Getting X, Avoiding Y

get x avoid y

Right now I’m working on a game I’m calling Get X, Avoid Y for a Make Game pageant. It was a bit of a match made in heaven for me because the pageant is about making a series of interrelated games and for quite a while I’ve been wanting to make a kind of hyper-simple in which I could play around with just one or two features of its “gameness”. Originally this was going to be a slow degradation of mechanics, but in this case I’m actually going with an experiment on visuals.

So the “point” of the overall game is about exploring the ways in which simply changing the (visual) assets of a game can change a huge amount. The obvious thing that can change is the “meaning” of the game (e.g. clicking on squares is different to clicking on televisions is different to clicking on buildings). So that’s one line that I’ll take with this one (I have a “popes” level for instance).

But it’s maybe less obvious (to at least some of us) that particularly if you leave certain elements open in the code such as the size of the visual assets, you can hugely affect gameplay just by swapping pictures. Assuming the images are for sprites that move around on the screen (which they are in this game) then a long, thin sprite behaves very differently to a square sprite. it moves differently, it’s different to try to click on it. So there’s absolutely a mechanical difference in that case.

And there are interim versions of this too. Consider the alpha values in an image – more transparent is harder to see, and therefore probably harder to accurately click on, despite having identical dimensions, perhaps, to a fully opaque image. This can be taken further if you think about ideas like a sprite that is camouflaged against a background by design, maybe literally camo patterns, maybe glitchy aesthetics, etc.

And then there are also “just” the aesthetic effects of what things look like, semantics and mechanics aside. In fact the big reason I was keen to do this project was to break away (a bit) from a feeling of “sameness” about a lot of the games I’ve worked on lately with their very pixelly looks (with some exceptions like Junior Mint and the upcoming Abramovic Method Games). So part of the point here is just to try to make each game distinct aesthetically, to try to produce a whole bunch of very different visual styles – if I can. I may not be able to, but the idea is to try.

So Get X, Avoid Y is nice in combing a few different lines of thinking I’ve been considering lately. It’s also nice to attempt to be part of one of these online community affairs with Make Game, which is a lovely place to hang around and is full of very supportive types. Can’t ask for much more than that, can you?

(You can’t.)

(Well you can, but you shouldn’t.)

16 May 2014
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