The Angst Affairs #2
date: July 21, 2014
It’s a little hard to believe that it’s already another Monday, but apparently it is. I will definitely say that these emails are helpful, because right now they’re kind of the only thing forcing me into direct action on the game.
One interesting thing for me about the process of the game so far (and it’s something that happened with Jostle Bastard too) is just how hard it is to make a tragic game because, well, it’s kind of depressing. I’m also working on another project right now based on a (very cheerful) song and that’s just so much more appealing. Jostle Parent (as I shall call it for now) is much tougher to get around to because it’s sad – I spent time the other day looking up common ways that children die in the household, for example. Bleak stuff.
But still, having to write an email, and then wanting to be a cool guy with screenshots, I’ve at least put together some initial sketches for the first few spaces in the game during which you get up and wake up the kids. It’s in the exact same style as Jostle Bastard, which makes my life easier, but I want to use a different palette. What I have right now sucks, but it’s placeholder.
I also think that just drawing the spaces is a great way to “prototype” the game itself because you can actually visualize the movement that will take place (you can even just use the “move” tool to actually wiggle an avatar around if you want to). Given that the fundamental act in the game is movement (either freely or “against” objects), that’s quite a big help. So I’m hoping that in visualizing and designing the spaces, some of the design problems will succumb.
The big design problem for me right now is just this constant tension between a believable world and a world I can actually make (in this Atari-esque style). I need things to be “videogame-y” because I can’t implement reality, but I also need things to evoke reality enough for the tragic elements to come through (i.e. to avoid “it’s just a game” syndrome). Unclear how to do that so far, but I’m “hopeful” that being able to let children die and go to their funerals will at least have some resonance with players. Who knows? Are we all so hardened these days that no one will give a shit?
Anyway, images of three of the rooms are attached. Looking forward to hearing your side!
date: July 25, 2014
Boy, have I had a silly week. Your letter is a welcome shot of focus, as I suspect it will continue to be. Let us continue this mutual exchange in fear of progress-based shame!
Thinking of color palette as the primary aesthetic differentiator between two games is fascinating to me. As I’ve just “become” an “artist” myself, I’ve been looking to find some good reading on color theory to dig into precisely this subject. My subjective reaction to your bunk bedroom screenshot is that I love that palette, but that’s because I love orange and purple. What is the right palette for a child’s room? Fascinating.
Regarding the fidelity of emotions, this is something I’ll wrestle with, too. I may lean pretty heavily on music to push forward the emotional tone I’m going for, but visuals need to, at least, support that. This feels like gross self-plugging, but it’s not, when I link you now to Hinawa Dies, a piece I wrote for Unwinnable, coincidentally, about my emotional experience with Mother 3 – a game of higher fidelity than Jostle Parent, but lower than most modern games nonetheless. Worth a read maybe? Who knows.
Anyway, on to Need.
My angst this week has been wrapped up largely in a silly tangent – trying to name myself. Since Kyoto Wild are games I’m making on my own, I need to go through the ritual of forming a company so I can get setup with publishing platforms and paperwork blah blah blah. So it’s falling on me to name a company that includes just myself…which means naming myself, effectively. Since I haven’t landed on a name yet, it’s been extremely unrewarding and stressful, and in that mindset I’m too anxious to share any names I’ve thought up that I don’t like – lest I turn a 180 and decide I do like them. So, look for a chosen name from me by, oh god I hope, next week.
I mentioned that I’ve been exploring visual style, however. Here are a couple screenshots of attempts that I don’t entirely hate. I don’t think I’ll end up going quite as intensely polygonal for Need, but this is some sort of baseline. I still think I want to start this game by making the spaces it inhabits, much as you’ve said. Much of my goal with Need is to put a player into a mood and space, so the space itself seems the right place to start.