The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of (Is T-Shirts)

Anders Gustafsson, one of the creators of The Dream Machine, came and gave a talk at ITU today called “How to Make a Hard Thing Even Harder”. The title was a bit misleading, I thought, since what Anders really did was just to talk very engagingly about the process behind making the game – maybe he just forgot to bitch and moan about how difficult the whole process had been?

The best thing about the talk, really, was that Anders went through aspects of game making that I feel aren’t really talked about all that much. The iconic example of this was, I suppose, that the t-shirt the hero is wearing (visible in the screenshot here) is lifted (I think) from Deckard in Bladerunner. How cool is that?

The talk floated around those kinds of interesting aspects of how real people really come up with the bits and pieces that somehow coalesce into a game. It really served to give that sense of contingency in design which can be so lacking in many other discussions. Often I feel we’re given the impression that game designs (and even implementations) sprung fully formed from the designer’s forehead. Like Athena.

Instead of some kind of systematic breakdown, we got to hear about aesthetic inspirations (e.g. Lynch, Polanski), conceptual inspirations (e.g. John Lilly), and important sources of t-shirt designs (Blade Runner, indie game events). It all served to humanise the design process and perhaps to drag game making just a little away from the design tradition and back into overlapping with good old-fashioned art.

Plus, it’s not often you get to needle the game developer himself about when the next installment of his game is coming out, so that worked out well, too.

25 May 2011
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