Saturday, February 7, 2009

I made a game, kinda

I made a game for the Global Game Jam as part of a team of six dudes, seven if you count the little mutant that didn't do anything but play Gameboy, ask if anyone wanted coffee every ten minutes, and have terrible "let's blatantly steal this element from this mediocre game" ideas. So the game was a top-down top-scroller. You know, like those old arcade games where you were an airplane or a spaceship. The fact that I don't know the names of any of those games or what the proper name of that genre is is a bit frustrating. I should work on having a more rigorous understanding of the history of games.

Anyway, I was happy that I was able to come up with like 10 ideas in about half an hour when under pressure. Also that I was able to communicate those ideas to people who have been doing this stuff for much longer than I have. I got complements both on my ideas and my ability to talk intelligently about game design, so that was a nice little ego boost. Also, sort of taking charge and steering the group's decision on what game we would make (seven people = like 100 ideas, everyone wanting to use the ones they came up with) so that we could get to work on something decent was good practice.

So the game ended up being sort of a "get through this maze as a team before the wall of destruction catches you" thing. Have a looming wall of destruction seems like a pretty fail-proof but lazy way to force the player to progress. Unfortunately, the context that we plastered onto this game idea was "we're bits in a computer" and the wall of destruction was "the data in this computer is being deleted."


Even that had some potential, since the art guy on the team had these big plans to reward fast progression with enlivening the visuals, morphing this computerized world into some sort of trippy organic wonderland. Unfortunately, he didn't have the foresight to see that the visuals were not cohesive and were extremely noisy and hideous. I suppose that's what concept art is for. I sort of wish that I had given him some sort of feedback over the course of the 30-some hours we had to throw this thing together, but I wasn't quite confident enough to get in his face when he seemed to determined to go it alone. Artists, man, let me tell you.

I think I want folk music or something like that in games. Not like folk punk "let's pretend we're seven years old because we can't deal" stuff, but stuff that makes you want to live in a forest and perhaps participate in some sort of ancient festival. Music seems like the most fully developed means of getting the feel of a game all nice.

I want to make games that put you in a zen-like state, like those first couple Tony Hawk games, or what this Dyson game could become with some tweaking. Good call on that one, Zach. I'd like it if at least some of the games that I end up making serve as a break from the overstimulation of life, instead of embodying it as most BANG BANG LOL games do.

Dyson, a game I've been playing, is about seeds and asteroids. Very soothing:
As I start to see myself as a game-designer-in-training and in turn present myself to people as such, I'm getting some interesting responses. I don't know how to feel about the "oh hey we should collaborate even though I hate games and see what you do as very silly" folks. I want input and expertise from those who aren't currently into games. That would be invaluable in any attempt to expand the audience, etc., but it's also possible that some of these people are just boring, closed minded people that I shouldn't waste my time with. I guess I'll just have to use trial and error. Or become the best judge of character on the planet. Also, I got my first look that said, "You're kidding, right?" recently. That sort of bummed me out. Oh well.

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