ROM video games were recently given new life by Rhizome and are playable online.
Davey Wreden is best known as the creator of The Stanley Parable (and later The Beginner’s Guide), both of which we all should have played by now. It’s hard to find much information about his life pre-Parable, since as far as I can tell it was his first real game project. Thus it’s hard to talk about how he got a start making games – there was really only one game that propelled him out of obscurity and into the spotlight.
That being said, here’s how The Stanley Parable got made: Davey was a student at USC, which is one of the top schools for game creation/design. He had been musing about unexplored areas of game design, having recently realized how innovative games could be. He was interested in narrators, and came upon the question: what if you could disobey the narrator of a game? Davey didn’t know what would happen — what COULD happen, so he decided to try to make a game to find out. The result was the original Stanley Parable mod for Half-Life 2, found here: http://www.moddb.com/mods/the-stanley-parable
Eventually, a Saxxy-winning modder named William Pugh saw The Stanley Parable mod and contacted Davey with a bunch of ideas and mockups. They continued kicking around ideas with the idea that if the game was fun for them to make, it would be fun for someone to play. The finished product ended up being one of the first games aproved for Steam via the Greenlight feature, and it has since won numerous awards/titles.
Independent thinkers don’t necessarily have to have stem from the entertainment industry alone.
In the 1940s, the only ones who had the financial capital to build and sell cars on a national scale were giant corporations, the Big Three being Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors.
Preston Tucker began his career at a large corporation (General Motors), and later went independent when he became dissatisfied with what the industry had to offer, just as many indie game developers do today.
Tucker dreamed of building the “automobile of the future,” complete with a suite of features revolutionary at the time. Low profile, wide base, a helicopter engine for greater horsepower. Safety was a key feature, neglected by other manufacturers. It included large bumpers, seat belts, and tempered non-shatter glass, all standard features today but unheard of at the time. This car was the Tucker 48, also known as the Tucker Torpedo.
However, between the game industry and the auto industry, there is one big difference: a game can be made by anyone with a computer, but it takes a LOT of money to make cars.
Tucker raised 17,000,000 USD on stock to build his cars, but it was still not enough. Not having the necessary capital to begin manufacturing, Tucker created a pre-order program that allowed people a spot on the waiting list once the cars were manufactured. This was enormously popular, and Tucker gained 2,000,000 from pre-ordering customers.
However, this was seen as suspicious by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and Tucker was put on trial for fraud. Tucker proved that he was intending on manufacturing and selling his new automobile, but the negative publicity killed off any chance of success, and as a result, Tucker Corporation shuttered.
Tucker, despite these setbacks, remained optimistic. Tucker moved the Brazil to produce a new sports car called the Carioca, but the constant international travel was hard on him, and he died of lung cancer at the age of 53.
There is much we can learn from Preston Tucker’s story. Regardless of what the others say, no matter how they try to undermine our efforts, no matter what they do to destroy who we are, we must be true to ourselves, our dreams, and we must never, ever give up.
Heather Kelley/ Perfect Plum
Heather Kelley is someone I would classify as an artist working with games (as opposed to a game designer working at the cutting edge or something. She’s blurry, and that’s why I like her, though I think she would disagree.) Right now she’s working on using smell, and other under used senses as alternative interfaces in games as well as VR. Her work revolves around issues of feminism, sex, social behaviors, and innovative play.
Heather Kelley is from Austin, Texas. Though she’d had an on-again-off-again relationship with computer games all her life, Heather Kelley got into the games industry with the company Girl Games in 1995. She was hired to do research for the game after the company’s found showed Kelley’s resume to her mom. She had done research for “the female gaming market” since 1993, for friends making games at Georgia Tech. At Girl Games, Kelley ended up transitioning from a research position to a production position on the project “Let’s Talk About Me” a program in which girls made their own games. She worked there until 1998 (in one interview she claims to have began in games in 1997), then moved on to design/production roles at Human Code, Sapient, and Ion Storm studios until she took a game design job at Ubisoft. At Ubisoft she worked on AAA titles like Star Wars: Lethal Alliance and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. In 2008 she became a visiting professor at CMU’s ETC. From this point her involvement with the AAA industry drops off, and instead she works with more game art crossover spaces, experimental games and tech, and “games that change the world.” In a 2009 talk, she expresses this as wanting “an opportunity to make a game that changes behavior.” She has also claimed this switch was because she wanted to make things that “wouldn’t have come into existence until I did them.” So she made her own business: Perfect Plum, by “bugging” her lawyer/business friends from college. Her alternative/experimental game involvement can be traced back to 2005, when she started experimental game collective Kokoromi, and her own art game practice which deal with sex. Kokoromi produced a series of massive art, music, game, and new media party events under the name Gamma, which were groundbreaking as a legitimate platform of curation for games. Currently Heather Kelley works at the ETC as a visiting professor.
Kokoromi (Heather Kelley, Phil Fish, Cindy Poremba, and Damien Di Fede)
Super Hypercube VR (one of Heather Kelley’s current projects.)
I’ll admit that if I were to get into the games industry, I’d want to lead a team making larger-scale projects. The difficulty is balancing this with creating something of narrative or artistic interest, and one of the Creative Directors that has succeeded in doing this is Neil Druckmann, the C.D. at Naughty Dog for The Last of Us.
Druckmann is actually an alumni of CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center. It was there that he met one of the co-founder’s of Naughty Dog, Jason Rubin, and I was through him that he got his first job in video games, interning at Naughty Dog. He was promoted to a full-time gameplay programmer a few months later.
After a few years programming at Naughty Dog, Druckmann managed to convince one of Naughty Dog’s presidents to look at his design work, and obtained the chance to work in design. Druckmann’s first role in design was for the Uncharted series. While he also did design work, he was also heavily involved in writing Uncharted.
When Naughty Dog decided to allocate resources into a new game in 2011, Druckmann was chosen for his past work to lead development.
Druckmann was a man who wore many hats. In college he studied criminology and computer science, at the ETC he developed artistic skills, and in preparation for leading The Last of Us he took acting classes in order to learn how to communicate with actors.
This is a response to the Indie vs. AAA question.
Growing up, my idol Game Designer / Developer was Chris Sawyer, because he designed and programmed fantastic games such as Roller Coaster tycoon by himself with a hired artist and a hired musician. He also did the vast majority of his programming work in Assembly language.
Chris Sawyer first got a degree in Computer Science and Microprocessor Systems. He then started his professional career in the games industry in 1983 working on ancient games for Memotech MTX home computers and Amstrad CPC computers the such as Quogo and Quogo 2.
He then worked on some Amiga conversion projects such as Virus (1989), Campaign (1992), Birds of Prey (1992), Dino Dini’s Goal (1993), and Frontier Elite 2 (1993).
He then started making well known independent games. He started with Transport Tycoon, which he then published through microprose. He then worked on Roller coaster tycoon. For Roller coaster tycoon he talked with many rollercoaster professionals and did quite a bit of research to make sure the game was as correct as possible.
Chris formed strong collaborations with Simon Foster who made the majority of the images for his independent games and Allister Brimble who composed music and created sound effects. Chris Sawyer managed to convince Hasbro Interactive to publish his game under in a manner unusual in the game industry.
He then published Chris Sawyer’s locomotion in 2004, before becoming a recluse for many years. He has now recently started creating mobile versions of his games through a mobile development company that he started.
Working Title: Fragments
Fragments places the player inside of a vast, dreamlike desert. By tuning into spacial clues such as distant sounds or lights in the sky, the player discovers a series of impossible shapes which congeal into sentimental objects when you approach them. [TBC]
Fragments aims to experiment with external representation of interior space. Drawing some inspiration from the workings of hallucinogens, thoughts and memories are represented through a visual aesthetic, spatialization, and game mechanic. How can a game explore the experience of regret or the act of letting go beyond simple cinematic storytelling?
Memory of a Broken Dimension (visuals)
Her Story (storytelling)
Limbo (mood arc/representation of interior space)
Kentucky Route Zero (end of act 1)
Slave of God? (visuals)
Michel Gondry: Eternal Sunshine / The Science of Sleep
Radiolab: You Are Here
Effects of psilocybin on perceiving thoughts and emotions
Stephen LaBerge: Lucid Dreaming
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Working Title: Sky Prison
Description: Sky Prison is a first person puzzle game. The player starts from a prison trapping him in the sky. The prison has 3+ floors and a very unique rule about visibility. The unique rule is that important items can only be seen when you stand higher than them. It is the key point to solve the puzzles and escape from the prison. In the end, the player jump out of the prison and falling back to the appealing ground. Unfortunately all objects disappear on the ground due to the unique rule in this world.
Statement: The game focuses on how to develop a world based on a uncanny rule which is not existed in the real world.
Working Title: Who is Sal?
Who is Sal? is a tabletop exploration of the enigmatic figure Sal. In a group of three or four, players work together to try and piece together Sal’s life and history, from early childhood to late adulthood. By exploring various parts of Sal’s life, players piece together Sal’s motivations, accomplishments, and, ultimately, legacy.
I’m interested in exploring projection and the way we fill in the blanks that we see in other people. By specifying very little of Sal’s life (all the way down to Sal’s gender and era of birth), players are forced to determine what they are interested in exploring, and from there, personal identification will emerge.
Experimentally, I’m working on a time-less roleplaying system. Traditionally, tabletop games progress in a more or less linear time system, with players having an increasingly large memory base to draw from in addressing future challenges. By incorporating “stages” of Sal’s life, I aim to instead jump around from stage to stage in exploring Sal’s character, which leads to not only the past influencing the future, but the future informing the past.
A Microscope setting separating the events of the various eras – I envision a similar layout as the various time periods of Sal’s life are filled in.
3 Game References:
Microscope – A tabletop game that focuses on similar non-linear storytelling elements
DramaSystem – A tabletop system that codified the economy of a tabletop game in a roleplaying setting
Fat Man Down – A tabletop game focusing specifically on the exploration of one person rather than a setting or adventure path
3 Non-Game References:
Erikson’s stages of development – A psychological description of the eight stages of development of a person
Merlin legends (specifically, The Lost Years of Merlin and similar works) – Exploration of a character who knows and understands the future but not the past (living backwards)
The Wheel of Time – A fantasy setting focusing on the reincarnation of specific heroes, focusing on the connections that are made both forwards and backwards in time
Matt and Kristina
We’re creating a walking simulator where the acoustic input you provide the game with affects the environment you are exploring. We want the input to be a traditional instrument, like a guitar or a violin. Music is oft described as a semi-tangible representation of human emotion; this game will allow the experience to become more visceral. A sad piece of music may induce an emotion in you, but this game will take your emotional state and create an environment that responds to your condition. The world you are in is your mindspace.
This game could be played either personally, in a private space where it would create a meditative environment, or it could be played in installation format. The installation format would contain some kind of keyboard (for simple input most people can understand) but invites people to bring their own input. In an audience setting, you are bringing other players into your headspace and creating a shared experience from something inherently personal.
A blind-friendly, action music game with little to no visuals. “Jump” (tap a button) in response to melodic motifs as you listen to a song. Each level will have different motifs that require jumping at certain times. Survive the entire song to pass the level.
This game explores the power of music and music alone. I want to create an entire level through rising and falling pitches and dynamics. Can players map different notes to safety or danger? How will they develop a mental model to represent music? Will musicians have an easier time than non-musicians?
I will experiment with different motifs to see how players react, and hear how memorable they are. The goal is to solicit a variety of emotions: in addition to happiness, sadness, or other moods based on the music, I want to give players a sense of wonder, thrill, and achievement at beating a level with only their ears.
Parameters for success include at least 1-2 complete playable songs, as well as a satisfying user experience. If players can learn the motifs and want to continue trying to beat the level, as they might a normal visual game, then I will have succeeded.
There will be very little art. I may add a super subtle visualization (something with colors, e.g. see below) but it won’t be as distracting (the player needs to focus on music, not the visualization).
Working Title: Path
Description: My game is a first-person 2D/3D hybrid game. The player is walking along a dark path, lit up by glowing orbs. The game incorporates ideas of the theory of relativity in that the player is able to speed up to speeds near the speed of light, enabling them to travel forward in time (a fast moving object measures time passing more slowly than a stationary object). Therefore, if the player chooses to move quickly, time will pass more quickly for their surroundings than for them. How this manifests in the game is that when the player is moving they will be able to see the evolution of a city in front of them over the span of many years. However, if the player remains moving at a normal pace, they are able to communicate using technology with a different (unseen) player who exists in the city that the player sees in front of them. If the player moves quickly, the NPC will age faster than the player. Therefore, the player has two major choices in the game. One is to travel fast in an attempt to reach the city/witness the visual beauty of its evolution. The second is to travel more slowly and perhaps never get to the city or see what happens to it, but in exchange be able to talk to the NPC from afar and develop a relationship with them.
Art/Research Statement: For this project, I want to continue exploring a theme I began exploring with my Renpy game (although the characters and story will be very different.) Namely, the theme of the player being able to satisfy their curiosity and gain knowledge, but in doing so hurting someone else. In this game, the player is able to see the evolution of the city over time by moving quickly. By moving quickly to a new point in time, they are also able to talk to the NPC player at future time and find out what happens to them. However, by satisfying their curiosity in this way, the player misses out on in-depth conversations with the NPC and doesn’t get to experience a strong relationship with the NPC. What feels like seconds of fast movement to the player could be years for the NPC, so by moving quickly and accelerating the time frame the player is accelerating the NPC’s death. Therefore, the player is forced to decide whether they will satisfy their curiosity about the future or whether they forgo knowledge of the future in exchange for a strong bond with the NPC. Visually, the game will be a minimal 3D space. In the distance, the evolution of the city itself will likely be a 2D animation projected onto a plane. Therefore, visually I will be experimenting with combining 2D and 3D elements.
3 Game References:
Digital: A Love Story/Analogue: A Hate Story – I really enjoy the way dialogue and tone is conveyed in these games and would like to incorporate a similar tone in my own dialogue.
Transistor – A source of visual inspiration. The game takes place in a really visually nice city.
The Talos Principle: Game in which you play an AI set in a simulated world and you must figure out why a huge apocalypse of humanity happened. Specifically what inspired me in this game were these computer terminals that you come across throughout the worlds you explore. In these computer terminals, you can have conversations with a computer program inside them. In playing the game, I personally really looked forward to accessing these terminals and having these conversations, because the world is otherwise really empty and lonely. I was interested with playing with the ideas of lonely beauty of the world vs. isolated instances of dialogue as a savior from the loneliness of an empty world in my own game.
3-Non Game References:
Her – This film explores the relationship between a man and his operating system in a futuristic world where operating systems have really advanced humanoid AI. It serves as an inspiration point for this project because it explores the idea of a relationship built between a physical character (the player character in my game) and a character with no physical form (the NPC in my game, who exists in the world but is never seen by the player.)
Memento: Movie which explores fragmented storytelling. About a guy who suffers short term memory loss and is trying to find and kill the murderer of his wife. The narrative occurs backwards (scenes which happened most recently occur at the beginning of the movie, and as the plot progresses the scenes we see are further back in time.) This serves as a source of inspiration for fragmented storytelling and playing with time in storytelling.
Paintings by Kandinsky – I really like Kandinsky’s art, and was thinking of making the “city” in my game be kind of inspired by abstract/expressionistic styles (i.e. it would look like a city but it’s movement/animation would be more influenced by abstract motions of color rather than specific city functions).
Experimental Game Design
Description: An interactive digital narrative platformer chronicling the rapid downward spiral that is drug addiction, through time sensitive collectable elements.
Research Statement: I’m trying to convey the urgency that addiction causes in people, providing a full body experience of addiction and withdrawal. I’m experimenting with how over time player control disintegrates if they are unable to collect the substances that they need. Emotionally I’m providing understanding to those who don’t suffer from substance withdrawal. My project will be a success if people play for gameplay in addition to the message.
Banjo Kazooie – Platforming, Collectibles
Heavy Rain – Atmosphere
Zelda – Jumping (both N64 series)
Title: I, Human
Description: What makes us human? Explore a post-apocalyptic world where robots have won the human-robot war and rendered the former extinct. In an assembly factory deep within the machine empire, you, without the knowledge of the other machines, are among the first machines to become conscious, and you begin to exhibit human-like traits such as curiosity. Machines, having fought a long and brutal war against the cruel and powerful adversary known as humanity, are paranoid about any aspect of their former foe coming back to life, and persecute you relentlessly to destroy your artificial humanity.
Art/Research Statement: There is a long, long history of dramatic science fiction stories where humans exist in conflict with their created. I aim to create a story that focuses on the latter and explore what it means to be human from a non-human perspective. The emotional response I wish to solicit is to draw the audience to believe humanity is force of good while at the same time a force of evil. Success if achieved if the audience questions the merits of their own humanity. I am experimenting with virtual reality with the Google Cardboard, a relatively new medium of storytelling,
[Portal, by Valve, 2007] An inverted world where robots are the experiment makers and humans are the test subjects.
[Halo, by Bungie, 2001] Artificial intelligence can be both powerful allies (Cortana) or a powerful enemies (Guilty Spark 343), depending on circumstances and motivations.
[Planetary Annihilation, by Uber Entertainment, 2014] A galaxy where machines are locked in perpetual war with other machines. The art style is simple and effective.
[I, Robot, by Eando Binder, 1939] Explores the meaning of right and wrong from an artificial perspective. If robots could think, they won’t necessarily be out to destroy the human race.
[The Terminator, by Orion Pictures, 1984] A science fiction action movie where a robotic assassin is sent to the past to change the future of the human-robot war. Seems to believe there will always be an eternal conflict between creators and their created.
[Astro Boy, by Osamu Tezuka, 1952] Or maybe, just maybe, robots and humans can live together in harmony without one dominating the other. Explores a world where there can be peace between the two if both sides work together to make it happen.
Cubic Supremacy is a multiplayer 3D platformer game with a minimalist cube art style, and the surface objective of climbing to the top of the level, and the deeper objective of using this to explore the mechanisms of social inequality. As you climb, mine for gold, and use that to buy powerups that let you jump higher, and unlock new areas. Some players will start off with the privilege of more access to the map, and the ability to get more out of their work, but don’t worry, everyone can succeed if they just work hard enough.
My goal is to give players the dual experiences of living with and without privilege, to understand firsthand how these affect outcomes, and hopefully get players to transfer this analogy to real life, and gain a broader perspective on the world. There are a lot of people with privilege who do not fully appreciate the benefits this confers, and the goal is to get these people to empathize with those with less privilege, appreciate what they have, and understand that people’s success must be evaluated in the context of what they were given.
The experimental elements would be to use platformer and RPG mechanics to represent these societal mechanics. These mechanics are intentionally very transparent, as the goal is understanding of these mechanics, and what they correspond to in the real world. The minimalistic art style will hopefully serve to remove any distractions, and reinforce focus purely onto the mechanics. Multiplayer is the third pillar of the game, serving to engender competition, which leads to comparison, which leads to an investigation of fairness, which discovers the imbalance. The goal is that players will agree: while with sufficient work, either player could win and be successful, the one with privilege has a substantial advantage, and all other things being equal, would win.
– A notgame exploring being lonely. Minimalistic art, and very very simple mechanics make the game’s message very clear.
Thomas Was Alone
– An example of storytelling with minimal art.
Parable of the Polygons
– Reference for the use of abstract concepts to represent a social issue.
– A direct influence on the game, I’m using some of the core game mechanics in this article.
– Illustrates the accumulation of advantages.
– Somewhat of a guide, and justification for the difficulty of the game, and disparity between starting conditions.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
– A book exploring the story of success, and how important “where you’re from” truly is, in ways you wouldn’t have thought of, even if you can already imagine some ways.
Title (working): Tomorrow’s Problem
Description: A first-person drinking/driving/walking sim following the gonzo wanderings of Clockwise and Cabaret, a talking lizard-man and an accountant on his day off. The player, playing as Clockwise, attempts to piece together an episode where the pair broke onto a country club by collecting tapes and then progressively re-living the events of each tape to find the next.
Research Statement: I’m exploring the idea of inflicting the player on the world, in the style of Postal or Goat simulator, but with a focus on short form narrative instead of pure violence. I want to explore the idea of what the cost of individuality is, and how it is preserved in modern America, and I want the player to feel free but out of control.
In terms of experimentation, I am trying to combine pixel graphics, low-poly 3D and text in a psychedelic setting. I want this to be a game mostly lacking a sense of linearity but possessing multiple strong characters. I also want to experiment with using Cabaret as the ‘protagonist’ while having the player control his partner, and using multiple short-form narratives instead of one main story.
I want the player to feel a mixture of amusement and a sense that the player is in too deep, out of control.
Ultimately, I will consider this a successful game if I manage to preserve the identities of my pre-existing characters in this game, and make an experience that inherently engaging to charge around in.
This is one of two versions the style I was considering. I want some environmental object to be pixel-based, but I am also considering making the main characters using pixel art as well.
Working Title: Lost One
by: Sandra Kang, Madeline Finn and Elizabeth Agyemang
First Play through:
You need to find her. That’s all you know, all you can care about at this moment. The boardwalk is shutting down. The lights are dimming, the crowds thinning and you only have ten minutes to reach her. You look in your wallet, where a picture of her resides. You need to find her.
In our game, the player takes the role of an unknown character, searching for the child depicted in their wallet. You walk through the crowds, picking up conversation, reading notes and signs and interacting with strangers and families, all in an effort to find the child. Sometimes it’s a little girl, sometimes a boy, but all the player knows is that they have to find this child and take them home.
Artist Statement: Our piece looks to explore the heightened anxiety and stress that comes with searching with searching, uncovering but being unable to find. In addition, we want to explore how identity is pieced together by the world and people around us. As the player interacts with the strange and familiar faces lingering around the board walk, they being to uncover the identity of the child and the character they are playing it.
Heavy Rain- The scenes were the main character is search frantically for his sons were really a reference here. We want the player to feel the sense of panic and tension that this game invokes.
Assassin’s Creed II- the crowd mechanics in Assassin’s creed (the amount of people and the interactions) is something we would like to emulate
Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask- Like this game, we want to build time and multiple playthroughs as a narrative element throughout the story
Non Art Inspiration
Where’s Waldo – The notion of looking for someone in a crowd but being also intrigued by the other characters that inhabit a place
Rashamon- In this movie, the viewer and the characters have to uncover the truth of the situation based off of different accounts and perspectives. Identities are all disjointed and twisted because no perspective is the true one.
Vantage Point: In this movie the viewer gets a lot of run through of the same scene but the story unfolds from the different perspective in which it was told
Title or Working Title:
Escape Your Room
A room escape game where the door is unlocked the whole time. Nothing’s preventing you from leaving. Why haven’t you left yet? Get it together. You can’t keep doing this every day.
I want to use environmental storytelling to communicate the experience of depression in a way that dialogue and prose cannot. This will include some instances of surrealism – performing certain actions will have reality-altering consequences that reflect the impact depression has on one’s psyche. Example: after getting out of bed, the other side of the room stretches away to infinity. In order to interact with anything, you will have to make the long trek to the other side of the room, where everything else is. Alternatively, your bed is still right behind you.
I will judge my success based on 1) how well the mechanics reflect depression, in my view, 2) how cohesive the surrealist effects feel (changes should make some amount of sense), and 3) the depth/completeness of the environment + how many options the player can choose to try to escape.
3 Game references Mario Cars 2, Catlateral Damage – purely aesthetic inspiration, with simple low-res models that should be expressive yet easy to create
3 Non-Game References
Title: Geometric Constructions.
Description: This game will be a celebration of geometric construction tools such as straight edges, compasses, finite length looped string, etc. The player will use various tools to achieve tasks and construct beautiful shapes amidst puzzles.
Art/ Research Statement: I am very interested in games with a concise explicitly mathematical mechanic that provide a compelling game play experience. I am very interested in finding game ideas of this form, because they allow me quite a bit of precision in the specification for exactly how the game should act, they are quite simple and hence easier for me to make in a limited amount of time (which is how much time I will have for most games I will develop in my life.), and I feel they get more gameplay per amount of effort I put into them. I also find games such as these quite elegant and there is an art to finding ways bring mathematical concepts into the realm of user playfulness. I have don’t several projects in the past with the attempt to find the lines between education, entertainment, and intellectual content.
3 Game references:
3 Non-Game references:
Explore the world you find yourself trapped in. You don’t know how you got here, but you are stuck alone to find out how and why you are there.
What I want from this game is the feeling of exploration combined with being put in ‘random scenarios outside of your control’. I am interested in how people adapt and adjust to spontaneity. The method of control will be based on gyroscopic input from an Arduino-powered snowglobe-prop to control yourself in a fixed environment mimicking the scenery of typical cliche/kitsch snowglobe.
The game will be 2D and I am anticipating an art style that is flat and maybe sort of similar to sprite-based games like LoZ and Chronotrigger. But with happier color palettes/various. Another game that was an inspiration is Proteus, a place where you’re stuck in your own happy/carnival-y prison to explore a sparse landscape.
Snowglobes, Tread-mills, ant-farms.
Working Title: Open/Shut Case
An exploratory, narrative driven game in which the player must sift through the documents of their own life the find their identity, crime, and motivation. Confined to an isolation cell after committing a sensationalized murder, the player must spatially chronicle piece smuggled in documents from family, attorney, and past self to find their version of truth. These spatial arrangements of evidence, the links between media speculation and reality, may form the player’s confession or release them from imprisonment.
I want to make an experience that is slow and thoughtful, and that relates to my own body of work (in theme.) So, in this game, the narrative will center around a female detective who finds herself in prison over the death of her husband. The player’s role will be rather passive, as this is a game in which the player’s main activity is reading and interpreting connections based on the baggage they bring to the story. The details of the crime will be addressed from different sources, all of which with their own motivations for crediting or discrediting the player character, but (in a narrative sense) serving to obfuscate the truth. The player’s passiveness will be explained through her emotional state, and the atmosphere of the game will reiterate this. Visually, the cell will be drab and unsaturated while the documents will be colorful and busy. All of room will be 3D, while the documents will have all 2D renderings. The documents themselves will have subtle color coding indicating possible lines of connection. The player will be able to use their daily rations to place these documents on the wall of their cell, draw lines between them, or to mark the passage of the day. These lines of connection are meant to serves as an in-game record of where the player has been. They are the manifestation of the player in the world.
1. Herstory: The player drives the narrative: all of it is laid out before them and they make the connections. When I played the game, I ended with a pile of sticky notes indicating which terms I had searched. I want a player to feel that same depth of interest in the narrative of this game.
2. Gone Home: The use of static text and images to create a sense of discovery in the player. Though the great narrative is narrated, its up to the player to find the subtlety of the narrative in the details.
3. Papers Please: Documents that hold information about a person, and the power of the player to judge that person based on that brief encounter.
Non Game References:
1. Thin Blue Line, Errol Morris: That external forces, particularly the media, can retroactively change the outcome of a crime.
2. Serial (the podcast): That media can change public opinion about a crime, and attempt to change the outcome (and fail.)
3. Orange is the New Black: Setting, politics, and environmental atmosphere. Not so much the humor, narrative structure, hope/fear cycle, sensationalism, or tone.
I Never Had a Lesson (Restricted to 1366 x 768. One to two minutes.)
An autobiographical experience about my dad and me.
Scenario: The huntman needs to kill snow white, but he doesn’t know wehther or not snow white is guilty
The huntsman was tired of listening to these royal bitches. Day after day and night after night, he endured – but now no more. He was going to take matters into his own hands.
Op1. The Huntsman journeys to find snow white with the intent to kidnap her and random her off to a prince charming somewhere.
Op2. Thu Huntsman timidly goes to talk to snow white to try to get to know her better.
[Op. 2] “You there. Yes, you wench. Why must you do this? Why do you cause these troubles time after time again? This week alone has been my seventh time to this disgusting forest. Do you really wish to leave the benevolent queen that badly?”
You walk up and reach out to grab her arm. She flinches and steps back, tripping over a fallen tree and spraining her arm.
You walk closer. She does as well. She suddenly leans in closer to your head. You follow when suddenly they _______.
[Op. 2] The Huntsman seeks to classify Snow Whites purity by delving into her the sophistication of her philosophical viewpoints. “What is the meaning of life? What is objective morality? Can beauty mask the demonic spirit kindling in the depths of your soul?”
Snow White wonders if the Huntsman is hitting on her.
2) Snow White is annoyed at the Huntsman’s vapid questions and responds in riddles with a jaded tongue, clearly annoyed at the Huntsman for his direct interrogatives.
Or as the dumbass author would say — courting her. She didn’t know why the huntsman spoke like that. This wasn’t the 18th century. This was 1998 in Eastern Europe. She eases herself further away from the now evidently crazed man. “Why the fuck are you talking like that? I am sick of all this bullshit roleplaying. You are NOT a huntsman! You are our gardener for fuck’s sake. So can you never follow me again?”
The “huntsman” let out a gasp. This was an unexpected situation compared to the last six occasions here. He licked his lips as they curved into a smile.
“Why don’t you hear me out for a second Ms. White. ”
The huntsman first began by unbuckling his belt. This was going to be SPLENDID.
The Huntsman take off his belt and prepares to whip Snow White for her insensitivity to his academic proclivities.
1) A giant eagle named Deus Ex Machima swoops down from the sky and saves Snow White, while demonstrating her true purity and light!
2) Snow White takes off her wig and reveals herself to be Snow White’s sister, Coal Black who is getting quit excited.
At least that was what she hoped for. The man slurped his lips and let out a sigh as he tossed his belt over his shoulder. He took another step closer. She closed her eyes and fell to the ground in anticipation for the strike – or worse.
She opened one eye and looked through the nest of her hair and fingers. He slowly extended his long, oily, writhing finger towards her.
“Tag, you’re it. ”
“I wouldn’t touch that ugly face with the shitty salary your mom gives me anyways. ”
[Op. 1] The Huntsman didn’t really think that Snow White was all that bad. He decides to play a game of tag with her and needed to remove his belt to become more agile. They have a fun game.
1) The Huntsman asks Snow White to run away with him from the evil queen.
2) The Huntsman decides to go back to the Evil Queen and politely informs her of his resignation from his huntsman job.
So the pair, for whatever excuse they came up with, ran away from the Queen. Snow White leaving her life of luxury and class; the Huntsman running away from the burden of sustaining his quiet, peaceful supporting his family of five. Both now ran through the forest under the joy of discovering their enlightenment.
1) They grew old and settled down.
2) They grew weary of their enlightenment and returned to face the consequences.
1) Snow White and the Huntsman lived happily ever after. The Evil queen eventually died off and all the problems of the world were resolved. THE END
Concept 1: Clockwise Golfcarts
This idea re-uses the characters from Fishing the Mojave, my Flick Game., and golf carts. In the strictest sense, this game wouldn’t be a walking sim in that I wanted the player, via the feet of Clockwise (the lizard man), to spend either some or all of the game behind the wheel of a golf cart.
I haven’t decided concretely on a story or setting yet. I need to find a way to balance a coherent. narrative with the unexpectedness inherent to the universe of these two. I want an environment full of interesting and unexpected things to find and look at.
Concept 2: Over the Edge
This idea follow our unmanned main character’s interactions with their drug dealer, Fisher. Set in Fisher’s apartment, the story here would revolve around Fisher’s interactions with different kinds of drugs, and our protagonist’s attempts to keep him alive. Naturally, I wanted to make this game abstract. Visually I was thinking of taking queues from films like Enter the Void and Requiem for a Dream.
Modeled, UV Mapped, Textured, Rigged and Animated in 4 hours.
Walking Simulator Tech Demo:
It is the year 2133, 15 years after the conclusion of a brutal human-robot war that left the former erased from existence. You are a robot created in the aftermath to rebuild a new world. And yet, you are unlike the others – you are sentient, and possess human-like qualities, such as curiosity and creativity. The other machines see this, and persecute you, for humanity is the very thing that has sought their annihilation for nearly a century…
Explore a barren land underneath a raincloud that follows you and reflects your mood.
Idea 1: By standing in place, the rain affects the environment (e.g. watering plants, dying animals). This brings the dying land back to life. As the character gets happier, he becomes more colorful (less gray) and the cloud gets smaller, until it finally disappears.
Idea 2: In a land with many NPCs, everyone is followed by their own emotion cloud. When you approach another character, your moods are averaged. For example, rainy (depression) + sunny (happiness) => cloudy (normal), while cloudy + stormy (angry) => rainy. The game ends when everyone has been converted into a single mood.
My first idea is to create a generative environment that the player simultaneously explores and creates. Depending on how the player moves through the environment, the environment might spawn in a different way. For example, if the player was casually strolling at a slow pace, the environment that is created might be something like a peaceful forest. If the player started running the peaceful environment would deteriorate and be replaced with something else (i.e. the forest would die and be replaced by rocks or something.)
My second idea is to also explore the idea of player actions affecting environment but with already existing environments rather than generative environments. This would probably be easier and less intensive to create since we wouldn’t have to generate a ton of objects dynamically. There would be several different environments and depending on how the player moves through the space they would see a different environment around them. Perhaps there could be things that the player could do in the space off one environment which would affeet things in the second environment but in a different way. (For example, suppose the player saw a forest environment when they were walking and a rocky wasteland when they were running. Suppose the player knocked down a tree in the first environment. In the second environment, perhaps a ridge of rocks would appear in the same place as the knocked down tree was in the first environment.
When I was younger I was enamored with room escape games, where you are placed in some sort of environment and given a single goal: escape. When given the task of environmental storytelling, I thought that a room escape game would be a good template to use to explore the concept, since each distinct room escape game is entirely defined by its environment. I also wanted to do something semi-autobiographical, so I came up with the following idea:
You are trapped in your room (i.e. a bedroom), looking to get out. The door is unlocked, but you cannot leave. As you interact with the things strewn about your room, the player learns that their character is trapped because they are depressed and cannot work up the motivation to leave. By observing various items and trying to deal with the mess the room presents, you can start to manage your depression enough to get outside.
After thinking about dualities (for conflict!), I’ve decided I want to explore the space of light and darkness. The character should be able to switch between a “light” persona and a “dark” persona, which would permit different interactions in a “light” and “dark” realm. I’ll be taking inspiration from games like A Link to the Past and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes.
The object of the game will be to reach the end of either the light realm or the dark realm – puzzles will focus on switching between light and dark states to progress through the realms. Being in a mismatched state (light persona in dark world or vice versa) will drain energy, and reaching a minimum level will transport the player back to the start of both worlds.
I intend to keep the controls fairly simple (walking and jumping), but I’d like to include ways to make the light and dark personas different. Rather than influencing the player’s movement, I want this to influence the environment, reflecting the notion that our good and bad choices are reflected most evidently in the results they have on our setting, rather than some direct impact on oneself. My current idea is that light personas draw things to you (which could attract unwarranted attention) whereas dark ones repel objects (which hurts when you’re looking for support).
The Unity mechanics for this would include either brightening or darkening the background (to reflect the respective realms), some method of switching and detecting personas (easily identifiable by a variable tied to the player character), and the reactions that has on the environment.
Imagine being in a world where nothing makes sense unless you are still. Our game would take this concept and literally force the player to stand still in order to accurately render the landscape and puzzles. While we are still working on a world design, this key component will be the main obstacle.
Other components may include basic spacial puzzle solving to move on. For example a viewer will need to search for a key in a room to open a door, but with the stillness component, they will have to memorize the layout of the room in order to move through it.
I agree with NotGame’s general sentiment regarding emancipation of games as a medium, but that’s about as much as I’ll dignify that pretentious drivel with.
The main point I want to make is that limitation can serve as inspiration. The puzzle box article mentions Newgrounds and Kongregate as being the hub for the most interesting indie games a decade ago, and I wondered why that was. Very few games presented a world that the player would navigate through violence — more basic forms were the norm, like dialogue trees, dating sims, room escape, tower defense, total abstraction, etc. And even when they were about violence, they tended to be stripped down and expressive, honing in on a particular mechanic with laser focus eg. Tactical Assassin, Last Stand.*
Was it the democratic and individualistic community structure that encouraged this? Probably quite a bit. But I would argue also that the lack of commercially available game engines also forced enthusiasts to find creative solutions to expressing themselves. The most widely available and powerful tool at the time was, of course, Flash. And with Flash come some inherent limitations — just look at the difference between The Binding of Isaac (Flash) and Rebirth (same game rebuilt in a custom engine).
Another notable gaming community I have experience with are the modding communities for classic RTS games. Some of the most popular mods were, of course, DotA precursors, horde mode, tower defense, etc. but they shared the space with Death Note-themed Mafia games and role-playing servers. The latter games tended to require a lot of player investment and imagination (a floating Command Center acted as a door) and made them unique, engaging experiences, all because the designers had to work within the confines of the modding tool that the developers of the original game provided.
I think it would be an interesting exercise as designers to create games in an engine or environment that inherently was not intended to be used that way. For example, making an open world RPG in Microsoft Excel or a branching Facade-esque narrative drama as a Left 4 Dead mission — embracing the limitation of the environment to create something truly unique.
* Interestingly, even when using identical core mechanics, their sequels that expanded the scope in the number of mechanics, narrative delivery, and visual presentation tended to be far less interesting. I think simplicity as a deliberate design choice is something that often goes overlooked.
All cubes are equal, but some are more equal than others.
The game is an abstract representation of social and economic inequality by means of a 3D platformer. The key analogy being that “moving up in the world” literally corresponds to moving up–in the vertical axis (up in Unity).
You play a cube that has the ability to jump higher than other cubes, starts higher than other cubes. If you fall, you have safety nets to catch you. There are obstacles, but for you all of them are offset by what you start the game with — the ability to jump higher, and safety nets to catch you. In this sense it’s kind of a notgame — the point is to watch all the other cubes without your resources have trouble climbing the same ladder.
Extensions to the concept might e.g. include walls that only let one color pass through (for you, they are no barrier — they might form a labyrinth, but you don’t collide and pass right through them, while others are forced to navigate it.
For our game, we want to create a walking simulator in which the player controls an insect scouring for food. The game will start with the player on a kitchen counter. They must traverse the countertop in order to consume food. When the player consumes different foods, they will gain certain abilities depending on what they eat. For example if you drink coke from the counter, your mobility increase for a short period of time. If you drink red bull—you get wings. Food with a lot of cholesterol slows you down, and even foods that give you power ups can slow you down later. Watch out for the running water and don’t forget to jump over that burning stove. Or you’ll die. And if you die you can’t reach Paradise. Paradise is where all the insect meet and engage in erotic consumption of food and lust filled encounters. However, before any true insect can reach the paradise, they must overcome the sticky thing. The sticky thing is death. Do not get trapped by the sticky thing. Our trick is that we make things big…real big.
This game will be brought to you by Madeline Finn, Sandra Kanga and Elizabeth Agyemang.
I’d like to work outside the digital game and with the controller. I propose a simple walking simulator with a fixed environment (I have yet to decide what’s the game itself will be) with a simple rig to make an acoustic instrument into a controller for your game. The controller would consist of two microphones that you could easily mount on most instruments (and a means of transmitting this data to the computer – probably an Arduino setup), and different inputs would cause the character to walk, jump, run, or pick up an object. Through this interface novices would gradually gain confidence with their instrument as well as with the game.
I feel like a walking simulator is a place to experiment with this, because 2D arcade games require particular combinations and moves which can be time-specific, which my model would have a hard time dealing with. Right now I have no idea how I would get my controller to talk to Unity.
I think that for my final project instead of doing a walk through space, I would like to do a walk through time with the seasonal atmosphere and weather changing about the player. The player will remain at one location and see the world transform from volcanic rock to vivid dessert, to peaceful sedimentary regions seeing how the aesthetic of the environment changes over time.
(Walking Simulator Reading Response)
I found the NotGame movement rather interesting. In some ways I can sympathize with their message, but they seem to at the same time categorically rejecting some of the things that I like most about games.
To me a game is a social contract between multiple entities which forms an agreement that the consequences of a set of actions will be met with consistent results. These entities may take the form of a collection of humans, a singular human and a machine or their environment. I find all games to be quite serious in that if the rules are broken, conflict will ensue.
Consider Life for example. I would argue that a great deal of life involves conceiving the world around us, taking actions, and receiving feedback from our reality and its inhabitants. Although each of us might have an incomplete notion of the rules, the reality that we share binds us together through consistency. Two people may not perceive reality in the same way as each other, but their is always a mapping between people in such a way that communication is possible. Conflicts arise when people have very different interpretations of the rules and because people perceive others as winning and losing to them under the life objectives that are evident to them relative to their perspective.
I have grown up with board games and very much anchor my thinking around them as to what constitutes a game. In traditional board games there are a set of components that can represent a finite set of configurations states (the game state), a set of legal operations that allow players to transition the game from one state to another, and a classification of each state into those that end the game and those that allow the game to continue.
There was a point in my life when I gradually became aware that the games I played, especially the video games started to include content such as beautiful images, fancy sounds, well designed fonts, inspirational narratives, smooth cameras, etc. In my conception of what a game is, there is no need for such decorations. The icing on the cake is present for the purpose of soothing the participants and giving them an incentive to explore the states and rules. In my view physical decorations exist only for the purpose of fun, artistic, entertainment, or social values, but are separate from the game itself. The ideas that the decorations represent however are very important to a participant’s understanding of a game, because they allow the players to a mapping from a particular game to the game of life through metaphorical representation.
I found it odd that video games were trying to become more movie like, because I find movies to be removed from a navigable set of configurations. I love movies, but I go to them to be an observer and see a story through the warped lens of my personality. Different people see the same movie and come away with different experiences depending on their individuality, whereas in a game the participants are bound by a shared set of rules which they must agree on.
I agree with NotGames that games need not be violent and should contain more substance than a number being updated on a screen. I think that the rules and mechanics of a game must mimic the experience that a game wants to create. By playing a game with a theme players should be able to understand the beauty of the rules more. By playing a game with rules, the rules should help the players gain greater understanding of the theme.
I do not agree that games should be devoid of constraints. Games are supposed to interfere with people. Games are meant to level the playing bring people out of their local conceptions and share in a moment of shared experience with the rest of the players that are also similarly constrained. Well designed games develop empathy for others, they have purpose, they can trick people into expanding their horizons beyond what is comfortable.
I don’t think that NotGames should eschew pure games (Alas, in my framing it would be impossible), but rather they should run away from those games that focus on their decorations more than the symbiosis between rules and metaphor. We should not avoid rules. We might instead want to avoid poorly designed rules.
(Walking Simulator Reading Response)
Games are defined as methods of interaction, created with a defined set of goals and rules. Goals are defined as actions we wish to achieve in the scope of the game. Rules are defined as limitations that control the way we accomplish these goals.
What are games but abstractions of what we see, hear and feel, and what is art but explorations of precisely that. Games, just as with art, are nothing without the audience. We don’t just play games – we immerse ourselves with them and become a part of it. Games are art, art is life, and life is a game.
Some of us may think that these games are somehow different from reality, and that we may perform unspeakable acts within our virtual creations, destroying our world from the inside out, with the expectation that it will continually renew itself at every playthrough.
We are real, and the games we play are also real. While the actions performed in our games may exist only in an imagined space, these actions impact us in very physical ways. Games, like all methods of human communication, directly affect our mood, our feelings, and our very state of being in our time. If the things we do say more about us than what we say, then playing games provides a window into how we think as a society and as a people.
I recently played The Beginner’s Guide and had a short exchange with its creator. This has really made me want to make something autobiographical, specifically something tragic yet funny. So for this idea, I want to make a small experience based off my relationship with my father. This is not a concept for a walking simulator. My dad is a trombone player and when I was a girl I joined middle school band and played trombone to please him. In the game, the player will hold a trombone and be able to slide the slide back and forth, as well as turn in space (but otherwise not move.) Across from the player there will be a larger trombone, set higher up in space, that looks down at the player. When the player moves the slide, text will come out of the trombone’s bell. The text will be actual quotes that I said to my father during that period of my life. Accompanying the text will be a mangled trombone sound or other ridiculous noise. Then the other trombone will respond in the same manner, with a clear trombone tone, with actual quotes my father said to me. As the text leaves the trombone bell, it will push each trombone further from the other in space, until the trombones are so far apart that you can’t read or hear the father trombone. I want the background of the space to reflect the subtext of the dialogue, so I want it to change color/imagery during play. This is a linear experience, no longer than 2 minutes. I have a trombone model.
I will expand on my current tech test, a humorous journey through a gut passing over what a woman ate, which ends with her husband. Features I’d like to add: animated villi (either modeled or have animated textures), more relationship stage signifier models (lockets, house key, pacifier, etc.), more nonsense models (food), a digestion sound, a longer tract to explore, and using terrain elevation and lighting as a metaphor for relationship turbulence. This would be an exploratory experience, 1-2 minutes.
Very minimal work in progress. Pixel art is hard. Will post a full version ASAP.
Journey is a gorgeous game. The art style is soft and airy, matching the floating sliding movements of the player. Rereleased for PS4 it received fantastic reviews last generation, and holds up on next gen consoles well. But is Journey a walking sim?
I had problems considering Journey a walking sim for many reasons. First and foremost the walking aspect is a core feature, but can also be skimped on once you grasp the gameplay. If you want to travel quickly you can forego walking and float around the environment instead. For some platforming areas it is necessary that you need to spend time in the air, not walking. When you are on the ground you usually slide like snowboarding more than walking in the environment. The second issue I have is the camera. As a third person adventure you take in the grand scale of the world, but don’t ever feel like you are part of it, just moving through it. Despite this I felt a lot of agency towards my character after moving through the environment.
All in all journey is a contemporary masterpiece. It blends the fun of racing and open world games, with slight platforming and collecting. The main character is a memorable protagonist that will remain in my memory for a long time to come.
It should work now…
***Some parts of the game don’t require clicking
I have my game, Ren’Py effed it up when I was building it, and it won’t even open the game file anymore. Trying to fix it. I don’t know if this works.
OK I builded it? Somehow? I still don’t know if it works:
Probably still doesn’t work because Ren’Py hates me.
Play <———————– (Game Files)
PLAY EXEC VERSION HERE <——————–
I began writing a story that featured the player trying to convince a brother who had converted to a hermit’s lifestyle to come and have lunch. Eventually this morphed into having the characters be East and West Berlin, which are acting as satellite states The West (the USA, France, the UK, etc) and the Soviet Union respectively.
You play as West Berlin. West Berlin feels they are doing better than East Berlin and has visual evidence to back it up. West Berlin argues for nihilism as a means of defending himself against the arguments of East Berlin. West Berlin must convince East Berlin and everyone around him that West Berlin is superior to East Berlin, and hopes to reconcile the differences between them. This is analogous to the West trying to demonstrate that their capitalist society is better than the communist society by comparing and contrasting East and West Berlin during the Cold War. East Berliners understood this and would try to escape to the West.
East Berlin is poorer than West Berlin and aspires to have certain attributes of his neighbor. When asked a questioned, he will always give an official answer rather than what he necessarily thinks. East Berlin has an existential crisis — theoretically, he lives in the ideal world but practically he sees that it has made his situation worse than West Berlin’s. He begins confused as to why he’s living the life he’s living and eventually will try to escape through the wall to join West Berlin.
About how I chose to portray the characters — I took images that were representative of East and West Berlin and cut holes in the walls so you could “see” one character. The emotion is projected through stance/position rather than facial features.
Mainly for laughs, here’s the dropped-halfway-through version I was working on before. Includes some awkward cuts owing to interim scenes not being written and/or illustrated. My solemn advice is not to play it. Yaaaaaaay.
Reading these articles and presentations, I was reminded of the concept of “lock-in” as discussed by Jaron Lanier in his manifesto You Are Not a Gadget. Lanier describes “lock-in” as the idea that the flaws and biases of the inventor become encoded in the invention, and that once a piece of technology reaches critical mass of standardization/involvement in people’s everyday life, we’re essentially stuck with those biases. Furthermore, not only are we stuck with them, but they redefine reality. Growing up, for instance, in a media landscape of music that was almost exclusively produced using tools using the now-standard language of MIDI, a whole generation’s idea of what music can be now excludes by default all of the tones that can’t be played on a keyboard, since that was the only instrument MIDI was originally meant for. Like the subjects of Blakemore and Cooper’s experiments who never learned to perceive horizontal lines, perhaps humans who are only ever exposed to a limited definition of what’s possible in a medium lose the ability to perceive alternative possibilities.
It is with that in mind that I read things such as Tale of Tales’ Over Games presentation and feel a deep frustration with the tone that the current discourse around games has taken. So much effort is having to be taken in order not to step on fragile egos and unleash backlash from the mainstream gaming community; It’s like someone is trying to invent the violin, and gangs of keyboard players are attacking them on Twitter and sending swat teams to their house. While marginalized developers are having to delicately craft arguments explaining that they’re not trying to take anyone’s FPS away while they simply carve out space for themselves in a community, society at large falls further and further away from being able to remember that other definitions of “game” are possible. I have spoken to people whose opinions I otherwise trust about games like Dear Esther or Proteus and heard it said too many times that the games were “not successful.” It’s one thing for a game to not be of your personal taste, but when I hear the claim that something is not “successful,” I can’t help but wonder what dumbed-down ideas about what a game can be have already become too locked-in to our culture to reverse.
The reading I found most interesting was the article from electrondance.com arguing about degrading aspect of the term “walking simulator” and relabeling them as digital parallels of Japanese secret boxes. Most notably, how it automatically accuses the actual experiences of these programs focusing on content without necessarily requiring a barrier of challenge.
In my time with Gone Home, Proteus, and now The Path, I believe that the term can still apply for mainstream gaming as people from that of this debate will come into playing these works with expectations comparing them to traditional titles.
An interesting place for this for me specifically is the identification of when you think you are in walking simulator. For example, take the hit game The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. It’s a game that millions of gamers and probably half of the class might list as one of the greatest games of all time. However, when I played it as a kid (and I guess now still without a guide), I can’t see it as more than a walking simulator/not-game to me, because while I know that it has its own designed story and mechanics available as you progress further into the game, my own skills were a barrier from me accessing more actions other than collecting rupees, swinging swords, and jumping around in a town while hearing the same annoying-as-fuck soundtrack on repeat. It remains one of my most hated “games” today.
So what I think I really mean is that these labels aren’t absolute for everyone, because everyone can experience a million emotions and responses to these virtual platforms. It is not just reaction to stories but also how you respond to available mechanics that increase or decrease the scope of how you deeply you can dive into the role/persona of the avatar and environments on screen.
A game exploring the ramifications of fairness, inequality, and Christmas.
(tried to upload an image, but wordpress says “Failed to write file to disk.”)
Programming: Gregory Rose
Art: Joseph Jung
Music: “The Jazz Piano” – http://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music/jazz
Response to the Readings
A Reaction to Not Games
I’ve mentioned before that I come from a context without video games. As such, I might wonder if I have a point of view more similar to the average person than the majority of people in this class, at least regarding video games.
And, I was under the impression that video games are one of the few mediums where art and games are actually interleaved in the mainstream player’s repertoire. My few interactions with regular games – for the sake of avoiding biases, my friends outside of SOA who are gamers – are contained in a culture where worlds can be beautiful in a way a “traditional” artist might not understand and where it is important to reflect on the role you and others played in your game. (Understandably, this emphasis is more or less unique to interactive media where the person interacting can change the course of the book. Take a book, for example. A book written in first person reads like a diary, third person is a story you’re removed from, and second person feels unnatural.) Because video game players are already forced to consider the consequences of their actions, they are more likely to engage with the game in a reflective, artistic sense naturally / for their own enjoyment, automatically making indie games more popular than possibly indie music, for example. (Most people I know don’t analyze novels for fun, with some notable exceptions…) Ergo, the continued mantra of Not Games caught me a little by surprise. It would seem to me that the boundaries of games are pushed further than other media. I suppose they are still not pushed far enough, and this is what Harvey % Samyn intended to get across.
Notes on How walking simulators allow us to touch other worlds
“[We discussed] games that are not about challenge, but about poking around inside some developer-made structure to see how it works, what secret it contains.”
Secret boxes vs walking simulators: Is a game about secret boxes actually a secret box game? Walkthroughs and their increased power for purpose in artistic worlds.
Notes on to What Happened Here? Talk on Environmental Storytelling
Excellent definition: a game (1) constrains and guides player movement through physical properties and ecology (2) Uses player reference to communicate simulation boundaries and affordances (3) Reinforces and shapes player identity and (4) Provides narrative context.
Environmental storytelling is not defined as a game in these slides because the last two defining features of games have essentially been eliminated.
Use of White space in a game – every player is going to bring his own views, experience and frame of reference to the scene, and come to different conclusions. Therefore, environmental storytelling “Invites interpretation of situations and meaning according to players’ views and experience.”
In most critical discussion of ‘walking simulators’, there’s a set of games constantly referred to as a starting point for discussion of the genre: Games like Dear Esther, Gone Home and Proteus. However, lumping these games together is, in my mind, somewhat unhelpful, because there are some fundamental differences between them.
To me, Gone Home is not a walking simulator. Dear Esther isn’t even a walking simulator. Proteus is a walking simulator.
The difference boils down to the different ways these games are engaging. Gone Home and Dear Esther are both heavily reliant on their narratives, and this gives them a very clear motive to play. You traverse the environment to resolve the narrative. At no point does the player have to ask themselves ‘what should I be doing right now?’ because the game tells them what to do: in Gone Home you want to piece together the story of your disappeared sister, so they stomp around the house looking for clues. In Dear Esther you want to piece together the Island’s mysteries, so you follow the path to get your next monologue.
Proteus is different. There is no narrative, only environment. In my opinion, Proteus does a better job of approaching the ‘notgame’ space much better than anything Tale of Tales has ever come up with.
When playing Proteus, You have to decide what you’re doing because the game doesn’t. As a result, It’s engagement is exploratory. The player of Proteus decides to go climb that mountain for the same reason the player of GTA decides to take a motorcycle careening down the wrong side of the highway; Because It’s an option that exists within the game’s rules and the player wants to.
I believe that this difference is important enough to warrant considering two different types of walking simulators: let us call these Novel Walking Sims (those with a linear narrative that could be told in another medium) and Sandbox Walking Sims (those with a narrative generated by the player, and as a result unique to interactive media).
To be honest, I didn’t enjoy Proteus all that much. Walking Sims, in the strictest sense, lack mechanical depth, and instead rely on other types of depth (usually narrative) to engage the player. Proteus doesn’t have any intrinsic depth at all. This does something interesting however: Classifying a novel walking sim as a game is much easier than classifying a sandbox walking sim as one, because a novel walking sim still has an objective that can or can’t be attained.
Instead of asking whether walking sims are games, perhaps we should be asking what parts of a walking sim make it not-a-game.